Parliament is looking for a new travel agent – to handle over 30,000 annual flights for MPs

  • The South African Parliament is looking for a new travel agency to book flights, accommodation, car hire, shuttle services and conference rooms for its members and staff.
  • The successful travel agency can expect to handle more than 30,000 flights a year for MPs alone.
  • Bidders must also “be able to negotiate the best prices” and “have a 30-day account worth an estimated R19 million”.
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The South African Parliament is looking for a new travel agency that will handle air travel, hotel accommodation, conference facilities, airport transfers, point-to-point shuttle services and rental cars for its members and staff.

Parliament, through the South African Government e-tender portal, launched a call for tenders for the services of a travel agency. Parliament’s call “for experienced and professional travel agents” was launched on August 13, along with a long list of requirements and responsibilities that will need to be met by the successful bidder over the next three years.

The Parliament’s Travel Management Company (TMC) will have to guarantee a “high level of traveler satisfaction” and “significant cost savings”, while controlling traveler risk.

The selected TMC will be responsible for air ticketing, visa services and ancillary services such as revalidation, rerouting, reissuance, reconfirmation, processing refunds and cancellations, and preparing appropriate itineraries, including alternative routes, departures and arrivals.

All of this must be done at the ‘most direct and lowest cost to Parliament of RSA staff and MPs’ [MPs] for official and unofficial purposes [or] personal trips. This extends to consultants, government officials and participants attending meetings or on official business for Parliament.

As part of its call for tendersthe Parliament specifies that travel is split into two distinct categories: legal and institutional.

Institutional travel refers to travel undertaken on official parliamentary business by Members and parliamentary staff, while entitlement travel refers to “the travel allowance given to each member to be used to meet their travel needs as an elected public representative. Entitlement trips, allocated as one-off trips per year, are managed through an electronic booking and procurement platform designed by Parliament.

The selected travel agent “will facilitate all travel bookings for Parliament”, spokesman Moloto Mothapo told Business Insider SA, but will not be involved in authorized travel policies.

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

The successful agent will be responsible for booking approximately 33,290 single trips for Members’ authorized travel each year. In addition, more than 7,000 domestic, regional and international flights, within the framework of institutional travel, will be reserved for MEPs and other parliamentary officials.

These estimates are based on pre-pandemic travel trends, in fiscal year 2017/2018. And while volumes are unlikely to change, the estimated costs associated with these flights – totaling more than 120 million rand for qualifying journeys alone – will be much higher than five years ago.

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

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

Prospective bidders will be required to attend a mandatory bid briefing at Cape Town’s Parliament on August 23.


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