Role of tech in African travel is vital


Cape Town - More than 200 of Africa’s travel industry leaders gathered in Cape Town this week to attend the fourth "Africa Live" summit.

The summit was hosted by Travelport, an international commerce platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the global travel and tourism industry.  

The "Africa Live" summit focused on exploring the fast growth of travel commerce which continues to take place in Africa and the key role of technology in the industry. The focus included a comprehensive agenda based on the role of innovation and technology in improving the region’s travel businesses and the critical success factors for future travel industry leaders.

Topics ranged from the future of travel payments, how brands are adopting more mobile technology to drive growth, to how airline merchandising trends are affecting how we book travel today and the significance of all of these factors in an increasingly competitive business environment.

Africa’s travel and tourism industry is forecast to grow significantly over the coming years and direct contribution to Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase by almost 5% per annum to over $121bn by 2026. In the same year, the industry is expected to support almost 30 million jobs.

By 2035 passenger traffic to, from and within Africa is expected to reach 268 million and Travelport has an increasing number of existing African airline partners, including South African Airways, Mango, Fly Blue Crane, Comair and Air Namibia.

Africa has long been considered a priority region and an area of investment for Travelport, where the company has steadily expanded its presence with a regional head office in Johannesburg.

Rabih Saab, Travelport's president and managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Fin24 the event is very important for the industry as it is not only about Travelport, but about getting industry stakeholders together and talking about challenges and opportunities in the industry. It is a forum to discuss and share trends.

In his view the challenges of the industry is that technology is increasingly becoming an underlying element of everybody's life and, therefore, it is even more important for the travel industry to be up to speed.

"Airlines want to offer more personalised services to customers. They want to understand what the priorities are of the traveller, why they buy certain products and they want to meet your expectations even before you know what they are. This can only be done with certain technology. That is why Travelport has made certain investments," explained Saab.

"From a travel agent point of view, it puts the travel agent back in the driving seat to better sell the product and better reach the consumer."

Fergal Kelly, Travelport's spokesperson on mobile and MTT, told Fin24 mobile has been a very persistent theme at the event. The industry is seeking to find the new opportunities and capabilities for mobile to enable the creating of great customer experiences.

"We want to see how we can empower the travel agency community. Africa is seen as a continent offering great opportunity. It will remain a very important region for Travelport to continue to invest in," he said.

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