Hustling and Bustling

It’s been said that you can tell the sophistication of a nation not by how their poor aspire to drive fancy cars but how their rich use public transport.
Since I am neither rich nor poor, I am trying this bus thing for a week. The only twist is that I am currently based in Mauritius. For those who have seen the state of the buses, I am sure you will say “respect”!
I guess you can call this a blog (a Bus Log) whilst commuting. I am en route to the AfrAsia Mauritian Open golf championship. It is the first ever event sanctioned on 3 Tours, namely the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
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Interestingly that pretty much sums up this island – a melting pot between Europe and Asia, with some South Africa influenced thrown into the mix.
Even though it’s a leisure trip today, I have a few business travel thoughts on my mind that I want to share, namely:
1. Maps
2. Buyer-Supplier Discovery
3. Spice
I am not a fan of generalizations, but I think it’s fair to say that most Mauritian people grew up not using or needing maps. It’s a relatively small island, stretching 80km north to south and 40km east to west. What many may not know is that for its size it happens to be one of the highest populated places on earth.
Since the people are super friendly, the common approach in finding a place is to ask a local. When you do so, the response is usually in terms of a relative position to some other (to you unknown) landmark, such as a bank, a hair dresser or a market.
Oddly enough, even the people installing high speed fibre (faster than SA speeds) usually find their next location by asking the person where they just installed it for directions.
You have this wonderful mix between high-tech and personal touch. And I guess, at an abstract level, this is what we strive for in some ways in our corporate travel programs.
So much of what we value as modern travellers is map-based buyer-supplier discovery. The wild success of Uber is testament to this.
Accurate mapping is a tough space to play in though and one can only applaud the efforts of the OpenStreetMap community, which effectively digitizes people’s collective know-how and provides for an open platform for sharing and contributing mapping data.
The layers of apps that can then be based on those open data, and which don’t require you to be online when travelling is of great value to the traveller.
Let’s face it, business travel us stressful enough due to the pressure and uncertainties of achieving your business objectives and being taking out of your daily routine environment. Anything that helps you navigate your new daily reality effectively will be of value, and the wealth of apps aimed at this speaks to my point.
With big brand car rental in Mauritius easily costing up to ZAR 1000 per day, and taxis for a night out coming to that or more, you find yourself wishing there was an Uber nearby to commoditize the buyer-supplier discovery process.
So, to my last point: spice. Mauritius was the port of call at the heart of the fabled Spice Route, and spices have lead to most of the voyages of discovery. It is fair to say that they truly inspired travel to remote and exotic destinations. Even nowadays, when travelling, our best experiences are usually based on an amazing meal.
I think the GBTA 2015 conference theme of spicing up your travel program is thus a very apt theme. It promises to be a great event, linking buyers and suppliers, putting the new Protea Fire and Ice on the map, and helping attendees on their personal voyages of discovery in this complex and beautiful domain called travel.
 Author Rod “Dr Hot Rod” Ross

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