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March/April 2021

BRIGHTER HORIZON A new dawn for traveller wellbeing

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The 2021 TMC Guide Accommodation trends Gender inequality Reimagining travel

THE BUSINESS TRAVEL CONFERENCE • SEPTEMBER 14-15

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At SWR we are doing everything we can to keep you safe when travelling by train. Get our free Touch Smartcard and you can book a range of tickets online from home, before you travel, to minimise contact at every stage of your journey. Search ‘SWR smartcard’. Stay safe. Travel Smart. Untitled-2 1 Untitled-1 1

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UP FRONT

Contents 18

MARCH-APRIL 2021 Features

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15 Taxis and transfers: Why now

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could be the time to fix that 'last mile' firmly into your travel programme 18 Wellbeing: No longer just a box

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to tick, the mental health and wellbeing of travellers is now a top priority

INSIDE THI S I SSUE

7

Your special guide to

10

Travel Management Companies For everything you need to know about TMCs, see our pull-out guide

22 Accommodation: Four experts delve into the latest trends and share their top tips on how to respond

Up front 6

Everyone's Talking About: The vaccines

7

Speaking Out: Gender inequality

8

The Knowledge: Reimagining business travel

25

News Review

10 News and trends, plus comment from the BTA and the ITM

Departures

25 Reality check: See how two airlines, a London hotel and a chauffeur-drive booking service fared during Covid

4

26

27 Final word: The lighter side of business travel

2021 TMC Guide 3

Introduction: Overview of the sector and the impact of the

15

pandemic 6

Covid response: Update on new TMC products and services

10 Consolidation: Mergers,

25

13

acquisitions and failures 14 TMC Directory: Our annual listing of the key players 18 Fees: Examination of the shortcomings of the TMC business model

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Welcome Spring into action

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hether it's the vaccine roll-out, the furlough extension, the longer days or the prospect of coming out of lockdown (however gradually) there is definitely a ripple of optimism

washing over the business travel community. Note, I say ripple not wave, but the long-awaited travel restart finally feels within reach and the mood has noticeably lightened. Preparations are being made for when the restrictions are lifted and people can move around again, albeit differently. We've all now come to terms with the fact that when business travel returns it won't be the same – but in many ways that's not a bad thing. For all the disruption and upheaval the pandemic has caused, it has also brought about some hugely positive changes. Traveller wellbeing, for example, is now top of the agenda (see our feature on page 18) and with it the need for diversity and inclusion has also been brought into sharper focus (see Speaking Out on page 7). A crisis often brings out the best in people and TMCs, in particular, have stepped up to help companies tackle the recent challenges. As a result, there's been a positive shift in the relationship between corporates and their TMCs, with a new-found mutual respect from both sides, as we explore in our 2021 TMC Guide. As we come out the other side, your business travel might need reimagining (see page 8) and we hope there's plenty of content in this issue that will help you along that path. Finally, if you haven't yet seen it, check out our new website – thebusinesstravelmag.com. It's loaded with lots more to inspire, inform and entertain you. We've been reimagining too!

EDITORIAL EDITOR

Bev Fearis CONTRIBUTORS

Catherine Chetwynd & Gillian Upton STAFF JOURNALIST

April Waterston

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Julie Baxter

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge

ADVERTISING SALES PUBLISHER / COMMERCIAL HEAD

Kirsty Hicks

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Callum Blackwell

DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGNERS

Caitlan Francis and Emma Norton PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER

Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR

Steve Hunter

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UP FRONT hot topic

Everyone's talking about... the vaccines “Vaccinations are the way out “Vaccination programmes are now ramping up around the world and there are encouraging signs that confidence in business travel is starting to return”

of this and we are now in a very pOsitive position” Adrian Hyzler, Medical Officer, Healix

by most countries and, if not, many airlines"

The rest of the world is not at the same place we’re at with the vaccinations, so at what point does that open up and allow people to travel?”

Dr Stephen Rashford, Chief Medical OfficerWorld Travel Protection

Mark Avery, PwC Global Business Services & Travel Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Suzanne Neufang, Executive Director, GBTA

“It is highly likely, if not certain, that demonstration of vaccination will be required

“The vaccine is a hugely positive step and travel managers can start to rebuild their travel programmes, but the return to travel needs other criteria in place as well. A ‘return to office’ needs to happen first before business travel can resume. Business travel needs an office Scott Davies, CEO, ITM

destination. You can’t always hold meetings in hotels.”

“The vaccination rollout has certainly increased optimism around the prospect of unlocking travel. However, there are still a couple of key unknowns to understand. Will there be consensus across airlines in terms of eligibility to travel? Will countries be prepared to open their borders to those who have been vaccinated? ” James McIlvenna, Head of Account Management, Corporate Traveller

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UP FRONT SPEAKING OUT

GENDER EQUALITY

BRIDGING THE DIVIDE The gender gap is still too wide in business travel, says Abby Penston, CEO of Focus Travel Partnership

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e have come a long way in achieving gender equality in our sector but it can still often seem like an old-boy network. Our industry is full of female talent and we secure gifted women at entry level, but the ratio of male to female business owners within the industry is still skewed towards men. A recent report by PWC shows 29% of women sit in senior roles within travel companies and only 20% within airlines (the lowest sector). If you strip out HR roles, the

overall average in travel drops to 20.7%. So how can we change this? The last 12 months reassures us that looking at things differently and doing things different works, so let’s look again at what we can do to bridge the gap. We need to look at career paths and reassess the skillset pipeline needed to get to C-level. Studies show a large percentage of women at executive level tend to reside in HR. However, if women want to secure a CEO or Chair position, they need to develop skills and gain experience in more commercial,

financial and strategic roles. There is so much more to our industry than the obvious travel perks, so let’s look at enticing people from graduate level into these roles, as well as technology and business management. I was brought in from outside the sector in 2012 as my employers wanted a specific management skillset to help implement efficiencies into a rapidly growing business. I already had these skills when I came into the sector, which led to my career being fasttracked and to my current CEO role. Central to many women’s careers is the break taken to raise a family or provide care. Much has progressed and we are all more aware that everyone needs to have a healthy work life balance, but in practice we still fall short. Cultural practices in our industry, with long hours and overseas travel, can put up barriers. We need to ensure that jobs are kept open and flexible work practices such as job shares are considered. After I had my second child my employer asked how I wanted to manage my return to work, keen to find a workable solution to getting me back on my career path. In return he got my loyalty, commitment and determination to make it work. When it comes to salaries, the gender gap is improving - 15.5% in 2020, better than 17.4% in 2019 - but we can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal. Any pay gap is unacceptable. In the past I had to fight to earn close to that of my male counterparts. When I had my daughter 24 years ago I experienced awful prejudice just before my maternity leave which made me determined to ensure fair practices are in play within my own shared environment. It’s worth it. Research by McKinsey & Partners found that when companies commit to a diverse leadership team they are more successful. Different perspectives are key to understanding the needs of clients and growing a business outside of your own demographic. Education for business leaders is key and I have introduced a training series with multiple business coaches and sessions from Cranfield Business School for own SME partnership companies.

iSTOCK.COM/PHOTOTECHNO

ABBY PENSTON The Focus Travel Partnership is a group of 54 independent partner TMCs, each one a shareholder in the company. It appointed Abby Penston as CEO in 2019, when it became an independent limited company with a turnover of over £1billion

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ARRIVALS UP FRONT THE KNOWLEDGE

How to... reimagine your business travel Like companies all over the world, Willis Towers Watson has been rethinking its workplace in light of the pandemic and quickly recognised that the changes would also require a reimagining of its business travel.

THE BACKGROUND

If the appetite isn't there, and the timing isn't right, you're not going to achieve the level of buy-in you need”

Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking and solutions company, has 45,000 employees of whom 28,000 were travelling pre-pandemic. Much of that travel was US domestic, intra Europe and intra Asia, with frequent travel between London and New York and other key financial hubs. The company’s 2019 T&E spend was around $250 million. Three years ago it consolidated its travel to American Express GBT in 50 countries. An internal review of the company’s workplace had already identified a shift in the role of the office from a place to work to a place to meet. Collaborating closely with colleagues leading this project, Procurement Director Emma Jones set up a team to embark on a simultaneous review of the company’s approach to business travel.

which could be done virtually with no impact on revenue,” says Jones. “We also needed to consider what the impact of any travel would have on colleague wellbeing, our cost base and sustainability, with a reduction in CO2 one of the main objectives.” The key to all of this, she explains, was to truly understand “the business of our business” by identifying the different functions and personas within the company and understanding how and why they interact. At the same time, Jones and her team consulted with their TMC and buyer focus groups to gauge what approach other businesses were taking and also adopted elements of a Purposeful Travel Framework being developed by consultants Festive Road.

THE PROCESS

“It’s always critical to have advocates to help drive your message forward. The earlier you can have conversations to explain and spread the message the better," says Jones. "We probably would have liked to have started those conversations a bit earlier and, in hindsight, we could have engaged with more people, for

Starting from the place of zero travel, they engaged with colleagues from across different parts of the business and across the company’s global offices to gain an understanding of why they were travelling, how frequently, and how that travel impacted the success of the business. “We needed to identify those in-person interactions that drive the greatest returns and add value back into the business and those

8

THE CHALLENGE

sure. The timing is absolutely crucial.” Jones admits she was lucky because she was able to “almost piggy back” on to the work being done on the return to office, which already had strong stakeholder engagement. “We were able to take some of this narrative and mould and adapt it. But if the appetite isn’t there, and the timing isn’t right, you’re not going to achieve the level of buy-in you need.”

THE RESULT

It’s still a work in progress, but the ultimate goal is to establish a clear set of guidelines that appeal to all of the business segments, shaping how people will interact - both internally and externally - and making it completely transparent for managers, budget holders and colleagues to recognise what permissible travel will look like. “As the value of travel becomes more visible as an enabler to the success of the business, the travel team naturally becomes an adviser to the business,” adds Jones. “It changes the dynamic quite considerably and there is a huge opportunity for the travel management function to be elevated.”

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THE NEWS REVIEW

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AMADEUS MAKES SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS WITH NDC CONTENT

Sustainability tech start-up branches out CARBON offsetting start-up Trees4Travel has signed a number of key partnerships in the business travel sector. The company, which has developed technology to calculate CO2 emissions for travel and provide monthly reporting, has partnered with Focus Travel Partnership, the BTA and Sabre since the end of last year. Most recently it has joined forces with Travelogix, the travel management data specialists, and also with Capita Travel and Events. More partnerships are in the pipeline. Based on the carbon footprint of each trip, Trees4Travel arranges the planting of indigenous saplings on sanctioned reforestation projects. Besides offering individual trees, the company has entire forests available for larger partners, which can be branded.

AMADEUS and International Airlines Group (IAG) have signed a “milestone” NDC agreement. It means content from IAG airlines – British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling – will be made available through the Amadeus Travel Platform. BA and Iberia NDC connections are scheduled to be in place for the second half of this year, with Vueling following in 2022. Describing the agreement as an "important moment" for the travel industry, Javier Laforgue, Amadeus Executive Vice President of Airline

BUYERS GET FREE TOOL TO HELP THEM REIMAGINE TRAVEL FESTIVE ROAD has launched a ‘Purposeful Travel Model’, a free resource to help travel managers and organisations reimagine their business travel as they come out of the pandemic crisis. Created with the input of a group of buyers, it's a follow-up to the group's 'Permissible Travel Framework', which was made widely available to the sector last year and was accessed by more than 8,000 companies.

[ NEWS BITES ] >> ADVANTAGE TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP and WIN Global Travel Network have partnered with the ASAP, whose accredited members will be featured in their 2021 global accommodation programme allowing TMCs to identify providers which meet safety, security and infection control hygiene standards >> THE BTA has appointed two new Board Directors – Katherine Gershon, Managing Director of Wexas, and Chris Galanty, Global CEO of Flight Centre Corporate >> HEATHROW EXPRESS has introduced a newly-refurbished fleet of trains, the first fleet refresh since 1998. The 12 Class 387 trains have been up-cycled from GWR “in keeping with Heathrow Express’ sustainability values” with more space for wheelchairs and double the number of toilets.

10

Distribution & Content Sourcing, said: “NDC and the integration in the Amadeus Travel Platform will equip IAG to reach our industry’s new opportunities and meet changing traveller needs head-on. “This agreement once again reinforces the value of our technology and collaborative approach across the industry to bring NDC to scale.” Amadeus has also renewed its content distribution agreement with BA's oneworld partner, American Airlines, including NDC-enabled content.

5%

2020 bookings that went ahead

Data from Travelogix, based on the analysis of 10.51m records created between 2019 and 2020 from TMCs that had transacted continuously during this time, showed that, due to the pandemic, only one in 20 bookings made for and during 2020 actually went ahead

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THE NEWS REVIEW

T H E B U S I N E S S T R A V E L M A G . C O M

IN BRIEF

ITM

Booking fee

Scott Davies Chief Executive

Emirates will charge TMCs a fee of up to $25 for GDS bookings from July 1. At the same time it will introduce a range of content and services on its NDC-enabled direct platform, Emirates Gateway.

City pad

Synergy Global Housing has opened a 41-unit property in The City of London as part of its plans to operate in key European gateways

Seat extension

Delta has extended its policy of blocking middle seats until the end of April 2021.

Special agent

British Airways/IAG has appointed TMC, Good Travel Management, as a Specialist Agent.

Flights suspended

South African Airways has cancelled all international flights until at least October 30 and domestic services until April 30.

Team support

Accor and Microsoft will roll out All Connect, a new hybrid meetings concept supported by Microsoft Teams, starting in April.

T5 opening

An ibis budget has opened at London Heathrow T5 following an exchange of contracts with Accor and UK hotel management company, RBH. The 297-bedroom hotel features free Wi-Fi as standard. Rates start from £39 per room per night.

BLACKLANE, THE CHAUFFEUR SPECIALIST, IS ROLLING OUT ITS CHAUFFEUR HAILING SERVICE IN 21 CITIES DURING MARCH, INCLUDING LONDON, PARIS, AND BERLIN. FARES ARE SET BY SHORTEST DISTANCE.

JetBlue's Mint gets a fresh new look JETBLUE'S business class, Mint, will have a new look when the low-cost airline launches its London to New York flights this summer. The first complete redesign of Mint since its conception in 2014 was carried out in partnership with Acumen Design Associates and was inspired by the airline's wish to make premium travel across the U.S. less stuffy. Cabins will have 24 private suites with a sliding door for every passenger. Each seat is layered with adaptive foam and a breathable cover to “create a cool and comfortable sleep experience". As part of the refresh, JetBlue will also introduce its latest innovation, the Mint Studio. The airline claims it will offer more space in a premium experience than any other airline in the U.S.

It’s almost two years since ITM’s last in-person conference, in Brighton, but it’s important to look for positives and Covid vaccines mean that we are, at least, a step closer to being together again than we were yesterday. For ITM’s 2021 annual conference, however, we took the decision to convene virtually once more in April. The conference theme is ‘Revive’, with a programme aimed at supporting the rebirth of business travel and helping members optimise their place within it. Looking for those positives again, there are two key advantages of a virtual event. Firstly, more delegates can attend. Secondly, you can aim high with your speakers because the logistics are less challenging. So, we’re expecting nearly 1,000 delegates and our keynote speakers include two sporting legends: Gary Neville, ex-footballer and hospitality entrepreneur, and Martin Offiah, ex-professional rugby player and champion of diversity and environmental issues. Plus, we have lined up global airline CEOs and insights from the superb IPSOS Mori. We can’t wait to see you on April 27-28. The Revival is on!

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THE NEWS REVIEW

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F O R

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B T A C O M M EBNT TA U P D AT E

UK needs economic shot in the arm For the first time since the beginning of 2020, there’s a spring in my step. We finally have the beginnings of a roadmap out of quarantine hotels, ever-fluctuating travel corridors and total travel bans. The Prime Minister has not waved a magic wand for a miraculous recovery for the travel industry, but he has given both the business and leisure markets hope. The new iteration of the Global Travel Task Force is working with leading industry bodies, including the BTA, to put detail on the roadmap out of the current quagmire. This plan needs to take a long-term approach as we learn to live and travel alongside Covid-19. I firmly believe that international standards on pre-departure testing and vaccine certification are the only way to ensure Britain can be a truly global trading nation once again. It is into this more hopeful environment that the BTA has launched its vision for business travel in 2021 and beyond, in partnership with Amadeus. It is up to us as an industry to nurture travel

Clive Wratten Chief Executive Officer

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confidence and get companies who urgently need to travel for work moving once again. It is clear that corporates are going to prioritise their duty of care and take a more mindful approach to the return to travel. Travel management companies are going to be more vital than ever in meeting these demands and working to provide Covid-secure programmes. However, we recognise that it is going to be a gradual return to travel. The Chancellor’s decision in early March to extend the furlough scheme until the end of September will keep skilled people in our industry. However, a looming talent gap is a huge threat to our survival and only further targeted support rather than exclusion from the loans offered to the hospitality and retail sectors will save our sector from another avoidable cliff-edge. Alongside vaccinations, an economic shot in the arm is needed to prepare British business for the opening of borders and life travelling in the new normal.

IHG poll reveals what travellers miss most NEARLY one in three UK business travellers are feeling demotivated by a lack of work trips, according to a survey by IHG Hotels & Resorts. Its survey of 2,000 UK travellers, conducted in January via OnePoll, also found 40% miss face-to-face meetings, 46% miss being able to stay in a different city, 20% miss being able to order room service and 38% miss having some time and space to themselves. Karin Sheppard, the hotel's SVP, Managing Director for Europe, said: “While many companies have successfully adapted to working in a completely virtual environment you cannot replace face-to-face interaction and the valuable relationships that brings."

GBTA REPORT: UK BUSINESS TRAVEL WILL BE HARDEST HIT BRITAIN willl be the world’s worst hit business travel market, a gloomy GBTA report has forecast. The association’s BTI Outlook, which focused on Europe, concluded that a combination of the UK's "slower response" to the pandemic and ongoing Brexit uncertainty will make it the hardest hit out of the top 15 business travel markets in 2020, with the U.S. and Germany following closely behind.

Business travel spend in the UK, U.S. and Germany is expected to have fallen by 61.7%, 61.1% and 60.9% respectively last year, according to the report. It said GDP in the Eurozone is estimated to have shrunk by 7.4% in 2020, compared to 4.4% globally, and more sharply in the UK (11.2%). But in 2021 the UK’s GDP growth is expected to bounce back more strongly (by 4.2%) than the rest of the Eurozone (3.6%).

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THE NEWS REVIEW

T H E B U S I N E S S T R A V E L M A G . C O M

PARK PLAZA EXTENDS COVID REASSURANCE PROGRAMME PARK PLAZA has introduced a dedicated programme, Reassuring Meetings & Events, designed to enhance safety measures across its hotels in preparation for the safe return of meetings, events and conference clients. An extension to the brand's Reassuring Moments programme, it guarantees flexible terms and conditions, including cancellation and payment policies, plus free WiFi, high-quality audio-visual equipment and hybrid solutions across all properties. It also ensures customers wil be

allocated a dedicated planner for every event and will be provided with contactless experiences in most hotels. Further Covid safety measures, such as temperature checks, hand sanitising stations and revised capacities, will be ensured in line with local government guidelines. Meanwhile, cleaning and disinfection has been enhanced in all areas, with particular attention to high-touch items, and instructions and re-directing will also be in place to help maintain social distancing measures.

ATPI EXPANDS EUROPEAN FOOTPRINT WITH ACQUISITION ATPI GROUP has acquired German travel agency Hamburg Süd Reiseagentur GmbH from Danish shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller - Maersk. The company said the strategic takeover marks further expansion of its footprint in the European corporate travel market and strengthens its position as a specialist TMC for the global marine industry. The team at Hamburg Süd Reiseagentur will transfer to ATPI.

81.5%

Drop in hotel bookings

HotelHub, the hotel booking platform that powers many TMCs, looked at data from its top 10 destinations by booking volume and found figures dropped by 81.5% year on year between March and December, due to the Covid pandemic

Report highlights rapid transformation TECHNOLOGICAL transformation in business travel that would usually take place over two to three years happened in just the first six months of the pandemic, according to a joint White Paper from the BTA and Amadeus. The report, the Future of Business Travel, says this transformation will meet demands for contactless and risk managed travel when corporate travel returns. But it stressed the human element of managed business travel is still vital, with 51% of business travel specialists seeing human interaction as the number one factor in winning clients and delivering effective travel programmes. The paper was based on global data from Amadeus alongside interviews with eight of the BTA’s Board members.

[ NEWS BITES ] >> INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP has signed a new strategic agreement with ABC Global Services, specialists in global hotel programmes >> TAPTRIP has launched Vessul, a product designed to support the flow of goods and people within the marine and energy industry >> TRAVELPORT has launched a 'bold and distinct' new visual identity to reflect a transformation of its business >> CONFERMA PAY has expanded its role in the SAP Concur partner programme, providing virtual payment technology across all SAP Concur travel and expense products >> MALAYSIA AIRLINES has announced plans to introduce the a digital health pass, incorporating modules from IATA’s Travel Pass, to its mobile app >> PREMIER INN has become a strategic partner of the BTA.

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THE REVIEW

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V I S I T

T H E B U S I N E S S T R A V E L M A G . C O M

EVENTS APRIL 27-28 2021

SUZANNE NEUFANG

ITM CONFERENCE Virtual itm.org.uk

JOINS: GBTA AS: Executive Director FROM: HRS Global Hotel Solutions

MAY 21-24 2021

After an 'exhaustive review' of around 130 candidates, Suzanne Neufang has been appointed Executive Director of the GBTA, replacing interim David Hilfman.

ADVANTAGE CONFERENCE 2021 Madeira advantageconference.co.uk

JULY 12

ANTHONY CAPUANO

JASON GEALL

PROMOTED TO: CEO FROM: President Global Development, Design and Operations Services AT: Marriott International

PROMOTED TO: Senior VP & GM EMEA AT: American Express GBT FROM: Senior VP & GM UK and Northern Europe, American Express GBT

Anthony Capuano takes over the helm at Marriott after the death of CEO Anse Sorenson, aged 62, after he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Jason Geall, who joined American Express GBT in 2015, has been promoted to the newly-created position of Senior VP & GM EMEA.

JILL PALMER

LYNNE EMBLETON

TBTM DINNER CLUB Corinthia London thebusinesstravelmag.com

JULY 17-21 2021

GBTA CONVENTION 2021 Orlando convention.gbta.org

JULIAN MUNSEY SEPTEMBER 14-15 2021

THE BUSINESS TRAVEL CONFERENCE London thebusinesstravelconference.com

SEPTEMBER 15 2021

THE BUSINESS TRAVEL PEOPLE AWARDS London (evening event) thebusinesstravelpeopleawards.com

JOINS: Meon Valley AS: Sales Director FROM: Reed & Mackay

LEAVES: Click Travel AS: CEO TO: Pursue the next chapter

JOINS: Aer Lingus AS: Chief Executive FROM: International Airlines Group

Julian Munsey, formerly Senior Manager, Strategy and Consulting for Reed & Mackay and before that Head of Sales at Hillgate, has joined Meon Valley as Sales Director.

Jill Palmer has left Click Travel to 'pursue the next chapter of her career'. She joined the TMC eight years ago as Operations Director and was promoted to CEO in July 2015.

Following Sean Doyle's move to head up sister airline British Airways last year, Lynne Embleton, IAG Head of Cargo, will take over as Chief Executive of Aer Lingus in April.

SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 1 2021

R E C O G N I S E Y O U R O U T S TA N D I N G INDIVIDUALS AND TEAMS

BUSINESS TRAVEL SHOW ExCeL London btn.businesstravelshow.com

NOMINATIONS OPEN 26TH MARCH

OCTOBER 5 2021

TBTM DINNER CLUB

TheBusinessTravelPeopleAwards.com

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Corinthia London thebusinesstravelmag.com

OCTOBER 13-15 2021

GBTA CONFERENCE EUROPE Weisbaden europeconference.gbta.org

C

M

Y

CM

MY

Please note that due to pandemic restrictions, some of the above eventsCY might be postponed, cancelled or CMY switch to virtual events K

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TRAVEL MANAGEMENT CoMPANIES Y O U R

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AS BUSINESS TRAVEL RESTARTS, THE ROLE OF THE TMC WILL BE MORE VITAL THAN EVER. HERE'S OUR GUIDE TO THE LATEST TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS Introduction, 3-5 / Covid response, 6-9 TMC sector update, 10-12 / The Directory, 14-17 Spotlight on TMC fees, 18-20 / Insight, 22

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Postage stamp that changed the world Rowland Hill, a teacher, invented the Penny Black in 1840. The world’s first ever adhesive stamp set the price by weight instead of distance. His pioneering thinking was the Victorian equivalent of the internet and changed the world – going from 80 million letters in a year to 2.3 billion worldwide.

Pioneering a better way to pay Photo by isco on Unsplash

With the global travel industry enduring a shutdown for an entire year, many conventional business travel practices might prove unsustainable. So now is exactly the right time to re-set expectations; giving clients a choice on how to pay for managed travel services in a way that makes more sense. We’ve wrapped our travel services under a single subscription fee that takes care of everything your travellers need, keeps them within policy and helps to achieve your travel programme goals. It isn’t that radical, but it is an entirely fresh approach and perhaps remarkable in the days of Netflix and Amazon that Blue Cube is the first travel management company to implement this for its clients.

Breakthrough thinking changes more than just the rules of how a market works, it also delivers greater customer value.

TO FIND OUT MORE TALK TO US ON 0208 948 8188 - OR EMAIL sales@bluecubetravel.co.uk

www.bluecubetravel.co.uk

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21 16:01

Introduction / TMCs

T I M E o ut

Photo by isco on Unsplash

The business travel pause has given corporates the chance to rethink and reset – and TMCs are stepping in to help, says Gill Upton

T

iming is everything, so the saying goes, and this couldn’t be more true during a global pandemic. While the first few months were busier than ever for TMCs and corporates alike – with frantic repatriations, refunds, cancellations, learning best practice and certifying Covid-friendly suppliers – after that, there was a vacuum.

For travel managers with time on their hands it offered a time for reflection and the chance to review travel suppliers to ensure they were still the best fit. While there has been some RFP activity, most notably BP, Google and the U.S. Army, for the most part the last two quarters of 2020 and the start of 2021 triggered a rash of internal policy and process reviews.

“It feels like travel managers came into 2021 on the attack and with a clear plan as to what needs to be done this year,” observes Caroline Strachan, Partner in Festive Road. “As companies start to articulate their return to work, or virtual first strategies, travel managers have a great opportunity to align purposeful travel to their new organisational ways.” 

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TMCs / Introduction

It feels like travel managers came into 2021 on the attack and with a clear plan as to what needs to be done this year”

Ironically, as James McIlvenna, UK Head of Account Management at Corporate Traveller, remarks, “All the key players have been on the ground and in the same country so they have been able to do the analytical work necessary.”

Strategic direction

Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

Corporates know they are able to operate virtually and are questioning whether that would be the right strategy going forward. Supporting such a move is the very real condition of traveller anxiety; Road Warriors have enjoyed downtime with family and may not be keen to kick-start that multipleRed-Eye style of working life. Travel disruption in 2020 also meant that sustainability targets were met, so how do they maintain that for 2021 and beyond? These are all issues the TMC can provide solutions to. Corporate Traveller, for example, has witnessed an about-turn in how its clients want TMC reviews to be undertaken. Says McIlvenna: “We normally stage quarterly reviews, of cost efficiencies mainly, but that’s been stripped away as now we need to show value. We’ve created specific reviews around topical subjects, including duty of care, policy tools, wellbeing, supplier vetting and how to run a greener travel programme.” These elements were always part of the reviews but only as sub-categories; now they are main agenda topics. “It’s been great to re-set the dial on that,” says McIlvenna.

4

While TMCs have undoubtedly proved their worth during Covid, their challenge for now is to have sufficient cash in the bank and staff on the ground to meet the new demands of their clients. According to GBTA, 79% of 1,000 TMCs surveyed globally have laid off staff, 86% have been furloughed and 77% are likely to make further reductions in staffing levels over the next 12 months. Some 25% of the sample were European TMCs. “It’s a challenge in terms of resources and skills set,” says Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President, EMEA, at GBTA. A follow-up GBTA survey in February 2021 of the same sample tracked the measures corporates took as a result of Covid, revealing that 55% laid-off employees, 46% furloughed employees and 44% cut pay. Among respondents who report their company has furloughed employees, almost half (45%) say that some have returned to work. An additional one-quarter report all (10%) or most (15%) have returned to work, while almost one-third (30%) say all furloughed employees remain furloughed or have since been laid off.

Shift in demand

Skeleton staff won’t be able to service an increasing demand for high-touch, white glove service. BTA CEO Clive Wratten points out that there are a lot of experienced staff made redundant last year who still haven’t secured jobs but who can be re-employed when business returns. The pre-Covid trend of placing more travel into a self-booking tool has been mothballed for now, with most industry observers predicting that once traveller confidence returns demand for online bookings will surge once again. TMC financials are another matter, as gone are the buckets of supplier commissions exacerbated by greatly diminished transactions fees. A survey of travel buyers by ITM at the end of 2020 found 63% would be open to changing the structure of their TMC agreement to support recovery. When buyers were asked what changes they expect to their TMC commercial model as a result of the pandemic, 10% said they expect a move to menu pricing, 10% said a shift to a management fee, 15% specified 'other', 2% to a subscription fee model and

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Introduction / TMCs

38% said they expect to see a mix of all of those. But at the same time, over a third (37%) said they don't expect any change. Recognising the need for change, the BTA commissioned consultants Nina & Pinta to publish a guide on future TMC financial models (see feature on page 18-20). Future charging mechanisms mean similar fee levels but new ways of paying. Next on the agenda is a guide to the RFP process.

If your TMC relationship has survived the extraordinary and unprecedented last 12 months then it’s certainly worth saving and avoiding the cost and angst of an RFP. “Hold fire,” is independent consultant Chris Pouney’s advice. “Every TMC is in a massive flux and so are the corporates,” he says. “It is hard to fully appraise or select a supplier when you have no idea what your business will look like in 12 months’ time though, so there are pros and cons to this.” Arguing for no change is Kate Watson, Head of Consulting UK & Nordics at Areka Consulting, who says: “It’s not the perfect time to switch TMCs in such a volatile marketplace at the moment.” Corporates will be adjusting the size of their travel spend in a downwards direction and focussing on duty of care and a stronger approvals pre-trip process as part of their Return To Travel programmes, “and for that they need to work closely with their TMCs,” adds Watson. Corporates do not know what they don’t know and TMCs can fill that void. In their corner “C-Suites see the value of the TMC more now,” says Areka’s Watson. Nicola Cox, Director at Midas Travel, believes the pandemic has brought to the forefront the real value of the TMC service "We have become the go-to font of knowledge for clients. We’ve demonstrated our level of consultancy and increased our capacity to advise far beyond the basics of point-to-point business travel," she says. "Our sources are continuing to widen; as not only do we need to be up to speed with the latest legislation and in-country travel requirements, but also the daily changes and product variations of our suppliers. We’re becoming more and more of a full travel management solution for clients.“ Paul Tilstone, Managing Partner of Festive

Photo by isco on Unsplash

Stick it out

Road, predicts that as the business travel sector comes out of the pandemic crisis TMCs will play an integral role in the new focus on why employees should travel. “Until now, TMCs have been primarily focussed on the 'what and how' of travel programmes – delivering policy, booking travel, collating data and so on. But in an era of purposeful travel there are all sorts of opportunities to develop some of their more valued capabilities we have seen evolve over the last decade," he explains. Tilstone believes that designing policies and processes to support the implementation of a purposeful travel programme will present another opportunity for TMCs to demonstrate their value, along with their ability to analyse new data to continuously refine the approach and develop services which meet the new requirements. “In a purposeful travel era, where travel budgets are built from the bottom up and the focus is on where travel brings value, there are all sorts of implications for the commercial relationship between TMC and buyer too," he adds. “If TMCs can support companies to become more strategic with their travel investments, then the commercial dynamic is changed and true value can be realised both for the customer and TMC. A natural side-effect of this, of course, is that buyers will only contract a TMC for services their company values, but this isn’t to be feared.”

If your TMC relationship has survived the extraordinary and unprecedented last 12 months then it's certainly worth saving and avoiding the cost and angst of an RFP”

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TMCs / Covid response

SUPPORT systems With a raft of new products and services TMCs are playing a vital role amid the current travel complexities. Gill Upton reports

H

ere’s the dilemma: the dire economic climate is forcing companies to introduce more rigid travel policies and reductions in spend while Covid-19 dictates that those changes must accommodate a far more robust duty of care programme, in terms of traveller wellbeing and safety, which often means higher cost. It’s a tough balance to strike between cost and risk mitigation and TMCs have been demonstrating just how to deliver that through real-time traveller tracking, a tighter pre-trip approval process, up-to-date travel alerts, Covid-related intelligence and a raft of new-fangled reports to dice and slice to maintain cost controls.

It's taken a global pandemic for TMCs to prove they are vital partners in the travel space, something that historically they have not been good at articulating" 6

“Clients already have access to this,” argues Nicola Cox, Director at Midas Travel. “What they’re seeking more of is an integrated and advisory approach. Our clients know us for our proactivity and rely on our advice on traveller wellbeing, protecting supplier partnerships and restoring traveller confidence.” The picture of Covid readiness varies among TMCs but generally they have not been idle. Ahead of the curve initially were the digital TMCs. The likes of TripActions, for example, swiftly added new functionality to help instil confidence and protect travellers. This included an enhanced Covid-19 report, deeper policy controls and customisation, real-time data for travellers, automated unused tickets and waivers within the booking flow, a recovery app to assess the safety of planned travel and webinars to log best practice for travel managers. More recently, travel data platform Shep has added Covid-related perimeters to its browser extension, sharing guidance on thousands of websites. Tripkicks has done something similar, adding actionable insights to its Concur booking overlay. 

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Travel is going to get more complex and clients want somebody to take it all away from them and own it. If TMCs sell that vision clients won't baulk at the cost of the service” Fello introduced the Amadeus platform to collate the latest Coronavirus travel information and a chatbot, Feasy, to pull all relevant travel information together into one place by destination, saving consultants time and removing potential errors. The Focus Partnership introduced Pinpoint so members and their clients can check where travel teams have been and are due to go. It sends direct messages to travellers on the move and each traveller location is overlaid with FCO and Covid intelligence. Reed & Mackay (R&M) undertook a rash of developments. It integrated hotel Covid-19 safety intelligence, such as Stay Safe, so clients could make smart decisions about 'Covid-friendly' places to stay, and it did the same for airlines. The TMC also introduced enhanced risk intelligence, including a Covid-19 traveller tracking map and emails to remind travellers to complete health forms, for example. R&M has also partnered with CityDoc to provide Covid-19 tests and an exclusive agreement with Healix International will provide clients with a layered risk assessment tool with instant assessments of the medical and logistical risks of proposed travel itineraries. The TMC’s clients can also view air travel carbon emissions at point of sale, whether using R&M/Book or booking through a travel team, and see how a modal shift would save carbon. This data flows through seamlessly to the post-trip reporting. Additions at Advantage include a duty of care product suite covering traveller tracking and risk management products, Maiden Voyage Covid traveller training models and accommodation accreditation in partnership with GSA. The consortium has also introduced carbon off-setting and reporting tools, enriched its 2021 GDS accommodation programme, and will introduce new

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corporate travel insurance policies via Advantage Financial Services. Travelport, meanwhile, has added a new Stay Safe feature for agents connected to its API or Smartpoint agency desktop solution. American Express GBT launched Travel Vitals, a single source of information aggregated by multiple sources by destination, airline, airport, hotel chain, train operator and ground transport provider. It flags up Covid-19 hotspots and shows traveller restrictions by location. The TMC also launched a push notification feature in its mobile app, called Program Alerts, which allows travel managers to send messages to travellers. A third product launch, Expert Auditor, allows clients to configure and customise rules to be applied automatically to bookings and flags noncompliant travel for approval. Amex GBT also launched two new features on its booking tool Neo: a new sustainability feature which filters carbon emissions by air and rail, and a facility to display the hotel option that meets a client’s environmental standards and criteria. Aside from launching Covid-related tools, FCM staged internal client surveys to gauge traveller sentiment about a return to travel. CTM launched a Covid Hub with centralised access to up-to-date Covid insights. “We also include supplier updates and integrate it all in to our self-booking tool,” explains CTMs General Manager Sales Shelley Matthews.

The TMC is also providing a Covid testing facility clinic, home testing kits and has enhanced its approval tool to incorporate permission to travel. A traveller wellbeing dashboard enables clients to identify traveller behaviours and trends that could impact traveller wellbeing, while CTM's Climate + programme, set up in partnership with South Pole, provides tools to track the environmental impact of travel, and also solutions to help clients reach carbon neutrality goals. Over the next few months CTM will improve user functionality on its portal and self-booking tool to improve visuals and reduce the number of clicks. The message that TMCs are the vital conduit of relevant Covid-19 information for travellers has reached the normally hard-to-access firms in the unmanaged space and many TMCs are reporting brisk business in this area. It’s taken a global health pandemic for TMCs to prove they are vital partners in the travel space, something that historically they have not been good at articulating. “They have communicated that they are clients’ centre of excellence and will make sure that travellers have everything they need. Travel is going to get more complex and clients want somebody to take it all away from them and own it,” says independent consultant Chris Pouney. “If TMCs sell that vision, clients won’t baulk at the cost of the service.“

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Traveller safety & cost control?

Yes.

Ensure business continuity and recovery with the TripActions Enterprise Edition T&E platform.

Trusted by 4,000+ customers:

www.tripactions.com/uk/enterprise

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XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX TMCs / Consolidation

SURVIVAL of the fittest

Covid has already triggered TMC consolidation, and some failures too, so what does the future hold, asks Gill Upton

O

f the 57 members of the Focus Travel Partnership, two have sadly gone to the wall – maritime specialist Horncastle Executive Travel and Thorntons Travel – and others have changed hands, resulting in inevitable job losses. It’s a sad legacy of Covid-19 and many fear it won’t end there. “I’d like to think that was it but it would be naive to think there won't be more disastrous consequences of Covid,” says Abby Penston, CEO of the industry body that provides buying power and support for SME TMCs. To secure Focus membership, TMCs are fully vetted, including checks from airlines and the need for an IATA licence. The

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organisation is also supported by the Federation of Small Businesses. Members go through similar financial checks and due diligence as part of the application process at the Advantage Travel Partnership. “However, the main benefits include elevated positioning, as part of a larger collective group, aggregation of spend to drive collective rates, value and terms and drive efficiencies for the tri-part relationship," explains Sonia Michaels, the group's Head of Business Travel Services. In terms of other consortia and industry membership organisations, no BTA members have failed to date and it’s encouraging that the organisation

represents 90% of all TMCs in the UK. However, hit with the double whammy of zero supplier revenues and zero customer revenues it’s difficult to imagine how any TMC has managed to survive the last 12 months.

Cash reserves

There is seemingly no rhyme or reason for which TMCs make it and which go to the wall. As BTA Chief Executive Clive Wratten points out: “Size is no guarantee or the governing factor in survival. Being small and nimble is often better."

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Consolidation / TMCs

Size is no guarantee or the governing factor in survival. Being small and nimble is often better”

Wratten does concede, however, that cash allows the ability to innovate. Clarity has Middle Eastern money backing it while venture-capitalist-backed TMCs or those with good investment pots behind them have endured and even expanded their horizons. Last August, for example, FCM's parent company Flight Centre Travel Group announced its acquisition of San Franciscobased WhereTo, while the following month CTM purchased Travel and Transport, including its Radius Travel business. In October, American Express GBT acquired technology start-up 30SecondsToFly, a specialist in artificial

intelligence and business travel messaging. In December Blue Cube Travel launched a franchise venture, Blue Cube Associates, in an effort to soak up the skills of those made redundant, while 2021 kicked off with two purchases: TravelPerk acquired Santa Monica-based business travel platform NexTravel, as part of its expansion plans in the U.S. market, and American Express GBT bought high-touch TMC Ovation Travel Group. Most recently, acquisition-hungry Traveleads purchased Omega Business Travel. It also snapped up Southamptonbased Sterling last June. Those TMCs who are busy building new capability also have a good chance of 

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 survival. Developing new products and services will win over corporates but sitting back and waiting will not. “TMCs have to provide a greater value proposition after Covid as those are the differentiators in the business,” says David Chappell, Country Director UK at travel software Midoco. One potential growth area for TMCs is those corporates in the unmanaged SME space. Indeed, Corporate Traveller won 42 new SME clients between July and October 2020, with a combined annual pre-Covid spend of £18.7 million.

Emergency measures

When Covid hit most TMCs acted quickly to take their business models back to basics to future-proof their organisations. Next came redundancies and furloughing of staff, along with mothballing of offices and a move to remote working when the technology and funds allowed. Adapt or die has been their modus operandi and Focus’ Penston believes that technology will be the key in building back TMC business in a post Covid world. “Fuse that with their knowledge and skillset and you’re going to see some exciting TMCs,” she says. Focus, for one, has been investing in technology, expressly Pinpoint traveller tracking software and Farecast data reporting tool. Arguably, technology will eradicate the need to bring back all redundant or furloughed staff, according to one industry observer who preferred to be anonymous. “Everything can be automated. I won’t need to bring back all my workforce,” she says. American Express GBT used the period last year to reset. It has expedited

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technology launches, re-designed service configurations, launched Neo1 for the unmanaged sector, given its GMs more customer focus and created global customer partnerships. Some 60% of Amex GBTs workforce was already remote working so the TMC already boasts a large flexible workforce. “We have implemented many changes,” says Jason Geall, VP & Regional GM EMEA. “Our business response plan is in place. We've had to look at the size of the organisation and we've achieved most of that reduction with voluntary redundancies, making sure we’re ready for the return." Reed & Mackay has also re-sized its business. “We’ve cut our cloth accordingly and protected as many jobs as we can,” says CEO Fred Stratford. It has private equity firm Inflexion behind it. “They see the long-term value of our sector,” he adds.

Skills gap

One concern in the sector is the loss of key skills, including those in centralised management functions. The upside will be leaner and fitter TMCs, layered with an element of de-globalisation, a move to be best-in-market and growth in niche TMCs in industries such as entertainment and oil and gas. Chris Crowley, Partner at consultants Nina & Pinta, neatly sums it up as “specialisation, regionalisation and marginalisation”. As we come out of the pandemic, corporates will be understandably nervous about the financial viability of their TMCs and are asking questions about business continuity, cash liquidity and forward planning for the most part. “Some clients are nervous about the stability of their TMC,” confirms Shelley Mathews, GM Sales at CTM.

One concern in the sector is the loss of key skills, including those in centralised management functions. The upside will be leaner and fitter TMCs" “Are they ready to do business again, as that really is a concern,” says Crowley. He believes TMCs will have to move forward with smaller management teams, more central operations, less deployment of technology, and centralised quality control and payment processing, all geared to diminishing the fixed asset cost. “TMCs are focussing on cash containment and they’re not at the end of that road," he adds. So, how can clients be sure of a TMC's viability? The general consensus is to ask what reserves they have at the bank, how long can they survive without income, and ask them to share bank statements. Transparency is key if the relationship – yet alone the agency – is to survive. Independent consultant Chris Pouney says many customers are making contingency plans should the worst happen. “Traditional financial instruments such as reporting do not work well here as it’s unlikely that a TMC in distress would simply go under; more likely that they (and more precisely their client book) will be acquired.” A rash of M & A activity this year will be inevitable but to what extent nobody knows. What most industry pundits do long for, though, is BTA Clive Wratten’s prediction for the year: “The industry is relatively intact and I hope that 2021 will not be any worse than 2020.”

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Strike a balance Do you spend every day walking the tightrope of corporate travel? Are you trying to develop a travel programme that will deliver on your business goals and save on cost, whilst caring for your travellers and the world around us? If so, Direct ATPI is ready to be by your side.

Delivering what really matters™

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13/10/2020 09:13 10/22/20 06:24 PM


TMCs / The 2021 Directory

TMCs 2021: Who does what

Your guide to a selection of leading travel management companies in the UK (A to F)

Website

Online / Offline

Company size

Head office

Established

Alliance membership

abt-global.com

70% / 30%

8 UK staff/ 1 office + 400 staff globally

London

2001

Advantage / Focus / LCC

accessbookings.com

30% / 70%

115 staff / 6 offices

Lichfield, Staffordshire

1985

ACE Travel Management

acetravel.co.uk

80% / 20%

12 staff / 1 office

Brentwood, Essex

1992

ATG / Advantage / WIN

ALTOUR International Ltd

altour.com

29% / 71%

200 UK staff + locations worldwide

London

1991

Advantage / ALTOUR Global Network

amexglobalbusinesstravel.com

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

London

2014

arrangemy.com

70% / 30%

60 staff/ 1 UK office/ 1 implant

Worcester

1990

atpi.com

45% / 55%

1500+ staff / 100+ locations worldwide

London

2002

bbtm.co.uk

10% / 90%

5 staff / 1 office

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

1895

bcdtravel.com

Not disclosed

14,900 staff globally

London

1981

beyondbusinesstravel.com

80% / 20%

Not disclosed

Belfast

2010

Advantage / Focus / WIN

bluecubetravel.co.uk

30% / 70%

30 staff / 4 offices

London

2003

Advantage

bfp.travel

20% / 80%

24 staff / 1 office

Beaconsfield, Bucks

1997

capitatravelevents.co.uk

80% / 20%

430 staff / 3 offices

Derby

1972

Advantage / GlobalStar

claritybt.com

78% / 22%

400 staff / 7 locations in UK&I

Manchester

1959

Radius Travel

Click Travel

clicktravel.com

90% / 10%

150-200 staff / 1 office

Birmingham

1999

Advantage

Clyde Travel Management

clydetravel.com

20% / 80%

83 staff / 2 offices (plus US/India/Sweden)

Glasgow

1989

Advantage / WIN / Focus / Hickory

Corporate Travel Management (CTM) Europe

travelctm.co.uk

Not disclosed

2,700 staff globally

London

1994

Owns Radius Travel

ctbusinesstravel.co.uk

30% / 70%

50 staff / 4 offices

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

1988

GlobalStar / Uniglobe

mycwt.com

Not disclosed

14,500 staff in 153 offices globally

Minneapolis (global HQ)

1994

dialaflight.com/corporatetravel

100% offline

130 staff / 4 offices

London

1980

diversitytravel.com

48% / 52%

141 staff in Manchester, London and U.S.

Manchester

2008

EFR Travel

efrtravel.co.uk

6% / 94%

46 staff / 3 offices

Bushey, Hertfordshire

2002

Egencia

egencia.com

87% / 13%

Not disclosed

London

2002

Eton Travel

etontravel.com

50% / 50%

86 staff / 2 offices

Eton, Berkshire

1969

FCM Travel Solutions (inc. Corporate Traveller)

fcmtravel.co.uk

46% / 54%

570 staff / 20 UK offices (6,000 staff globally)

New Malden, Surrey

2004

fello.co.uk

25% / 75%

40 staff / 1 office

London

1995

Travel management company ABT-UK Access Bookings Ltd

American Express Global Business Travel

arrangeMy ATPI Baldwins Travel (BBTM) BCD Travel Beyond Business Travel Blue Cube Travel and Consultancy Ltd Business First Partnership Ltd Capita Travel and Events Clarity

CT Business Travel CWT DialAFlight Corporate Travel Diversity Travel

Fello

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Advantage / WIN

Advantage

Advantage / Focus

Advantage / American Express GBT TPN

Advantage / Focus / GlobalStar

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The 2020 Directory / TMCs

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Utilities

Telecomms

Transport

Technology

Touring

Sports

Retail

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● ●

Recruitment

Professional services

Public sector

Pharmaceutical

Oil/Gas

NGOs

Media

Marine

Logistics

Manufacturing

Legal

Insurance

Health/Medical

General SMEs

● ●

● ●

● ●

Entertainment/TV/Film

Finance

Energy

Defence

Creative

Construction/Engineering

Charity

Advertising

Academic/Education

Business sectors in which clients operate or the TMC specialises in

Information supplied by TMCs to The Business Travel Magazine. Annual figures quoted refer to a TMC's most recent financial or calendar year and to UK corporate business only unless stated otherwise. *inc. Altour, Pro Travel, Tzell & Colletts Travel

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TMCs / The 2021 Directory

TMCs 2021: Who does what

Your guide to a selection of leading travel management companies in the UK (F to W)

Travel management company

Website

Online / Offline

Company size

Head office

Established

Alliance membership

Flightline Travel Management

flightline-travel.co.uk

18% / 82%

8 staff / 1 office

Haddenham, Bucks

1999

Advantage / WIN / Focus

globaltravelcollection.com

5% / 95%

55 full-time staff in 5 offices 100+ independent travel advisors

London

2006

Advantage / Virtuoso / Select

gtm.uk.com

25% / 75%

18 staff / 1 office

Woking, Surrey

1997

Focus / WIN

good-travel.co.uk

30% / 70%

28 staff / 1 office

Kingston Upon Hull

1833

Advantage / Altour

gdg.travel

57% / 43%

200 staff / 4 offices

Colchester, Essex

1865

Advantage / Radius Travel

harridgebusiness.com

1% / 99%

13 staff / 1 office

London

1983

Advantage / Focus

inntel.co.uk

75% / 25%

80 staff / 1 office

Colchester, Essex

1984

Advantage / Focus / Radius Travel

keytravel.com

67% / 33%

140 staff in 9 countries

London

1980

Advantage / CCRA in U.S

meonvalleytravel.com

50% / 50%

60 staff / 1 office

Petersfield, Hampshire

2002

Advantage / WIN / Focus

midas-travel.com

15% / 85%

25 staff / 1 office

London

1998

Advantage / WIN / Focus

noradtravelgroup.com

12% / 88%

39 staff / 1 office

Liss, Hampshire

1981

Advantage / Focus

omegabusinesstravel.com

10% / 90%

12 staff / 1 office (before being acquired)

Hersham, Surrey

1982

Advantage / Focus

omegaworld.co.uk

60% / 40%

22 staff UK + 300 in 30 U.S. locations

London

1972

Advantage / Focus / GlobalStar

quintessentiallyctm.com

20% / 80%

26 staff / 2 offices +3 offices globally

London

1971

Advantage / Focus

Reed & Mackay (inc. Business Travel Direct)

reedmackay.com

34% / 66%

Not disclosed

London

1962

Advantage / R&M Intl Partnership

Review Travel Limited

reviewtravel.co.uk

50% / 50%

10 staff / 1 office

Cheshire

1982

Focus

Selective Travel Management

selective-travel.com

25% / 75%

65 staff in Belfast & Dublin

Belfast

1974

Advantage

Simplexity Travel Management Limited

simplexitytravel.com

5% / 95%

13 staff / 1 office

London

2011

Advantage / Focus /Virtuoso

Sunways Business Travel

sunwaystravel.co.uk

10% / 90%

14 staff / 1 office

Longfield, Kent

1973

Advantage / Focus

tag-group.com

4% / 96%

186 UK staff + 354 staff globally

London

1988

Advantage / WIN / Virtuoso

trailfinders.com/corporate

100% offline

1,100 staff / 39 offices

London

1970

business.travelcounsellors.com

100% offline

250 Corp. Counsellors in 7 countries

Manchester

1994

Traveleads

traveleads.co.uk

20% / 80%

63 staff / 4 offices

Leeds

1971

Advantage / Focus

Wayte Travel Management

waytetravel.co.uk

100% offline

30 staff / 3 offices

London

1903

Advantage / Focus

www.westendtravel.co.uk

100% offline

18 staff / 2 offices

London

1972

Wexas Travel Management

wexastravelmanagement.co.uk

35% / 65%

45 staff / 2 offices

London

1970

Advantage

Wings Travel Management

wings.travel

15% / 85%

80 staff / 2 offices + offices worldwide

London

1993

Advantage

Global Travel Collection UK (GTC UK) Global Travel Management Ltd Good Travel Management Gray Dawes Group (inc. Amber Road) Harridge Business Travel Inntel Limited Key Travel Meon Valley Business Travel Limited MIDAS Travel Management Norad Travel Limited Omega Business Travel (Traveleads) Omega World Travel QCTM

TAG Trailfinders Corporate Travel Travel Counsellors for Business

West End Travel Ltd

16

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The 2020 Directory / TMCs

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Telecomms

Technology

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Utilities

Sports

Retail

Recruitment

Public sector

Pharmaceutical

Oil/Gas

Professional services

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NGOs

Transport

Media

Marine

Manufacturing

Logistics

Legal

Touring

Insurance

Entertainment/TV/Film

Energy

Health/Medical

General SMEs

Finance

Defence

Creative

Construction/Engineering

Advertising

Charity

Academic/Education

Business sectors in which clients operate or the TMC specialises in

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Information supplied by TMCs to The Business Travel Magazine. Annual figures quoted refer to a TMC's most recent financial or calendar year and to UK corporate business only unless stated otherwise. *inc. Altour, Pro Travel, Tzell & Colletts Travel

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TMCs / Fees

BREAKING point After exposing the fragility of the TMC business model, will the Covid crisis serve as a catalyst for change? Bev Fearis investigates

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Fees / TMCs

U

nderlying health conditions. It’s a phrase we’ve heard time and time again in the pandemic and, according to Chris Crowley, Partner at consultants Nina & Pinta, it’s one that can also be applied to the TMC business model. The trouble with underlying health conditions is that they often build up slowly over time and can be difficult to shake-off. They can lie dormant, just about manageable, but then along comes a trigger that exposes the weakness, and…bang. To its credit, the TMC community was already aware of its vulnerabilities before Covid came along. “Whilst the pandemic has been a further catalyst to this situation, the need for a change to TMC pricing has been evident for years,” says a White Paper published by the BTA last October. Produced in conjunction with Nina & Pinta, the paper shaped an eight-week consultation with TMCs, suppliers, tech companies and travel buyers that was initially planned for later this year but was pushed forward because of the devastating impact of the

coronavirus. The result is a 14-page document, released in January, which attempts to establish clearer guidelines on the three predominant pricing models – transaction fees, subscription fees and management fees – in the hope that a new ‘2020s’ approach to pricing will be adopted and make everything better.

Medical history

To understand the root of the sector’s underlying health problems, we need to go back to the roaring nineties, a time when the acronym TMC hadn’t yet been invented and when the BTA was called the GBTA (before it became the GTMC), and a time when GBTA didn’t stand for ‘Global Business Travel Association’ but instead for ‘Guild of Business Travel Agents’. Business travel agents – remember those? In those heady days, business travel agents relied purely on suppliers for their income, in the form of commissions, incentives, overrides, or rebates, which were sometimes shared with corporate clients and were part of highly-complex deals shrouded in secrecy. But with the arrival of the internet, suppliers began to find cheaper ways to distribute their products and from the mid1990s commissions began to be capped and then scrapped altogether. This prompted the emergence of transaction fees and, for the first time, saw agents rely on their corporate clients for part of their income stream. Then came the 9/11 terror attacks, which brought duty of care to the forefront and made corporates realise they needed traveller tracking, management reporting, and a whole host of other services, prompting business travel agents to invest sizeable sums in technology to meet the new requirements and, effectively, evolve from agents to TMCs.

Critical period

Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and the TMC business model remained split, typically with around two-thirds still coming from suppliers (in various complex guises) and a third of income supplied by corporates in the form of fees. Transaction fees, in the UK at least, accounted for around 80% of contracts: roughly 15% were management fees and the remainder a mix of the other – bundled, menu, open source, enterprise, mobile, and

others, plus one in particular that was gaining traction – the subscription fee. Then Covid-19 brought travel grinding to a halt and TMCs were left frantically dealing with repatriations, cancellations, refunds and policy overhauls, but with almost zero bookings. The flaws of the transaction fee model, already under scrutiny, were well and truly exposed.

The remedy

The sharp business travel downturn has demonstrated, beyond doubt, the unsustainability of the TMC business model and the need for TMCs to find new ways to package and price their services. The BTA’s White Paper acknowledges that “people only place a value on what they pay for and when all corporates perceive they are paying for is the booking process that is all they really value”. Instead, says BTA CEO Clive Wratten, there should be “strategic partnerships which recognise that the value a TMC offers goes far beyond delivering everyday transactions. "It’s one that encompasses knowledge and expertise which enables them to help corporates deliver a duty of care to their travelling employees – something that’s more important than ever in this new Covid era”. With the crisis wounds still fresh, there’s been a more frank and open dialogue from both sides and a better understanding of what’s required going forward. "There's definitely an appetite (from both sides)," says Nina & Pinta's Jo Lloyd. "The vision of the solution might be different but both sides see transaction fees aren't helpful." Crowley believes the shift requires "more backbone" from the TMCs. "They need to be more forthright and tell buyers – either you want me to manage costs, or if all you want is to buy a commodity this is what it costs and stop asking me what salaries I pay my staff." In order to simplify the options, the BTA guide likens the three main fee models to mobile phone contracts. Transactions fees are, it says, like a pay as you go contract with central costs being the handset charge. Subscription fees are like a mobile phone contract with minutes, texts and bolt-on services included in a monthly fee. Meanwhile, management fees are like an enterprise mobile phone contract where an organisation purchases phones and plans for all of its employees. 

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TMCs / Fees

 The BTA guide also tell corporates – and this is where it gets tricky – to provide their best estimates of spend, travel patterns, preferred agreements and transactions. "Everyone understands it's not an exact science at the moment. It's a best guest of how travel will come back, but corporates need to provide parameters," says Lloyd. In order to find the right match, the guide says corporate customers should aim to be as transparent as possible about the services they require and what value they are looking for in their travel programme. After all, some

With the crisis wounds still fresh, there's been a more frank and open dialogue from both sides and a better understanding of what's required going forward”

will want a simple transactional service with no traveller tracking, reporting or account management whilst others will be looking for a full suite of services. The answer for some could lie in the emergence of a new type of fee being thrown into the mix – a hybrid of transaction and subscription, which will see corporates paying a fee to cover the basics and then pay extra for any additional services they require, plus a smaller transaction fee on top. This new kid on the block is yet to be officially named but for now the term 'transcription fee' is being banded about. Watch this space.

The BTA’s guiding principles to help corporates select the best pricing model for their business CONSIDERATION

TRANSACTION FEE

SUBSCRIPTION FEE

Your business is very transactional in nature (there and back trips)

You have a high online adoption rate for your bookings

MANAGEMENT FEE

Your teams organise a lot of complicated or multi-sector trips that require a lot of support

Your travellers book the different components of a trip (air, hotel, car) at different stages or use a lot of other services like

concierge, ground transportation or re-shopping You have clear pre-trip approval processes

Each department pays for its own travel

Your travellers pay using individual corporate cards

You use a central lodged card (BTA or CTA) or invoice to pay for your bookings

You pay for your TMC costs as a central function within your business

You have a high proportion of regular travellers within your traveller database

You are an enterprise customer and/or have dedicated teams for your TMC that services your travel requirements. (Note: the TMC can fulfil all other aspects of the services as well but a management fee works best with a dedicated team) You encounter a lot of noise from the travellers within your business about paying TMC fees

You have a high proportion of central programme costs through additional services such as account management, online

travel managers, traveller tracking etc You are able to self-initialise an implementation (sign in and go) and do not require a TMC implementation team

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TMCs / Insight

NEW POINT OF FOCUS What you wanted from your TMC before might not be what you need now, says ATPI's John Nixon

T

he many challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic mean the role of travel management consultants is changing and new skill sets are required. Travel buyers need to know their TMC can deliver in some key areas that may have been less important pre-pandemic, particularly if an organisation’s travel destinations and type wasn’t traditionally categorised as risky. Areas of focus when assessing a TMC in this new normal should now include:

Traveller tracking tools

Knowing the location of all travellers at any one time is essential. Tools should also allow two-way messages so that travellers can check-in, receive important updates on a trip – including new restrictions that may be in place, and provide feedback on their experience. Plus, any traveller-tracking tool should integrate with traveller profile information so that status updates on health test results can be included. Your TMC should be able to advise you on how to ensure that travellers engage correctly with the tools, most importantly so that contact details are correctly provided and they can be contacted in an emergency.

24/7 support in the event of an emergency

Access to an on-call person isn’t enough. Check your TMC can provide seamless service 24/7 wherever in the world your people are. This should also include ensuring your TMC has partnerships with medical and security specialists who can arrange medical or emergency evacuations

22

from even the most hostile locations. Your chosen partner should have experience of arranging repatriation charters.

Approach to travel approvals

A comprehensive travel approvals system is going to play a more significant role in travel management than ever before. A TMC should be able to advise clients about the entire process and should help to establish a protocol for a ‘permission to travel’ policy. This policy cannot be linked to cost alone, and must integrate sign-off from HR, risk management, as well as finance teams. Focusing on addressing the permission process ensures traveller wellbeing is at the centre of all decisions, and saves time if only the roles and departments where travel is permitted have access to relevant systems.

Flexibility

Policies and processes need to be revised constantly, and therefore the technology tools that support them need to fit-forpurpose in an ever-changing world. Your relationship with your TMC should have some flexibility too, as travel volumes are likely to have peaks and troughs for some time. This means that other supporting services such as duty of care packages need to also be flexible and take into account a different approach to travel. A one-size-fits all approach will not be suitable, or cost conscious.

Good people

The far-reaching impact of the pandemic means travel and duty of care policies will include more planning for extreme scenarios than ever before. Innovative technology is an enabler of excellent service, but TMCs would be nowhere without brilliant people. Technology will continue to play an integral role, but the role of experienced and exceptional people with a robust understanding of not just the business travel sector, but the industries important to their clients, has never been so important.

JOHN NIXON John Nixon is Global Director of Operations for ATPI Group, which comprises ATPI Corporate Travel, Direct ATPI, ATPI Marine & Energy, ATPI Mining & Resources, ATPI Corporate Events and ATPI Sports Events. He joined in 2018.

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INSIGHT

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GrOUnd taxis and transPOrt transfers

RIDE ON TIME It's taken a back seat but should travel buyers now be paying more attention to that 'last mile'? Bev Fearis investigates

iSTOCKPHOTO.COM/PEOPLEIMAGES

U

p against airlines and hotels, generally regarded the more glamorous side of business travel, the ‘last mile’ element of a business trip is frequently overlooked in corporate travel programmes. "Let's face it, it's not that sexy," is the brutally-honest observation of a key player in ground transport, and if that's the opinion of someone working within the sector imagine what outsiders must think. But with social distancing, working from home and the transformation of the office to a place to meet, some believe that taxis, chauffer-drive and rental cars will tick more boxes as we emerge from Covid lockdowns, at least in the early days. “Until we are all feeling more comfortable about getting back on planes, the tube and on busy trains, these personal modes of transport will be more in demand,” says one neutral observer. Suppliers are already adapting their businesses accordingly. Pre-pandemic, for example, the shiny Mercedes-Benz fleet of German start-up Blacklane whisked executives to and from airports for their intercity flights but are now picking them up

from their offices or homes and driving them directly to those cities for their meetings. Its website homepage lists flat chauffeur-drive fares for the key intercity routes – Birmingham-London for £99 each way or Amsterdam-Brussels for €289 – and urges business travellers: “Free yourself from crowded spaces with private, discreet rides that prioritise your safety.” According to a recent report from ridehailing app FREENOW, half of European travel managers say their company has changed its policies toward ground transportation as a result of the pandemic. Its survey of 175 travel managers found 57% say their company is now less likely to allow or encourage the use of public transport while 37% say it is more likely to allow or encourage rental cars. Meanwhile, 27% say they are more likely to allow or encourage traditional taxis – higher than the share that are less likely to permit them. But while the majority (78%) of corporate travel programmes have a formal agreement with a car rental company, only half have one with a ride-hailing vendor and only 47% with a limo/chauffeured car company. The benefits, says FREENOW, are worth the

effort: saving money, streamlining payment and invoicing, and receiving data and reporting. A formal agreement also allows corporates to vet the safety practices of their providers and use travel data – destinations, driver names, and licence plate numbers – for contact tracing if required, all even more crucial in these Covid times. It seems the message is finally getting through, with one third of buyers saying they expect their programme will begin a formal relationship with a ride-hailing company within the next year. Many of them will be looking to their TMC to set the servicing landscape. "But this poses some challenges at the moment,” 

Until we are all feeling more comfortable about getting back on planes, the tube and on busy trains, these personal modes of transport will be more in demand” THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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taxis and transfers

says Paul Tilstone, Partner at Festive Road. He believes that in the current climate TMCs might not have the right people or platforms to develop new partnerships, particularly as they might not be perceived as an immediate revenue driver. Those that decide to take the plunge won’t be short of options, with an ever-growing number of ‘last mile’ products – many from well-funded start-ups – aimed at the corporate market: FREENOW for Business, Bolt Business, Uber for Business, Ola Corporate, Rolzo Business, the list goes on. For corporates, however, the proliferation of choice is one of the main problems. “The market is too fragmented,” says Mark Avery, Global Business Services and Travel Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “When you’ve got people travelling globally, there are so many small, fragmented companies it’s hard to get a service partner. I think that’s why many smaller companies don’t even attempt to touch ground.”

Those that decide to take the plunge won't be short of options, with an ever-growing number of 'last mile' products – many from well-funded start-ups" 16

The rise of aggregators – some not only attempting to bring together taxis and transfers but also car rental, car share, e-scooters, and rail – is helping to alleviate this problem. But while their technology is impressive, Avery says most still fail to bring the service support that corporates require. “For me as a corporate travel manager, one of the challenges I’ve got is that I don’t want travellers phoning me because they’ve got a problem with their invoice or because they’re querying taxi waiting times,” he explains. “Many companies will provide back-end data and there have been improvements in the technology, but without the service offering it’s not an end-to-end solution.” Just before the pandemic hit, PwC partnered in the UK with an undisclosed ground transport provider to pilot technology that not only plugs directly into the company’s online booking tool but also comes with the crucial service support. However, due to the low levels of business travel it hasn’t yet been fully put to the test. Even within the UK domestic market the fragmented sector makes it more difficult for smaller companies to properly control their taxi and transfer spend, says Sixt Global Sales Director Stuart Donnelly. “If you travel around the UK there are cities and towns with different taxi operators. Because of this fragmentation of the spend and the low transactions involved, many

companies don’t manage it," he explains. Most payments are still made by credit card and reimbursed by the employer. “There’s no real visibility beyond spend, no management information,” adds Donnelly, who says the real numbers are "significant". To tackle these issues, and recognising the need for a more interconnected approach to ground transport, two years ago Sixt launched a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform, offering rental, car sharing and taxi/ride hailing, all bookable through a TMC, OBT, or app. It has since also added e-scooters in Germany, thanks to a partnership with Tier. Before Covid it was about to add rail to the mix in Germany and the Netherlands. “This is currently on hold but it will happen,” says Donnelly. Launching this summer is a brand new player, Jyrney, which claims to be taking the MaaS concept to a new level. Billing itself instead as ‘Mobility on Demand’, Jyrney is promising clients the ability to book a whole suite of mobility products – even coaches – through any business travel platform. It uses algorithms to manage the supply base to ensure users get the most suitable providers. The company says it is already in talks with several TMCs who are looking to offer their clients a managed ground transport solution, and with some corporates too. “We are also prioritising green fleets, such as hybrid, hydrogen and electric vehicles,” says Founder and CEO Daniel Price. Sustainability is an area where the ground transport sector has previously fallen short. Almost half of European travel managers (46%) in the FREENOW poll say sustainability is one of the greatest pain points with their ground transportation programme – and the report predicts Covid will make sustainability an even greater challenge. But the sector is responding. At the end of last year FREE NOW for Business introduced an electric-only booking option and is also launching an emissions calculator so clients can see how much they can lower their emissions if they switch to EV-only vehicles. In February, Rolzo launched a fleet of electric vehicles in more than 100 cities worldwide. In fact, most of the major players are now making the switch to electric, ticking yet another of the boxes and giving corporate travel managers no excuse not to join the 'last mile' club – however unsexy.

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WELLBEING

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WELLBEING

POSITIVE thinking

F

or all the turmoil it has caused, the Covid crisis has brought positives too. “If there is one silver lining in the pandemic, it’s that in more than 30 years in this industry I have never seen this level of engagement with CEOs and C-Suite executives in relation to healthrelated issues in the workplace,” says Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Global Medical Director at health and security specialists International SOS. “I have never had to brief so many boardlevel executives on health and wellbeing issues. It’s being discussed in a way it never was before, opening a new channel and line of conversation, and this is something we can definitely keep for the future.” Of course, the wellbeing trend was already gaining traction in corporate travel departments before the pandemic, but the arrival of Covid-19 has taken it to a whole new level. As they prepare for a travel restart, companies of all shapes and sizes and across all sectors are now looking carefully at how to support their travellers’ wellbeing, both physical and mental, as they get back on the road. “Business travel, we know, is a highly stressful situation for numerous reasons, and when business travel starts to go back to normal levels, Covid-19 will just add that uncertainty and that additional stress,” says Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez. Indeed, International SOS, which counts

nearly two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500 companies as clients, was experiencing a tenfold jump in calls from corporate managers at the end of 2020 compared to pre-Covid, along with a significant rise in demand for its emotional support services. Mental health issues have sky-rocketed during the pandemic for a number of reasons. Access to usual support services has been reduced in affected countries and many people are now more isolated, working from home and prevented by repeated lockdowns from having as much contact with friends and family. Travel managers should be aware that the mental state of an employee could be fragile even before the prospect of a business trip is thrown into the mix. Calls to International SOS show traveller concerns aren’t necessarily about contracting the virus itself, but could also relate to how to deal with potential travel disruption caused by fast-changing travel restrictions. “Travellers might call to say they’ve just flown to a destination where there’s been a large outbreak and everything is now shut, or they might say their boss has asked them to go but they’re feeling stressed and are worried they’re going to burn out,” explains Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez. “Others are worried about catching Covid on a plane, or their families might be worried about them bringing it back home.” 

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iSTOCK.COM/PHOTOTECHNO

As companies prepare for a travel restart, the wellbeing of their travellers is being placed high on the agenda and, says Bev Fearis, it's set to stay there

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INDUSTRY WELLBEING

Clear messaging

Experts agree the key is to make sure companies have measures and procedures in place to deal with any situation that might arise and, crucially, to make sure these are communicated in the right way to give reassurance to travellers. “We need to provide as much evidence and science-based information as possible and this information needs to be consistent and coming from a person that people trust within the organisation – and the higher up the organisation the better,” says Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez. “The most protective safety net is communication and learning. From a mental health perspective, the more information you can give an employee the safer they will feel," he adds. “More mature companies are taking this into their own hands and rather than relying solely on government advice they are going above and beyond. We need to move companies from being reactive to proactive, but unfortunately very few are in that mindset at the moment.” Any guidance from senior management must also be backed up with communication and support from line managers, who might be better placed to assess an employee’s state of mind. “First of all, HR need to make it clear to everyone, in black and white, that it’s OK not to travel and that there will be no negative impact if people say 'no',” explains Matt

Travel managers should be aware that the mental state of an employee could be fragile even before the prospect of a business trip is thrown into the mix” 20

Holman, Co-Founder of the Business Travel Wellbeing Community and the owner of Simpila Healthy Solutions. “Companies need to enable that conversation early on and encourage their people to be honest about how they feel about the trip; to explain what they might be worried about so you can see how you can support them,” he says. Talking to travellers post trip is also vital, says Holman. “It shouldn’t just be about how successful the trip was and whether you got the contract. The conversation after the trip has to go to a deeper level: 'How did you feel? Did you feel prepared for that trip? Did you have the right kit?'" For many years companies have had sturdy procedures in place to support employees travelling to destinations perceived as high risk, but amid the pandemic many other trips – even short-distance or domestic ones – can trigger fear and apprehension. Furthermore, it brings the added dimension of causing anxiety to loved ones back home. “We have that new dynamic where someone might say my wife or husband doesn’t want me to travel, or a loved one is vulnerable and is worried they might bring the virus back home,” says Holman. “The issue is where do you stop managing people? Is there a point where it stops?” Home working could make it more difficult for managers to keep tabs on their travellers’ mental wellbeing. “We’ve lost that personal connection, perhaps before a meeting or over a coffee, where we chat about things that aren’t the job or about the trip,” says Holman. “This has to be built in to the new working from home environment.” While many companies have support programmes in place for their employees, these often only kick into action when matters get to the crisis stage. “Whether it’s problems with their finances, relationships or mental health, employees often don’t know that these assistance

programmes exist until they have a crisis. Companies need to make sure their employees are aware they are there to help them in the early stages, when they’re starting to struggle. Prevention is the key.”

Taking precautions

In the same vein, some companies are now putting measures into place during a trip to alleviate potential stress points. “With the new anxieties that come with travel and the higher likelihood for trip friction and delay, companies are upgrading some travellers to higher classes of service, to not only ensure traveller safety but to protect mental wellbeing so they can remain calm, rested and, ultimately, more effective while travelling for business,” says Francesca Mendola, Global Account Manager for GTC, the newly-named parent of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group. This might be things like giving access to airport lounges, upgrading to premium cabins or booking hotels with larger rooms or balconies. “These upgrades are not only key if a traveller is spending more time in their room working and exercising, but they also become essential should a traveller need to quarantine,” she adds. Nicola Cox, Director at MIDAS Travel, says the TMC is also noticing this trend, with more demand for additional services. “Some travellers are experiencing a new, more luxurious, way to travel, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety levels,” she says. “We’ve seen minor changes make big differences to travel programmes and travellers in recent months, such as relaxing ‘economy-only’ policies, enabling seat selection and providing contactless travel services, such as online check-in and VIP fast track. These are services that travellers are taking advantage of for a safer and more comfortable trip. We expect that the positive effect these value-added services will have on traveller wellbeing will ensure they are here to stay well beyond Covid-19.”

iSTOCK.COM/PHOTOTECHNO

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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ACCOMMODATION

Rise and

SHINE Four experts share their advice on how to respond to trends in the accommodation sector

Nina Marcello American Express GBT Principal, Global Hotel Practice Line Lead

Hotels have been under immense pressure, operating at vastly reduced capacity with the lowest occupancy rates on record. They have had to meet additional costs around cleaning protocols, particularly when rooms must be left vacant between guests. Revenue per available room has dropped, so hotels have had to find other ways to maintain revenues, such as offering companies meeting space as an extension of their office space. Travel buyers might see this as the ideal moment to overhaul their sourcing strategy, but this only makes sense if they have sufficient volume in their programme. Many hotels just don’t have the staff to work on RFPs and many won’t take corporations seriously if they plan to book only 40 nights per month. To make sure they can get the rooms they need, at the right rates, buyers need to take a longer-term view. Sourcing in today’s fluid environment is a continuous process: don’t just roll over your rates or fix and forget. 22

Keep an eye open as volumes return, maintain relationships and talk regularly with top partners so they understand what kind of support you need when travel starts moving again. And, as part of their focus on rates management, buyers need to make sure they get any available percentage discounts off the best available rate when this is lower than their negotiated rates and take advantage of resources like travel management company (TMC) rates and re-shopping tools.

Peter Grover

TRIPBAM Managing Director for Europe

It’s no great shock that Covid19 has had a major impact on the corporate hotel market. Booking volumes are down 86% year over year globally, with European volumes down 95%. This greater decline in Europe can be attributed to firmer national lockdowns compared to the U.S. and weaker domestic travel. At TRIPBAM we’ve seen a number of trends emerge, not only in rate but also in stay patterns and demand by segment and

brand. While European volumes may be down compared to the rest of the world, we’re not seeing the same rate volatility here, with more hotels retaining pricing power compared to their North American or Asia Pacific counterparts. Travellers who are booking overnight stays are doing so outside of city centres and at lower-scale hotels. Stays at five-star properties are down 91%, while stays at two-star properties are down only 56%. This is being driven largely by the types of workers who are still travelling. This change in the travelling population is also shifting market share among the chains, with independent properties gaining the greatest share of corporate travel bookings ahead of Marriott, Hilton and Accor. How can you as a buyer respond to these changes? First of all, look at your current travel volumes. If you still have people on the road, you’ll want to make sure you negotiate or renegotiate discounts at properties they’re currently using. Retail rate bookings are up 55%, which indicates corporate negotiated rates are either out-ofstep with the market or they don’t exist at the properties being booked.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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ACCOMMODATION

Responsible travel, risk management and employee wellbeing are high priorities for most travel buyers and the pandemic has accelerated this”

Next, consider what your travelling population will look like toward the back half of the year and adjust your programme accordingly. We expect to see some rebound in the higher-scale hotel segments and in brands because of greater trust in their well-marketed hygiene initiatives. Looking ahead, there is reason to be optimistic. The UK roadmap out of lockdown and the successful vaccination efforts underway nationally and in the U.S.

Untitled-2 1 2083.4_LockeLiving_PrintAds_TBTM_Quarter_01.indd 1

Accom_v11.indd 23

has more corporates anticipating the return of business travel in 2021. We expect by the fourth quarter we’ll see corporate hotel volumes return to 40% of 2019 levels.

Leigh Cowlishaw

Global Supplier Partnership Director, Advantage

Business cultures and values, such as wellbeing, sustainability, diversity

and inclusion, are now being weaved into travel policies. This means the selection of accommodation providers into travel programmes is now being measured not only by the discounts they offer but by the facilities provided within their room rate and how guests will feel staying at the property. There is an increasing demand for serviced apartments. In the pandemic we have become used to our home comforts – the ability to relax after a busy day, enjoy 

25/02/2021 09:31 24/02/2021 17:08

3/5/21 12:14 PM


ACCOMMODATION

home-cooked food, and be in control of what we are eating – and apartments give us this extra degree of flexibility. I also believe travel and expenses will increasingly be married together to look at the true cost of the stay, rather than the room rate discounts alone and T&E on a separate line item. Coming out of this pandemic, there could be a degree of anxiety among travellers who will be looking for more private space and ways to avoid unnecessary contact. Loyalty schemes won’t be just about getting upgrades but will allow travellers to preallocate their room, do advanced check-in, and pre-order room service – all reducing contact with others during their trip. Above all, as we come out of the pandemic crisis travellers will want reassurance that while their employers needs to balance costs they also value their employees and have their best interests at heart.

Debbie Male

Head of Sales, Europe, IHG Hotels & Resorts

Responsible travel, risk management and employee wellbeing are high priorities for most travel buyers and the pandemic has accelerated this due to changing regulations, traveller confidence and a higher focus on duty of care. The focus on acting responsibly is not only driven by senior management but also by travellers themselves. In our recent global survey of 9,000 travellers, 53% agree that Covid-19 has made them more socially and environmentally conscious about their impact when travelling, with younger travellers leading the charge. The same survey also showed that 80% think it is important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly. Booking decisions are being made based on a brand or hotel’s

B A C K

sustainability credentials, which is reflected in growing attention from OTAs, as well as corporate clients who are demanding more data in this area as part of RFPs. The recent launch of IHG Hotels & Resorts’ Journey to Tomorrow is our responsible business plan to drive change for our people, communities and planet over the next decade. Progress is best achieved when we work together, and we will continue to collaborate closely with those who stay, work and partner with us to drive positive change.

B U S I N E S S

The Ascott Limited

Deutsche Hospitality

Frasers Hospitality

A leading international lodging owner-operator, Ascott's award-winning portfolio spans more than 190 cities spanning more than 30 countries across Asia Pacific, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the USA. Ascott provides a safe environment with its comprehensive health and safety guidelines, Ascott Cares, and it has been awarded the SafeGuard Label by Bureau Veritas confirming the properties have the appropriate health, hygiene and safety procedures and processes.

stands for an exceptional portfolio of over 160 hotels in 19 countries on three continents, including 40 hotels that are under development. The varied Deutsche Hospitality portfolio includes the Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, MAXX by Steigenberger, Jaz in the City, the IntercityHotels and the Zleep Hotels.

Your-answers-matter-to-us

is a leading global hospitality operator of Gold-standard serviced, hotel residences and boutique lifestyle hotels with more than 140 properties in over 70 cities across UK, Europe, Middle East & Africa, North Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia. A globally-awarded leading hospitality operator, Frasers Hospitality aims to anticipate and exceeds customers’ evolving expectations and lifestyle preferences through continuous innovation and intuitive service to deliver memorable experiences.

deutschehospitality.com tanu.narula@deutschehospitality.com

frasershospitality.com sales.london@frasershospitality.com

the-ascott.com reservation@the-ascott.com

24

T O

Travel buyers might see this as the ideal moment to overhaul their sourcing strategy, but this only makes sense if they have sufficent volume”

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DEPARTURES

Reality check HOTE L: HYAT T R E G E NCY T HE CHU R CHIL L , L O NDO N THE HOTEL

This five-star 440-room

leading to a bedroom with an

hotel in Portman Square, managed by

enormous king-size bed. A large ensuite

Hyatt for the last 16 years, turned 50

bathroom had a bath, large walk-in

last year but the planned celebrations

shower and a Japanese-style toilet.

were scuppered by the pandemic.

Remote controls for the two 42” flat-

The hotel has been

COVID STRATEGY

screen HDTVs were wrapped in plastic

awarded GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory

for Covid hygiene, mini-bar items had

Council) STAR facility accreditation,

been removed and a packet of

regarded the gold standard for

antibacterial wipes was provided.

outbreak prevention, response and

WiFi was free, fast

THE BUSINESS

recovery and part of Hyatt’s Global Care

and easy to access. The desk in my suite

& Cleanliness Commitment.

was huge, although I was a little

THE CHECK-IN

Doorman and two

disappointed there were no in-built

reception staff, all wearing masks, took

power sockets, which meant a bit of

my bags and directed me to a machine

scrambling around to find floor-level

to check my temperature (similar to an

sockets nearby. Last autumn the hotel

steak was perfectly cooked and

airport biometric passport check). All

opened a fabulous new Churchill

breakfast was equally as good,

approved, I checked in at the screened

Residential Suite, with a full office

reception desk. I was told the

space, modelled on Sir Winston

restaurants and bar were closed due to

Churchill’s own office, and with two

lockdown restrictions but full room

terraces with rooftop views.

service was available. THE ROOM

Sadly, the gym, bars

THE FACILITIES

My Regency Executive

and restaurants are were all closed due

EVERY CONSIDERATION HAD BEEN GIVEN TO COVID AND I HAD NO SAFETY CONCERNS

particularly the ice-cold fresh fruit salad. THE VERDICT

Every consideration

had been given to Covid and I had no concerns about my health and safety. THE DETAILS

30 Portman Square,

Marylebone, London W1H 7BH.

Suite (room 345) was super spacious

to Covid. Instead, I went for a run

hyattregencylondon.com

(58 square metres), with a living room

around Hyde Park and ordered from

Nightly rates from £218, room only. Day

large sofa, coffee table and work space,

the room service menu. My rib eye

rates start from £120.

Bev Fearis

CHAU FF E U R DR IV E : R O L ZO BU SINE SS THE BACKGROUND

ROLZO is a

a link to 10 short video tutorials showing

booking platform for all types of car

me how to carry out various actions,

travel – car rental, chauffeur drive (by

such as modifying my booking.

the journey, hour, or day), plus airport

THE PRE-JOURNEY

In the days before

transfers and special deliveries. In

my journey, and on the day, I received a

October 2020 it launched ROLZO

number of email updates, including one

Business, providing various services,

confirming the name and telephone

including instant quotation and booking

number of my driver.

confirmation, secure payment, real-time invoicing, smart reporting and analytics. COVID STRATEGY

All cars, whether

THE PICK-UP

My driver, Dimitri,

arrived early and waited by the car smartly dressed in a dark suit and with a

chauffeur drive or rental cars, are

black Covid mask and black gloves. The

completely cleaned with the Purespace

Mercedes was gleaming. He took my

disinfection system before and after

luggage and opened the door and told

each journey. Chauffeurs wear

me where I could find a mask and gloves

facemasks and gloves at all times and

in the central armrest. I masked up

are checked for signs of Covid-19 twice a

before he got back in the car.

day. Passengers are also provided with

THE JOURNEY

the smooth ride, generous legroom and

and gloves. Instead of being greeted by a

comfortable headrest. Any chats were

handshake, passengers are welcomed

instigated by me and Dimitri made no

with a slight bow.

personal calls (my pet hate in previous The bookings took just

airport taxi pick-ups after a long flight).

a few minutes. I immediately received

As well as the gloves and mask, the car

confirmation emails and another email

had bottled water, mints, a packet of

offering any further assistance, including

tissues and antiseptic wipes.

This was a slick

booking process was straightforward

I relaxed and enjoyed

hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes, masks

THE BOOKING

THE VERDICT

operation from start to finish. The

THIS WAS A SLICK OPERATION FROM START TO FINISH

and intuitive and the pre-trip communication was just right – not too much but also enough to reassure me that everything was in hand. I also felt safe in regards to Covid thanks to all the new measures in place. THE DETAILS

rolzo.com/business

bookings@rolzo.com

Bev Fearis

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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DEPARTURES

Reality check FLI GHT: QATAR AIR WAY S – DO HA – L O NDO N HE AT HR O W THE TRANSIT

I had flown to Doha in

with noise-cancelling headsets, a large

Business Class from Dar es Salaam,

entertainment screen, foldout desk/

Tanzania, on a 787-8 Dreamliner. I was

dining table, WiFi, a handy charger port

met off my flight and guided straight to

and a personal stowaway bin - all freshly

the Al Maha lounge, a service offered by

sanitised. As well as luxury toiletries, a

Qatar’s Al Maha Platinum Transfer

‘travel safely kit’ had a disposable

Service. This disembark-to-embark

medical face mask, gloves and hand

‘handhold package’ is very reassuring

sanitiser. The aircraft is disinfected after

during the pandemic. The layover was

every flight and the surfaces cleaned

just under three hours and the lounge

with a UV light. The air is cleaned and

provided the perfect calm haven.

reflowed throughout the flight via an industrial size HEPA filtration system.

Staff in face masks

THE CHECK-IN

The crew wore full PPE.

were friendly as they checked my documents, including a negative Covid

THE SERVICE

On this early morning

certificate. I was asked to produce my

flight I could order from the à la carte

completed UK passenger locator form

menu at any time. The breakfast menu

For in-flight snacks a cheese platter,

and reminded of the quarantine

was extensive: fresh smoothies,

crisps, caramelised popcorn, chocolates

requirement on arrival in the UK.

omelettes, date pancakes with vanilla whipped cream and a selection of iced

Boarding was

THE SEAT

staggered to limit passenger numbers

coffees. For brunch there were several

in the boarding bridges. Once on board

options, including beef and chicken

I was directed to suite 2D. The Q-Suites

sliders on charcoal and thyme brioche

are impressive cube-like ‘cabins’, with

buns served with Emmental cheese,

nice high panelling and a sliding door

blue cheese, guacamole and chunky

offering access to the aisle, which gave

chips. The wine and beverage selection

a real sense of privacy. My suite came

made me wish I was on a longer flight!

THE WINE AND BEVERAGE SELECTION MADE ME WISH I WAS ON A LONGER FLIGHT!

and biscuits were available. THE VERDICT

I appreciated the strict

health and safety protocols, while any stress I felt was further alleviated by the fine dining and warm hospitality. THE DETAILS

Return Business Class

fares Dar es Salaam-Doha-Heathrow start at £2,026. qatarairways.com

Renette Hartridge

FLIGHT: VI RGIN AT L ANT IC – L O NDO N-HE AT HR O W – J O HANNE SBU R G THE FLIGHT

I flew Upper Class on

‘Suites’. A cabin ‘butler’ is on hand to

Virgin's 787-9 Dreamliner. The airline is

make up the lie-flat bed and even fluff

temporarily operating from Terminal 2

your pillow. Except for the meal service,

rather than its usual Terminal 3 base,

we were required to wear masks for the

which features its Clubhouse and other

11-hour flight and asked to change it for

lounge facilities. In Terminal 2 Virgin

a fresh one every four hours.

Atlantic passengers can use the Plaza Premium lounge. PRE-BOARDING

THE SERVICE

The crew was warm

and welcoming. Electrostatic spraying of Even before

high-grade disinfectant is carried out in

entering the terminal I observed

all cabins and lavatories before every

enhanced airport health and safety

flight. The hot-meal service has been

measures – one-way walk-in system,

‘simplified’ in all cabins. Upper Class

social distancing stickers and hand-

customers are offered a choice of three

sanitiser dispensers. Passengers are

hot meals, desserts – including cheese

expected to have their face masks on

and biscuits – and a ciabatta roll.

before entering the terminal and all

Virgin's signature communal bar with

this cabin, which helped me relax and

airport staff wore face coverings.

seats is not currently in service.

burn away the pre-flight worries I had

THE CHECK-IN

Travellers formed

THE VERDICT

socially-distanced queues and had to

super-attentive and a comforting

answer various Covid-related questions

presence throughout. While I didn’t feel

at the screened check-in desks.

comfortable trying to sleep in a mask, I

THE SEAT

I sat in 5G, one of 31

did manage a few hours of sleep.

Upper Class seats spread over 11 rows

Around me, passengers abided by the

in a 1-1-1- configured cabin. Virgin’s

rules and everyone seemed relaxed and

sexy premier cabin is airy, with subtle

embraced flying's ‘new normal’. I was

mood lighting and features spacious

very grateful of the opportunity to fly in

26

about flying during Covid. Another

Crew members were

EVERYONE SEEMED RELAXED AND EMBRACED THE 'NEW NORMAL'

bonus: Upper Class passengers disembark quickly, avoiding a pinch ‘contact point’ with other passengers. THE DETAILS

Return fares from

London-Heathrow to Johannesburg start at £800 in Economy and £1,999 in Upper Class. virginatlantic.com

Renette Hartridge

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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DEPARTURES

The final word

Bark once for yes, two for no...

L

ockdown three has been tough, let's face it, but according to a survey of 2,000 British workers by hotel chain Travelodge it's even worse than we thought. Apparently, working remotely has got so bad, some of us have resorted to chatting to our pets, and we don't mean talking to them about when they'll get their next walk or telling them off for scratching the arm of the sofa. No, according to the budget hotel group's poll, one in five of us are now discussing work issues with our cat or dog because it helps us to "talk through the issues" (which makes us slightly nervous about some of the business decisions being made in home offices across the country). But at least we've all been working in comfortable and

mind the puddle Britain is known for its drizzly days, but where is the wettest city in the UK? It might not be where you think. According to the Met Office, the rainiest is: Cardiff (average of 96mm of rain each week) 2 Glasgow (94mm) 3 Huddersfield ( 86mm) 4 Plymouth (84mm) 5 Swansea (84mm) 6 Belfast (79mm) 7 Blackpool (74mm) 8 Stockport (73mm) 9 Cheltenham (70mm) 10 Liverpool (70mm) 1

Analysis by ShowersToYou.co.uk

relaxed surroundings, as the research also revealed that 57% of British workers have invested, on average, £1,075 during the pandemic revamping their bedroom into a 'BedOffice', with

Watch your mouth!

T

here are many reasons why we should all be proud to work in travel and hospitality: customer service, diversity, innovation. Well, now it seems there's something else we can all be proud of. According to a study by commercial property agents, Savoy Stewart, we're the third best sector at – wait for it – swearing on zoom calls. Yes, apparently only those in finance and law are better at it. If you'd like to know which particular profanity our fine industry is most guilty of sharing, we can't print it, but here's a clue: it starts with a silent 'k' and sounds like Bob.

ambient lighting, plants, scented candles, feature walls for zoom calls, coffee machines, oh, and jars of biscuits - no doubt added after a top level 'BedBoard' meeting with the dog.

It's that time of year again when our friends at Travelodge let us rummage through their lost property and this time the items poignantly reflect the times. With its UK hotels open during lockdowns to support key workers, it's perhaps no surprise that the list for 2020 includes a stethoscope left behind by a doctor at High Wycombe, a lab coat at Manchester Upper Brook Street, and a scrub set at London Central Kings. Less easy to explain, however, was the skull, the Hilti drill, and the 6ft polar bear... THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

Final Word v11.indd 27

27

3/5/21 01:32 PM


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The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...

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The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...

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