TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings April-May 2018

Posted on April 24th, 2018
Categories: News

I’ve just heard the news that British Airways is closing its office and laying-off its entire staff here in Nairobi on 30th June. Its customers in the region have long had to rely solely on or alternatively a call centre in a far flung land. You’ll recall them closing their offices to their customers here last year, so I suppose this is not really a surprise.

For travel agents that supported BA over many years, they too will now have to brave call centres somewhere to the east of us. Person to person relationships developed over many years between agent and airline are no more. You might not know it but BA have some brilliant long serving staff here in Nairobi – as you’d image they were shattered by this news. One of the advantages of using a travel agent was that they could always speak to the airlines, which they continue to do, but alas not to good old BA.

It beggars belief that an airline can fly a daily jumbo jet to a destination without any representation whatsoever. Just look at the guest blog on page 28 to see how BA   handled a situation at Heathrow its home base. A weather based phenomenon, so they say, which caused it’s IT platform to crash, blamed by some on deep cuts to their IT budget. Passengers were told to leave the airport and re-book on, unsurprisingly it didn’t work and hundreds refused to leave the airport.

Loyalty is a big word. But BA’s business model seems to be all about shareholder value, which is all that seems to matter these days. Customers be damned. Talking of which, loyalty that is – many of our readers have complained about booking or sorting mileage issues with BA’s Executive Club. They say they have tried unsuccessfully to do this online, their only other option is to talk to a Executive Club help desk in South Africa, who they say are singularly unhelpful.

My little travel agency has seen a massive swing away from BA in recent times, seems the product and the amount you have to pay is seen as not very good value.

I’m happy to report that tourism from overseas and for that matter domestically is very much on the up. The safari circuit is already reporting record bookings from July – September, with those unable to secure accommodation during this time spilling over into October and even November. Happy days indeed. The coast is being cautiously optimistic and looks to a strong northern summer – but it’s more of a last minute market driven by price, so we will have to wait and see.

I haven’t stayed in a lodge in Kenya for sometime that was full, in my article on Lake Nakuru National Park in this edition I stayed at Sarova’s Lion Hill Lodge.

OK it was a weekend, but it was full and coping very well thank you. Let’s hope this happy situation continues.

The road up our way, which I used to call jokingly the Banana Hill Expressway, has had a mega makeover and it can now live up to that unlikely moniker. It’s brilliant, with not a speed bump in sight – although I fear they will eventually appear. But here is the kicker; they’ve stopped 500m from my driveway, which I obviously wasn’t too happy about. Thankfully they are now approaching my driveway from the opposite direction – so as it stands I’ll be the last driveway to be connected to the Expressway. Patience is a virtue they say, but I was never very good at that.

I’m all for good causes. I was recently approached to take up the cause through this digital wonder of the Friends of the Nairobi National Park’s opposition to the routing of the new railways through said park. I listened to their side of the story which was convincing. The other side of the coin that from the perspective of government was a blank wall. Using the best contacts I have, no one wanted to give their point of view or in fact defend their side of the story. I just couldn’t get the facts, try as I might. Without both sides of the story it’s hard to get a balanced view on which to launch a platform of protest. We are still willing to help but……………….

Next month will be our 90th edition, it only seems like yesterday that we began this journey.

This edition is all of 6-days late, my sincere apologies – technical gremlins and writers-block being just two of the many challenges.

Our Guest Photographer in this edition was in Amboseli National Park after the recent grass rains – the photo (below) shows a dusty elephant in a desiccated area of the park pre-rains.

Until next time…. 

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