Misconceptions around low-cost travel options might be preventing your company from saving thousands of rands, says Kirby Gordon, head of sales and distribution at FlySafair.
The needs of domestic business travellers are, for the most part, fairly straight forward. Time and money are important, as are comfort and reliability.
Historically, companies have suffered from the misconception that to most effectively meet these requirements they need to book their domestic travel with a full-service carrier. However, they might be pleasantly surprised to see how the offerings of low-cost carriers measure up. Particularly in an economic climate where every rand counts.
Let’s take a closer look at the some of the myths surrounding low-cost travel alternatives.
Set rates are cheaper
Simply because your company has negotiated a set rate with a particular supplier does not mean it is automatically getting the cheapest rate available. According to recent research from online travel agency, Kiwi.com, the average price per 100 domestic flight kilometres in South Africa fell from US$9,94 in 2016 to US$6,71 in 2017. Much of this can be attributed to increasingly tough competition between low-cost carriers which is driving fares down.
Considering that the result has been a 32% decrease in air fares, the chances are high that sticking with your set rate is keeping you from accessing cheaper options.
Budget means less bang for your buck
It’s easy to make the mistake of opting for a more expensive ticket on a full-service carrier because you assume the added perks such as a meal, seat selection and loyalty miles are ultimately giving you more bang for your buck. It’s true that low-cost carriers charge for these add-ons separately, but even after including the cost of selecting a spacious front-row seat and access to an airport lounge, there’s still a high chance the overall cost of your flight on a budget airline will come out cheaper. Particularly when one considers that full-service tickets can be up to more than 30% more expensive than a low-cost fare.
When taking into account the needs of your average domestic traveller, it’s easy to see how booking with a low-cost carrier can leave you with an experience that not only competes well with a business-class offering but also saves you thousands of rand.
Full-service offers more flexibility
Flexibility is important to corporates who regularly need to make changes to their travel plans. In fact, the trade reports that more than a third of business travellers routinely change their return sectors.
There’s a general misconception that low-cost carriers tend to impose punitive change fees that render a full-service alternative a better buy, and while this may once have been true, it’s no longer the case. South African low-cost carriers have been forced to price flexibility into their fares. FlySafair is a case in point, offering a fare that allows for two penalty-free changes.
Low-cost is less reliable
It’s no secret that when it comes to corporate travel, time is money. Some business travellers might prefer to book with full-service carriers for the very reason that they believe this will somehow assure them of arriving at their destination without a hitch, and that somehow low-cost airlines will sacrifice on-time performance in favour of some sort of cost saving.
This is however an absolute misconception, because delays actually cost airlines money, which is why cost-conscious low-cost airlines worth their salt should be more reliable. Earlier this year, FlySafair was named the most on-time airline in the world by travel intelligence specialist, OAG.
The airline achieved an annual on-time performance (OTP) of 95.94% – not an easy feat and proof that just because a service costs less doesn’t mean it’s less reliable.
Superior service comes with increased cost
There’s another general misconception that when flying with a full-service carrier you receive better service and that opting for a low-cost carrier is somehow a downgrade when it comes to traveller satisfaction.
But low-cost carriers continue to defy these incorrect assumptions. In a recent survey conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) low-cost carriers were actually favoured ahead of their legacy carrier counterparts when it came to passenger satisfaction. The result was based on thousands of customer interviews conducted over a 12 month period which ended in March 2017.
Securing the best travel deals can quite literally save a company thousands of rand in travel expenses. For companies who favour full-service carriers it’s worth doing the calculations on the low-cost alternative. You just might be surprised at the difference it will make.