Mapping the Uncharted:
How FCM Simplified African Parks' Travel Complexity
Embracing the challenge of preserving biodiversity across the vast landscapes of Africa, the not-for-profit conservation organisation African Parks manages 22 national parks across Africa. Their commitment to conservation is unwavering, but the logistical challenges they encounter, particularly around travel to and within remote locations, can be difficult.
Enter FCM, a global travel management company committed to revolutionising African Parks' travel ecosystem.
Understanding the Challenges
Remote African Travel
African Parks employees frequently travel to remote park locations, often requiring multiple connecting flights and careful planning to ensure timely arrivals.
Moving staff and contractors within Africa presents significant challenges. Infrequent flight schedules, the absence of direct flights, and frequent last-minute changes add layers of complexity. Due to the unpredictability of travel in remote locations, African Parks faced high change fees that significantly contributed to travel costs.
As Crezelde Naidu, Travel Coordinator African Parks, puts it: "Intra-Africa travel is the most difficult because you can't get from one country to the next easily. If you look at the map and you try and understand how to get to these places, it's really not that simple."
Disconnected, Offline Travel Management
Before African Parks' partnership with FCM, the organisation managed its travel operations offline, which presented substantial obstacles. Without a consolidated digital platform, coordinating travel across the various offices and regions was a complex task.
The absence of a holistic overview of all travel-related activities led to limited transparency and control, making it challenging to identify trends, leverage volume for negotiations, or make strategic, data-driven decisions. Without consolidated data or the capacity to demonstrate consistent booking volumes, African Parks was unable to negotiate advantages such as discounted change fees and guaranteed seats on flights, resulting in higher travel costs and less flexibility.
Bridging the Gap: Local Transportation Challenges
Once the team reached their destinations, another issue reared its head – local transportation. Due to remote park locations, car hire options are sparse and often unreliable, forcing in-house staff to divert their attention and valuable resources to transport duties. As Naidu explains: "We're a little bit off the beaten track, so car hire is often unavailable." This not only caused inefficiency but also strained the organisation's human resources.
Finding a Roof: Accommodation Management
With the organisation growing rapidly, accommodation needs were on the rise, but finding suitable places to stay was no easy task. The challenge was in finding local hotels that met the team's needs in terms of proximity to parks, comfort, and affordability. Sourcing and securing such accommodation required substantial time and effort, adding another layer of complexity to the operation.
"Coordinating accommodations in remote locations is a huge undertaking. Finding suitable hotels that meet our specific needs is no small feat." Crezelde Naidu, Travel Coordinator African Parks
Charting a new course: FCM's Innovative Solutions
To tackle these unique challenges, FCM deployed a combination of advanced technology and human expertise.
The Technological Approach: FCM Online Booking Tool & Mobile App
FCM introduced a consolidated, digital travel management system for African Parks. This global system provided the organisation a means to track and manage all travel-related activities from a central point, regardless of the geographical location of their offices. As a result, African Parks could maintain a holistic overview of travel-related activities happening across the company worldwide, which streamlined operations.
FCM also introduced the FCM Mobile app to African Parks, a tool designed to provide real-time alerts about upcoming travel plans, including potential traffic conditions. This tool has drastically improved the team's planning capabilities and has helped avoid potential delays.
Strategic Negotiations for Better Rates and Perks
With the visibility gained from the online platform, African Parks could now strategically leverage its high volume of travel to negotiate better rates and perks. FCM took the lead in these negotiations, securing reduced change fees and guaranteed seats on flights, significant advantages for an organisation requiring frequent, often last-minute travel.
These changes illustrate how a global, consolidated approach to travel management and strategic negotiations can lead to significant cost savings and operational efficiencies. The shift to a more consolidated, strategic approach to travel management was not just about cost savings but also about gaining operational control and enabling more informed decision-making across the organisation.
Beyond Technology: Ongoing Training and Support
Technology was only part of the solution. Recognising that user adoption and competency were critical to the app's success, FCM implemented regular training sessions to ensure the team could effectively use the tool.
This approach demonstrates FCM's commitment to ensuring that their solutions offer real, tangible benefits to African Parks.
Redefining Accommodation: Proactive Management and Negotiation
FCM also took a proactive approach to tackle the accommodation challenge. By leveraging their industry connections, they negotiated better rates with local hotels, significantly reducing costs without compromising comfort or convenience. This strategic approach allowed African Parks to focus on their primary conservation mission, secure in the knowledge that their accommodation needs were being handled effectively and efficiently.
The Result - Unprecedented Transformation
The impact of FCM's interventions was nothing short of transformative. The days of chaotic, last-minute planning and logistical nightmares were replaced by a smooth, efficient, and cost-effective travel process. The advanced planning, facilitated by FCM's app, reduced travel-related stress and improved resource allocation. Meanwhile, the proactive approach to accommodation bookings translated into substantial cost savings.
"FCM has revolutionised our travel processes. Their ability to provide tailored solutions and continued support has made a world of difference to our operations." Crezelde Naidu, Travel Coordinator African Parks
The Bottom Line
The African Parks case study exemplifies FCM's prowess in transforming travel management regardless of the complexity of the requirements. By integrating advanced technology with human intervention and ongoing training, FCM not only optimised African Parks' travel processes but set the stage for a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that contributes to the noble cause of conservation.