Yesterday, we had the pleasure of conducting an interview with the re-elected NANTA President, Mr. Bankole Bernard. He gave us an insight as to the plans he has for the future of NANTA, how the love, drive and passion for the travel industry started and a key piece of advice for anyone who shares a love for the industry and would dare to venture into the travel business.
What does your role at NANTA require of you?
As the national president of NANTA, I am saddled with the responsibility of keeping the association together as well as ensuring that the members are conversant with the rules that govern the association. I also come up with ideas that benefit members and grow the association in effect, impacting the travel industry.
Do you have any future ambition for NANTA?
I desire that the NANTA of the future is one that is 21st century compliant, IT driven and can stand with any other industry focused association around the world. We have the likes of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), ASATA (Association of South African Travel Agents) that have gone way ahead of NANTA in terms of development and coordination of their members. I’d like to position NANTA at the frontline where it will be recognized internationally as an effective association that covers travels in Nigeria.
Do you feel NANTA allows you to make a difference in the travel industry in Nigeria?
NANTA being the umbrella for all travel agencies in Nigeria gives me the opportunity to be a spokesperson in terms of travel development, travel initiatives, airlines as well as other stakeholders in the industry. It creates a platform for self-expression in an area I’m passionate about.
You are very passionate about the ID Card Scheme. Tell us more about it? How do you see this project evolve?
From my presidency, this is a legacy project I hold dear to my heart. I believe it will bring some form of sanity and regulation to the entry and exit point for everyone that desires to work in or establish a business in the industry.
As it were, there are no barriers. Often times, Individuals commit without a clear understanding of what the industry is about, giving rise to fraud perpetration or misuse of airline inventory. The repercussion affects serious minded travel agents and agencies.
I believe the ID card scheme is going to change the face of the travel agency business in Nigeria. This is coupled with a legislative backing, ongoing right now in the House of Assembly to ensure full compliance of members as well as the general public on how and who a travel agent should be in the conduct of their business.
Should we expect exciting new trends and developments in the future in the travel industry in Nigeria?
Travel business in Nigeria has evolved in the last 1 year because of the fantastic relationship NANTA has built with IATA (International Air Transport Association).
Nigeria has been included as one of the pilot countries to benefit from some of the new development technology driven tools that IATA intends to drive this market. One of such tools is the NewGen ISS (New Generation of IATA Settlement System).
Also, by the end of April, the Global DIP, will take effect. It allows 3 other financial instruments to be used in the market asides Bank guarantee and the local DIP. Secondly we’ve been able to start with bi-weekly, weekly and daily payment. Which has helped different Travel agencies opt for the most suitable method of payment for their business. Unlike before where it was a one size fits all model, everything has been fine tuned to suit your business. Your remittance holding capacity is now being determined by what kind of business you do.
Finally, we are waiting for the IATA e-wallet, where people can make instant payment so that financial security will not be required or will be as little as possible
What inspires you?
Considering the nature of my work, a reasonable part of my time is spent ensuring that I develop my business and the association. Time spent with my family and in spirituality with God is really where I get a lot of inspiration from.
Why travel, was that your chosen career path?
I actually started my career as a banker. But I have and interacted with a cousin who ran a travel agency. That agency was later transformed into an airline. This was quite inspiring and it led me to try out travel as a career. When I got into it, there was no looking back because I found out it was something I always wanted to do. I went in fully and established myself in a different aspect of the travel industry
One key piece of advice for young entrants who are wanting to make their mark in the travel industry.
Travel is not a business where you make quick money. You have to invest resources but more importantly your time, love and passion if you really want to make any major impact. It is not a quick fix. It is a long haul
If you were not into the travel business, what would you be doing?
Like I said before, I had done banking before I got into travel and I am glad I discovered travel. I don’t see myself doing any other thing apart from travel. Life is all about your passion and the moment you discover it, nothing else matters.
Who is your role model and why?
In the travel industry, my role model is Mr Femi Adefope. He is extremely focused and has been able to take travel to another level, beyond the shores of Nigeria. His legacy in the industry is one every young or new entrant into the travel business should desire. I have the opportunity of calling him an older brother and a good friend
What is the one thing you won’t leave home without when you travel for business or leisure?
My socks. I won’t be able to sleep after a long journey without my socks being handy.