Port Of Antwerp Giants

Client in the spotlight

Given their height, our boys naturally prefer to travel Official Comfort class.” He may be of the legal retirement age, but full-time consultant and renowned networker Roger Renders is not thinking about retiring just yet. As the commercial manager of one of Belgium’s best basketball teams, he has also given their travel management a professional touch; namely by using the UNIGLOBE Travel agency Alpha Travel in Kapellen.

He is chatty, possesses the Antwerp directness and enjoys a joke. The commercial manager of the Port of Antwerp Giants (the team plays in the Ethias League, the highest class of the national competition), also appears to breathe basketball. “I am an ex-footballer that actively played competitively for numerous clubs between the age of ten and fifty,” laughs Roger. “Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like basketball; on the contrary, even though I am not essentially a specialist, I am the manager.” Roger became involved in the world quite by accident. He met a Sobabee player through his daughter and was invited to go and watch a game. He was asked to become a member of the commercial team and before he knew it, he had become the sports manager. Seven years ago he was appointed commercial manager. “And I am motivated because I can spend every single day doing what I love.”

The idea that sports clubs are run more or less like an SME in 2014 is an understatement. Roger is one such figure and he therefore gave the team’s travel behaviour and profile more structure. “Yes, we do travel quite a bit,” he reveals in his stylish catacomb office in the Arenahal in Deurne -although the club plays in the Lotto Arena (Antwerp Sportpaleis). “Every trip abroad involves around twenty people - including twelve players. Since we are also ranked in the Eurochallenge (the European league, you could call it), we easily make between six and eight trips a season. I organise them in a price-conscious and logical manner. If the distance is acceptable, we travel by bus. This is followed by high-speed train, and for matches that are really far away, we opt to fly. Travel is not paid for by sponsors; we pay the bills because I realise that the margins in this industry are extremely small and you can’t change everything in this life. Fortunately, we only have to organise transport as the hotels are always provided by the host team.” What makes travelling with basketball players so special? “Their height,” laughs Roger. “Naturally, we always hope for exit seats. Our tallest player is 2.16 m tall; try getting that in a plane (he laughs).” Apart from the games schedule, we also travel à la carte. “With four Americans and one Serbian player, it is logical that they travel back and forth to their home countries in between the playing seasons,” Roger explains. “And our people also sporadically conduct scouting missions abroad.” The Port of Antwerp Giants have relied on the services of UNIGLOBE Travel for a while. Manager Bernard Serruys of Alpha Travel proactively approached the club. “And immediately came up with a tailor-made proposal,” Roger reveals. “Meanwhile, things run smoothly; it is not always easy due to the problems inherent to a sports team. Name changes in particular are common. You can already guess: a player is injured and suddenly has to stay home, etc.” Anik De Meyer is on the other end of the hotline and consistently searches for the balance between affordable and efficient journeys. The aim is always to leave in the morning so that we can already start training in the afternoon,” Roger concludes. “And straight home after the match. But they already know that at Uniglobe Travel!”

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