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SA 'not cheap, but still value for money'

Nov 24 2018 15:50
Carin Smith

Cape Town - South Africa is not a cheap destination for international travellers, but it is still seen as offering value for money, according to Dr Andre Schulz, general manager of Lufthansa Group for Southern Africa.

Based on strong corporate business travel on the group's Johannesburg route and strong leisure demand in its Cape Town route, the group is well positioned in the SA market, he told Fin24.

"I am positive when I look at our future growth prospects in the region.

"So far, the growth strategy we implemented in this market has paid off and we obtained the trust from our management board in Frankfurt that we will fill the aircraft on our South African routes," said Schulz.

"The commercial and business relationships between SA and Germany have been successful and - as seen from the current state visit by German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier - it is also good if the political leaders are on the same page."

Water, water… nowhere?

Asked about perceptions among international travellers regarding the water situation in Cape Town, Schulz said it was big news overseas in January and February this year. This resulted in a decrease in tourist numbers in April and May.

"Since then it has picked up nicely again and is growing. The water issue is not really in the international news anymore," he said.

"Topics like the water crisis and impressions about the drought have now disappeared and our flights are nicely filled. I would the Cape Town boom is ongoing when it comes to European tourists."

Digital developments

He said key points for the Lufthansa Group for 2019 included an increasing focus on the importance of digitalisation. So far, the group has invested about €500m on digitalisation.

"The process involves different projects, where we personalise and customise the travel experience for the customer. Lufthansa is a big company. It has about 20 different data bases that did not 'talk' to each other," said Schulz.

The group is, for instance, running a pilot programme at its hub in Munich. For example, if a passenger arrives at the Munich airport and has some layover time, he or she might be sent a message - based on the data available - to say there is space in the lounge if he or she would like to come and relax for a few hours and that it would cost a certain calculated amount.

"So, we can follow the traveller throughout the journey. We can send a push alert to say which baggage belt to go to once a passenger has landed," explained Schulz.

"Instead of using separate data which we had in silos, technology allows us to put it all together with the ultimate goal to enrich our passengers' travel experience, to make it more seamless and more convenient."

A second key focus point for the group in 2019 is aimed at travel management companies. Here too new technology is being used for moving towards full integration of booking processes, for instance.

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