New SAA Voyager Cheque Card – What you need to know

Travellers always want to know how they can stretch their budgets and get more out of their trips while simultaneously spending less.

South African Airways officially launched their SAA Voyager Cheque Card in collaboration with Nedbank this week. Obviously, as a frequent traveller, I wanted to know if this card would really be beneficial to my pocket and if it would be worth my while to hop on over and get one.

As SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana explains, the card is a great add-on to SAA‘s initiatives in delivering unmatched customer experiences. With this card “there is no need to increase or have a credit spend.” Mike Brown, Nedbank‘s CEO, adds to that when he says that the card is “a symbol for real customer value.”

With travel being an increasing aspiration worldwide, I wanted to know how I will be able to manage my travel money with this card and what the pitfalls are. Here are the main things you need to know:

  • You get a Voyager mile for every R1. 60 spent.
  • The card has a companion ticket benefit, which gives you the opportunity to pay for your partner’s ticket with your miles. This can only happen, though, if you have reached your spending thresholds and you only get one companion ticket per calendar year. You can get an additional companion ticket if your SAA Voyager Premium Card spend exceeds R1million per calendar year.
  • Your miles expire after three years, so be sure to use them when you can and use them well.
  • It is the only cheque card that earns you Voyager miles.
  • A Premium Cheque Card’s membership fees are R170 per month, where a gold cheque card will cost R60 per month. The credit card will cost R2040 per annum.
  • By using this American Express card, you get the fastest miles earn rate.
  • You get 19 000 bonus miles with the purchase of your first SAA ticket. (These points are, however, only rewarded on completion of that trip).
  • You can earn up to 15 000 bonus miles annually if you spend R300 000 or more.
  • A premium card gains you access to SAA-owned departure lounges. This includes access for companion ticket holders when they accompany you (the primary card holder).
  • With this card you also get premium check-in, irrespective of your class of travel, when travelling on SAA flights.
  • You also get always on-flight discounts on selected SAA flights and promotional flight discounts of up to 40%.
  • In addition to on-flight and promotional flight discounts, you also get 20% discount on top-up travel insurance.

nedbank.co.za/saacheque

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Carry-on’s never been this easy

Like any frequent traveller, I am always on the lookout for luggage that is durable, user friendly and suitable for my travel needs. It’s also a bonus when everything I need to take with can fit into one bag that can be stowed in an overhead compartment.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

Travel needs also continuously changes as life changes. Since our baby girl was born, I inevitably had to re-evaluate the practicality of my luggage. If there is one thing that can really get on my nerves, it is struggling with something which should be assisting you. The same goes for luggage – it is there to assist you in transporting your valuables, not to frustrate you with wheels that can’t carry the weight, zips that break or impractical design. I’ve been looking for something that could tick all the boxes in terms of comfort when it comes to travelling. Something that is easy to carry and pull; durable, but not heavy; with handles placed at comfortable angles and in sensible positions considering picking up, pulling and taking out of vehicles and overhead stowage and something that would stand the test of time, because boy, oh, boy, travelling has become expensive!

The latest addition to my luggage collection has proven to be quite handy for multiple travel needs. Whether I travel with my family or for work, the THULE Subterra Carry-On has become my go-to carry-on bag as it is light and durable with its interior brilliantly designed. It’s also quite presentable, which helps me to travel in style.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

I’ve found that this carry-on bag is perfect for bleisure travel, as it has a divided main compartment, which assists in keeping your work outfits from your play outfits or clean clothes from dirty clothes.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

Travelling with a hat often frustrates me, as I don’t want to wear it indoors, but I like to keep it close for when we get on and off the plane and carrying it by hand is just a schlep. With THULE’s Subterra Carry-On‘s piggyback strap, which can easily be attached and removed, I can travel with at least one hand free.

The bag’s wheels seem to be larger than the norm, making it much easier to pull and they are of really good quality too. So is the handle, which can be adjusted, as well as the bag’s exoskeleton and polycarbonate back panel.

Travelling with THULE has made an immense difference on the way I pack and travel. It’s easier and more organised and it calms the nerves.

THULE Subterra Carry-On C

 

Venue: Menlyn Boutique HotelCarry-On: THULE SA | Flower print dress: EdgarsBlack shoes: Sissy BoyJeans: EdgarsLace top: Pick ‘n Pay ClothingSneakers: SovietGray dress: Pick ‘n Pay ClothingRing: PandoraWatch: HuaweiEarrings: Lovisa | Hat: Woolworths

Weekend Getaways close to Jozi & Pretoria

You don’t have to drive too far to escape the city lights of Johannesburg and Pretoria. A great weekend getaway might be closer than you think. Here are some ideas on how you can get away without spending too much time on the road:

Dullstroom

If you are looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend away, the picturesque town, Dullstroom, is your answer. Dullstroom is South Africa’s favourite fly fishing village and offers something to interest every traveller, whether you wish to catch and release fish or to enjoy the calming scenic beauty and excellent, quirky restaurants.

Taste superb whiskey from the widest range of whiskies available in the Southern Hemisphere at Wild about Whisky, enjoy the scenic two day Steenkampsberg hiking trail located only 4km from town, or enjoy leisurely walks with fresh air, taking in the picturesque mountain scenery.

Pilanesberg

The Pilanesberg National Park offers a great bush getaway. Boasting the Big Five, Pilanesberg promises thrilling big game viewing and is home to more than 360 bird species. Enjoy a guided 4×4 game drive, take an exhilarating walking safari or enjoy a unique hot air balloon safari.

Hartebeespoort

For a getaway that offers fun, family-friendly activities to entertain young and old, Hartebeespoort is the place to visit.

Enjoy some extreme jet boat rides on the dam, do some exhilarating zip lining or visit the elephant sanctuary. For the best views of Hartebeespoortdam, consider trying the popular Harties Cableway. If you are keen on partaking in a romantic lunch, pack a picnic basket and a blanket and enjoy a picnic at The Strawberry Farm near Hartebeespoort dam.

Magaliesburg

For the perfect escape to the countryside, head to the Magaliesberg region.

The Magaliesburg village offers good shopping, art and crafts studios, working farms and excellent restaurants. For the adventurer, the Magaliesberg offers mountain walks, quad-biking, hiking and more.

With its beautiful mountains, rivers and indigenous woodlands, this scenic gem has visitors returning time and again.

What is voluntourism and why should it matter?

Is the craze to help others, while you are unwinding, helping the world or making it worse?

Volunteer vacations or “voluntouring” is a trend that has slowly gained momentum over the past few years. As the word implies, voluntourism combines holiday travel with volunteering at the destination that the tourist visits. In simpler terms, it involves travelling to a destination in order to improve the economic well-being, socio-cultural development, or environmental conservation of the destination and its people, by providing volunteer assistance and goods. Usually participants have to pay a fee in order to partake, and as with all tourism activities, any traveller who receives remuneration for their services are automatically excluded.

Image source: thesocietypages.org

Image source: thesocietypages.org

For the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and events) industry it is an opportunity to expand a company’s social responsibility, the chance to deliver purpose-filled team-building activities, or even providing co-travelling spouses with an alternative to destination shopping sprees. Travellers desire a sense of purpose in their leisure activities. Although laying on the beach still appeals to some travellers, many people crave a more meaningful and substantiated vacation. In voluntourism, volunteers can experience a greater sense of social responsibility by improving the lives and well-being of the locals.

Google the term and you will notice a few other terms also associated with this phenomenon: voluntourist, ethical holiday, travel philanthropy and more. These terms are directly linked to sustainable tourism, defined by Sustainable Travel International as “lessening the toll that travel and tourism takes on the environment and local cultures.”  Their motto is: Leave the world a better place.

As with most travel-related activities, if voluntourism is well-organized and planned, the traveller can indeed make use of their holiday to bring about some change in the world, and also gain some personal benefits. Some of the more obvious pros include:

  • Voluntourism enables busy people to make time for charity work, combined with their holiday time. The volunteering has the added benefit of providing families with a shared experience, and single travellers the chance of travelling in the company of others.
  • The extra man-power that such a holiday provides to many well-deserved projects can result in cost savings, and faster completion as an ongoing stream of fresh workers keep the momentum going.
  • Both volunteers as well as recipients have the chance of gaining insight into the world and the lives of others. Voluntourism is supposed to be a people-to-people experience, striving to create cultural exchange and understanding.
  • A short voluntour can have far reaching effects, such as inspiring family members and friends to get involved with a cause, or even convincing the voluntourist to return to the project or to get involved with another project.

But, unfortunately as with any activity that is not well-organised or thoroughly planned, voluntourism can just as easily end up as a disaster if the parties involved do not understand the complexities in ensuring the experience is successful and enjoyable. One of the major downsides is the possibility of people only getting involved for a short feel-good burst of service, resulting in a project getting completed but not leading to much useful help for the complex cause.

Although voluntourism is rooted in good intentions, maybe it is not the best idea for your next business trip or holiday, unless done through a reputable and sustainable organisation, with a determined, long-term commitment to continue with the good work after you have touched home ground.

Travelling off the grid – Why a digital detox is necessary

Written by: Esrida Brits

Open your mind, pack lightly and leave the phone at home.

We should all look at our friends and family and earnestly ask – “When was the last time you switched off?” When was the last time that you refrained from using any electronic connecting device for 24 hours? If the answer is “I cannot remember,” a digital detox should be on the cards for them. The world looks a lot better when it is not through a screen!

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

As cell phone towers continue to pop-up, and Wi-Fi spots become commonplace, escaping the digital world becomes harder and harder, even impossible, and ever more exclusive. It is becoming an expression of privilege and of wealth; unattainable for the mere mortal traveller.  This perception is a shame, as off-the-grid travelling is the only way you can still experience the original intended thrill of adventure. The sense of excitement and strangeness; of being in a different, new place. The feeling that travellers once took for granted. Cutting the digital umbilical cord in the form of a digital detox is the first step towards adventure – escaping from the familiar.

A digital detox can be defined as down-time, time spent away from any technological devices like smartphones or computers, and is widely regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, increase focus and develop social interaction in the physical world. If we don’t allow ourselves the chance to reboot and recharge, we cannot be surprised if we burn out, become inefficient or lose our creative edge. In short, a digital detox is exactly what we need to stay productive and balanced in our wired world.

60% of all travellers confessed that traditional tourism holidays do not leave them rested and relaxed. Luckily, more and more destinations are realising the need for this “digital break-away” and are striving to provide guests with exactly that. Some destinations even have, as part of their rules, a strict “no device” policy where all guests must switch off their mobiles, smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers for the duration of their stay. These destinations use their “digital zero” rule as their defining factor, something that provides a unique selling point that sets them apart from the rest. They attract like-minded travellers who not only want to experience the destination’s uniqueness, the people’s culture and the feel of freedom, but who also want to re-summons focus and clarity into their lives.

These destinations are creating and planning enjoyable activities that guests can engage in during their digitally switched off time. Activities can range from cooking demonstrations and classes to outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming. The lack of constant distraction from a screen tends to allow guests to immerse themselves in the activity, leading to more enjoyment and richer memories to look back on. The disconnectedness also tends to free people’s minds, permitting them to think about the important things in life and can even encourage them to make big changes to relationships, careers, health and fitness.

So what are you waiting for? Switch off. Go and do something amazing – off the grid.

WORKSHOPS FOR THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY IN 2014

Exceed your customer’s expectations

28 December 2013. Johannesburg. The New Year is upon us and every tourism and hospitality establishment has its own plans for 2014. Whether you are planning on increasing sales or offering more products to your guests, it all comes down to one thing: Customer Service.

Travelling Mystery Guest, a hospitality and tourism consultancy company offering workshops, customer journey evaluations and PR opportunities, will be kicking off the New Year with exciting workshops focusing on South African hospitality, customer service and social media within the travel industry. Guesthouses, B&B’s, lodges, hotel groups, restaurants and even self catering facilities will be able to learn more about the importance of linking social media with customer service and the changes in the average traveller’s purchasing habits.

Workshops will be presented by the company’s founder, Renate de Villiers, and January’s venue is none other than the lovely Africlassic River Lodge in Rivonia. A special thanks to Jan and Magdel van Sandwyk, sponsors of the venue in return for workshop attendance and a customer journey evaluation.

January Workshops

January Workshops

Workshops for January and February:

Johannesburg:

23 January 2014                And THAT’s why the customer is in charge!

30 January 2014                Exceeding your customer’s expectations without too much effort

6 February 2014                Creating and sharing compelling content

7 February 2014                “Face” the “book” of social marketing

13 February 2014              “Tweet” your heart out!

14 February 2014              Google+ and LinkedIn for your small business

Pretoria:

20 February 2014              Creating and sharing compelling content

21 February 2014              “Face” the “book” of social marketing

27 February 2014              “Tweet” your heart out!

28 February 2014              Google+ and LinkedIn for your small business

Travelling Mystery Guest is looking for a venue in Pretoria that might be interested in a trade exchange. For more information, please contact us!

For bookings and more information, contact Renate de Villiers on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za or 079 110 5674. Workshop topics and content information will also be readily available on the TMG blog. ▪▪