The Travel Counsellors community is resilient, supportive, and strong. It is never more apparent than when we get together as a group. Mladen Lukic, general manager at Travel Counsellors South Africa reminded us just how significant the BT Indaba was as it had been 937 days since we last met as a large group, and judging by the emotional reunions, the separation was too long.
Motivation for the Business Travel Indaba
The Business Travel Indaba (or BT Indaba) was born out of a need to refresh Business Travel within Travel Counsellors. The travel requirements of small businesses have grown and changed post-Covid, and we wanted to ensure Travel Counsellors are ready to meet the demand.
The Indaba was held in Gauteng and the Western Cape to reach as many Travel Counsellors as possible. It kicked off in Midrand, Johannesburg on the 8th of October, with Travel Counsellors joining us from all over Gauteng. The Cape Town Indaba followed on the 10th of October at the Century City Convention Center.
Start with the big picture
Covid dramatically changed travel behaviour as well as the booking behaviour of travellers. Mladen Lukic started the day by presenting the change in the mindset of travellers, particularly companies that have staff travelling for business. Pre-Covid, it was common for businesses to rely on a self-service solution for their business travel. However, it became clear during the pandemic self-service cannot replace the expertise needed during a travel emergency. In the months following the end of lockdown, the services of travel professionals became invaluable as they helped their clients navigate ever-changing travel regulations.
With Covid behind us but still fresh in our memories, SMEs are moving away from self-service travel solutions and turning to travel professionals to manage their business travel. They have realised the value of having an expert look after their travel arrangements.
This new environment means many Travel Management Companies that pre-Covid operated on an order-taking basis and simply fulfilled a booking service, have had to change their approach to business travel.
For Travel Counsellors, it is business (travel) as usual. Our approach has always been a caring travel advisory service backed by industry-leading technology and specialist systems.
The bridge to success
How can Travel Counsellors work smarter and run their businesses more efficiently? These were the questions addressed by the leadership team during the second half of the BT Indaba.
According to Marc de Jager, TC Business Development Coach, part of the answer lies in being disciplined and consistent. It applies to all areas of the business, including training. This sentiment resonated with the attendees. Marijke Davel, a Travel Counsellor from Pretoria, shared her takeaway from the BT Indaba was that improving her business is just a matter of discipline.
The focus at Travel Counsellors for the past two years has been on enhancing the technology stack. Working closely with TCs, the aim was to improve their performance as travel professionals and business owners and the ability of Head Office to support them. Ian Keene, Operations Manager, stressed that a successful business depends on extracting all the value the systems and support offer. It is especially critical when trying to compete in the market where our MIS reports and travel app, My TC, can make all the difference.
As Karin Livingstone, a Gordon’s Bay Travel Counsellor put it, “Work smarter, not harder".
Closing the day’s proceedings, Mladen encouraged the TCs to take stock and to think about what their businesses would look like in 3-years' time if they executed the business model correctly. What changes do they have to make to streamline and grow their businesses?
Travel Counsellors reflect on the BT Indaba
"EMBRACE CHANGE and run with it" - Thea Coetsee.
“The importance (sic) of also putting on the manager hat and stepping out of the fulfillment role in order to evaluate my business and know where to focus and what to do next is key.” - Roslyn de la Hunt
“Feeling so positive and excited about my future with TC. Feeling so proud to be part of such an amazing company!” - Alta Lotter
“That Travel Counsellors have my best interests at heart 😊," - Michelle Kaye
The Business Travel Indaba affirmed that our business travel offering is in demand and there is no better time than right now to be a Travel Counsellor.