Parliament’s looking for a new travel agent – to handle more than 30,000 yearly flights for MPs

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

  • South Africa’s Parliament is looking for a new travel agency to book flights, accommodation, car rentals, shuttle services, and conference facilities for its members and staff.
  • The successful travel agency can expect to handle more than 30,000 yearly flights for Members of Parliament alone.
  • Bidders must also “be able to negotiate best prices” and “carry a 30-day account with an estimated value of R19 million”.

South Africa’s Parliament is on the hunt for a new travel agency which will manage air travel, hotel accommodation, conference facilities, airport transfers, point-to-point shuttle services, and car rentals for its members and staff.

Parliament, through the South African government’s e-tender portal, has invited bids for travel agency services. Parliament’s call “for experienced and professional travel agencies” was issued on 13 August, along with a long list of requirements and responsibilities which will need to be met by the successful bidder over the next three years.

Parliament’s Travel Management Company (TMC) will need to ensure a “high level of traveller satisfaction” and “significant cost savings”, all the while containing the traveller’s risk.

The selected TMC will be responsible for airline ticketing, visa services and incidental services such as revalidation, re-routing, re-issuance, reconfirmation, processing refunds and cancellations, and the preparation of suitable itineraries, including alternative routings, departures, and arrivals.

All this must be done at the “most direct and lowest cost for Parliament of RSA staff members and Members of Parliament [MPs] for the purpose of official and non-official [or] personal travels.” This extends to consultants, government officials, and participants attending meetings or on official business for Parliament.

As part of its invitation for bids, Parliament clarifies that travel is split into two distinct categories: entitlement and institutional.

Institutional travel refers to travel undertaken for official Parliamentary business by both MPs and parliamentary staff, whereas entitlement travel refers to the “allocation of travel assigned to each member for utilisation to attend to their travel needs as an elected public representative.” Entitlement travel, allocated as single journeys per year, is administered through an electronic booking and procurement platform designed by Parliament.

The selected travel agent will “facilitate all travel bookings for Parliament”, spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told Business Insider SA, but won’t be involved with the policies related to entitlement travel.

Parliament’s invitation further provides estimates as to volumes of annual transactions expected to be facilitated by the selected service provider.

The successful agent will be responsible for booking around 33,290 single journeys for MPs’ entitlement travel each year. Additionally, more than 7,000 domestic, regional, and international flights, within institutional travel, will be booked for MPs and other parliamentary officials.

These estimates are based on pre-pandemic travel trends, during the 2017/2018 financial year. And while the volumes are unlikely to vary, the estimated costs associated with these flights – totalling more than R120 million for entitlement travel alone – will be much higher than they were five years ago.

While booking flights for MPs may take up most of the successful travel agency’s time, the selected bidder will also have their hands full organising car rentals, shuttle services, and accommodation.

Bidders must also “be able to negotiate best prices to the benefit of Parliament” and “carry a 30-day account with an estimated value of R19 million for all fees and costs of accommodation, flights, car hire, shuttle service, and conferences.”

Prospective bidders will need to attend a compulsory bid briefing session at Parliament in Cape Town on 23 August.

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