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November/December 2021

Back to the skies

Demand for premium soars as long-haul flying resumes

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Top tech trends People Awards winners Breaking eco barriers Sustainability news KEY INSIGHTS FROM THE BUSINESS TRAVEL CONFERENCE 2021

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Work

shouldn’t be hard work

With cancellation up to 1pm* on day of arrival Find out more at premierinn.com/business

*With Flex rate

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UP FRONT

Contents 19

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2021 Features

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12 Premium Air Travel: With duty of care and wellbeing high on the agenda, demand is flying for a more premium experience 19 The Business Travel People Awards: See pictures of the 10th anniversary ceremony and

Premium

40

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read what the judges had to say about the winners

Air Travel As long-haul flying ramps up again, we take a look at what's going on down in the front cabins

(p12-17)

29 Gallery: Dinner Club, London 30 Technology: An overview of the major tech trends in corporate

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travel management 35 Gallery: Launch of Vessul, Museum of Liverpool 36 The Business Travel

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Conference: Top expert insights from this year's lively sessions

Up Front 6

Opening Shots

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Everyone's Talking About: Sustainable travel

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Speaking Out: Sally Higgs from American Express GBT dispels some sustainability myths

10 The Knowledge: How to reduce your carboon footprint

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News Review 23 News and trends, comment from the BTA and the ITM, and a sustainability news special 28 On the Move and Events

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Departures 40 Reality Check: We give an

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honest review of two very

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different London hotels 41 Final Word: The lighter side of travel

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Welcome To be free again

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arriers to business travel are coming down – and about time too. The Red List has shrunk to nothing, testing requirements have been simplified and the resumption of transatlantic travel is finally happening. Yeeha!

Airlines are ramping up their schedules, TMCs are rehiring and we've even seen a few new ones launch since our last issue. Couple that with all the industry conferences, awards, meetings and dinners that have been coming thick and fast (you'll find the highlights in this issue) and it feels like we're finally coming out the other side. But, thankfully, all corners of the industry appear to be in agreement that we don't want things to go entirely back to the way things were. This is our chance to do things better and strong themes are emerging: making travel count, preserving work/life balance, duty of care and protecting traveller wellbeing. As international travel comes back, all of these will be front of mind, as we explore in our air travel feature on pages 12-17. We all heard the pledges of our political and business leaders who gathered in Glasgow for COP26. Our industry, like many others, knows it must tackle sustainability head on. With this in mind, we're stepping up a gear with our sustainability coverage, starting in this issue with expert opinions on pages 8 and 9, practical advice on page 10, and with a sustainability news special on pages 28-29. As we approach the end of what has been another challenging year, I hope you share my optimism for 2022. We're starting from near zero and that brings exciting opportunities. We can enjoy our new freedoms but we won't be taking anything for granted - I'm writing this on day seven of a thankfully mild dose of Covid, so I know.

EDITORIAL EDITOR

Bev Fearis CONTRIBUTORS

Charlotte Flach, Gillian Upton & Gary Noakes STAFF JOURNALIST

April Waterston

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Julie Baxter

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge

ADVERTISING SALES PUBLISHER / COMMERCIAL HEAD

Kirsty Hicks

DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGNERS

Matt Bonner and Caitlan Francis PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER

Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR

Steve Hunter

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscribe for free at thebusinesstravelmag.com/subscribe

BMI PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTOR

Matt Bonner CEO

Martin Steady (Print) ISSN 1754-8543. THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY BMI PUBLISHING LTD: 501 THE RESIDENCE, NO. 1 ALEXANDRA TERRACE, GUILDFORD, GU1 3DA, UK. TEL: 020 8649 7233 ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK / BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK THIS PUBLICATION IS PRINTED ON 100% FULLY RECYCLED PAPER AND

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A pioneer of modern nursing Florence Nightingale introduced effective sanitisation in military hospitals during the Crimea War in 1854 and laid the foundations of modern nursing. Surprisingly, the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ was a sharp statistician too. Her ability to visualise data revealed in one study that 89% of 18,000 military deaths were from preventable diseases not battle. This helped revolutionise military medical care but also

BULGARIA

shaped civilian hospital nursing the world over.

DIAGRAM OF THE

ST GU AU R BE EM

DISEASE

T EP S

IN THE ARMY IN THE EAST

CRIMEA

U A RY

MORTALITY

1854-55

FEBR

CAUSES OF

JULY

WOUNDS OTHER CAUSES

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RC H

Businesses get judged by how they look after their employees How many corporate websites declare ‘our people are our most valuable asset’? So, when did we lose sight of treating business travellers with appropriate due care and attention? Whether you are a global corporation or a fledgling SME business, is the mental and physical wellbeing of your travellers truly a priority? Global opportunities have driven expansion at an unprecedented rate, and expectations for travellers being available 24/7 wherever they are in the world have increased dramatically. But the cost to human capital has also escalated. And the downsides of reduced productivity, demotivated employees, and mental burnout often undermine business goals, risking project disruption and potentially dissatisfied customers.

Blue Cube is pioneering a shift in corporate expectations, moving away from a narrow cost-driven focus to treating travel as an investment. And the best way to invest in future success is to look after your people, especially when they travel on business. We’re here to help you integrate traveller wellbeing into your travel programme as a crucial part of a wider approach to making travel safer, productive, and more sustainable.

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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ARRIVALS OPENING SHOTS

Eye-catching images of the latest news and developments

NH Hotel Collection

SHIP SHAPE

NH Hotels has sailed into Copenhagen with its first Scandinavian property. In the listed former headquarters of a shipyard, it has 394 rooms and suites, most with harbour views. The lobby features a large wood and brass artwork by Danish artist Anna Bak, reflecting the building’s maritime history. There are also two restaurants, a bar and meeting rooms. 6

Interiors by Swedish design firm Krook and Tjader and Spanish studio TBC were inspired by the city's industrial and cosmopolitan atmosphere"

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American Express

london look

Reykjavik EDITION

Cool as ice

EDITION, the boutique hotel brand from Ian Schrager and Marriott International, is due to debut in Reykjavik in November, by the Icelandic capital's Old Harbour port. True to the brand concept, the 253-room five-star hotel will have a line-up of bars, a signature restaurant, nightclub and spaces to work and play. Alfresco dining comes with panoramic waterfront views.

American Express has opened a Centurion Lounge at Heathrow T3. Interiors were designed to showcase the UK capital, from a moss wall inspired by Hyde Park to artwork by Minty Sainsbury. Menus were curated by Michelin-star, Israeli chef Assaf Granit.

easyJet and No. 1 Lounges

North gate

Partnering with No. 1 Lounges, easyJet has opened its first ever airport lounge at London Gatwick's North Terminal. The Gateway is open to all passengers but those flying with easyJet will get priority. Guests can enjoy free WiFi, a TV den, games room, complementary hot and cold dishes and signature cocktails. THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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UP FRONT OPINION

Everyone's talking about... sustainable travel “BUSINESS TRAVEL IS RESUMING AGAIN, MAKING IT MORE URGENT THAN EVER FOR COMPANIES TO MINIMISE THEIR CLIMATE IMPACT” Thorsten Lange, Executive Vice President of Renewable Aviation at Neste

We’re still too far from real, scalable solutions to clean air travel. We need SAF to be just as accessible as oil and new engine technologies to come to market exponentially faster if we are going to meet industry goals” Amelia DeLuca, Delta Air Lines Managing Director of Sustainability

“OUR RAILWAYS ARE ONE OF THE MOST SUSTAINABLE WAYS FOR PEOPLE TO TRAVEL. AS WE HOST THE WORLD AT COP26, I’M PROUD THAT OUR RAILWAY IS PLAYING ITS PART IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE” Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris

“SAF is today’s technology and proof positive that UK aviation has a bright and sustainable future ahead of it on our road to net zero carbon" Tim Alderslade, CEO Airlines UK

“SUSTAINABILITY IS NO LONGER A ‘BUZZ-WORD’ TO USE IN MEETINGS OR WITHIN AN RFI. IT NEEDS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE THAN THAT” Mark Colley, Managing Director Sunways Business Travel

“We have a real sense of momentum behind reducing carbon emissions from flying – with airlines, airports, fuel companies, airlines, investors and governments all coming together to tackle the problem” Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Carbon Strategy

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UP FRONT SPEAKING OUT

SUSTAINABILITY

BREAKING ECO BARRIERS Making your travel sustainable can seem overwhelming but that's no excuse, says Sally Higgs at Amex GBT

M

PHOTO BY MARITA KAVELASHVILI ON UNSPLASH

y mum is a veteran eco-warrior. In the 1980s she taught us how to recycle and about the impact of fast food and fast fashion long before these became buzzwords. She made our clothes, so my sisters and I wore the same outfits, and we were banned from going to the fast-food joints our friends went to. Of course, at the time I just wanted to be like everyone else, but now I feel immensely proud of what my mum instilled into us. I’ve worked in the travel industry for 21 years and I love it. So I’m taking my sustainable upbringing and merging it with my love of the travel industry and making it my mission to make business travel sustainable. From the questions I get asked, in my work and at events such as the recent Business Travel Conference, I see that people can feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge. So here I’ll try to address some of the key questions:

What about other sectors such as construction and farming? Aviation only generates 2-3% of CO2 emissions. Yes, you’re right about aviation, but that impact will grow unless action is taken. Aviation will continue to grow year-on-year and meanwhile other sectors will be reducing their emissions. It’s calculated that without timely action, aviation could consume up to 22% of the global carbon budget by 2050. All industries are targeted with reducing CO2. They’ll have their equivalents of this magazine for their sectors, giving advice on how to farm more sustainably or how to build more sustainably, so we need to focus on what we can change. But carbon offsets won’t save the world. There aren’t enough trees to soak up all the carbon. That's true, carbon offsets will not solve climate change in isolation but they definitely help. And offsetting is something we can do right now rather than waiting for new technologies and solutions. In fact, offsets are the only mechanism at the moment where you can compensate for 100% of your emissions, although bear in mind that

offsetting is considered a compensation or neutralization mechanism, not a reduction. Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t. How do we really know if the carbon offsetting is genuine? How do we know where our money actually goes? Look for independently verified providers. There were some examples of bad players in the offset market back in 2008, who were just out to make money, but since then the industry has progressed. Certifications such as Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) were developed to ensure offsetting projects are legitimate and accountable. GBT offers customers offsets on preferred terms from our trusted partners, which include leading non-profit organisations Carbonfund.org Foundation, Carbon Footprint and Tasman Environmental Markets. What’s the point? The damage is done. It’s never too late to start reducing your impact on the environment. We still have time to turn things around. Sustainability is top of corporate agendas today and the pandemic period has seen a doubling in the rate at which businesses and governments commit to reach net-zero emissions. We’re a small company, surely we can’t make a difference? Everyone can make a difference, and if lots of small organisations make small changes, these grow into large-scale effective solutions. Start by collecting and reporting CO2 data to set a baseline (most organisations are using 2019). Create a plan to minimise emissions. Easy-to-implement tweaks may include booking green hotels, air-to-rail switches on certain routes or renting electric/hybrid cars. Your TMC can help you. Engage employees. You may find some ecowarriors in your business who will be happy to support green initiatives. Employee engagement is a great way to raise awareness without being ‘preachy’.

SALLY HIGGS Sally Higgs is Strategic Account Manager, UK Client Management Team, for American Express Global Business Travel and has worked for GBT for five years. She recently spoke at The Business Travel Conference in London. See pages 36-39.

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UP FRONT THE KNOWLEDGE

How to... cut your travel carbon footprint As part of a new Responsible Business Charter, National Grid has set ambitious goals to reduce its travel carbon footprint through reduction and offsetting.

THE BACKGROUND

National Grid is an electricity and gas company with 23,000 employees in the UK and US. Pre-Covid it had around 6,000 global travellers mostly flying on regional domestic and transatlantic routes such London-Boston, London-New York and Birmingham-Glasgow/Aberdeen. In the UK its travel is managed by Agiito (formerly Capita), which works in partnership with Omega World Travel for the global programme. A Principal Partner for the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, at the start of 2020 National Grid committed to cutting its global air miles by 50% compared to 2019 and offsetting the rest of its air travel. Then Covid struck and its air volume reduced to just 6%. As travel restarts, National Grid remains committed to its initial target and in the last 18 months it has completed a project to collect and analyse its travel data ready to implement its new sustainability policy.

The Process

With close collaboration between its UK and US procurement teams and working with its TMC partners, National Grid was able to pull together data on its air travel for 2019, which was found to be a typical year. It then broke the data down by department or areas of responsibility to show each senior leader their baseline mileage, their impact on the company’s carbon footprint and a future target mileage. The data has been compiled into a report and passed to

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The hardest part wasn't getting the information but being able to split that data into areas of responsibility" the Group Sustainability team. From April, the start of the next financial year, the team will share this data with senior leaders on a regular basis as part of the company’s overall Responsible Business Plan, which aims to make the company’s entire operation net-zero by 2050. Meanwhile, finding an offsetting partner had long been on the company’s agenda to offset areas where zero emissions aren’t currently feasible. In early 2020 National Grid reached out to its TMCs and, by chance, Agiito had just begun working with Trees4Travel, a ‘profit for good’ firm, which allows travellers to offset their carbon through indigenous and non-farmed tree planting. “It was great timing and has helped us streamline the process,” said David Short, National Grid Contract Manager Global Procurement. The company has managed to offset all travel globally since 2020.

data included flights not booked through the TMCs. "But luckily, for air travel, that’s a small amount,” he said.

The result

The Covid travel pause has given National Grid the chance to collect and analyse its air travel data and has provided a natural kick-start to its sustainability goals. As international travel starts up again, it is armed with the information it needs to enforce the new mileage reductions in order to achieve long-term carbon reductions. In the next phase, it is talking to its TMC partners about how it can reduce its carbon footprint in other aspects of its travel, such as hotels and ground transport.

The Challenge

“The hardest part wasn’t getting the information but being able to split that data into areas of responsibility. That took the largest amount of time,” said Short. “At the same time, National Grid had embarked on a major structural change, so we’ve had to take historic data and try to apply it to a new structure, which has made it more difficult.” The other challenge, said Short, was ensuring the

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PREMIUM AIR TRAVEL

high

FLYERS

As corporate travellers get back to international flying, many will be looking for the extra reassurances that come with premium services, says Gary Noakes

A

fter an 18-month hiatus, business travel really does appear to be coming back. Thanks to the vaccination programme, the wiping of the red list and the long-awaited reopening of the US, it’s time to fly again. The tentative return is being reported from TMCs, buyers and airlines, with no shortage of willing participants. In June, a survey by SAP Concur of 500 UK corporate travellers and 100 travel managers found 99% were willing to travel in the next 12 months and 65% actively wanted to. In an October poll by the GBTA, 70% of members said they expect to see an increase in international business travel over the next six months as a result of US borders reopening. But the enthusiasm is tempered by budgets and safety considerations, so there are mixed messages emerging. Meon Valley Travel Group straddles both the corporate and leisure sectors. Managing Director James Beagrie says an initial surge in bookings came from the leisure sector, with a high enquiry to conversion rate. “Leisure bookings are corrupted by people going where they can. With business travel, people are waiting until they can go where they need to go. Generally, companies are saying we will start from next quarter. It’s the finance chief driving the decision," he says. “Rather than people spending more, it’s a case of firms starting at the top of the tree – the chief executive is travelling first.” 12

There is a high priority on traveller safety, he says, with "end to end care" in the shape of "a chauffeur from the house, being walked through the lounge, business class flights, booked meeting space", which means transaction spend is more. However, he adds flights are fuller "because there are fewer of them: BA has got rid of 40% of its fleet, so availability evaporates", with consolidation of poorly-sold departures adding to this issue.

A fine balance

According to Tom Maynard, Virgin Atlantic’s recently-appointed Head of UK and Europe Sales, the vast majority of the airline’s corporate travel is still in Upper Class. “Around 70% of revenue we get from TMCs is in the Upper Class cabin,” he explains. “Yes, we have seen some corporates downgrade from Upper to Premium and we’ve seen it happen the other way. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what is driving the decisions. It will be a balance of price, wellness and sustainability. I think wellness is playing a big part in those decisions to upgrade.” Many are predicting that corporates will be asking their executives to take fewer, longer trips, particularly when travelling long haul, to make their travel count. “I think it’s too early to see now but talking to a lot of our corporate customers that’s certainly an intention,” says Maynard.

“Rather than limiting internal travel and focusing on external travel, I think it’s going to be a case that if you’re going to do a longhaul flight, you’ll go for a whole week and do as many meetings as you can in that week, and rather than going every month, you’ll perhaps only go once a quarter. “Some customers are saying they expect their travel budget to stay relatively similar but it will be a different type of travel, so travellers can fly business class and maybe upgrade their policy and have more hotel expense, but they’ll do fewer trips throughout the year.” Bob Schumacher, United Airlines UK and Ireland Sales Director, says on some of the airline's departures, premium customers outnumber those in economy: “We are in nose-heavy flying posture,” he says. “What we’re finding is airplanes are flying quite heavy and not with the traditional global corporates, but with SMEs and a significant amount of high-yield leisure and mileage burn, so we’re getting heavier loads in the front than in the back, both in business and in premium economy. “There’s also probably some desire by travellers to have a bit more space.” Julie Cope, Managing Director TakeTwo Travel Solutions, concurs with clients seeking reassurance in spaciousness. “From a duty of care perspective, our corporate customers are questioning whether they should adapt their travel policy to allow employees to 

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PREMIUM AIR TRAVEL

Health and safety benefits of business and first class have attracted travellers from all levels of seniority over the last two years"

QATAR AIRWAYS QSUITE

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PREMIUM AIR TRAVEL

“Premium travel has always been about the door-to-door experience, so for our clients this is largely unchanged,” she says. “The pandemic has, however, brought about a wider spread demand for some of these services, with more people across the business booking chauffeurs, meet and greet and luggage pick-ups. “In terms of the actual flight, clients have become more interested in the specifics in terms of safety, with an increased preference for individual seating in business class and opting for a Boeing 787 over an older 777 based on the enhanced filtration system.”

Cabin upgrades

UNITED POLARIS

We are in nose-heavy flying posture. We're getting heavier loads in the front than in the back, both in business and in premium economy" travel in premium cabins for social distancing purposes,” she says. “Covid isn’t going away any time soon and will continue to impact on a corporate’s duty of care and risk management. It’s a dilemma for corporates. Should they increase their travel budget or should they do fewer trips? Should they send one employee on the trip instead of three?” Cope adds that pre-Covid, travel policies were built primarily around cost, with premium cabins permitted if a flight was longer than eight hours, but she says, “that decision is no longer black or white”. Apart from increased fares, allowing more premium flying brings another challenge, that of sustainability, as it costs more to offset a business class flight. Cope says customers are asking to review different scenarios to understand the cost

14

implications of changing policy. Another question being considered is how long that change should be for and whether it should be permanent. “If their company is aiming to become carbon neutral, then should they really be booking business class at all? It’s something that corporates are looking at carefully. But as yet there is no straight answer,” she adds. Midas Travel Director Nicola Cox says the health and safety benefits of business and first class have attracted travellers from all levels of seniority over the last two years and many clients have flexed travel policies to accommodate this.

BRITISH AIRWAYS CLUB SUITE

Travellers returning to the skies could be forgiven for thinking that with the world’s airlines mothballing fleets for 18 months, little has changed onboard. True, there has been a freeze on spending for some carriers, but refurbishment of premium cabins is now back on the agenda. United Airlines is typical of carriers that placed a hiatus on expenditure during the pandemic. “That slowed down the loading of our Polaris cabins across the fleet,” says Schumacher. “We hope to have the whole international fleet complete by Q4 next year.” Meanwhile, United operates flights with a “High J” configuration on routes from Heathrow to Newark and Chicago, with 46 of the new Polaris semi-enclosed seats as well as the Premium Plus cabin. United and other transatlantic carriers found some new competition during the pandemic in the shape of JetBlue, which launched services from JFK to Heathrow and Gatwick in the summer. It's a disrupter, particularly at Heathrow, via its use of the new generation single-aisle Airbus A321LR (Long Range), which burns less fuel giving JetBlue a significant cost advantage. Business travellers who balk at the idea of single aisle aircraft for long haul will probably raise fewer objections when shown JetBlue’s Mint business cabin. The 24 suites offer fully flat 6’ 8” beds enclosed by a sliding door, all with aisle access and 17” TV. At the front, two larger Mint Studio seats boast a companion seat and 22” TV. It’s not quite a private jet, but it has some of the feel of one. Two other transatlantic carriers, Aer Lingus and Air Transat, also have the A321LR. The

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PREMIUM AIR TRAVEL

QATAR AIRWAYS, WINNER OF CABIN CONCEPT OF THE YEAR 2021, ONBOARD HOSPITALITY AWARDS

Irish carrier’s new venture, Aer Lingus UK, plans to base two at Manchester, offering non-stop US flights. The daily year-round JFK service begins on December 1 using the A321, offering 16 lie-flat business class seats that are 6’6” long and 22” wide. Most are in pairs, but there are some single seats that will appeal to solo travellers. JetBlue’s rivals will probably stress the amount of space to be found on their widebody fleet. Regular fliers in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class had to forgo the use of social spaces on the aircraft during the pandemic, but the good news is these are now open again. On the new Airbus A350 fleet, The Loft replaces the bar, whose sometimes noisy clients were the curse of a business traveller trying to sleep. The Loft now provides a quieter space to meet, complete with a screen to show presentations.

Sliding door cabins are all the rage and Qatar Airways joined the revolution this summer. New Boeing 787-9s have 30 Business Class Suites in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout that transform into a 79” fully-flat bed. Unlike the previous Qsuite design, all seats face forward and come with handy phone holders with wireless charging. Lockdown was bad timing for Emirates, which unveiled its long-awaited premium economy concept in December 2020. It is currently taking delivery of the last three A380s ever to be built and with these, six of Emirates’ 118 A380s will offer the new cabin. Emirates has stuck to the standard formula

Changing spaces

If space is a selling point, there is some good news from British Airways, which returns four of its 12 Airbus A380s to the skies in November, serving Los Angeles, Miami and Dubai. Nostalgists will mourn the removal of BA’s Boeing 747s from its fleet during lockdown, but some had cabins very much showing their age.

UNITED PREMIUM PLUS

I think it's going to be interesting to see what is driving the decisions. It will be a balance of price, wellness and sustainability. I think wellness is playing a big part" for its design, with 19.5” wide seats and “up to” a 40-inch pitch, meaning 5-7 inches more legroom. The layout is 2-4-2, giving a spacious feel as it is at the front of the main deck. The cabin, with 56 seats, is offered on some flights from Heathrow and Paris as an upgrade until Emirates has retrofitted enough aircraft to sell it. It's certain to be a hit, particularly on daytime services. Despite the pandemic, there is plenty of innovation coming from the world’s top carriers, but sometimes it’s the small things that catch the attention. One idea that may well have legs comes from ANA, which is claiming a world first by fitting hands-free doors on aircraft lavatories. The oversize latch handle allows locking and unlocking with the elbow, reducing the spread of pathogens. It's a small step, but following the pandemic, one that others will surely follow. 

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cocktail hour Passengers at BA's reopened Concorde Rooms at Heathrow and JFK can treat themselves to a pre-flight cocktail from a new menu created exclusively by Lyan (Ryan Chetiyawardana), a big name in the international cocktail scene.

box clever With Covid health and hygiene firmly in mind, many airlines have changed the way they serve food and drink in their lounges. Korean Air, for example, is offering passengers the option of ordering lunch boxes to minimise interaction with lounge staff.

Made in britain American Express has opened a Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3, its first in Europe. It promises to "transport guests on a journey to discover London through design" with British made furniture, lighting and art.

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time for a nap BA's new Forty Winks sleep pods are now available in Concorde Rooms at both Heathrow T5 and New York JFK and the airline's First Lounge at Heathrow. Dozing passengers can request to be woken up with a drink and a hot towel.

seat comforts Table service is still the order of the day in BA's Concorde Rooms at T5 and JFK but in its other lounges it has introduced a new digital service, Your Menu, which allows passengers to order food and drinks from the menu directly to their seat with the use of a QR code.

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AWARDS

THE BUSINESS travel sector's finest talent was celebrated at the 10th anniversary Business Travel People Awards in London on September 15. Around 200 people joined the ceremony at the London Hilton Bankside to watch the winners collect their trophies.

"The atmosphere was electric," said Kirsty Hicks, Publisher of The Business Travel Magazine. "It was so amazing to get together in person again to celebrate the incredible people in our industry, paricularly after such challenging times."

THE WINNERS ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT TEAM OF THE YEAR Reed & Mackay Travel Highly Commended: Corporate Traveller ACCOUNT MANAGER OF THE YEAR

CUSTOMER WELLBEING INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR Colleagues Unite, Clyde Travel Management DUTY OF CARE INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR Repatriation Service, Focus Travel Partnership

Amy Ashby, Inntel OPERATIONS TEAM OF THE YEAR

BEST NEWCOMER Kris Kolev, SITU

Production Team, TAG

RISING STAR

Highly Commended: Operations Team, ATPI OPERATIONS MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Jennifer Cummins, Synergy Global Housing Highly Commended: Molly Winterton, Agiito

Charlotte Winter, Synergy Global Housing MEETINGS & EVENTS TEAM OF THE YEAR TAG

SHINING STAR Dani Ives, Focus Travel Partnership CHANGE CHAMPION LEADER

MEETINGS AND EVENTS MANAGER OF THE YEAR Jadene Cook, Agiito BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR Lynne Griffiths, Sirius Talent Solutions COVID-19 SUPPORT INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR

Katie Blount, Agiito INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTION AWARD Clive Wratten, Business Travel Association Highly Commended: James Parkhouse, Agiito Highly Commended: Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership

Homes For NHS, UnderTheDoormat

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AWARDS

ACCOUNT MANAGER OF THE YEAR AMY ASHBY, INNTEL

What the judges said: Amy demonstrated what is clearly an avid devotion to her role and her clients alike. The testimonials provided were verging on overwhelming and it was heart-warming to see someone so clearly appreciated and respected within a business relationship.

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT TEAM OF THE YEAR REED AND MACKAY

What the judges said: The team elevated their approach and moved to a much more consultative role, which made them better positioned to help their clients handle the disrupted marketplace. Team work shone through in this submission and there were some excellent testimonials too.

OPERATIONS TEAM OF THE YEAR PRODUCTION TEAM TAG

What the judges said: This is an innovative and creative service team, not only delivering operational excellence but quite unique solutions. Their submission was packed with examples and evidence that made this team really stand out for what they have delivered for their clients. With special thanks to our sponsors Direct ATPI, Sirius Talent Solutions and Agiito

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MEETINGS & EVENTS MANAGER OF THE YEAR JADENE COOK, AGIITO What the judges said: Jade stood out because not only did she demonstrate a high level of event management skill she also showed a dedication to her own personal development. She has grown in both confidence and capability and shows potential to be a future leader, engaging with senior business leaders and global directors.

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AWARDS

MEETINGS & EVENTS TEAM OF THE YEAR TAG

What the judges said: The TAG team adapted so well to the post Covid world with a new strategy and their submission showed innovation at its best. We were particularly impressed by the way the team documented how they’d overcome internal challenges as well as those experienced by the wider industry.

BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR LYNNE GRIFFITHS, SIRIUS TALENT SOLUTIONS

What the judges said: The team at Sirius took a selfless approach to their transformation and looked at how best they could benefit the overall industry, rather than just themselves. They spent time listening to clients and the industry at large to understand the impact of the pandemic and determine what services would be required through the recovery and beyond.

CUSTOMER WELLBEING INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR COLLEAGUES UNITE, CLYDE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT

What the judges said: This was a standout winner, demonstrating true awareness and recognition of the very specific challenges impacting on those working within this sector and a genuine desire to want to make a positive impact.

OPERATIONS MANAGER OF THE YEAR CHARLOTTE WINTER, SYNERGY GLOBAL HOUSING

What the judges said: Charlotte has achieved so much throughout the past year and is always motivated and passionate about all of her successes at Synergy. She has also demonstrated a real aptitude for change and innovation. Charlotte is an inspired and hardworking individual who clearly strives to make things better.

COVID-19 SUPPORT INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR HOMES FOR NHS, UNDERTHEDOORMAT

What the judges said: This was a very worthwhile initiative, which included bringing in many other partners in a short space of time. The team pulled together and worked all the hours of the week, including weekends, to make sure everything was ready as soon as possible. This was a fantastic example of a team jumping to help our key workers in a time of crisis.

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AWARDS

BEST NEWCOMER KRIS KOLEV, SITU

What the judges said: Kris was described by SITU as the glue that brings everyone together and his achievements are all the more impressive because just two years ago he was working in nightclubs as a DJ and had never even heard of the sector he now works in!

RISING STAR JENNIFER CUMMINS, SYNERGY GLOBAL HOUSING

What the judges said: This was a very impressive submission and Jennifer’s ability, commitment and passion for the role shines through. It’s so refreshing to see someone at this stage in their career show such tenacity to succeed. Anyone who can demonstrate they have grown revenue and improved customer service during the challenges of this pandemic is definitely one to watch.

DUTY OF CARE INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR REPATRIATION SERVICE, FOCUS TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP

What the judges said: This was a really community spirited and selfless initiative, set up with 15 TMC partners in just 48 hours, and was a true demonstration of the power of collaboration in the face of an evolving global crisis.

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CHANGE CHAMPION LEADER KATIE BLOUNT, AGIITO

What the judges said: Katie created a whole new way of engaging with employees during the pandemic and received excellent feedback from her colleagues, not only in terms of the exceptionally high scores but also the large volume of replies. We particularly loved her wellbeing app.

INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTION AWARD CLIVE WRATTEN, BUSINESS TRAVEL ASSOCIATION

What the judges said: This was a tough category with three excellent entries, each one making a significant contribution to the future of our industry, but we felt Clive deserved to win because he has been consistently relentless and passionate in his fight for the industry’s recovery. He is not afraid to speak his mind and question those in authority and has managed to significantly raise awareness of the business travel sector in the corridors of power. Through initiatives like BTA Cares, he has also helped to support many people in the sector who have suffered throughout the pandemic. A very worthy winner.

SHINING STAR DANI IVES, FOCUS TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP

What the judges said: Dani was initially shortlisted for the Rising Star category and her passion, enthusiasm and ability really shone through in her interview, but we felt she was too established in her career to fit this category so we created a new award, Shining Star, to recognise her achievements.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELPEOPLEAWARDS.COM

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THE NEWS REVIEW

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GbTA GoES INTERACTIVE AT EuRopEAN CoNFERENCE deleGATes at the GBTA's 2021 European Conference in Berlin in December will be able to join interactive sessions to discuss and share ideas on four aspects of post pandemic travel programmes. ‘The Big Idea’ and a ‘Think Tank Series’ - new to the programme will run alongside main stage presentations focussing on key strategic issues and breakout sessions on industry excellence. Sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion will be even higher on the agenda at this year's conference, which is being held on

December 6-8 in partnership with VDR, the German Business Travel Association. "The way in which we work has changed and the GBTA European Conference will address these issues and provide an opportunity to once again connect, to share and to learn from one another," said a spokeswoman. Delegates will also get the chance to network at a welcome reception and a Christmas-themed 'Mingle All the Way' reception, and join a morning running tour taking in Berlin's most famous landmarks.

PanDemic forces inDePenDent tmc to sell off travel assets The TRAvel-RelATed assets of independent TMC, Flightline Travel Management, have been acquired by Global Travel Management (GTM). “It is very sad that another great name and a superb SME TMC has been removed from the business travel industry but we are looking forward to working hand-inhand with new customers," said Scott Pawley, GTM Managing Director.

34%

Train alternatives under six hours

Research commissioned by Greenpeace shows 34% (51) of the 150 busiest short-haul flights in the EU have train alternatives under six hours, and the same can be said about 73 of the 250 busiest shorthaul flights in Europe (the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and the UK)

mckinsey Report triggers optimism GlOBAl business travel spending looks set to rise by more than a quarter this year and reach two thirds of pre-Covid levels by the end of 2022, says a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council in collaboration with McKinsey & Company. It predicts a modest 26% rise in global business travel spend this year followed by a further rise of 34% next year. But this comes in the wake of a 61% collapse in business travel spend in 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions. Julia Simpson, WTTC CEO & President, said: “Business travel is starting to pick up. We expect to see two thirds back by the end of 2022. Business travel has been seriously hit but our research shows room for optimism with Asia Pacific and Middle East first off the starting blocks.”

[ NEWS bITES ] >> AMERICAN Express Global Business Travel has completed the acquisition of Egencia >> TRIPACTIONS has secured a $275 million in Series F growth funding, pushing its post-money valuation to $7.25 billion >> QANTAS has brought forward the restart of services between London and Melbourne to November 6, six weeks earlier than originally planned >> CYCAS Hospitality is to take over the operation of three upscale boutique hotels - the Mercure London Hyde Park, Mercure London Paddington and the Hotel Indigo London Paddington - as part of a deal with London Town Group >> HEATHROW Express has released seat-yoga exercises for passengers to relieve tension >> THE BUSINESS Travel Magazine’s website, thebusinesstravelmag.com, was named Best Trade Publication Online at the Travel Media Awards <<

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IATA reports moderate rebound in air travel demand

United confident about London routes UNited Airlines has announced five new services to and from London Heathrow starting in March 2022. It will add two more flights to New York Newark, additional schedules for both Denver and San Francisco, and is also introducing a new direct daily flight to Boston. “London is an integral part of United’s network and we remain confident demand will continue to grow, particularly as international business travel returns in 2022,” said Patrick Quayle, United's Senior Vice President of International Network and Alliances. In total, United will offer 22 flights a day from the US to London, which was the most booked international destination for its business customers in October.

IATA has reported a ‘moderate rebound’ in air travel in September 2021 compared to August. Total demand for air travel in September 2021 was down 53.4% compared to September 2019. This was better than August, when demand was 56% below August 2019 levels. Meanwhile, the latest IATA figures show domestic markets were down only 24.3% compared to September 2019, a significant improvement from August when traffic was down 32.6% compared with two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, although the latter

remained in solid growth territory compared to 2019. International passenger demand in September was 69.2% below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7% decline recorded in August. “September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid border closures and quarantine mandates,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general. But he said the long-overdue reopening of transatlantic travel and recent reopenings in other key markets will be a "boost to the large-scale restoration of the freedom to travel".

overhaul of APD announced in autumn budget AIR Passenger Duty will be cut on UK domestic flights by 50% from April 2023 but will be increased for some key long-haul corporate routes, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that a new ultra long-haul band will be introduced for flights of more than 5,500 miles, saying: “Less than 5% of passengers will pay more. Those who fly furthest will pay most."

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

b T A C O M M EbNT TA U P D AT E

Returning to the 'land of the free'

music specialist TmC takes to the stage TWO FORMeR directors of The Appointment Group (TAG) have launched a TMC specialising in the entertainment and music sector, with its own air charter operation. Set up by Ian Patterson and Glen Duckworth, Equinox Travel will specialise in managing complex itineraries for bands and solo artists, agents, tour managers, and film production companies but also offers specialist travel support for professional sportspeople, athletes and sports agents, corporate travel and luxury leisure trips. Its sister company, Equinox Charter, will be run by Elliot Bottomley and will provide global private aircraft chartering solutions to clients across all sectors. Bottomley is the former founder and MD of Artist Charter and previously worked at PrivateFly and FlyMeNow.

GbTA poll SHoWS SHARp RISE IN buSINESS TRAVEl opTImISm TWO ThIRds of companies are now permitting non-essential domestic business travel, found the latest global poll by the GBTA. In a high for the year, 42% of members are now also allowing international travel and over 70% expect a rise in business travel over the next six months as a result of the US reopening. The October poll showed a sharp rise in optimism, with 52% of members reporting they feel more

optimistic compared to a month ago. This number was 22% in September. Only 10% say they feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery compared to 27% a month ago. Three in four (78%) GBTA buyer and procurement members feel their company’s employees are “willing” or “very willing”’ to travel for business in the current environment.

For more than 500 days the ability to travel between the UK and the US has been restricted despite the route being one of the most important for global trade. It has been an integral part of so many business travel itineraries. Its absence has been a source of economic, business and cultural frustration. With over £200 billion in annual trade between our two countries, the US regularly tops the list of business travel destinations. Blocks on travel for almost two years have hurt our economy badly. The BTA’s Business Travel Tracker, published in partnership with Travelogix, shows that in the last four months the closure of travel to the US has cost UK GDP around £8 billion. So, it’s welcome news for British and US business that fully-vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the US once more. The resumption of transatlantic travel has been coveted not only by the airlines that fly the Atlantic but also by the TMC community which makes

those trips a reality and provides critical duty of care for travellers. After some uncertainty about whether the Astra Zeneca vaccine would be accepted by the US authorities, the issue has been thankfully resolved. The opening of travel to the US is another significant step on the road to recovery and follows last month’s significant and necessary reductions to the red list. But make no mistake, the business travel sector still has a long road to travel before we return to any semblance of normality, especially when it comes to international trips. The UK Government must work harder to align us with other nations by dropping the requirement for Day 2 testing. As we've said before, consistent international protocols for entry are vital. It is only when there is international reciprocity that we will see international business travel truly recover. After many months of disruption, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, but sadly we’re not there yet.

Clive Wratten Chief Executive Officer

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S U S T aina b ilit y

travelperk buys carbon data company

IN BRIEF Green power

Marking a UK milestone, 42 easyJet flights from Gatwick were powered by a 30% fuel blend from Neste, including 39 services operating to Glasgow airport during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) between October 31 and November 12.

Eco venues

Over 3,200 Green Key venues in the UK can now be booked through venuedirectory.com, bringing the number of sustainably accredited venues on the online platform to 4,076.

Carbon choice

Air Canada has launched a programme to give corporate customers the option to mitigate their carbon emissions either by purchasing offsets or sustainable aviation fuel sourced from Neste.

ATPI Group has set up a new division dedicated to sustainability. Called ATPI HAlo, it will help clients achieve their carbon reduction targets through new services, research and Development

travelperk has acquired UK corporate travel sustainability consultancy firm, Susterra, its fourth acquisition this year Founded by environmental scientist James Dent, Susterra uses data analytics technology to offer companies an "holistic view of their entire business travelrelated environmental impact” using the ICAO Methodology, an industry standard. Its technology will be integrated into TravelPerk’s platform over the coming months. TravelPerk said corporates will be able to use Susterra’s reports on flights, hotels, car hire, and rail travel to gain actionable insights to help improve their carbon efficiency and reduce costs. "Sustainability is a long game and we want to be leaders in this transition," said Ross McNairn, TravelPerk's Chief Product Officer. TravelPerk also offers clients the chance to offset 100% of their carbon emissions through its GreenPerk initiative.

Tech generation

Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM and Delta Air Lines have joined with Boston Consulting Group to form an Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT), designed to stimulate innovation in the next generation of sustainable aviation technologies, such as synthetic fuel and direct air capture.

Meeting targets

Radisson Hotel Group claims to have become the world's first hotel group to make its meetings and events carbon negative across more than 400 EMEA hotels through its ‘Carbon Negative. Planet Positive’ programme.

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Survey: Sustainability still not a priority ALMOST two-thirds of executives said the pandemic has made them rethink how they travel but only 11% list sustainability as a factor. According to a survey of 1,022 UK employees and 250 employers by spend management specialist Emburse, Covid safety weighs in as the most important factor (34%) for employers to consider for business travel arrangements, while the other most important factors are efficiency (13%) and journey time (9%). When respondents were asked how they could make their trips more sustainable, 35% said they would consider cutting down the number of trips, 25% said they would combine trips and 22% said they would minimise air travel.

SAF FIRST for Manchester Airport MANChester Airport will become the first in the UK to have a direct feed of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) thanks to a partnership between its parent, Manchester Airports Group, and Fulcrum BioEnergy Limited UK. The fuel will be produced at a new biorefinery in Stanlow, Cheshire, and will have a CO2 footprint at least 70% lower than its traditional jet fuel equivalent. It will be produced from residual household and commercial wastes otherwise destined for landfill or incineration.

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S U S T A I N A b I L I T y

IN BRIEF It's electrifying

Hertz has announced a major investment to offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world with an initial order of 100,000 Teslas by the end of 2022 and the installation of thousands of new EV charging points across its global operations.

mission possible

Virgin Atlantic has committed to a 15% net reduction in total CO2 emissions, with 10% of fuel sourced from sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030 as part of its renewed mission to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

SAF initiative gets off to a flying start TRIpACTIONs has joined forces with Neste to offer its clients the option to purchase Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and says clients are signing up fast despite the additional expense. The initiative is for TripActions clients and for customers of Reed & Mackay, which TripAction purchased earlier this year. Chris Truss, Reed & Mackay's Head of Sustainability, said some clients have committed to buying SAF for their entire flying programme to meet their science-based targets. SAF is made from sustainably-sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel when used in its neat form and over the lifecycle.

Cleaner ride

Sixt Ride has added hybrid and electric vehicles to its transfer or limousine services in several UK locations, including London, Edinburgh, Farnborough, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Luton, Oxford and Reading, and in other key destinations across its European network.

Re-energised

Edinburgh Airport and renewable energy company, Orsted, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on reducing emissions at the airport and help it meet its target to reach net zero by 2040 through the use of green technologies, including plans for hydrogen production facilities powered by offshore wind farms and decarbonising the fuel used by aircraft.

heathrow Joins with climate-tech sPecialist for uK first heAThROW has become the first UK airport to offer passengers the chance to offset carbon emissions by directly purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) thanks to a partnership with global climate-tech company CHOOOSE. The voluntary initiative will enable passengers to calculate and offset their air travel emissions regardless of their airline or end destination.

ITM Scott davies Chief Executive

Although buyers are very much looking forward to in-person meetings with their supplier partners, they are looking for a different kind of engagement this time around. Supplier review meetings of the distant past were informal affairs where relationships were developed and sometimes food and beverage were consumed. Then came the advent of the CRM and reviews became highly structured, even formulaic, explorations of endless reports and carefully-constructed questions designed to secure advances and commitments. As we all start over again, supplier reviews must also be re-imagined. Buyers tell us they want precious time spent face-to-face with their key suppliers to be lifted a level in terms of strategic thinking and to help connect their organisations in different ways. They will want to understand exactly how their partners are managing the recovery and what other value they can bring to each other in the areas of sustainability, employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and more. So all hail the next age of the supplier review meeting; sharing, listening to and enlightening each other for mutual benefit.

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O N

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EVENTS NOvember 17-19

GBTA COnvention 2021 Orlando convention.gbta.org NOvember 24

travelogix client assembly Fazeley Studios, Birmingham travelogixltd.com NOvember 25

Focus Travel Conference

Sammit Khanndeparkar

A lex twigg s

Nicola Loma s

JOINS: Astellas Pharma AS: Senior Global Manager Travel FROM: Springer Nature

PROMOTED AT: World Travel Protection TO: UK Business Development Director FROM: Business Development Manager

JOINS: Festive Road AS: Consultant FROM: All Things Business Travel

Sammit Khanndeparkar, previously Global Head of Travel Category for Springer Nature, has joined Astellas Pharma as Senior Global Manager Travel & Expense.

Alex Twiggs has been promoted to UK Business Development Director for World Travel Protection, a risk management company owned by Zurich Insurance Group.

Nicola Lomas has joined Festive Road. She previously held buyer and supplier roles covering Europe, APAC, and North America, including Omnicom Group and IFS.

Clayton Hotel, Birmingham focustravel.uk December 6-8

GBTA Conference Europe Berlin europeconference.gbta.org February 8 2022

Dinner CLUB Corinthia Hotel, London thebusinesstravelmag.com April 27-28 2022

ITM COnference Birmingham Hilton Metroopole itm.org.uk

Sonia Kure k

Nicola s Ferri

Khaled Shahbo

JOINS: Delta Air Lines AS: Vice President EMEAI FROM: Aeromexico

JOINS: Air Transat AS: Commercial Director UK & Ireland FROM: British Airways

PROMOTED AT: Enterprise Holdings TO: Senior Vice President for Europe FROM: Senior VP UK & Ireland

Nicolas Ferri joins Delta as VP Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. Based in Paris, he will oversee customer experience and strategic commercial initiatives in the region.

Sonia Kurek has been appointed Commercial Director of UK, Ireland and GSA Markets for Air Transat. She was previously BA's Sales Manager, Specialists Markets.

Khaled Shahbo becomes Senior Vice President for Europe at Enterprise Holdings, taking over from Mike Nigro who has retired from the group after 38 years.

April 29-May 2 2022

Advantage travel COnference Savoy Palace Hotel, Madeira advantageconference.co.uk May 16 2022

Dinner CLUB Corinthia Hotel, London thebusinesstravelmag.com

ALSO ON THE MOVE... American Express Global Business Travel has appointed Dan Beauchamp, previously the TMC's Director of Global Clients Management, as Head of Consulting for the EMEA region >> Nina & Pinta Partner Jo Lloyd has joined FCM as Global Account Management & Consulting Director as part of an 'integration agreement' between the two companies >> CWT has made three key appointments: Laura Wang has been named Director of Global Supplier Management (GSM) China, Cristina Scott has been appointed Head of CWT's Financial Services unit, based in Southlake, Texas, and Joel Hanson becomes Senior Director of Global Innovation Business Development >> Simon Hughes, formerly with TUI, has joined payments platform APEXX Global as Head of Travel >>

June 29-30 2022

business travel show ExCel London businesstravelshoweurope.com

EXPERTS AT TALENT RECRU IT MENT, DEVELOPMENT AND RET ENT ION.

August 14-17 2022

GBTA Convention

Dedicated to the business travel sector.

San Diego Convention Centre

Contact us to discuss our solutions.

convention.gbta.org

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GALLERY

The Business Travel Magazine

Dinner Club

All smiles at the Corinthia Hotel

Buyers, TMCs and suppliers got together for a night of networking at The Business Travel Magazine’s most recent Dinner Club, held in October at The Corinthia Hotel London. The invitation-only event is held three times a year and has become a highlight of the industry’s social calendar. On this occasion, it was kindly sponsored by South Western Railway, Sixt Rent-A-Car, FREE NOW for Business and Reside Worldwide.

The Dinner Club ▼

Guest speaker Adrian Gane, Senior Advisor, Etihad Airways ▲ 5.10.2021

Champagne reception

Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner and a fascinating discussion on sustainability

For more photos from the event visit thebusinesstravelmag.com

In association with

With thanks to our event sponsors

Travega Travel Marketing Solutions Worldwide

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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TECH

Let’s get

DIGITAL

Technological development has gathered pace in the pandemic, says Gill Upton, as she outlines the biggest trends

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TECH

A

ctively embracing ‘digital first’ thinking has been one benefit of the global pandemic. Solutions to new opportunities and problems had to be found, and fast, pushing the change to digital strategies. According to a McKinsey Global Survey, the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation and automation by several years. McKinsey's report concluded that the future belongs to those companies that put technology at the centre of their outlook, capabilities and leadership mandate. The good news is that deployment is quick as most solutions are cloud-based. “Buyers are starting to see that it’s not smoke and mirrors anymore. We have 5G on our phones now and NDC has given us the content, for example, so corporates can

see that technology can enable change,” says Simone Buckley, Vice President Marketing EMEA at TripActions. Richard Addey, Sabre Regional Director Western Europe and South Africa, believes technology can also help TMCs get their operations back to full steam. “Some TMCs are completely panicked as some business is coming back faster than expected,“ he says “Demands are different than before; travellers want to be taken care of.” According to an Amadeus survey of over 9,000 travellers in nine markets, the technologies that would increase travel confidence among UK respondents in the next 12 months revolve around mobile solutions, namely on-trip notifications and alerts (44%), self-service check-in (41%),

contactless mobile payments (41%), and automated cancellation policies (40%). Pushback from some travel managers is because they are not digital natives or don’t have a seat around the boardroom table to present a case for change. However, encouragingly, their low status has been elevated in many cases over the last 18 months. Those without the appropriate skillset abdicate responsibility to the TMC. “One of the challenges corporate travel has, generally, in terms of adopting technology is the battle between what’s good for the consumer and the corporate; there’s a conflict between these things,” says Adam Knights, Managing Director Europe and Middle East at ATPI. Read on for a selection of new travel tech solutions helping to overhaul our industry. 

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TECH

AI

The current iteration, autonomous A1, is giving us smart warehouses, robotics in hotels and airports filling concierge-like roles (think of Connie in Hilton Hotels), autonomous cars, and ‘intelligent’ chatbots offering answers to questions 24/7 in the absence of staff (think FCM’s Sam). AI will soon be able to master language; already it can answer questions that would normally be asked of an analyst. One disruptor is AI-powered Grapevine, a selling platform for ancillaries which is designed to help TMCs increase revenues per trip by improving attachment rates. "The average TMC only captures 25% of hotel bookings so there is a lot of leakage,” says Grapevine founder Jack Dow. “With over 40% of business trips being changed before departure TMCs have their hands full. We’re helping TMCs do what they’re good at, which is customer service."

One of the challenges corporate travel has, generally, in terms of adopting technology is the battle between what's good for the consumer and the corporate – there's a conflict” Already live with Gray Dawes, Grapevine focusses on items that have not been booked – hotels, lounge access, fast track, car hire and so on. Restaurants and live events will be added to its capability in 2022 alongside revenue calculator to pinpoint what revenues are left on the table. Its financial model is revenue share with the TMC partner.

Booking tools

TripActions calls itself a next-generation, AI-powered, faster and more personalised booking tool and expense platform with chat capability. It remembers booking preferences and claims seamless capability between mobile and desktop for easy itinerary management and rapid agent response. Its Return To Travel suite helps clients upload, manage and share health documents and track entry requirements. 32

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

The Vessul mobile-first booking tool from TapTrip aims to revolutionise the marine and energy sector by automating what is traditionally a labour-intensive and manual booking process, currently with only 2% tech penetration. Launched in October, it is a plug-and-play tool using Google’s own coding language and was tweaked after beta-testing with 20 clients. It provides a user-friendly experience to accommodate the complexity, variables and rich content which characterises managing crew rotations. For example, departure and arrival weather conditions have been integrated to the tool. ”It can make 450 flight bookings in a single booking to ensure crews arrive at the same time from multiple places,” says Neil Ruth, co-founder of the company.

Contactless travel

“Uberisation” is spreading to all modes of transport, despite duty of care being at odds with this concept. Technology effectively reduces the human-to-human contact when a more white-glove service is demanded in the post-Covid world. “How do you strike a balance between reducing touchpoints while still having personable support when you need it?” asks Danielle Martinez, Marketing Co-ordinator at Good Travel Management. Online booking plus AI-powered chat could be the way forward, dispensing with labour-

intensive emails being sent back and forth to confirm an airline booking, for example. Apps and virtual/e-tickets on smartphones do away with many touchpoints while travelling. When was the last time you printed out an orange train ticket? Car rental can also be contactless: booked through an online tool then travellers scan their confirmation details at the pick-up location and choose the car and collect the keys from the stand. Meanwhile, hotels have long had contactless check-in via touch screens or electronic key cards.

Data insights

With corporates tightening their belts, accurate and fast data is crucial and Travelogix claims to offer real-time visibility to “a single source of truth” and report all spend metrics in an intuitive way through its leading product Analytix, says CEO Chris Lewis. The company’s Farecast lets TMCs track revenues from airline deals and incentives, while in November it will launch a duty of care module to help corporates mitigate risk. The future will bring app-based solutions, including in-trip communications and live itinerary updates.

In-trip communications

The ability to communicate with travellers at all points of sale, and both ways, is key in  the post-Covid world, satisfying duty of


Finally. Multiple offshore bookings at once. Vessul’s transparency, level of detail, reliability and ease of use empowers Travel Management Companies to save valuable time and ensures crews have everything they need to get where they need to go. Launches 28th October: vessul.com

35645967 +44 7937 987653

46723946 +44 7720 464023


TECH

isn’t ready, hindered by a technology and mindset barrier. He refers to airline IT being covered in “thousands of software plasters …which are managed by a convoluted mix of internal and external partners”. An intuitive booking tool and mobile apps is the starter kit, the latter to keep users ahead of gate changes, flight delays and the like, plus data-powered micro segmentation of customers to personalise itineraries and open-source technology to bring in full content as new disruptors enter the market. For example, Sabre’s Red 360 aims to deliver the entire spectrum of travel products. care and wellbeing along the way, particularly now that the average length of trip is expected to be far longer. This will play into greater use of travel apps and support from chatbots to advise on destination information.

Mobile first

Using Google’s own coding language, TapTrip’s online booking tool offers a slick user experience when booking flights, hotels, trains and multi-city itineraries for multiple people, all on one app. Co-founder Neil Ruth says its aim is to make managing travel “as easy as watching Netflix” and claims 30% savings, 90% faster bookings and 95% compliance. It also offers lower transaction fees and is GDS agnostic.

Personalisation

“We’re in this Amazon/Spotify/Netflix world where all personal preferences are delivered so it should happen in business travel too,” says Jack Dow at Grapevine. A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group highlighted that retail customers are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when their shopping experiences are highly personalised. The big hope in the airline space is NDC, and One Order, although former British Airways CEO Alex Cruz believes the industry

The ability to communicate with travellers at all points of sale, and both ways, is key in the Covid world, satisfying duty of care” 34

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Recognition technology

Fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, retina scanning and other biometric identifiers are revolutionising the traveller’s journey. The technology is compatible with smartphones and can expedite airport security checkpoints, removing the need for boarding passes and expediting baggage drops. Some airports operate smart cameras to capture biometric data at check-in, which is then shared at security, border control, lounges, shops and boarding gates. Facial recognition is obliterating hotel check-in queues. For example at the Marriott Hotel Hangzhou, guests can check in using Alibaba’s online travel platform. To come is ‘selfie-pay’ where payments

are confirmed using a smartphone camera. MasterCard is trialling such a system. Matching faces to databases will allow greater personalisation as info on gender, age and predilections will be instantly available and services tailored accordingly.

Re-shopping

Rate auditing tools are not new but they’re now relabelled re-shopping tools. In a fluid world swamped by BAR rates, re-shopping is vital. With a simple API connection to data, mostly from the GDS, TRIPBAM can double-check hotel rates right up to the day of departure and re-book when necessary. MD EMEA Peter Grover believes it negates the need for the RFP process. ”It is a complete waste of time,” he says. The company’s contract auditing function tracks that the right rate is loaded correctly and if it is offered every single time. In the first quarter of 2022 TRIPBAM will roll out the same service for airline bookings. Meanwhile, Hotelhub has Rate Optimiser, another re-shopping tool powered by AI. Chief Commercial Officer Eric Meierhans claims 15% savings achieved on 3-5% of bookings within a rich content of over two million unique properties. HotelHub 2 launches in early 2022 and promises greater personalisation, such as first choice of hotel, type of room and so on.


GALLERY

Vessul VIP launch With its strong maritime heritage, the city of Liverpool was chosen for the official launch of Vessul, TapTrip’s new tech solution for the marine and energy sectors. TMCs and other industry partners were invited to the event at the Museum of Liverpool for a special after-hours tour followed by a Champagne reception and three-course dinner in the museum’s People’s Republic Gallery, with spectacular views of the waterfront.

Blue Marine Foundation was unveiled as a charity partner

Vessul launch event ▼

TapTrip’s Co-Founders Thomas Young (left) and Neil Ruth (above) introduced Vessul ▲ 28.10.2021

Private tour of the museum

The Museum of Liverpool was the perfect location

Guests enjoyed the magnificent gallery views

For more photos from the event visit thebusinesstravelmag.com

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EVENT REVIEW

T H E

B U S I N E S S

T R A V E L

C O N F E R E N C E

2 0 2 1

VIEW FROM THE TOp: WHERE ARE WE NOW? SimOne BuCkley, vP marketing emea tripactions: "Pricing is going to be very dynamic for a while but don’t lose site of the data you used to look at. At some point we'll get back to the time when we’re talking with suppliers and negotiating deals again so keep your eye on that."

The Business Travel Conference 2021 SeniOr leaders in business travel shared their expertise and insights with travel managers at The Business Travel Conference 2021 in September, one of the industry's first in-person events since the end of pandemic restrictions. Under the theme 'Reconnect, Reset, Restart', a programme of lively, engaging and interactive sessions covered key topics such as travel risk and duty of care, wellbeing, sustainability and the new role of the travel buyer, all designed to help corporates navigate the new world. Delegates also met with supplier exhibitors and there was plenty of time for networking at the two-day event, which took place at the London Hilton Bankside. Here are some of the key takeaways from the conference sessions. For more see thebusinesstravelmag.com.

JameS ParkHOuSe, CeO agiito: "Everything feels sticky and clunky and it's going to feel that way for a while yet. People haven’t travelled for 18 months and they think it will

be like it was in January 2020, but it’s not. Travel buyers must help manage expectations. Generally people are a lot more supportive if their expectations are managed." david BiSHOP, CCO Gray dawes: "We’re seeing the average transaction take five times longer. That’s the time it takes us to navigate through all the rules. With our suppliers we’re seeing real pinch points, with airlines overselling to fill up their planes, which causes huge challenges."

[ SPECIAL THANkS TO OUR SPONSORS ] Headline sponsor: Blue Cube Travel

Keynote speaker, MP Stephen Hammond, told delegates he understood the travel industry's frustrations over the crisis handling and urged the sector to keep lobbying their local MPs and to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Business Travel, of which he is chairman. 36

Executive sponsors: TAG, All Nippon Airways and South Western Railway

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TMC TRANSFORMATION Steve Banks, CCO Agiito: "During the pandemic we’ve been able to sort the fact from the fiction to help our customers. We hold some very valuable data and can use it to understand why people are travelling and the value of that travel." Pete Snowdon, Commercial Director TAG: "We’re living in a world, especially in travel, where it’s not an off-the-shelf environment. Everything is complex and individual. No two enquiries are the same. We see ourselves moving from a consultant to a consultancy in terms of the information we are providing."

Sumit Gupta, Blue Cube Travel Head of Client and Supplier Management: "Technology is a must but it’s not the only thing. What is important is a good blend of online and offline. I think the biggest threat is the technology. We cannot rely completely on the technology because human assistance will be needed." SIMONE BUCKley, VP Marketing EMEA TripActions: "The digital evolution has leapt five years. I never did my grocery shop online but I had to do it during lockdown, so everything I do now is on my phone. There will be more people interested in mobile first."

SUSTAINABILITY FOCUS Darryl McGarvey, Director of Change Development, SAP Concur: "It's all about empowerment. We have to equip and empower travellers to make the right choices. You have to give them the information. "You also need to have a company culture that allows travellers to be passionate about sustainability. It has to come from both sides. "It’s about the leadership setting an example and empowering the travellers to do the right thing. "As long as they have the right information, the vast majority of the time they will do the right thing."

Sally HIggs, Strategic Account Manager, American Express GBT: "You need to show you’ve reduced your carbon across the whole business, not just travel, and offset the rest. "We’re not in the position to not use carbon offsets at the moment. These are widely available and these are are how all companies are going to get to carbon neutral by 2025 or 2030. "To put it into context, if you wanted to do it without using carbon offsets, you wouldn't be able to drive a car, or take the train, or a plane, because all of these emit carbon. "

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Ground Transport

Buyers: NEXT GENERATION

Jason Dunderdale, Head of Sales UK FREE NOW For Businesss: "More people are getting the choice to use more sustainable methods of travel and now we can actually quantify the CO2 emissions."

Mark Cuschieri, Executive Director UBS and VP GBTA: "We’ve never had the greatest opportunity to look at our programme standing still. Historically, it’s been like driving at 100 miles an hour down the motorway and trying to change a wheel, but now the car is parked in the garage you can look at things differently and try new ideas – and be prepared to fail. There’s nothing wrong with that."

JOSHUA CollIER, Agiito Head of Proposition Rail and Ground Transport: "There's been a lot of innovation and suppliers have looked at where there are gaps and where they can improve the customer experience and it's been very positive to see that."

DIVERSITY CHALLENGE Carol Fergus, Director Global Travel, Meetings and Ground Transportation Fidelity: "The important thing for me is that people are talking about diversity and inclusion and they’re looking at things more holistically. We’re having the conversations, doing the huddles, holding the committees, across the whole supply chain, buyers, and travellers. Without us continuously beating the drum it’s very easy for D&I to slip back under the carpet.

We should all identify one person to champion and support and help them develop within the industry." Nouran Zarroug, MD NuLight Consultancy: "We need to look at how we drill down further with D&I to make sure it’s not just a document that sits in a folder in a cabinet somewhere. How do we make sure the policy impacts the organisation and the travellers? There’s still a long way to go, but we’re getting there."

Scott Davies, CEO ITM: "The great irony is that as we come through this and travel starts to return, it’s going to be more complex and there is going to be more requirement for specialists and specialisms, but at the same time none of us are specialists because we’re in a new world." Jan Jacobsen, Co-Founder Quality Lifestyle Worldwide: "Working from home is totally 2020 - so last year! The new thing is being digital nomads, where you work from anywhere but travel more for collaborative meetings."

VIEW from the top: what's next? Clive Wratten, CEO BTA: "What I’ve learnt is that the real way through to government is from the bottom up, not the top down. It took us a while to work that out." Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO Advantage Travel Partnership: "We’re now in a transition phase and we’re all grappling with our balance of life, the sustainability agenda, with no T&E budgets and many other challenges, and we don’t know where it’s all going to fall. I genuinely believe there has never been a better time to engage with a TMC." James Foice, Chief Executive ASAP: "One of the headwinds we’re seeing is a labour shortage. We’ve lost a lot of skilled staff and industry veterans. But that isn’t as a result of Covid. It’s a result of Brexit. "

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Travel RISK and wellbeing: BACK TO THE FUTURE Bex Deadman, Managing Director Blue Cube Travel: "I really believe that, for the first time in history, we can come together as a united travel industry and can agree that the duty of care for our people is the thing we have in common and we can start making the changes we need in order to make our industry more resilient for the future. I believe that, for the first time, we can be proactive rather than reactive. The ISO 31030 is the backbone that we need to prove what we do and I’m asking you all to get behind it."

Accommodation: Wake up Call Paula Cullen, Black Box Partnership: "Your TMC should know about the market, what supply is coming in and what leverage you could use. Future travel will be more project driven so be comfortable to be fluid." Nikki Regan, ATPI Head of Commercial Strategy: "You can't look at what happened in 2019. You need to rip that up and look at

Jim Lawrence, Director Peregrine Risk Management: "You have a duty of care, not just during the trip but when your travellers return as well. When something goes wrong, the stress doesn’t stop when you get back. You carry that baggage back home with you. So it's important to have

that team in place, to have somewhere where travellers can go. That last pillar of the travel process is really crucial. If you don’t get that right your workforce is going to feel stressed and undervalued and they won’t want to travel again." Alex twiggs, Business Development Director World Travel Protection: "One of the recurring themes is taking longer, more impactful trips, with more meetings, which doesn’t just help with regards to sustainability but also with cost, and that’s going to have an impact on the stress people feel. People will be away from their family for longer – perhaps for a week or two weeks – so how do you manage that, how do you support them? When we get back to travel it’s not going to be the same and the risks won’t be the same. I think stress will be a huge part of it."

your business and where your travellers are going and put together a flexible programme." peter grover, TRIPBAm MD Europe: "I think we're going to be above 2019 prices by Q1 2022 so it's important that you negotiate rates now and be mindful of Last Room Availability, and make sure you continue to get that as rates and demand increase."

A I r travel : R eady for T a k e O ff Aman Pourkarimi, Head of Gray Dawes Consulting: "If you’re spending £5m or more on air, the best thing to do is to fix that. Roll over your 2019 rates as it’s quite clear the fares will go up. If you're an SME, you are very attractive to airlines right now so take advantage of the programmes being offered, such as signing bonuses. If you sit in the middle, I would

negotiate dynamically and rather than volume-based, negotiate from a market share point of view and then have various check-ins where you review your price." JULIE Murphy, ANA Sales Manager UK and Ireland: "All of the predictions moving forward are strong and the demand is there, but right here and now it’s a challenge."

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DEPARTURES

Reality check

Go online for the full reviews: thebusinesstravelmag.com

Hote l: Hub b y pr e m ie r , s h o r e ditc h , L o ndo n the hotel

A former Victorian stable

luggage in a compartment under the

block, this 246-room hotel opened in

bed, plug sockets were above the pull-

Quaker Street, Shoreditch, in summer

out desk (no scrambling), the 40” smart

2021. It’s one of 14 hub by Premier

TV was simple to operate and, best of

properties, a brand which launched in

all, from a simple bedside touchscreen

2014 and promises cleverly-designed

panel I could set the lights to full, partly

compact rooms in city centres with

dimmed, dimmed, or off, press a ‘do not

“everything you'd expect from a Premier

disturb’ sign and even control the room

Inn room in about half the space”.

temperature. If you lie still for long

I arrived late and my

enough, lights turn off to conserve

cab driver had a bit of trouble finding

energy and if you wave your hand

the place. I guess it’s still fairly new. I

they’ll come back on. Genius. Wi-Fi is

was greeted by two friendly gents at the

free and speedy too. The shower was

small reception desk, behind Covid

super powerful and there’s a hair dryer.

screens. There are self check-in kiosks

The decor was simple, bright and

too. A few people were still milling

everything felt new and clean.

THE CHECK-IN

about in the open-plan lobby/bar/

COVID STRATEGY

restaurant/lounge. I made myself a

operates CleanProtect, a rigorous

cuppa (24-hour free tea and coffee) and

cleaning regime developed in

took the lift to my second floor room.

partnership with Diversey, a global

THE ROOM

The hotel has a mix of

THE FACILITIES

cleaning and hygiene product supplier.

Breakfast (hot and

continental) costs £7. There’s a bar and

Premier Inn

you can order a limited menu of

The decor was simple and bright and everything felt new and clean

evening meals, such as pizza or curry. THE VERDICT

I didn’t notice the lack

of bedroom space because the design

Standard and Bigger hub rooms. I had a

Measures includes more frequent

Bigger room, which is slightly more

cleaning of high-touch areas. Unlike

spacious and has a king-size bed rather

other hotel brands, Premier employs all

than a double. As promised, the room

of its 9,000-strong housekeeping team

6SN; 0333 003 8101; premierinn.com.

design was very clever. I could store my

directly to ensure high standards.

Rooms start from £49. Bev

was so brilliant. Perfect for an affordable, no-frills overnight stay. The detailS

Quaker St, London E1

Fearis

H OTEL: CONR A D LONDON ST . J A MES THE HOTEL

This five-star 256-room

bedding and noise insulation helped me

Hilton property is in the former Queen

sleep well. There was a good-sized work

Anne's Chambers, a 19th-century

table along with abundant power and

building. Although right opposite St

USB points. A 42-inch HDTV satellite TV,

James Tube Station, in the heart of

with Chromecast, was built into a large

Westminster, it's away from the main

LCD panel in the wall. The marble-

streets in a relatively quiet area.

furnished bathroom was very spacious,

COVID STRATEGY

The Conrad follows

with a separate bathtub, walk-in rain

Hilton's CleanStay programme. The

shower and Shanghai Tang toiletries.

Hilton Honors app can be used to check

There was a Nespresso machine with

in, choose your room, and opt in for a

plenty of coffee pods and Hope + Glory

digital key.

t-bags. Warning: the gently sloping wall

THE CHECK-IN

Sunshine poured in

angles by the window aren't

through the lobby's angular skylight and

immediately obvious - I twice knocked

I was welcomed with a warm smile.

my head sitting in the window chair.

There's a mesmerising art centrepiece,

THE BUSINESS

There are seven well-

The Ladder to Bronze by Tom Clark,

equipped meeting rooms of various

which apparently represents power in

sizes on the bottom floor and an

the hands of the people - a nice

Executive Lounge on the top floor.

reference to the hotel’s proximity to the decision-makers in Westminster. THE ROOM

My King Deluxe Room

THE FACILITIES

These revolve mainly

around the newish dining/drinking options - The elegant Hedgerow, The

THE VERDICT

This is a competitively-

priced and classy hotel that is small enough to feel intimate, welcoming and

THIS CLASSY hotel is small enough to feel intimate and almost 'boutiquey'

almost 'boutiquey" – and in a great location. The lively Blue Boar pub is a place to return to time and time again, even if you're not staying at the hotel.

(604) was a little on the smallish side

Pem restaurant, with an art Deco feel,

considering the room category but

and the Blue Boar pub, a fabulous

London, SW1H 0BH; 020 3301 8080;

made excellent use of the space and

recreation of a London pub with craft

hilton.com. A King Deluxe Room starts

was very comfortable. Egyptian cotton

beers and even a Sunday roast.

from £288. Steve

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THE DETAILS

22-28 Broadway,

Hartridge


DEPARTURES

The final word

Dirt alert: please do not touch

H

and sanitisers have become a familiar sight in hotel lobbies across the world since the start of the Covid pandemic. You can't go for your buffet breakfast or get in or out of a hotel lift without being confronted by a bottle of something with a sign inviting you to have a pump. But if you're starting to become a bit blasé about your hand hygiene, read on. Research by Chicopee, an international brand of professional cleaning materials, has revealed the worst germ hotspots in Britain’s hotel rooms by swabbing the main touch points to test for high levels of viable bacteria and fungal cells. If you think that sounds disgusting, you should have seen the photos that came with the press release. (We decided not to share them with you, in

Festive faves Demand for Christmas parties is soaring after last year's lockdowns, according to Lake District Hotels, the owners of six hotels in Cumbria, which decided to take to social media to find the UK's favourite Christmas songs. Here goes: 1

The Pogues - Fairytale of

2

Wham! - Last Christmas

3

Mariah Carey - All I Want

4

Shakin' Stevens - Merry

5

Classic Carol - O Holy Night

New York

For Christmas Is You Christmas Everyone Research by Lake District Hotels

case you're reading this while eating your breakfast/lunch/ dinner). All we're going to tell you is that if you want to avoid coming into close contact with the grubbiest places in a hotel

Jurassic robotics

T

ravellers arriving at New York's new Henn Na Hotel might be forgiven for thinking they've come to the wrong place. The Japanese hotel group, known for its quirkiness (it's name translates to Strange Hotel, what more can we say?) has positioned a fivefoot animatronic T-Rex in the lobby to greet guests. Luckily, the robotics stop there. When it opened its first hotel in Nagasaki, Henn Na tried to replace staff with robots, but failed dismally. Robot room assistants, for example, mistook snoring for commands and would often wake up sleeping guests.

room, don't switch on the lights, don't use the bathroom sink, and don't put anything on your bedside table. Oh, and always take the stairs. Alternatively, keep on pumping that hand sanitiser.

Mint Choc Chip, Tutti Frutti or Very Berry? Personally we prefer plain old Vanilla but sadly that's not an option at the new ice cream-themed ibis Styles Bournemouth, where the 76 bedrooms are decorated with a "bold palette of ice cream shades" to take us back to our childhood seaside holidays. With walls coloured like sundae swirls and carpets dotted with hundreds-and-thousands, it's likely you'll soon be getting cornet cravings, so thank goodness the hotel has an ice cream station - with vanilla too we hope. THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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