A round-up of news from industry suppliers

Business travel is an ever-evolving industry. To help you keep track of what’s happening, we have gathered recent product news from some local and regional suppliers. 

Air travel

New routes and aircraft for Airlink

In response to market requests Airlink increased capacity on its Johannesburg-Walvis Bay route. The airline introduced one of its new 74-seat Embraer 170 E-Jets to the route (68 economy, and six business class). Previously the route was operated by an Embraer 135 regional jet, with a capacity of between 37 and 44 passengers.

Airlink also recently enhanced its Cape Town to Maun, and Cape Town to Victoria Falls service, using the 83-seat Avro regional jet, which offers business class. The airline also added business class to its Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg, and its Johannesburg to Kasane (Botswana) services. These services are operated by E190 E-jets, and have six business-class and 92 economy-class seats. 


Air Seychelles adds festive season flights 

Air Seychelles will increase frequencies between Johannesburg and Seychelles for the December festive period, as well as the Easter period.

The additional services will be operated by the Airbus A320 on Mondays and Fridays, from December 10 until January 12. The additional Easter service will operate on Fridays, from March 22 until April 26. 

On Mondays, from December 10 until January 7, flight HM061 will depart Seychelles on at 09h50, arriving in Johannesburg at 12h55. While the return flight, HM060 will depart Johannesburg at 14h15, arriving in Seychelles at 21h10.

On Fridays, from December 14 until January 12, and from March 22 until April 26, flight HM063 will depart Seychelles at 18h25 on Fridays, arriving in Johannesburg at 21h30. Return flight HM062, departs Johannesburg at 14h15, and arrives in Seychelles at 21h10. 

Charles Johnson, chief commercial officer of Air Seychelles, said: “The South African market has enormous potential for the national airline and we are committed to offering our travellers more choice when booking their travel during the upcoming [northern hemisphere] winter season and Easter period.  With this new Monday flight, Air Seychelles will now offer daily service to Johannesburg in December and an exciting new Friday evening departure from Mahé.”



First phase of Nairobi Serena refurb revealed  

Nairobi Serena Hotel has completed the first phase of its ongoing refurbishment, which will be open from September 1.

During phase one, refurbishments were carried out on the hotel’s north wing and included the completion of 95 fully upgraded rooms (four Executive suites, 7 Deluxe Twin rooms, and 84 Queen Deluxe rooms). 

The hotel also has a new executive lounge, with two private meeting rooms. For events there is a 450 sqm ballroom, which can host 450 people theatre style, and can break out into two separate meeting rooms, as well as two new, additional, meeting rooms.

A new fusion restaurant is planned to open in November, and will complement the hotel’s current food and beverage offering at the all-day Café Maghreb restaurant, Mandhari restaurant, and the Aksum Bar, which all remain operational.

Other enhancements include an upgrade of the hotel lobby, a new car park with a capacity of 120 cars and the provision for VIP parking and parking for the physically challenged, and new equipment installed at the hotel gym.


Victoria Falls property enhances offering

Hospitality Group Africa Albida Tourism  (AAT) enhanced its offerings at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge earlier this year, with a new pool deck and fitness room.

The project followed the completion of the Victoria Falls Safari Club redevelopment, which included the construction of a swimming pool and restaurant.

The new fitness room is complimentary for guests. It is glass-fronted, air-conditioned, and has a selection of free-standing exercise machines and weights. The fitness room is open from 6am to 8pm daily.

Ross Kennedy, AAT’s chief executive, says Victoria Falls has been enjoying record numbers. He adds that monthly measurements across ten hotels in Victoria Falls have revealed a 13% increase in occupancy, with more than 5 000 additional rooms sold over the first three months of 2018 compared with the same period last year. 

“Talking to colleagues in the town, it is clear that forward bookings are much stronger than usual for the rest of 2018 and all indicators for 2019 reflect continued growth,” Kennedy says. “These bookings suggest that Victoria Falls is heading towards becoming a one season destination, so high season all year, with a few short troughs here and there.”

A 25% growth in revenue for the 10 hotels over the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year, and an 11% increase in revenue per available room, show the growth is likely to continue. “The number of new rooms either under construction and/or about to open adds further evidence of the confidence that existing and new investors are showing in Victoria Falls as a tourist destination,” he says.

Kennedy adds that there has been an increase in enquiries for Victoria Falls as a MICE destination. “MICE enquiries are up from SA-based operators and corporates for South African outbound and international inbound.” He says incentives have been the top enquiry, with small executive-type conferences and retreats also seeing growth. “Those in Victoria Falls who target MICE markets need to remind their customers about what an incredible destination Victoria Falls is, and the diversity of offerings, from location and venue, to style, quality and cost of accommodation, plus an amazing array of activities, excursions and experiences on offer.”

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