Travel buying in Namibia '100 per cent clueless'

1 November 2011

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1 November 2011 | Angeline Albert

Corporate travel buying in Namibia has been described as “falling victim to unscrupulous agents” who charge inflated prices because they are not properly quizzed by purchasers.

And instead of procurement professionals negotiating deals, secretaries do much of the buying.

According to the African Business TravelAssociation (ABTA), purchasingby Namibia’s local businesses is “extremely immature” because it is too trusting of the hotel and airline prices charged by travel agents.

Monique Swart, founder of ABTA, which launched its first event in the country in July, said despite Namibia having an infrastructure on a par with South Africa, its travel buying is “like a third-world country’s and 100 per cent clueless”.

Swart said: “Local businesses are not managing travel at all. There is no central buying. Secretaries are still purchasing. Too much trust is placed in what travel agents say. The result is agents are charging more, to the extent that they are even doubling prices charged by airlines and hotels.”

ABTA said local businesses admitted they did not know what questions should be asked of travel agents. In response, the association has urged businesses to request a full breakdown of costs charged by agents, to become more active in dealing directly with airlines and hotels in order to compare prices and develop a travel policy for their organisations.     

ABTA said local businesses, including banks, mining and fishing companies, are lagging behind global companies and those with headquarters in South Africa when it comes to having centralised travel purchasing, a dedicated buyer appointed and a travel policy in place.

Further to its work in Namibia, ABTA plans to launch a travel buying awareness event in Angola next year.    

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