This year, the 17th annual GlobalStar Conference was hosted in the beautiful city of Cape Town. GlobalStar Travel Management’s President & CEO Steve Hartwell welcomed delegates and introduced Club Travel Corporate’s new Chief Executive, Kananelo Makhetha. An industry veteran in the travel industry, Kananelo took to the podium and expressed his delight that GlobalStar had chosen South Africa as its conference destination for 2019.
Kananelo encouraged delegates to stay and explore Cape Town, a city which he calls, “South Africa’s most beautiful”, and he isn’t wrong – in recent years, Cape Town has enjoyed its fair share of adoration from the international media for good reason.
PANEL DISCUSSION: THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES OF BUSINESS TRAVEL IN AFRICA
The first panel of the day got underway with three African business travel experts taking to the stage to share their thoughts. Tajudeen Balogun from Nigeria (Touchdown Travels) joined Kananelo (Club Travel Corporate) and Collin Austen (Onboard Technologies) from South Africa to help the multicultural audience members (most of whom had travelled from outside Africa) understand the cultural differences of business travel in Africa.
Kananelo highlighted that South Africa alone has eleven official languages, yet, English remains the language of business. Even so, he encouraged delegates to, “go the extra mile by learning a greeting in one of the nuclear languages.”
Tajudeen shared his viewpoints from further north on the continent where he is Agency Manager for Touchdown Travel in Lagos, Nigeria. With ten years in the travel industry, Tajudeen’s corporate travel background spans the oil, gas and banking sectors. Like Kananelo, he touched on the language aspect sharing that Nigeria has 250 ethnic nationalities making it culturally vast and diverse. Tajudeen’s advice is to have a basic understanding of local cultures irrespective of the business you want to conduct. “One thing you shouldn’t do is force your culture or way of doing things on to the local people,” he said.
Collin Austen, Business Development Director at Onboard Technologies, rounded out the discussion with his practical perspectives on technology in the context of Africa’s multicultural business landscape. “95% of Africa’s online travel activity is taking place on mobile devices,” said Collin. “The Chinese have flooded Africa with affordable smartphones.” Kananelo sees mobile tech as, “a blessing and advantage for Africans,” – he cited mobile money services as an area where Africans are leading the way in mobile.
Kananelo concluded the panel discussion with his insights into the things big corporates are looking at in a TMC including technology capability, the tools a TMC has to offer clients and how well a TMC can integrate with existing systems such as SAP.