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SA Business Travellers Craziest Expense Claims

Llamas, a human skull and a helicopter ride. These are some of the ‘outrageous’ items business travellers expensed in the United States in the past five years.

Before you think that these outrageous expense claims only occur in a country like the US, know that South African travel companies also get their fair share of outrageous requests.

Entertainment and Production Specialists at Flight Centre Business Travel, Elizabeth Estment and Simon Clayton, explain they’ve dealt with their fair share of weird and wacky requests over the years.

“The entertainment industry is not a 9-to-5 industry. It’s late hours, last-minute needs, group arrangements and VIP service within a restricted budget,” explains Estment. “It’s important for this industry to work with a travel company that understands their unique needs.”

Clayton and Estment share the top five most wonderfully weird and wacky requests they’ve received over the years, and which they have managed to fulfill.

A custom-built airport lounge

Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of special attention after a long flight? One client insisted on having a 45-metre red carpet welcome at the airport as well as her own private, custom-built lounge. Even the immigration officials played their part in making her feel special, and she was allowed to have her passport controlled in her special lounge.

 A chauffeur who can also act as a travel guide

Suffering from a slight case of agoraphobia, one client insisted she didn’t want to have too many people in her entourage. She requested a black SUV to take her around South Africa, and asked for a chauffeur who could double as a tour guide as she didn’t want to have to interact with two different people in the car.

 A hotel room with exactly the right ‘chi’

“Don’t mess with my chi,” was the warning of one client, who believed strongly in staying in a room with exactly the right energy channels which would fuel his creative processes.

The client changed rooms seven times before settling on a room with the right ‘chi’. However, he did request seven additional lamps in his room for more ambient lighting. His bed also needed to be moved to the right side of the room to allow the energy to flow freely.

An animatronic baby elephant

Imagine crossing a busy airport terminal with a baby elephant at your side.

One client decided to travel with what looked like a live baby elephant. His appearance with the elephant caused quite a lot of upheaval around the airport and the hotel. The live elephant was in fact, a very beautifully-made animatronic baby elephant, which the client needed for a movie shoot.

Only green fruit, please?!

There’s nothing lovelier than arriving at your hotel room and finding a colourful fruit basket. Not for this client however. She insisted that there would only be green fruit in her welcome basket.

“Expense reports are notoriously boring, both for the traveller and the travel manager. However, once in a while an expense will be claimed – like the ones above – that will have the travel manager sit up and take note, especially when working in the entertainment sector,” laughs Estment.

FCBT Entertainment has recognized the unique travel requirements and logistics that groups and incentives, sports, film and production industries require and hence why we have a division solely trained and focused on managing travel.

Although the entertainment industry in itself is often seen as weird and wacky, budgets remain important even – or especially – in this industry. A travel management company such as FCBT entertainment can help deliver considerable travel savings to the industry through its global buying power and specialist travel expertise. FCBT entertainment can offer companies the insights and dedicated service needed to maximize budgets and deliver value to any travel requirements.

Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa

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