Transfer services have become part of the luxury experience, and service providers need to ensure that the travel experience in this sector is seamless.

“Their time is scarce and vital to them and they don’t want to waste it getting to destinations, but rather in experiencing the destinations,” says Martina Vollmer, Sales Manager at African Travel Concept (ATC). “Much effort is made to ensure they are transferred quickly. The transfers are also not in buses and taxes, but usually comfortable travel in luxury vehicles. It’s not an Uber to the airport or to another country, but rather a personalised service to get them there timeously and quickly.”

Access expands experiential travel

Nik Lloyd-Roberts, Commercial Manager of Federal Airlines, says there is far greater demand for experiential or ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ travel, especially in East Africa, as well as Rwanda and Uganda, and this demand and growth is further driven by the increase of air access throughout the continent. “Although the frequency of scheduled flights is limited, tourists can access an abundance of African destinations, whereas in previous years this was not an option,” he says.

“As the destinations have become more popular, this has resulted in an increase in luxury private air travel – more specifically, private jet transfers. The option to charter a jet allows the luxury traveller to fly point to point on a schedule that works around their itinerary and not the other way around. This adds tremendous value to groups and family travel.”

In 2018, Federal Airlines launched a revolutionary direct jet shuttle service connecting Johannesburg to Singita’s Sabi Sand properties in just 30 minutes. The key difference was that the service was available to the luxury traveller on a seat rate, and operates daily.

“There is a clear relationship between accessibility and occupancy,” says Lloyd-Roberts. “The more challenging it is to get to a particular property, the more challenging it will be for the trade to sell. Air access remains the most convenient of all options, with private charters being the most luxurious.”