Private and public South African entities doing business in renewable energy, finance and management consulting stepped up business travel in 2015, while other sectors saw a marked decline in business travel, according to a report in BizNisAfrica.
Changes in 2015 business travel reflected changes in the economy, according to Raylene Pienaar, a general manager at business travel agency Corporate Traveller, based in Randburg near Johannesburg.
Some industrial and commercial sectors including those involved in mining and construction sent their executives on fewer business trips, while others significantly increased travel, Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.
“There has been strong business travel growth this year in the energy sector, and especially in companies and entities whose business is in sustainable and so-called ‘green’ energy,” Pienaar said. “Renewable energy businesses, especially, are showing great growth, booking more flights both locally and abroad than ever before.”
Financial institutions and management consulting companies also showed growth in business travel, especially in Africa. This could mean that these skills in South Africa are in demand on a continent that’s been identified as a global economic growth region, Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.
However, there was a significant decline in business travel across some sectors of the economy, Pienaar said, indicating that these industries may bear the brunt of weakened economic conditions.
Those sectors include mining and industries that support mining — construction, engineering, and environmental consulting.
Construction companies are under pressure globally — not just in Africa — and business travel decreased markedly in 2015, Pienaar said.
There was a decline in property management travel in 2015, Pienaar said. Consultants stay at company headquarters and managed properties remotely.
Digital technology allows people to work off site and offers an alternative to booking an airline ticket and paying a personal visit to a client or partner.
“Some of our clients tell us they need to spend cautiously, and are cutting back until macro and industry-specific conditions improve,” Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.
In industries that are doing well, business travelers want to meet with associates in person, Pienaar said. “They see the value in investing in travel for business: to close the deal, offer a personal handshake and develop those critical personal relationships.”