Wings well placed to benefit from region’s growth

WINGS Travel Management has seen a notable increase in business from clients in the engineering, IT and support services sectors in Africa.

Growth in Mozambique, however, is still predominantly in the oil and gas sector, advises Luis Mata, Wings head of business development – Oil and Gas for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Wings established an operation in Mozambique two years ago to support clients moving into the area following the discovery of some 85 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

“We’ve seen increased traffic of 35% over the last 12 months,” he says.

The major investment in the market by energy-sector companies has also prompted mobilisation of employees to Mozambique from other countries such as Ghana, Mata adds.

“Africa is an expanding market, and travel buyers moving into the continent need the support of a TMC that has a high level of expertise on the ground,” he says.

“Travellers who haven’t booked via a reputable TMC frequently face challenges around incorrect or insufficient information regarding passport and visa requirements as well as vaccinations.”

Wings recently won a global contract for one of the world’s largest providers of drilling, pipeline and construction products and services, Mata advises.

“A contributing factor in winning the business was that the client’s knowledge of the Africa market was nowhere near as vast as ours.”

Wings only operates wholly owned and managed offices in Africa. “This is a key point of difference to other global TMCs. We have our own operations in South Africa, Angola, Nigeria and Mozambique.”

It’s important for corporates to work with a partner who has on-the-ground knowledge and local expertise, particularly in high-risk destinations like Angola and Nigeria, he says.

“It’s one thing to answer the phone when a traveller is calling with a challenge; it’s a whole other skill to know how to solve that challenge.”

Pre-arrange ground transport with a trustworthy private supplier, for example, as it may be unsafe to use taxi services, Mata advises.  

“When the airport in Abuja was closed for several weeks, Wings contracted helicopter operators to get travellers in and out of Nigeria.”

Duty of care is paramount, but bookings made with travel agents in-country aren’t always handed off to the corporate’s third-party security vendors, resulting in a serious gap in traveller tracking and reporting, he concludes.