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People are eager to fly again as long as safety concerns are met – Sikuade

People are eager to fly again as long as safety concerns are met – Sikuade

Adejoju Sikuade is the Head of Business for FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks on the unique service offerings of FCM Travel Solutions and how the company has continued to thrive despite the impact of COVID-19 in the industry.

What is FCM Travel Solutions about? What are its offerings and differentiate the brand from its competitors?

FCM is a global travel management company that provides a wide array of travel services using tools and technology tailored to the needs of our corporate clients, majorly multinationals. We are headquartered in Australia with a global presence in over 98 countries. We have nine Regional Head Offices, over 500 offices and 6500 staff under our belt. FCM Travel Solutions offers varieties of services which includes multiple options for best fare/rate on all travel routes, 24/7 emergency assistance, local and multinational account management, corporate travel policy advisory, meetings, incentives, conferences & events, group bookings, charter services, online booking tool implementation and support, traveller safety and security services, VIP executive service, leisure travel service, MIS reporting, door to door transfers, airport meet & greet, assistance with visas, passports and travel insurance. We also provide complete logistics services through the use of the New Distribution Capability (NDC).

Speaking of the uniqueness of FCM, that would be our people. They are our greatest assets! They are at the heart of what we do. Also, our global presence helps us provide personalized services. It gives us the expertise and local market knowledge our clients need.

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Knowing that FCM Travel Solutions has its brand presence in over 90 countries in the world, the operating environment will surely differ. Can you please tell us how the organization’s global best practices have imparted or strengthened your operations at FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria?

The idea is to have our clients feel at home in whichever FCM Travel Solutions Office they find themselves in. We pride ourselves on being a one stop shop for all travel solutions regardless of the country the request is being made from using the HUB approach. We have our travel managers sit in one location servicing several countries and ensuring all travel needs and Management Information System (MIS) reports are met. We take the FCM brand very seriously. We communicate the same exceptional services across the globe albeit in different languages. We have monthly virtual calls across departments within the Middle East and Africa Region and Annual Meetings/Conferences on a Regional level. Last year, we met in Dubai for Office Portfolio Reviews and a meeting themed “Think Fluid”. We also have a yearly global meeting of all regions (North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East & Africa) together in one location. We call these our Focus meetings and spend days discussing the Brand, its operations, tools, and technological advancements to support our ever-diversifying clientele and strategy and intense bonding sessions.

Can you please tell us about some of the companies that you have worked with and what has been the experience?

Our portfolio is quite diverse. We have clients cut across several industries. From the Oil and Gas sector to Telecommunications, Finance, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Construction and some Power Generating companies as well, to mention a few. It’s been a truly humbling experience providing tailored travel solutions for these respective giants in their various industries.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has come to disrupt life as we knew it. How did FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria pull through the lockdown and the whole COVID-19 disruption on businesses?

A lot of businesses and industries were quite hit by the advent of the pandemic. However, with the travel industry being one of the most severely hit, we understood the need for keeping hope alive and remaining positive for better days ahead. In light of this, at FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria, we had weekly inspiration quotes to motivate our clients and industry updates to keep them abreast of all the happenings within the industry. We had various Virtual meetings to discuss the impact of the pandemic on their businesses and how FCM Travel Solutions could assist to come up with cost-saving mechanisms ahead of the lift of the travel ban.

Now that flight operations have started to resume all over the world, what does it mean for your business?

This is a positive light that has started to shine after being on lockdown for months without business. Travel is a necessity especially for the multinationals who need to move staff and clients across the globe. We are particularly excited at the resumption of flight operations as we get to work with our clients to get their businesses done seamlessly.

Still on the resumption of International flight operations, are there any challenges that you face as a business?

First, I will say that the pandemic has created fear in the minds of many people and the willingness to travel has reduced drastically. Another thing is that the protocols and restrictions in countries where the COVID-19 wave is still high has also limited travel destination options, for example there are still restrictions on South Africa and America.

I would like to commend the Nigerian Government on its efforts so far, without also forgetting the recent launch of the Nigeria International Travel Portal. However, there is still a need to embark on advocacy and sensitization of the general public on all safety measures being adopted to assure travellers of their safety as they fly. The safety measures established by the Government should be sustained to prevent a second lockdown which will not be in the best interest of the people and the economy. In addition, everyone including the VIPs should subject themselves to the same level of scrutiny to enable an effective approach to the COVID-19 protocols.

Since the restart of International flight operations, what has the turnout rate in terms of patronage and inquiries been?

We have experienced a surge in the number of travel requests as a result of the lockdown that has kept so many people stranded for months. People are eager to move again as long as they feel safe and have enough information.

FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria is relatively new in the downstream sector of the Nigerian Aviation Industry, what growth prospects are you looking forward to?

Let me say that travel has become an essential part of business and life, which means the sector will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. The current population of Nigeria stands at well over 200 million people. Our focus is to be a partaker in the 10% growth of the flying public and that will grow our position significantly. Secondly, we look forward to a time when FCM Travel Solutions will be listed amongst the top 5 Travel Management Companies in Nigeria.

Taking a cue from how the organization’s global network has strengthened FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria, what new innovations should we expect to see here in Nigeria?

We have the SAM mobile app that is a travel assistant in the pockets of our clients i.e on their mobile devices such as their laptops, smart phones, tabs etc. SAM is a unique travel assistant powered by artificial intelligence. We also have several online booking tools at our disposal for our clients as well as the FCM Secure which acts as our ‘duty of care tool’ which we are sure would be very useful for the clients post COVID-19.