The eighth edition of the annual Travel Expo, a showcase of over 150 South African travel companies under one roof, saw over 22,000 prospective travellers in attendance at the Ticketpro Dome between 10 and 11 February 2018.
Andrew Stark, MD, Flight Centre Travel Group Middle East Africa
The numbers reflect that South Africans are more eager than ever to travel, says Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) Middle East Africa MD. “You could sense the visitors’ new-found optimism and pent-up demand to spend their hard-earned money on holiday.
“Travellers queued to speak to travel companies and our specially selected Flight Centre travel experts, to secure their discounts on all types of travel but mainly air tickets, cruises and exclusive holiday packages, comprising 60% of this year’s sales.”
According to Stark, sales at this year’s Travel Expo increased by 32% compared with the previous year’s results. “Our overall sales at this year’s Travel Expo yet again surpassed our expectations and we achieved record results.
“What is even more astounding is that the top three holidays bought over the weekend – an Antarctica Cruise by G Adventures, a Magical Mauritius holiday by Club Med and an amazing Disney vacation in the USA by Flight Centre Holidays – had a combined value of over R850,000. And they say South Africans don’t have the disposable income to travel.”
“There is no other event that allows travel companies to connect so directly with South African travellers,” says Jane Davidson, director development promotions, which represents several cruise lines and G Adventures in South Africa.
Top destinations and suppliers
The top destination by booking volume remained Mauritius, with Beachcomber South Africa emerging as one of the top suppliers during the show.
Joanne Visagie, Beachcomber South Africa sales and marketing manager said: “Our stand was hectic for the entire duration of the Travel Expo. Our team was busy non-stop dealing with enquiries, with other clients waiting to speak to them, wanting to book their next holiday.”
In addition to Mauritius, the most popular destinations at this year’s Travel Expo included Thailand, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa – the latter reflecting the increased interest in affordable local holidays, which bodes well for South Africa’s domestic tourism potential.
Meanwhile, the top suppliers at this year’s event included Flight Centre Holidays, MSC, Emirates Air Line, Beachcomber and Qantas.
Michi Messner, Qantas regional manager Africa, says the 2018 Travel Expo was the best-organised show yet. “It was a great platform for serious buyers who knew what they wanted to buy. The show was well managed and very interactive.”
Trafalgar and Contiki also reported record sales over the Travel Expo. The Travel Corporation South Africa MD Theresa Szejwallo said the Greek Isles, Croatia and Turkey were among the most sought-after destinations. “Trafalgar is very pleased to have won the second best stand at the event, which provided a striking backdrop for the richer deal we offered prospective travellers at this year’s show.
“We also had interest in destinations like Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the Northern Lights – destinations that show the travellers who attended this year’s event, were more experienced and genuinely interested in securing their next holiday.”
New travel expo initiatives
New initiatives at this year’s Travel Expo included an entrance fee for the first time, which proved hugely positive for suppliers, customers and travel experts, as well as the launch of a Travel Stokvel, which allows aspiring travellers to create their own group to contribute towards their dream holiday.
Lance Nkwe, FCTG marketing manager – emerging market said: “We were overwhelmed by the interest in our Travel Stokvel at the Travel Expo and signed-up 164 clubs during the event. These new members will now receive expert travel advice, as well as exclusive discounts and promotions not available to other customers.”
This year’s Travel Expo also saw the re-introduction of Travel Talks, which were hugely popular. “We had so many people attend our Travel Talk that they were standing in the aisles. People know our hotel names and our brand like a household name,” said Beachcomber’s Visagie.
32,000 litres of water collected
“We would like to thank the generous visitors who contributed to our water effort. Over 32,000 litres were donated as part of our Flight Centre Foundation initiative to collect five-litre bottles of water for the Gift of the Givers Cape Town water relief effort, including a spectacular 5,000 litres donated by the Travel Channel.
“There has certainly never been a better time to travel with a stronger rand and more positive economic sentiment,” says Stark. “A show of this nature not only stimulates a desire to travel, it’s also great for the travel industry whose customers are inspired by the variety of travel options available. We remain the only travel company in South Africa to foster a desire for travel and I encourage more travel providers to join the event in 2019.”
“The stars of the show were undoubtedly the eager travellers who arrived in their thousands to discover the world of amazing travel experiences on offer. Without the support, enthusiasm and interest of our loyal Flight Centre customers and our new customers, this event would not be the annual calendar event it has become. The Flight Centre team wishes to thank each and every participant for their contribution to our most successful show to date,” concluded Stark.