THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE â€¢ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
LIGHT SPEED AHEAD THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM
The technology shaking up travel management
T A L K I N G
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T R A V E L :
Rail travel Regional airlines Australia & New Zealand A N D R E A
B O C E L L I
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O C T O BE R /NO VE M B E R 2017 84
24 Regional airlines 34 Rail travel 59 Extended feature: Travel technology
6 Opening Shots
Find out how to make the fast-changing world of travel technology work for your business
8 Everyone's Talking About...
Duty of care at TBTC'17
11 Six of the Best: European conference resorts 12 Spotlight on:
Uber's capital pains
14 Speaking Out:
15 The Knowledge: how to get big
results as a small company
16 Event review: The Business
Travel Conference 2017
18 The Conversation: Adrian Parkes,
Chief Executive, GTMC
20 The People Awards 21 The Debate: Meetings policies 22 Picture This
23 Meet the Buyer: Sarah Stone,
Global Travel Manager, Arm
32 Sustainability: Green policies
44 Talking Travel: Andrea Bocelli
47 Twelve pages of news, views
and the latest developments
79 New Kid on the Block 80 On the Road
81 Meeting in: Bath
83 On Business in: Jeddah 84 Focus on: doing business in
Australia and New Zealand
88 Reality Check 90 The Final Word
Catching the early bird. Fly with Lufthansa to over 400 destinations worldwide
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26/09/2017 16:50 17.07.17 15:35
Welcome Safety first
uty of care emerged as the dominant theme at our recent annual event, The Business Travel Conference, despite there being no single session dedicated to the subject. Nevertheless, the majority
of the event's 20 seminars and workshops touched on it to some extent, with delegates hearing how various travel managers, TMCs and risk mitigation experts approach duty of care. It is a reflection of the unpredictable environment we live in and the destinations we travel to that duty of care has risen up the agenda – and stayed there – in recent years. Find out what was said on the subject on pages 8, 16 and 17 in this issue. Strong processes and good management tools can help companies locate their travellers in times of disruption, and it is travel technology that is the focus of our extended feature in this issue, stretching from pages 59 to 78. Here you’ll find news and views on the latest booking tool developments, learn about the potential of artificial intelligence and chatbots for travel management, find out how to put mobile technology to use and more. Also in this issue are interviews with Adrian Parkes, the new Chief Executive of the GTMC; Sarah Stone, Global Travel Manager at Arm; and in our highprofile Talking Travel slot, globe-trotting opera star Andrea Bocelli. I'm loath to mention the 'C' word this early in the year, but next up on our growing list of events is The Business Travel Magazine Christmas party, details of which can be found on page 29 – book soon, for it will sell out!
Andy Hoskins email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS
Neal Baldwin, Colin Ellson, Linda Fox, Roger Gardner, Rob Gill, Dave Richardson, Gillian Upton & Angela Sara West STAFF JOURNALISTS
Benjamin Coren & Laura Gelder EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
David Clare firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR SALES MANAGER
Craig McQuinn email@example.com
DESIGN & PRODUCTION CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Matt Bonner DESIGNERS
Louisa Horton, Ross Clifford, Monica Notarnicola & Zoe Tarrant PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER
BMI PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTOR
Andy Hoskins, Editor
(Print) ISSN 1754-8543. THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY BMI PUBLISHING LTD: SUFFOLK HOUSE, GEORGE STREET, CROYDON, SURREY, CR9 1SR, UK. T: 020 8649 7233 E: ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK ALL PAPER USED IN THIS PUBLICATION IS SOURCED FROM SUSTAINABLE FORESTS AND IS FULLY RECYCLABLE WHILE EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO ENSURE ACCURACY, BMI PUBLISHING LTD CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2017 IMAGES: SOURCED FROM SUPPLIERS, ISTOCKPHOTO.COM AND BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM
Welcome .indd 5
ARRIVALS OPENING SHOTS
Eye-catching images of the latest news and developments
The luxurious 155-room hotel is brimming with event and meeting space possibilitiesâ€?
Singing the blues
O'CALLAGHAN Irish family-owned group O'Callaghan Hotels has opened its first UK property, the 155-room Tamburlaine in Cambridge. Situated close to the city's train station, the property offers five meeting spaces for groups of up to 120, a modern European restaurant and bar, and a Garden Room available for tea parties and events. 6
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FOUR SEASONS The Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait opened at Burj Alshaya this autumn. Located in one of the city's most architecturally striking buildings, the hotel offers chic dining options and extensive event space. Singapore style
ANDAZ Hyatt has opened its new Andaz Singapore near Marina Bay. Billed as a modern take on the 'shop house', it features a floor offering seven neighbourhood dining experiences.
ROOM 2 Aparthotel brand Room 2 has unveiled plans for its second property, due to open in Southampton in March 2018. The fledgling company specialises in cool studio-style rooms suitable for business and leisure stays. THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM
Opening Shots.indd 7
ARRIVALS EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT...
Duty of care at TBTC'17 “IF AN INCIDENT HAPPENS WE HAVE A CRISIS CASCADE. WE HAVE AN ALERT AND AN AUTOMATIC CONTACT PROCESS
“TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T RESCUE YOU BUT IT PROVIDES CONFIDENCE AND VISIBILITY. YOUR TMC SHOULD HAVE THE PROCESS AND PROCEDURES TO RUN REPORTS AND HELP YOU REACH THOSE AFFECTED BY AN INCIDENT”
IS INITIATED. IT’S A POWERFUL COMFORT TO TRAVELLERS” Gemma King, Travel Manager EMEA/APAC, Omnicom
“Concentrate on duty of care and the wellbeing of your travellers and you may well find you also improve compliance and reduce travel costs too”
Companies must provide effective safety training for their employees, but travellers must also have more accountability for their actions when travelling overseas”
Carolyn Pearson, Maiden Voyage
Lloyd Figgins, International Risk Mitigator
Ewan Kassir, Head of Sales, Clarity
“WE’VE HAD HOTELS REMOVED FROM OUR ONLINE BOOKING TOOL IF THEY’RE NOT APPROPRIATE ON SAFETY GROUNDS”
Imelda Aspinall, UK Travel Manager, MBDA Missile Systems
“Although we now have the technology to enable users to ‘check in’ at their location as safe, it will be some time until people are used to using it quickly. Until they are, a good approach is to educate, train and encourage vigilance so we can proactively respond to future incidents” Robert Curley, Principal Business Improvement Manager, Amey
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2017/09/11 9:08 AM
ARRIVALS SIX OF THE BEST
Six of the best... European conference resorts 1
ANANTARA VILAMOURA ALGARVE
Anantara Vilamoura is the Asian group’s first hotel in Europe. Its meeting and event facilities are among the largest on Portugal’s Algarve, with capacity for almost 1,000 delegates. The 280-room resort is a 30-minute drive from Faro Airport, and next to the Oceanico Victoria golf course.
NH NOORDWIJK CONFERENCE CENTRE LEEUWENHORST
Just 20 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the 513-room hotel has 123 meeting rooms, with one big enough for 2,000 delegates. There are plenty of event options and a unique 3D holographic projection system.
This sophisticated and luxurious resort was refurbished this year, with every guestroom upgraded. Facilities include its own convention centre, with capacity for up to 1,500 delegates, a plenary room and nine subcommittee rooms. The hotel also offers free wifi throughout.
MELIA ATALAYA PARK HOTEL
This hotel in Estepona, Spain, will join the Sol by Melia portfolio in 2018 and undergo a complete refurbishment, ultimately comprising 468 rooms, six restaurants, a golf driving range and 12 conference rooms.
WESTIN RESORT COSTA NAVARINO
Featuring 445 rooms and suites, this Greek beachside resort boasts extensive conference and meeting facilities. Its House of Events space can host up to 1,600 delegates in the Great Hall, and there are numerous outdoor spaces available, plus 11 meeting rooms with high-speed wifi.
RITZ-CARLTON ABAMA TENERIFE
The luxury resort has an 18-hole championship golf course alongside its meetings and events facilities. There are 10 meeting rooms, multimedia and breakout rooms, and exhibition areas. There are numerous dining and outdoor areas for smaller or informal gatherings.
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A closer look at industry developments
Spotlight on... Uber's capital pains
If Uber’s not good enough for Transport for London, is it really good enough for your business? The ride-hailing app continues to divide opinion. When Uber was stripped of its licence to operate in London recently there was outcry among voracious consumers of the cutpriced car service. Uber says 3.5 million Londoners use the app and there is undoubtedly significant usage among those on business, but some companies might welcome the end of its presence in London. For all the benefits and admirable innovation that Uber has delivered, it has also been dogged by enough bad news
Should it be driven off London's roads, it will be interesting to see if corporates begin to shun Uber elsewhere” 12
stories for the corporate community to be cautious about sanctioning its use: lax background checks, a lack of regulation, poor working conditions and unsavoury driver incidents, to name a few. While some companies have embraced Uber for business purposes, others have outlawed its use and some turn a blind eye to it. Recent statistics from expense management company Chrome River set the scene: 48% of companies it surveyed allow the use of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, 17% do not, 13% mandate their use, and 22% do not have a specific policy. Transport for London's decision not to renew Uber's licence on the basis that it is “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence” feels particularly pertinent. TfL says the operator's “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”. The move was backed by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London and, not surprisingly, the city's army of black cab drivers. Uber's General Manager in London, Tom Elvidge,
countered: “Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS.” Its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, meanwhile, conceded “that there is a high cost to a bad reputation” and pleaded with Londoners to “work with us to make things right”. Uber will continue to operate in the capital throughout the inevitably drawn-out legal appeal, and its drivers will still be on the roads in 40 towns and cities around the UK and some 600 destinations worldwide. Even so, Uber is already banned in numerous cities and countries – though not always on grounds of corporate responsibility – and, should it ultimately be driven off London's roads, it will be interesting to see if UK-based corporates begin to shun Uber in destinations farther afield. On the other hand, if Uber successfully appeals and earns a licence extension in London, we can expect it to seriously up its game in the capital.
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ARRIVALS SPEAKING OUT
Hotel cancellation policies Independents ignore chain reactions While the likes of Hilton and Marriott are tightening their cancellation policies, another hotel group is encouraging smaller operators to do the opposite. Earlier this year Marriott, Hilton and IHG all tightened their cancellation policies, meaning customers must now cancel their rooms more than 48 hours ahead of arrival (24 hours in the case of IHG) or face paying a penalty – typically the cost of a night’s stay. While Marriott’s new policy applies only in North and South America – for now – some spectators think a 48-hour policy will become the ‘new normal’ and, not surprisingly, many corporates are concerned about the potential impact on their travel programmes. Hotel booking company HRS says 5% of hotel bookings are cancelled within 48 hours of arrival, which would cost one of its key clients $600,000 annually in cancellation fees. Businesses with corporate deals in place, however, should not be affected, and it is thought penalty-free late cancellations will simply become a further negotiating point in future discussions with suppliers. Nevertheless, some smaller hotel groups have identified the trend as an opportunity
Buyer-supplier relationships are so important. There should be a partnership, not just a commercial deal” to win marketshare off the ‘big boys’ by taking contrasting action. “I think the 48-hour policies are unjustified but the big chains have the clout to make these moves,” says Linda Bekoe, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Global Hospitality Services. “I think it will become the industry standard for the global groups but, from an independent perspective, I don’t think it’s going to happen.” In fact, Global Hospitality Services, with over 330 independent hotels, 14
is instead asking its partner hotels to provide more sympathetic cancellation terms, even to 6pm on the day of arrival. “It’s a deliberate response to help satisfy our customers’ needs.” says Bekoe. “Other independent groups should do the same thing. It could be an opportunity to take market share from the global groups and help strengthen existing relationships.” Bekoe continues: “Buyer-supplier relationships are so important. It should be a partnership, not just a commercial deal, especially from the point of view of a smaller, independent group.” If a poll of 100 travel managers by HRS is anything to go by, the strategy could pay dividends, as it is about relationships not transactions. It found 32% plan to negotiate exceptions to new cancellation policies, while 15% will restrict which brands they use in order to avoid additional costs. “The extension of the cancellation period shouldn’t have come as a surprise,” says Bekoe, who suggests key mergers have given the big groups even greater influence.
“From talking to travel managers, it seems the big mergers are just utilising their power to be more demanding.” says Bekoe. “Buyers still want chain-wide deals but there are concerns over lessening competition because of the mergers. On the plus side, we are seeing a trend among travel managers seeking two-year deals which demonstrates a commitment to the relationship.” Regardless of the length of new deals, the changes in cancellation policy by the global groups are unwelcome, as one travel manager recently told TBTM: “Reduction in flexibility naturally correlates to an increase in costs. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not great news for corporates.” LINDA BEKOE Linda Bekoe is Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Global Hospitality Services (GHS), managing the global sales team with offices in America, Europe and Asia. Linda was previously Head of Sales for Grange Hotels.
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ARRIVALS THE KNOWLEDGE
Get big results as a small company In the average small business, employees are still booking their own flights, rail travel and hotels because it’s thought of as being cost-effective. Paul Casement, Director of Sales and Account Management at Clarity, explains how travel management companies can deliver value even to SMEs.
Small and medium-sized businesses – those companies spending less than £300,000 on travel annually – can gain access to a TMC’s buying power and supplier relationships, helping them secure the most competitive prices in the market. If the TMC has a dedicated SME division, it will appoint an account manager to assist with trip planning and budgeting.
DUTY OF CARE
Using a TMC also ensures that employers are properly looking after staff who travel on business – a necessity in today’s volatile world. Duty of care products include traveller tracking, traveller alerts and even round-the-clock advice and crisis management services. ‘Business unusual’ is what a TMC is set up to deal with.
FOCUS ON THE JOB AT HAND
Freed from the time involved in researching and
booking travel, your employees can zone in on the reason for their trip. They will arrive better prepared, rested, refreshed, and in the best physical and mental shape to perform at their peak. Paul Eccles, from mechanical engineers KSB in Glasgow, says: “As a company that employs more than 100 people in the UK and spends around £150,000 annually on business travel, we have benefitted hugely from the help and support of the team managing our travel.”
the key people within the business. “The personal service, hard work and attention to detail that goes into our trips has made a dramatic change in how myself and my colleagues travel for business,” says Eccles.
THE BEST TECHNOLOGY
Nowadays leisure travellers most often choose to book online. By putting your business travel in the hands of a TMC your employees will also have the ability to book all UK and international travel online, but will be providing crucial added-value information to ensure all aspects of the visit are seamless and safe.
A TMC will appoint a personal account manager for each company they have as a client, no matter the size of the business. This provides a main point of contact for the entire organisation. The account manager will understand the client’s needs and develop a relationship with
ARRIVALS EVENT REPORT
TBTC'17 A meeting of minds More than 20 seminars and workshops took place over two days at The Business Travel Conference, which was held at the London Hilton Bankside in September. Andy Hoskins and Benjamin Coren report. Keynote speaker Lloyd Figgins set the scene at The Business Travel Conference 2017 as he focused on duty of care in the event's opening session. The international risk mitigation expert told delegates: “The people who can be heroes and make change happen are you. Travel risk programmes should be simple, effective and embedded in your programme. Putting the systems in place is easier than clearing the mess up afterwards.” He praised the government's “run, hide, tell” campaign and advised companies to make the FCO their first port of call when seeking information on destinations. Paul Wait, the new Chief Operating Officer
We have a good travel policy that’s well adhered to but we also have demanding clients so we can’t be too rigid” BUCKETS & BALLS The prize for best use of PowerPoint goes to Jenny Prescott, Global Business Development Director at Giles Travel. She neatly illustrated several different approaches to managing global travel programmes by variously allocating 'balls' - such as travel policy, duty of care, TMCs, supplier strategy, data, payments and expense management - into global, regional and local 'buckets', according to a particular model.
CONFERENCE BUZZWORDS • PERSONALISATION • DISTRIBUTION • NDC • DATA REGULATION • DUTY OF CARE • RISK MITIGATION
at Southall Travel Group, and Craig Cherry, Procurement Director at Dentsu Aegis Network, tackled the increasingly complex world of airfares and distribution. Wait advised buyers to look forward rather than referring to historical data when negotiating route deals: “You need deep understanding of future business volumes,” he said. Wait also suggested considering sevenmonth airline deals to coincide with peak travel seasons, while Cherry stated the importance of flexibility in his deals: “We have a good travel policy that’s well-adhered to but we have demanding clients so we can’t be too rigid.” In a session called The Day After Tomorrow, travel manager Jon Bolger and Emma Dean of Cycas Hospitality examined how
companies with mature travel programmes can take things to the next level, highlighting the increasing importance of stakeholder engagement and innovative thinking. David Bishop, Vice President of Global
TBTC17 Review.indd 16
ARRIVALS EVENT REPORT
The larger the purchase, the bigger the device you’re going to book it on. Mobile works for rail but not round-the-world flights” Business Development at Atriis and Richard Kelly, Director of Product Management at HRG got stuck into the fast-evolving arena of travel technology and, in particular, NDC. “The airlines want to personalise what they sell to you. NDC will bring levels up to what you see on their consumer websites,” said Bishop. On the other hand, as Kelly pointed out, “Clients want quick information, not reams and reams of it. It’s like a Google search – no one goes beyond the first page.” As for mobile booking technology, Kelly said: “The larger the purchase, the bigger the device you’re going to book it on. So mobile works for rail tickets but not for round-the-world flights.” Using data to drive savings was the theme of a seminar delivered by Pieter Rieder, of travel management company ATPI, who said an automated expense system is key to crunching the numbers. “There is easy money to be had by pulling everything together in one place,” he said. “If you’re still on a manual expense system you need to seriously reconsider that.” He added: “Over 60% of spend is on hotels and airfares, so it’s the first place to look to optimise savings. Try to negotiate included wifi and breakfast, for example, based on your data. You can also use data to persuade your own people to do the right thing.” See page 8 for more on duty of care at TBTC
GETTING PERSONAL In a workshop getting to grips with personalisation in business travel, Graham Ross of FCM set attendees the task of generating innovative new tools or processes. The winning group�s idea was traveller profiles that move with employees when they join new companies.
NUMBERS UP “WE’RE OBSESSED BY DATA! IT WAS RUBBISH TO NON-EXISTENT WHEN I JOINED THE COMPANY BUT IT’S NOW A CORNERSTONE OF OUR PROGRAMME,” SAID AMANDA WORTHINGTON OF MATALAN
CALLING CARD A pair of business class tickets to Taiwan, courtesy of Eva Air, were among the prizes up for grabs as part of the conference's popular Calling Card competition
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Chief Executive, GTMC
ADRIAN PARKES The business travel association's new CEO speaks to Andy Hoskins about his aspirations for the GTMC and the challenges its members face
t is Adrian Parkes’ sixth day in his role as the new Chief Executive of the GTMC when I speak to him, but his wellrounded experience in the industry means he can hardly be called a newcomer. He has held senior roles at GTMC member Portman/Clarity, and at Etihad Airways and Bmi, together spanning some 20 years. His airline roles were preceded by a successful early career in the FMCG environment involving “crisps, snacks and latterly Pot Noodles” at Golden Wonder, says Parkes. “It’s not like I’ve been starting from cold because of my long association with the GTMC and the value proposition of travel management companies,” he says. Parkes has no immediate plans to meddle with the status quo at the GTMC which, under the guidance of departing CEO, Paul Wait, has worked hard to justify its selfproclaimed status as the ‘voice of business travel’. It will continue to look after its member agencies' interests while campaigning on wider travel industry issues. “We’ll be looking to continue a lot of Paul’s hard work and contributions to the GTMC. It’s important to make sure we have that continuity,” says Parkes. “And then there’s supporting our membership with some of the changes we’re facing in distribution, regulation and legislation coming up in the next 12 months.” It certainly feels like a significant period of change for the industry, with buyers, 18
suppliers and agencies alike coming to terms with increasing complexity and fastmoving technology. But is it fair that TMCs are frequently told they must evolve or risk becoming irrelevant? “There’s a certain amount of noise around that sentiment but I just think the robust nature of the industry shows it will be here for a long time,” says Parkes. “I've seen periods like this before for the industry. It’s survived commission cuts, it's survived low-cost carriers, the rise of internet sales... because of the quality of service TMCs deliver. It will ride the changes coming over the horizon by adapting. You'll see a lot of technology developments in the industry.” But where does that leave smaller TMCs with less financial muscle to aid their evolution? Parkes gives short shrift to the notion that, in a market that continues to consolidate, they are ripe for acquisition. “They have strong, loyal customer bases and understand fully the requirements of
There are so many great opportunities in this industry for young people so we really need to promote it”
their clients. The wider industry is producing the technology they need or can buy into.” Having been at the heart of a merger himself, between Portman and Clarity in 2016-17, Parkes says such deals are simply part of a “healthy, progressive industry”. He saw no obvious impact on business travel at the TMC following the UK's narrow vote to leave the European Union, and Brexit is not on the immediate agenda for the GTMC. Rather, it will support projects that generate business travel and power the economy, regardless of EU membership. “Airport expansion remains a key point for us, both in the South East and nationwide,” says Parkes. “We want to see increased capacity at regional airports and improve access into them. We have a lot of data around this and what additional regional capacity brings to the economy.” He also speaks passionately about the organisation's newly established 'next generation' working party and was pleased to be a part of its inaugural meeting in his first week at the GTMC. “There was so much enthusiasm in the room and so much diversity. Our members are keen that they have young, upcoming staff involved, whether it's people from operations, e-commerce, web development, data management, account management, sales, marketing… There are so many great opportunities in this industry for young people and we really need to promote it as a career path.”
Conversation Parkes.indd 18
in brief... You were working for Portman at the time of its merger with Clarity. Are M&As something you expect to see more of? If you look over the last 10 or 15 years there have been acquisitions on a fairly regular basis. It is a progressive industry and those types of things will continue to happen. I also expect we'll see some new entrants and diversification of business models. How did you come to join the GTMC as its new CEO? Iâ€™ve had an interest in the GTMC for many years, and a close working relationship as both a partner at Bmi and Etihad Airways and as a TMC member with Portman. It was a role I was very keen to pursue when the opportunity came up. Clarity were incredibly supportive of the whole process and I feel privileged to have been appointed.
What do you think are GTMC members' biggest concerns at the moment? Credit card changes [the removal of chargeable fees] that come in January, and then there's new General Data Protection regulation later in the year. They are fairly big topics of conversation but I would say TMCs feel they're on top of them.
Adrian Parkes became Chief Executive of the GTMC in September. He was previously Chief Commercial Officer at Portman Travel, which he joined in 2010, and then Clarity as the two businesses merged earlier this year. Parkes has also held roles in the travel industry with Etihad Airways, where he was Vice President of Sales, and Bmi, where he was Commercial Director.
Conversation Parkes.indd 19
THE PEOPLE AWARDS
meet the winner
Amy Hogarth of travel management company CTI was named Sales/Business Development Manager of the Year at The People Awards 2017 Tell us a little about your career in the travel industry… After studying a degree in Geography at the University of Leeds I took a year out to travel Europe and East Africa. I joined The Savoy Hotel in London for its grand reopening in 2010. Following that, I moved into corporate travel, working for both a global corporation and a small independent agency, before finding my feet at CTI. What do you particularly enjoy about your role and the industry as a whole? I love my job. No two of my clients are the same, and I love getting really involved with their business to ensure that CTI becomes an extension of themselves, not just a supplier. The diversity of my days is what I enjoy the most. I’ve had factory tours of aircraft tyre manufacturers, seen the production process of an Olympic ceremony stage setup, and next month I'm flying to What do you think of the People Awards Luxembourg to talk all things yoghurt! I in general? wouldn’t want to do anything else. They are a wonderful way of celebrating all the amazing talent we have in our industry How did you feel about winning an that would otherwise be overlooked. accolade at The People Awards? I was absolutely delighted as I think was What advice would you give to someone evident on the day. I was a little entering The People Awards? overwhelmed as I’d seen myself The same advice I gave myself: be as the underdog. I was honest and true, and don’t be honoured and very afraid to shout about yourself grateful to have been and all the great things you’ve The People Awards recognise outstanding nominated by the done. If you are passionate individuals and teams across Senior Leadership it will shine through. all aspects of the supplier Team at CTI. element of corporate travel What do you think are management whose professionalism What do you the industry’s greatest and business excellence make think it will mean challenges currently? them stand out from their for your career? Attracting more young industry peers. The People Hopefully the talent, so the industry can Awards 2018 open on award demonstrates embrace and drive change. I January 1 my commitment to the fell into the industry, and I love business travel industry it – but I never would have thought and my desire to be part of the to join it during my time at university, as generation that moves the industry I didn’t know it existed! At CTI we have into the future. engaged with local colleges to give students 20
Attracting young talent to the industry is a challenge. I never would have thought to join it during my time at university as I didn’t know it existed” a taster of what a great industry it can be, and we are recruiting passionate graduates who are excited to be part of it. Duty of care is a challenge faced by all, and one of ever-increasing importance. CTI are well-placed to assist companies who perhaps had previously left traveller safety on the table. The important thing to get across to travellers is that it’s not a rulebook for what they cannot do, but a set of guidelines for keeping them safe as well as controlling expenditure.
People Awards.indd 26
CEO, Inntel, & Chair, GBTA Europe Meetings Committee
Consider using an agency. The savings will cover the cost of their advice and enable you to take control, save money and raise standards”
Head of Corporate Travel, Direct Travel
or some reason, companies in s a firm which manages the UK are less likely than those both corporate travel and elsewhere to have a formal meetings for clients, we see meetings policy – and you have many travel policies that to look right to the top of the cannot cope when applied to enterprise scale before it’s the norm. travel for large-scale events and meetings. Douglas O'Neill If you ranked businesses in size on a scale Many companies do not have a separate of one to ten, with ten being huge meetings policy or a set of exceptions that corporations, businesses as low as a apply in these cases. An example of this is four would have a travel policy, but the common policy of limiting the only those at eight or more numbers of company passengers would have a meetings policy. on the same aircraft. While this is It makes no sense because sensible and may be workable the two are inextricably as part of normal business linked. All decisions that operations, it can cause real are documented in a headaches, costing a lot corporate travel policy of time and money in – preferred suppliers, sourcing alternative preferential rates, options if large group discounts, numbers of people efficiency savings from one location are and risk assessrequired to fly to the ments – are equally same meeting. important conGiven the relative siderations safety of flying today, it for meetings is somewhat ironic that management. the same employees are While most companies have comprehensive According to a recent then often placed in the report by the GBTA, same hotel or venue upon policies for business travel, are parallel documents between 1% and 3% of a arrival where they are outlining the rules for meetings less common, company’s total revenue is potentially at a greater risk and how can companies take action? spent on meetings and than in the sky together. It events, with between 25% and changes the dynamics of the risk 30% of the M&E spend going on and consideration should be given travel and expenses directly to exceptions in the policy. associated with meetings and events. A standard company policy might allow If a company has a travel policy but no some flexibility by enabling a junior meetings management policy then less than employee to travel premium with a senior a third of this significant spend is being colleague on normal corporate travel, but subjected to formal scrutiny. again this exception may become unfeasible Companies need to give their meetings when you have a larger group travelling. the same attention as they give travel. The key to simplifying these issues is to Consider using an build 'meetings' agency. The potential considerations and savings will cover the exceptions in to cost of their expert the travel policy at advice and enable the beginning you to take control, so that executive save money time is not being and raise wasted at a Andrew Newton standards. later date.
Do meetings policies play second fiddle to travel?
The key to simplifying these issues is to build 'meetings' considerations into the travel policy”
HIGH RISER Bucharest is the fastest growing visitor destination in Europe according to the new Mastercard Destination Cities Index published in September. The Romanian capital experienced 10.4% growth in overnight visitors between 2009 and 2016. The report additionally found Bangkok remains the most visited destination worldwide â€“ London is runner-up again â€“ and Dubai leads the way in terms of international visitor spending.
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MEET THE BUYER
SARAH STONE Sarah Stone is the Global Travel Manager at semiconductor IP company, Arm. She tells TBTM about her role I have 26 years’ experience in the travel industry since completing a Travel and Tourism Course at De Havilland College. My career in travel began with Thomas Cook before I moved into business travel as a consultant when we were still handwriting tickets. I progressed into various management roles that involved working alongside various TMCs. I spent many years managing the travel programme for an international aerospace company spending, at the time, £100million a year on travel. My current role at Arm has been extremely rewarding and has provided lots of opportunities to make an impact. When I started at Arm in 2012 we had around 2,300 employees globally with 29 offices. We now have close to 6,000 employees and approximately 50 offices. It would be fair to say that we have embraced a huge amount of change and continue to evolve our travel programme and support our travellers. are currently predicting a 20% increase in The responsibilities of our team include travel-related spend for 2017 overall, driven management of the global travel prothrough our growth as a company but also gramme, policy compliance, supplier service to meet the needs of an ever-growing delivery, supplier contract placement and number of partners. negotiation, travel risk management and corporate cards. We have led several innovative process improvements, one of Around 70% of our travel which was the complete is long-haul with most restructuring of the global traffic between the UK, meetings and events "Arm employees are given a US and Asia. Our travel process, providing improved four-week sabbatical every four tends to remain convisibility of spend and years so this year I spent a month sistent in terms of our better leverage on costs. travelling in India – it was amazing. My favourite winter key volume city pairs, destination is Dubai. I’ll be with London, Austin, The M&E spend was very returning for the San Francisco, San Jose, fragmented; it was booked 12th time this year!" Tokyo and Shanghai and managed on an ad-hoc among our top destinations. basis by various individuals. Our new M&E policy, introduced in January In July 2016 Arm was acquired by 2017, is a centrally managed process with Softbank. Since then more than 1,000 support function. We have an approved list employees have joined Arm worldwide. We of event providers, including ETM which has
OUT OF THE OFFICE
Mitigating risk is paramount, particularly with so many new employees joining the company” supported and executed some of our key events. The savings from these changes is already proving significant. We’ve worked with our travel management company, CTM, for two years. We have a lot of long-haul bespoke travel that requires significant offline support. That is an important feature for us. We use Concur for simple business trips and travellers have the choice to book online or via an agent at CTM. A significant percentage of our travel is in economy or premium economy. Travel costs are in the main absorbed by Arm as opposed to customer-invoiced travel so we do our best to remain flexible, although financially prudent. The same travel policy is followed by everyone, and is based on the need to travel regardless of status. We concentrate on duty of care to our travellers and their travel experience, rather than focusing solely on achieving savings. Mitigating risk is paramount, particularly with so many new employees joining. We have recently launched some global travel workshops, which provides a snapshot of the key travel processes and ensures employees are aware of the services Arm and its travel suppliers provide. It is a huge global team effort supporting travel at Arm so I'm grateful to all those involved, in particular my team who have the pleasure of putting up with me every day!
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WONDERS New partnerships, routes and business strategies are shaking up the UKâ€™s regional airline sector. Rob Gill reports
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Despite the many changes in the sector, one thing that remains constant is the reliance that regional carriers have on the corporate market”
egional airlines may not garner a huge amount of publicity compared with their bigger rivals, but 2017 is shaping up as a pivotal year in the industry with a series of developments reshaping how key players will be operating over the next few years. This year has already seen the disappearance of Isle of Man-based Citywing, which went into liquidation in March, while August saw the end of a 10-year franchise agreement between Flybe and Scottish carrier Loganair, which operates services between mainland airports and Scotland’s remote “highlands and islands”. In Loganair’s place, Flybe is now working with Humberside-based Eastern Airways through a new five-year franchise agreement, which will see Eastern’s scheduled flights operate under the Flybe brand from October 29. Meanwhile Loganair has been promoting itself as “Scotland’s airline” and talking up its independence, including the introduction of a new tartan-based livery. The Glasgowbased carrier has also agreed to an expanded codeshare with British Airways.
Flybe has also been in the headlines this year for launching its first flights from Heathrow – it is now offering more than 40 flights a week from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to the UK’s main hub airport using slots that were previously operated by Virgin Atlantic’s short-lived Little Red domestic service that closed in 2015. Despite all these changes, one factor that should remain constant is regional airlines’ reliance on the corporate market – around 40% of Flybe’s passengers are business travellers while they also account for “the majority” of Bmi Regional’s business.
Embraer 170s and 190s. With these aircraft, capacity ranges from 76 seats to 108 seats. As a comparison, easyJet’s Airbus aircraft range from 156 to 186 seats, while Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800s have 189 seats. BA CityFlyer, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, now operates to 54 destinations in the UK and Europe following the introduction of services from Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol airports, as well as the addition of capacity at Stansted, Edinburgh and Dublin.
So what is a regional airline? What has traditionally distinguished regional carriers from other airline business models – such as the low-cost titans of easyJet and Ryanair – is that they operate on routes that do not generally have sufficient passenger traffic to make them viable when using the kind of larger aircraft that low-cost carriers typically fly. A good illustration is British Airways’ CityFlyer subsidiary, which is based in Manchester but operates primarily from London City where it has a fleet of 20
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THE BREXIT EFFECT
While the major low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair have been talking extensively about their plans post-Brexit, what about the regional airlines? Most seem to be adopting a “wait and see” approach until they are given more guidance by the government and the EU. This certainly has not been the approach of their low-cost competitors: easyJet has already headed off to Austria to start a new European subsidiary, easyJet Europe, which will handle its intra-EU routes. Meanwhile Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, with a typical eye on grabbing the headlines, has warned that UK-EU flights could be completely grounded from April 2019 and threatened to move aircraft out of the UK market. Most regional airlines have yet to announce any firm plans post-Brexit, although many would like to be in a position to do so. Flybe’s Vincent Hodder says: “The government has not yet laid out any industry-specific Brexit objectives so the exact implications on airlines following the UK leaving the EU are difficult to predict. “It is a challenging situation and difficult to plan for as a business when the regulatory environment is so uncertain.” Cityjet’s Cathal O’Connell adds: “It’s the elephant in the room, not just for our company but for all businesses with interests in both the UK and Europe.” O’Connell admits that the current uncertainty is unhelpful for the airline and says “certain post-Brexit scenarios are truly scary”. Bmi Regional is also waiting to find out what kind of Brexit emerges before making any operational decisions. “Around half of Bmi Regional’s activities take place outside of the UK so the airline is currently exploring options for the business post-Brexit,” explains Bmi’s Jochen Schnadt. “This could be to set up a sister company or potentially to seek a merger or acquisition to ensure the airline maintains a foothold in Europe.“ Others, such as Eastern Airways, are less concerned their operations could be significantly affected by Brexit. “We do not anticipate that Brexit will have a major impact on our services due to the nature of our routes, which are primarily between regional airports,” says an Eastern Airways spokesperson.
But CityFlyer is still very much part of mainline British Airways in terms of its sales and marketing channels. For example, bookings of CityFlyer flights will also incur the £8 fee for GDS bookings that the rest of BA is due to enforce from November. The highest-profile independent regional airline continues to be Flybe, mainly because it is listed on the London Stock Exchange so is under much closer scrutiny than most of its peers, which continue to trade as private companies. The Exeter-based airline seems to have been in a perpetual state of restructuring over the last few years and this is continuing under the leadership of new Chief Executive, Christine OurmieresWidener, who took over the reins in January 2017. Flybe made a pre-tax loss of £19.9million for its last full financial year, which ended on March 31, as ambitious plans to increase capacity backfired. Flybe’s current strategy is to exercise “greater control over fleet capacity” and to focus on “profitable routes”. This includes reducing Flybe’s fleet by handing back Bombardier Q400 aircraft as their leases expire. It has also been busy signing deals with other carriers, including the Eastern Airways franchise deal and a commercial agreement with Stobart Air to operate Flybe services from Southend airport in Essex. “I am very excited about developments in Scotland, with our new routes complemented
by the recently announced partnership with Eastern Airways, which gives increased connectivity options for passengers, and shows our long-term commitment to Scotland,” says Ourmieres-Widener. “There is a lot to be done, but we have the foundations needed to progress plans for the business. In the second half of 2017/18, given the planned capacity reductions, there will be an increased focus on efficiency to improve operational performance and manage costs,” she adds. One of Flybe’s main competitors in the UK regional sector is Bmi Regional, which is the only surviving part of the former Bmi empire following the airline’s sale by Lufthansa Group to British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group in 2012. Bmi Regional, which operates a fleet of Embraer aircraft with 37 or 49 seats, is focused primarily on the corporate market. The independent airline’s strategy has been to build up a Europe hub from Munich and it also opened another hub at Birmingham airport earlier this year. Jochen Schnadt, Bmi Regional’s Chief Commercial Officer, says: “The majority of Bmi’s business is within the business travel sector so going forward this remains a priority in decisions surrounding routes. “Bmi Regional is ideally placed to further grow this segment, serving customers with specific needs and creating connectivity where it does not exist today.
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Partnerships have long been a way to spread risk and underpin routes that cannot be sustained by the low-cost or legacy carriers” “In tandem, Bmi Regional’s network keeps growing on a pan-European scale and this makes the network more relevant to an ever-larger number of corporate clients and equally creates more touchpoints with other airlines, further enhancing connectivity on a regional and/or global scale,” adds Schnadt.
New partnerships take off For the true regional players, forging partnerships with other airlines has long been a way to spread risk and underpin the financial viability of routes that cannot necessarily be sustained by the low-cost or mainline legacy carriers. This can take the form of franchise flying for scheduled routes, the wet leasing of aircraft and codeshare agreements, or through a combination of all the above arrangements. Loganair has used its newly acquired independence from Flybe to sign a more extensive codeshare deal with British Airways, which started on September 1 – the day after the Flybe franchise ended. This allows Loganair’s customers flying from Scotland’s remote airports to book directly on to BA’s services from its major hubs, as well as being able to buy 'through tickets' to connect on to BA’s domestic services from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen. There are plenty of other examples of how airlines are working together in this way, including Irish regional airline Cityjet which has wet-leased two aircraft to KLM to allow the Dutch carrier to increase frequencies from London City to Amsterdam. Cityjet has also placed its code on KLM flights between the UK and Schiphol. 28
This move is part of Cityjet’s strategy to “refocus” its business into an airline that continues to run its own scheduled services – primarily through its key Dublin-London City route – as well as operating flights for other carriers. Eastern Airways has also changed its business model through its new franchise deal with Flybe. “This alliance will not only strengthen Flybe’s network, but broadens Eastern Airways’ distribution and enhances connection opportunities for our customers through its global airline association,” says Richard Lake, Chief Executive of Eastern Airways. “We have specialised in fixed-wing flying in the oil and gas market for many years and our expertise will provide a greater opportunity to further develop offshore connectivity to Flybe’s network.”
London links All of these developments show how the regional airlines continue to be in a state of change as they are being forced to concentrate on regional routes that the low-cost carriers with their larger aircraft cannot make work financially or are unable to access due to runway or other restrictions, such as London City. Flybe essentially gave up on Gatwick back in 2013 when it sold all of its 25 slots to easyJet for £20 million, which has made Flybe’s introduction of flights between Heathrow and Scotland all the more intriguing. Can Flybe succeed where Virgin failed just a few years ago? Well, it helps that they are operating smaller aircraft than those used by Virgin’s
Little Red operation. It also should be noted that Flybe has not had to pay for the Heathrow slots to Edinburgh and Aberdeen as they were slots the European Union forced IAG to give up when it purchased Bmi five years ago.
British Airways CityFlyer is to launch routes from London City to Paris Orly, Prague and Reykjavik from October 29. The new Paris Orly route is being switched from London Heathrow.
Bmi Regional has agreed a codeshare with Italian carrier Air Dolomiti allowing Bmi passengers to book connecting flights through its Munich hub to Bari, Bologna, Florence, Venice and Verona. Flybe is to introduce a Leeds Bradford to Dusseldorf route for summer 2018. Frequencies will also be increased on existing routes such as Cardiff-Belfast City and Birmingham to Hamburg and Amsterdam. Eastern Airways has launched a daily weekday service from Newcastle to Belfast City airport. The airline is also now flying from the Isle of Man to Belfast City and Newcastle. Loganair is introducing flights from Aberdeen to Durham Tees Valley airport, which will operate 17 times per week from October 15. A Durham Tees Valley to Norwich route will operate six times per week.
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Flybe touted the new Heathrow routes as one of the reasons for an 11.7% increase in passenger revenue during its last financial update in July. The airline has also expanded its codeshare deal with Virgin Atlantic to include the Heathrow flights in addition to its existing codeshare at Manchester, Glasgow and Gatwick. While London City is seen as something of a bastion for the regional airline world, it’s not an airport that works for all carriers. Guernsey-based Aurigny has decided to end its flights from the Channel island to London City on October 27 following a review. The airline said there was a lack of demand that meant flights had “over 50% of the seats empty”. Aurigny has instead decided to “refocus” on its other routes to Gatwick and Stansted – particularly Gatwick, where Aurigny plans to launch its own ground operations in December. Mark Darby, Aurigny’s CEO, adds: “This is really an exciting opportunity for us to improve the service we provide at Gatwick. It is one of the island’s main gateways into the UK. We believe this is the right thing to
The viability of many regional routes is a continuing issue and a handful into London continue to be supported by the government” 30
do for our customers and for Guernsey. “The decision to end our London City service was not taken lightly, but after considerable effort and investment, it has just not proved to make commercial sense.” The financial viability of many regional routes is a continuing issue and a handful of routes to London airports continue to be supported by the government’s public service obligations (PSO) scheme, where the UK government and other local authorities, including devolved governments, can financially support existing air services under threat from closure. Routes that currently receive PSO funding include Flybe’s Gatwick to Newquay services, as well as Loganair’s Stansted-Dundee and Bmi Regional’s Stansted-Derry routes. The latter was previously a Ryanair route, which the Irish airline had decided to cancel.
Fare approaches to business Given all these changes, what kind of fares and deals are regional airlines now offering corporate clients? Inevitably, there are a range of different approaches: Bmi Regional, for example, has introduced Classic Plus and Executive Fares, which aim to offer greater flexibility around cancellations and changes. Corporate fares can also be “customised” for clients while negotiated deals are currently a “focal point” for Bmi’s sales teams. “Our approach is to offer tailored solutions, which can go as far as offering customised schedules and even launching entire routes around needs of customers with sufficiently large travel demands between certain regions,” says Bmi’s Jochen Schnadt.
Meanwhile Flybe offers increased flexibility to business travellers through its Get More ticket, which allows “on the day” changes, alongside seat selection and increased hold luggage allowance. Flybe’s Just Fly fare is designed for day returns and short trips. “Flybe’s dedicated trade/corporate sales team works very closely with corporates across all industries and also travel management companies to ensure they are able to take advantage of the best possible fares,” says Flybe’s Chief Revenue Officer, Vincent Hodder. Cityjet, meanwhile, offers negotiated deals to corporates “subject to volume” with its biggest clients having deals either directly with the airline or through their TMCs. “As a relatively small scheduled operation, our sales team can focus on developing key customer relationships which can deliver added-value activities to facilitate travel plans,” says Cityjet’s Chief Commercial Officer, Cathal O’Connell. “We now offer a single cabin but with added-value items such as flexibility and seating preferences for certain fare classes.” Eastern Airways also has a range of discounts through its 4-4-3 route pass where those booking four return flights only pay for three of them, while a Zonal Pass offers fare reductions of up to 40% for six return flights. It also offers some negotiated fares “on certain routes” as well as private charters for corporates. Given the highly competitive airline environment and its inevitable impact on airfares, expect the regional airlines to continue targeting the corporate market as new partnerships and routes start to bed in.
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[ GREEN POLICY ]
Companies must prioritise long-term environmental gains over short-term convenience, writes Roger Gardner
t has taken an awfully long time, but the shift towards lower carbon transport really does seem to be gathering pace. Green vehicle innovation, a modal shift to rail travel and government incentives for green technology are all having a noticeable effect upon delivery of business as well as on personal travel. Perhaps one of the main hurdles to green ubiquity is that travellers have a tendency to prioritise short-term convenience over long-term societal gain. That is an area where travel management companies, and the policies of businesses,
really have more of a role to play. Nobody can have missed the news that green technology is on the march. Earlier this year a new electric taxi factory – capable of producing 20,000 vehicles a year – was opened in the Midlands. Government plug-in grant schemes support an ever-greater selection of vehicles while range capability of the best EV types now means that business rentals can serve almost all requirements, especially with over 4,000 charging points available. London mayor Sadiq Khan said in June that the capital’s entire transport system will be zero emissions by 2050. Given the rate of introduction of non-fossil fuel buses, the opening of new cycle lanes and the start of an ultra-low emission zone in three years' time, it is reasonable to believe that his 2050 goal will be delivered. Air travel is the hardest mode to fuel on a lowcarbon basis but government plans to spend £22million on developing waste-based fuels for aircraft and lorries offers some hope. The Department for Transport wants five low-carbon fuel plants by 2021. So technology and policy are providing the right ingredients for change, but how far is business really helping to stimulate demand for green travel? ETA, the ethical insurer, notes that organisations are in a stronger position than
individuals to drive choice through green travel plans. Business is increasingly responding to this challenge as the cost differential narrows and availability increases. However, the environmental imperative, CSR gains and more favourable economics now mean that non-green business travel should be the exception. Whilst the GBTA and others produce CSR toolkits and guidance on sustainable business travel, it is noticeable that this topic still ranks down the list of priorities in the marketing of services by TMCs. As a sector, business travel is still fairly carbon intensive and, for a nonmanufacturing company, it can represent 50% or greater of its footprint. It surely behoves all TMCs to be championing the cause of the sector to lighten the carbon burden and to give prominence to policies that promote best green practice. There are certainly some hopeful signs but change tends to be slow. It is good to see that there is a continuing shift from air to rail, reported recently to up from 20% to 33% on the London-Edinburgh route. That has taken 10 years and the increase is not seismic. And it is not clear whether the shift is really down to improved sustainability awareness or traveller convenience. With so much more green technology availability and a drive from central and local government to promote clean public transport and electric vehicles, there is certainly a case for a more strident line from TMCs. Counter-intuitively, they could even push videoconferencing as part of B2B communication and helping clients' overall carbon footprints. The time is ripe for those with influence in business travel to push sustainability up the messaging and marketing priority list and help the sector become a leader in carbon performance.
AIRPORT RAIL TRAVEL DEVELOPMENTS
While development of the UKâ€™s rail infrastructure chugs slowly onward, rail booking technology and management tools are steaming ahead, says Dave Richardson
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There are many new trains being introduced with better facilities and more seats, on routes ranging from across Scotland and Northern England to the South West”
ow that construction work on the HS2 high-speed line from London to Birmingham is finally under way – a project deemed top priority by nearly half of all business travellers – it is tempting to think that Britain is on its way to having a rail network to rival those of France, Spain or Germany. But we will have to wait until at least 2026 to see the benefits, and 2033 before HS2 extends further to Manchester and Leeds to boost the North. And in the meantime, some major rail infrastructure projects are going backwards. As Parliament broke up for the summer recess, an announcement was slipped out about cancellation of electrification projects including Cardiff to Swansea. The East Midlands route from London to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield will now see electrification extended from Bedford only as far as Kettering. There is doubt too over whether the important trans-Pennine route from Manchester to Leeds will ever be electrified, while other parts of the Great Western electrification face delays. New bimodal (electric and diesel) trains are due to start operating on the London-Bristol/South Wales routes this autumn, but journey time reductions will be modest. In a classic piece of Government spin, the Department for Transport stated: “Thanks to this new [bimodal] technology, disruptive electrification works… will no longer be needed. Passengers will benefit sooner and experience less disruption compared with putting up intrusive wires and masts along routes where they are no longer required.” So why, one might ask, was electrification proposed in the first place? Electrification brings lower costs, shorter journey times and major carbon savings, but is costly and difficult to deliver, with the Great Western scheme running late and over-budget. On the plus side, Great Western is rolling out impressive new Intercity Express Trains across its network. Will Hasler, Chairman of the ITM’s Industry Affairs Group, says: “The trouble is that rail is never high enough up the political agenda and gets shoved in the ‘too difficult’ file. Large conurbations like Manchester and Leeds need better rail services but this becomes a political football.
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TRAIN OPERATOR IMPROVEMENTS ]
“Some people hark back to British Rail but we don’t want to go back to a monopoly. But the reality is we don’t have proper competition between train operators now, and the franchising system is not delivering. The contracts are too short for major investment,” adds Hasler. The GTMC – whose Business Rail Travel research confirmed the strong support for HS2 – is also critical, and long called for more competition. “While business travellers still demand rail travel it makes sound economic sense for government and rail operators to continue to invest,” says new CEO Adrian Parkes. “Alongside HS2, electrification must also be a priority for the future development of our rail network and in turn our economic growth.” Redfern Travel is one of the biggest TMCs in rail, and Chief Operating Officer, Kate Wimpeney, is also scathing about stalled infrastructure projects. “When projects are put on hold or don’t follow through on schedule, causing more delays and inconvenience, it leaves travellers with a lack of confidence,” she says. “Despite significant investment, Britain’s railways are now struggling to cope with overcrowding and network congestion, and fall some way short when compared to the performance of European networks.”
Nick Hurrell, a consultant with 3SIXTY Global, is also critical of how the franchise system works. Such enormous financial resources are needed that only the largest organisations can bid, and many of these include partnerships with or subsidiaries of rail operators based in France, Holland or (as with MTR) Hong Kong. “Take the South West Trains franchise, recently won by First Group/MTR which has taken over from Stagecoach,” he says. “The new franchise is only for seven years, so there’s not enough investment and no chance of bimodal trains on the WaterlooExeter route. It’s also disappointing to see a lack of government investment.” Stagecoach, which owns 90% of the East Coast franchise despite its Virgin Trains branding, has made a loss of £84million since taking over and wants to renegotiate its deal. The previous operators, Sea Containers and National Express, pulled out.
Investments on track Despite these woes there are many new trains being introduced with better facilities and more seats, on routes ranging from Edinburgh-Glasgow to across Northern England and the South West. Virgin Trains East Coast will follow Great Western by introducing new Inter City
Business travellers can look forward to major improvements on many routes, but still want more than many operators are planning. Japan’s Hitachi – whose 'bullet trains' were the first to travel at over 100mph in the 1960s – has opened a UK manufacturing plant to supply bimodal trains to Great Western, Virgin Trains East Coast and TransPennine Express. Northern, ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper also have new trains on the way, with AngloScottish sleeper services getting a major revamp from next year with en suite facilities in some cabins. Hitachi’s new 10-carriage trains have 652 seats, 159 more than the successful but 40-year-old diesel High Speed Trains (HSTs) that they replace. Bimodal trains will offer more services to London, from cities including Middlesbrough and Lincoln. Commuter trains, especially in the South East, usually attract the worst satisfaction scores – although Heathrow Express is a shining exception with a 97% satisfaction rating in the latest National Rail Passenger Survey. Improvements on the way include new and longer suburban trains from South Western Railways, while Govia Thameslink Railway has introduced these on its crossLondon and Gatwick Express routes. Meanwhile, the new operator of Greater Anglia routes is replacing all existing trains while the first Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) services start operating from east to west through London in December 2018. Free wifi is a requirement built into most new franchise awards, but more could still be done for the business traveller. Redfern Travel’s Kate Wimpeney says: “Train operators could start classifying certain carriages for business travellers. Each seat would have a plug socket and wifi that works, but would also offer the right environment away from noisy hen dos or families.” In the GTMC’s Business Rail Travel survey, only 48% felt that on-board facilities were adequate. More table seating and free wifi were the most popular demands, followed by more charging points. Additional needs included delay repay systems, loyalty schemes for business passengers and private areas. HRG's Ian Windsor adds: “Business travellers would like to hold meetings on board, usually for four or six. They would be prepared to pay for dedicated rooms.”
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Connecting business across the UK Arriva UK Trains’ network reaches far and wide; CrossCountry, Chiltern Railways, Grand Central, Arriva Trains Wales and Northern operate a range of services, from rural commuter lines to long distance and inter-urban journeys. Arriva UK Trains connects the three countries of Great Britain and collectively runs 4,186 services each weekday.
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Some train operators will talk to clients with high volumes as there are beneﬁts for both parties, as well as for traveller themselves” Express trains, starting by the end of 2018 from London to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. Part of its strategy is to win more AngloScottish traffic from airlines, with Virgin now having a 33% share of the air/rail market from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London. Journey time is about four-and-a-half hours on both routes, but will be down to four hours on Edinburgh-London by 2019. Peter Macey, Central Purchasing Officer of Glasgow-based MDDUS, says: “For the last ten years I have been encouraging travellers to look at rail rather than air, in terms of working time while travelling and the reduction in carbon emissions. This policy has been effective and our rail travel has increased dramatically against air. “Journey time is important and travel to airports, waiting time and travel time for flights can amount to four hours for the same journey, but it is broken time.”
Spend management As discounts on fares can be hard to achieve from train operators, businesses can best save money by planning ahead, ensuring compliance with travel policy and possibly negotiating 'soft' benefits such as catering vouchers on their most frequently used routes.
Only one rail operator, Virgin Trains, is in major competition with airlines, and it is prepared to negotiate with corporates on the London-Glasgow (West Coast) and London-Edinburgh (East Coast) routes. Claire Walton, of the West Coast sales team, says: “Where we can see an identifiable modal switch, we can incentivise businesses with discounts. We encourage customers to consider the value they get by travelling in first class, where they can be much more productive. “We work closely with businesses and TMCs to try to match or better airfares, especially on one-way journeys when customers might prefer to fly in one direction. There is still a massive perception that the end-to-end journey time by rail is longer than it actually is.” Mark Plowright, of the East Coast sales team, adds: “Where we think there is a commercial opportunity, we will look at incentivising customers on Anglo-Scottish routes. The Scottish Executive ticket offers a free upgrade to first class, but some customers are loyal to British Airways. It’s only on London City routes that flying might be 15 minutes faster to a London business address such as the Shard. “Both East Coast and West Coast recognise that there is a gap in business travel loyalty
schemes, and we are currently trialling a scheme with the GTMC and some TMCs to offer travellers the opportunity to join the Virgin Red programme, an app giving benefits across the Virgin family.” HRG Managing Director for Europe, Ian Windsor, says loyalty schemes would be welcome but it was unrealistic to expect train operators to match what airlines do. “Some train operators will talk to clients offering volume, as there are benefits to both parties with travellers gaining productivity and arriving refreshed,” he explains. “But they don’t have the backing that airlines like Emirates or Qatar have to attract business travellers.”
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EUROPEAN RAIL TRAVEL
Two developments could motivate business travellers to make better use of rail when travelling to Europe: the launch of direct Amsterdam services by Eurostar, and a new online booking system by Trainline. The new Eurostar route via Brussels and Rotterdam is due to start before the year's end, but will only be twice-daily at the outset. Journey time will be about four hours although this might increase on the inbound journey depending on where immigration clearance takes place. Jane Ashman, Eurostar's Head of Sales and Business Development, says: “We’re confident that a direct connection of around four hours between the centre of these key business cities, in spacious, comfortable surroundings that provide a great working environment, will offer travellers a compelling reason to switch from air to high-speed rail.” Eurostar's new e320 trains offer wifi access, along with a small number of refurbished older trains. “Feedback from business and leisure customers has been very positive, as they enjoy the comfort and style of the new interiors, alongside wifi and on-board entertainment,” adds Ashman. “In the first six months of the year, the number of business travellers has increased by 5% compared with 2016.” Trainline, meanwhile, says it has managed to overcome the very complex technological standards used by European rail operators to produce an online booking system that covers much of the continent. Alidad Moghaddam, European director of Trainline for Business, says: “This is gaining a lot of interest among both corporates and TMCs. It’s very simple to use and you can also make changes, with full MI. “What we do well in the UK is now being extended into the European market. Some of our business partners have significant European rail spend.” At present most TMCs and corporates use GDS such as Amadeus to book European rail, or specialist agencies such as Voyages-SNCF. “This has the potential to increase the market size, and will increase the use of rail over short-haul air,” says Moghaddam. Commentators remain dubious about increased take-up of European rail, saying three hours is generally the longest journey time business travellers would consider.
Redfern Travel’s Kate Wimpeney adds: “We work closely with our clients and train operators to seek out savings and extra benefits on certain routes. We work with train operating companies (TOCs) to identify where modal shifts can be made, either from air or car. This has the added benefit of reducing CO2 emissions, which is a big factor for our customers.” Raj Sachdave, Capita Travel and Events' Director of Commercial Partnerships, says simple changes in procedure can achieve big savings, such as booking a cheaper Advance fare to get to a meeting, but a flexible fare for the return in case it finishes later or earlier than expected. “It’s always wise to check whether you actually need to travel in the first place,” he adds. “But if a face-to-face meeting really is required, then ask people if they could rethink the schedule. By kicking off a meeting a little later, and avoiding having to travel in peak morning time, you could save as much as 13%.” Nick Hurrell, of consultants 3SIXTY Global, says split ticketing – now made easy by specialist websites to achieve savings through multiple tickets for one journey – doesn’t work for businesses, as passengers are tied to particular trains and may have to move seats for each portion of the journey.
“It can be difficult to get people to book in advance, especially on short routes where you can’t make savings so there’s no point incurring TMC charges,” he says. “But some corporates insist that any fare over £50 must be booked in advance.”
Tools of the trade The two major business rail travel booking portals, Evolvi and Trainline, both offer major savings while providing a wide range of management information to customers. Evolvi says the average ticket value booked through its system – used exclusively by the clients of travel management companies – continues to come down. This is all the more important as rail fares regulated by the government will rise by an average of 3.6% in January, the highest increase for several years. The 2016 average ticket value booked through Evolvi of £57.72 compares to £59.03 in 2013, despite increases of up to 3.9% in fares over the same period. “This is a testament to the ability of Evolvi to navigate the incredibly complex rail fares structure and present the best available fares within a policy-driven environment,” says Ken Cameron, managing director of Evolvi Rail Systems. “The recently announced fare rises for 2018 will make
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smart booking and fulfilment channels even more important. But we would also urge the government and Rail Delivery Group to accelerate the simplification of fares to deliver better value.” Evolvi fares are often delivered through third-party systems through an API link. “We have seen an industry-wide trend among TMCs to develop their own integrated client portals, and many use the Evolvi web API to provide their rail content,” says Cameron. “API transactions continue to grow, with portal owners working closely with Evolvi’s developers to tailor rail content to the specific needs of their clients.” The system can be customised, as with Capita Travel and Events. Customers booking an Advance ticket can exchange it if necessary via Capita’s Rail Online Exchanges feature.
Evolvi can now accommodate non-rail licence holding TMCs, giving smaller TMCs and start-ups a quicker route to market. These TMC customers come under the Evolvi licence and bond, and acquire tickets on departure. Trainline – which works with some major TMCs and with corporates directly – has introduced a 'price predictor' on its consumer app and an API from its business division to help streamline delivery of European rail content. Jon Moore, Chief Product Officer at Trainline, says: “Our data scientists have used historical pricing trends from billions of customer journey searches to predict when the price of an Advance ticket will expire. We now share this information in our app to allow customers to get the best price possible for their journey.” Research shows that a standard class Advance single from London to Manchester costs £32 when booked 80 days before travel, rising to £38 41 days before and £42 sourced 13 days before. Two days before it is £87, rising to a whopping £126 if booked on the day of travel. The non-availability of some fares through the main booking systems is not a major issue, says HRG boss Ian Windsor. “We can’t guarantee to find the best fare every time, as for airfares,” he says. “But we provide MI if you book through our system, and policy compliance is pretty good.”
Digital ticketing is being rolled out rapidly and is no longer limited to Advance tickets, with an increasing number of train operators offering Anytime tickets too. Virgin Trains has led the way and it is now helping industry association the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) extend it to all operators. Between March and May, 18% of Virgin’s ticket sales were for digital tickets, up from just 5% a year earlier. Digital tickets are available through the main business booking patterns, with a new release by Evolvi at the end of September enabling both m- (mobile) and e-ticketing. It claims an industry first with auto-refunds for TMCs on Anytime as well as Advance tickets. The advantage of an e-ticket is that is can be printed, displayed on any mobile device and is stored inside a mobile ticket wallet, enabling travellers to keep train tickets alongside other travel-related information. In contrast to m-tickets, e-tickets need not be activated in advance of travel. Alidad Moghaddam, European director of Trainline for Business, says: “We already offer 50% of the rail network on digital ticketing. Through our app you can access your ticket and also real-time data including delays, cancellations and platform numbers.” In other ticketing developments, more train operators have followed the lead of CrossCountry by making cheaper Advance tickets available on the day of departure. The downside is that you might sit in a seat but find it reserved after you board. 3SIXTY Global consultant Nick Hurrell says: “This development is very poor for the corporate market as you could be turned out of your seat. I have seen this happen in CrossCountry first class when someone has probably paid the full price, but must give up their seat for someone on a lower fare.” Will Hasler, Chair of the ITM’s Industry Affairs Group, says third party booking tools used by TMCs are not geared up for digital ticketing. But he adds: “Many people have got used to the idea that this isn’t available, and either get their ticket at the station or book direct. But there is demand for digital, and it could help with traveller tracking.” Redfern’s Kate Wimpeney adds: “In terms of real-time information, some operators are making great progress and in some cases ‘push notifications’ already exist, but getting this information into a platform that TMCs can pull from is still a challenge.”
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ANDREA BOCELLI Angela Sara West chats with the opera star who has performed around the world for presidents, popes and royals
orld-famous singing sensation Andrea Bocelli has delighted audiences in venues ranging from New York City’s Central Park to the Pyramids in Cairo. Such is his acclaim, he even performed at the wedding of late friend Luciano Pavarotti. For him, singing is a “sweet privilege”. “To perform in front of an audience, whether it comprises heads of state, or family and friends, 100,000 people or a small group of children, is a way to share a gift that heaven has given me. Music is my daily bread.” The eternally-humble tenor tells me he discovered his special talent aged just seven. “I could instantly recognise all the famous voices of the time. I used to learn the great arias, and then try to emulate the great interpreters, singing loudly with them in our living room,” says Bocelli. At 14, he enjoyed his first success in a singing competition, performing the famous song, O Sole Mio. To fund singing lessons, Bocelli performed in piano bars. He studied law at university and went on practise it, but, despite knockbacks, the stage still beckoned.
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“I came to fame late, at 35 years-old, after experiencing many doors being closed in my face,” he explains. He is now the biggest-selling artist in the history of classical music. “Success follows inscrutable paths. A pleasant voice is only one of the necessary ingredients for success; you also need willpower, spirit of sacrifice, stamina, and even a pinch of narcissism.” The self-described ”modern but oldfashioned tenor” has performed at the Oscars in Los Angeles and the UEFA Champions League Final in Milan, and has collaborated with stars including Jennifer Lopez and Céline Dion. He once fulfilled his “American dream” when performing in front of the Statue of Liberty to an audience including Leonardo Di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Bocelli’s diverse work sees him travelling for most of the year, and he never boards a plane without his computer, flute... and a scarf. “A ‘professional tool’ to preserve the most delicate musical instrument in existence; the vocal cords,” he says. Any travel tips? “Be curious, never be afraid of what you do not know or what is simply different; aim for genuine contact with the people who live in the place you are visiting and, if possible, find out about their lives.” Does he worry about his carbon footprint? “The world is our home – we are temporary renters with a moral debt towards those who will come after us. I try to do my bit. In Italy, I think I’m among the first to own an electric car. I bought another two, for my children. I’m pleased to see the market is moving towards alternative fuels.”
The prolific philanthropist recently created The Voices of Haiti choir through The Andrea Bocelli Foundation, to give less fortunate children a better future, while his starstudded September benefit event, Celebrity Fight Night, this year moved from Florence to Rome and saw him joined by Sir Elton John. Bocelli raves about the Eternal City, a favourite destination of his. “Rome is an immense open-air museum. It’s the historical, artistic and institutional heart of my beloved Italy, and is an inexhaustible treasure trove of wonders.” For Bocelli, however, there’s no place like home: Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast. “The further away I am from home, the more I feel the sun of the Tuscan countryside and the peasant culture that has formed me. I love spending my rare moments of rest in the country village where I was born, or simply staying in my house by the sea with my wife and children.” Despite being born with poor eyesight, and becoming blind in a football accident when he was 12, Bocelli enjoys an adventurous lifestyle, including horse-riding, skiing and surfing. “I have had to moderate my taste for challenges that, in my youth, made me quite daring, above all in the field of sports… I also love swimming and sailing my boat.” The music maestro says – as history has extensively shown – that good music will not die. “I hope to go on singing as long as our Lord will want it, and to continue, along with the foundation bearing my name and with the many friends that support it, to offer my little contribution to make the world a better place,” he says.
ANDREA BOCELLI Look out for The Music of Silence, a movie based on Andreaâ€™s life, featuring songs Andrea composed as a young boy and an all-star cast, including Antonio Banderas and Game of Thrones star Toby Sebastian. For more details about the Andrea Bocelli Foundation see andreabocellifoundation.org / andreabocelli.com
Review [ LOWDO W N ]
[ I N T H E A IR ]
T H E NE W S & V I E W S THAT REALLY MATTER [ O N TH E G R O U N D ]
[ ME ETI N G P LAC E ]
Business travel costs forecast to rise in 2018
New easyJet partnerships show global ambition
Damaging accusations for car hire customers
Principal Hotels Company refreshes meetings and events
[ R OOM R E POR T ] Marriott's Residence Inn moves into London
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The latest industry appointments p58 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM
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GILES TRAVEL HOPES ATLAS WILL LEAD WAY
IN BRIEF BTD in US tie-up
Business Travel Direct has become the UK partner for ATG Business Travel Management, an independent agency based in Ohio with a $5billion annual turnover. The agreement will see BTD benefit from ATG’s global network and technology.
Rail is heading north
Rail's share of the market between London and Scotland, versus air travel, has risen to 33% over ten years, according to Transform Scotland. The carbon savings are the equivalent to removing all traffic on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh for two years.
FCM Travel Solutions’ parent Flight Centre Travel Group bought six travel businesses in six weeks. The Australia giant snapped up corporate agencies Executive Travel Group in New Zealand, Les Voyages Laurier du Vallon in Canada and Travel Managers Group in New Zealand, along with Olympus Tours in Mexico, Thai operator Bespoke Hospitality Management and Sydney's Travel Partners.
Travel Counsellors has posted a 12% rise in corporate travel sales and secured more than 450 new accounts over the last 12 months. The independent agents' network has opened a London office to support its growth. A third of members say business travel accounts for more than 40% of their bookings.
Travel costs on the rise as demand bites HOTEL rates and airfares are expected to rise sharply in the year ahead, particularly in the UK, according to research from Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA Foundation. The 2018 Global Travel Forecast predicts flight prices will jump 8.5% in the UK and on average by 5.5% in Western Europe, 2.3% in North America and 3.5% globally. Hotel rates are set to increase by 9.5% in the UK and 6.3% on average across Western Europe. The report says rising inflation, higher oil prices and demand from emerging markets will be behind the hikes. It notes airfare increases will occur despite airlines adding around 6% capacity in 2018, while hotel groups are moving corporates toward dynamic rate pricing.
GILES Travel has developed and launched its own online booking tool, Atlas. It has been designed to be "so much more than just an online booking engine for air and hotels", says the TMC, and provides enhanced traveller profile management, travel policy control and reporting information. Ongoing development will deliver increased functionality. “We have doubled our internal IT development team over the past year to enhance our suite of internal quality control and back-office systems, all of which integrate seamlessly with Atlas and our Travel Portal,” says Chris Harnetty, Chief Technology Officer at Giles Travel.
[ SHORT & SWEET ] >> The ATPI GROUP has released its new generation all-in-one dashboard, ATPI TravelHub, featuring a single sign-on for access to all tools and technology throughout the booking and planning process >> Operational risk mitigation specialist, ANVIL, has connected its Employee Travel Monitoring System (ETMS) with AIRBNB to help automatically capture bookings >> In a poll of 230 European corporate travel managers, almost one third (30%) chose EUROPE as one of three territories they believe pose the highest risk to their travellers >> TRAVELPORT HOTELZON has rolled out a hotel payment and consolidation service to give customers an automated end-to-end experience
say face-to-face meetings are essential
Over three-quarters of UK business travellers say face-to-face meetings are essential to achieving their business objectives, with half of those believing company revenue would fall if travel was curbed, says American Express
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IN BRIEF ATPI and Direct unite
ATPI Group has joined forces with US-based TMC Direct Travel to form DIRECT ATPI Global Travel. Jointly, the firms represent over $7billion in sales and have 160 offices in 50 countries. They will retain their own existing brands in their respective markets, while the new brand – created following reciprocal investments between ATPI Group and Direct – will focus on mid-market clients with a presence in North America.
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A softening stance on sharing economy MORE than three-quarters of medium-to-large companies have adopted policies on sharing economy services such as Airbnb, according to new research. The findings from expense management company Chrome River reveal 78% of companies surveyed have policies in place that allow employees to use ride-sharing services, and 68% allow use of shared accommodation services. However, the research among US-based companies with 1,000 or more employees also found that 17% do not allow use of ride-sharing schemes and 24% do not allow use of shared accommodation services. “Forward-thinking corporate travel leaders understand that employees live increasingly mobile-centric lives,” says Chrome River Chief Executive, Alan Rich.
Click in NDC first
Click Travel has become the first TMC globally to gain IATA’s Level 3 NDC certification. The company’s Travel.Cloud platform now integrates seemlessly with NDCbased services from major airlines.
FCM Connect launch
FCM Travel Solutions has united eight traveller tools with the launch of its new interconnected technology suite, FCM Connect. The system has a single gateway, dubbed HUB, giving access to tools used by travel bookers, managers and travellers.
Clear on buyer needs
Transparency, changes to the RFP process, and improved stakeholder engagement are the major concerns of travel buyers, according to research from travel and meetings consultancy Festive Road. The company has also appointed two UK travel managers – Abi Cummings and Louise Kilgannon – and its first in Germany.
IT'S A MAGNIFICENT SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW FOR MELBOURNE AFTER IT WAS YET AGAIN DECLARED THE WORLD'S MOST LIVEABLE CITY BY THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT. IT WAS FOLLOWED BY VIENNA AND A TRIO OF CANADIAN CITIES: VANCOUVER, TORONTO AND CALGARY
G T M C U P D AT E Adrian Parkes Chief Executive, GTMC
The saying goes that you've got to “speculate to accumulate”. But in times of political change and increased security threats the impulse to batten down the hatches can reign supreme. Such a response can be high risk, particularly when stalling investment in the UK’s infrastructure and transport networks. The GTMC has a longstanding commitment to researching and voicing the demands of the business travel community. Our findings have been consistently clear: there is an unequivocal demand for increased air capacity and expansion of routes. Not just for the Northern Powerhouse region of Manchester, but all areas across the UK,. There is also strong support for HS2 with many taking the view that it should be the government’s top rail priority. Add this to our Value of International Business Travel, report which found just a 1% increase in business air travel boosts trade by around £400million. It therefore seems short-sighted, neglectful even, on the part of the government if it doesn’t take firm and decisive action on future investment. Surely it can’t afford not to?
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EasyJet partnerships show global ambition EASYJET is now offering long-haul connections at its Gatwick hub following partnerships with Norwegian and WestJet. The new ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ arrangement – the first of its kind from a European low-cost carrier – sees easyJet selling fares from the two airlines on its own website, to destinations across North and South America. Connecting passengers must collect their luggage from their arriving flight and deposit it at the GatwickConnects desk for loading. The service is subject to a two-and-a-half hour minimum connecting time, and GatwickConnects will rebook customers on to the next available flight should they miss any segment of their journey. EasyJet plans to introduce similar services and additional partners at other European airports, with talks already “far advanced” with Middle Eastern and Far Eastern carriers. The airline claims 200,000 passengers already self-connect at Gatwick Airport annually.
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HEATHROW TOP CONNECTED AIRPORT
IN BRIEF BA Gatwick moves
British Airways will introduce another two new transatlantic routes from London Gatwick next summer. A thrice-weekly service to Toronto will commence on May 1 and flights to Las Vegas will return from March 27, supplementing BA’s existing Heathrow to Las Vegas operation.
WOW adds US options
WOW air is to launch flights from London Stansted to its Reykjavik hub in April, alongside new onward services to Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The low-cost airline already operates a twice-daily service from London Gatwick to Reykjavik. Services to Detroit will commence on April 25, Cleveland on May 3, Cincinnati on May 9 and St. Louis on May 17.
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES IS INTRODUCING A PREMIUM ECONOMY CABIN ON ALL ITS LONG-HAUL ROUTES FROM MARCH 2018. THE CARRIER WILL REFIT ITS ENTIRE B767 FLEET AS PART OF THE INITIATIVE
LONDON Heathrow Airport has taken the number one spot in OAG's annual list of the Top 50 International Megahubs. Measured through OAG's Connections Analyser, the list looks at airports with the highest ratio of possible scheduled and international connections to the number of destinations served by the airport, making Heathrow the 'most connected' in the world. The top three airports all hail from Europe with Frankfurt in second and Amsterdam in third. Heathrow was the only UK airport to feature in the list. John Grant, Senior Analyst at OAG, says: “While London Heathrow tops our connectivity index, it has the potential to cement its number one spot through more extended services within the UK but also by opening up to more low-cost airlines.” Grant continues: “This will inevitably happen when a third runway is operational.”
ANA adds English tool Japanese carrier ANA has launched a new English version of its corporate booking portal. The ANA@desk tool, available to customers with corporate contracts in place, offers business discounts and flexible fares on the airline’s domestic flights.
United's Denver return United Airlines will launch non-stop services from London Heathrow to Denver next summer, a route it last flew in 2010. The seasonal service will begin on March 25 and cease on October 27, using B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft with 36 flatbed seats in business class.
BA in fast lane to aid premium passengers
QATAR AIRWAYS CONFIRMS NEW CARDIFF ROUTE
BRITISH Airways is introducing a car transfer service for customers at risk of missing their connecting flights at Heathrow Airport. The new service, called Premium Transfer Driver, will apply to customers travelling on UK domestic flights who are connecting on to either a short-haul flight in Club Europe, a long-haul service in Club World or First, or who are Silver or Gold Executive Club members. The British Airways team at Heathrow will track customers eligible for the service, and where there is a risk that they will miss their connection, will provide an airside car to transfer them between one flight and the next. The team will also send a message to the inbound aircraft so the cabin crew can inform the customer of the transfer.
QATAR Airways has confirmed its new services from Cardiff from Doha will commence on May 1, 2018, with the airline becoming the first Gulf carrier to operate flights from Wales. The direct daily route, announced earlier this year, will operate using Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with 22 seats in business class and 232 in economy. Flights from Cardiff will depart at 15:55 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and at 08:10 on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. It is among 28 routes introduced by Qatar Airways.
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DE VERE GOING UP IN THE WORLD FOLLOWING £100M INVESTMENT
Marriott at the double with Residence plans MARRIOTT has opened its first extended stay Residence Inn property in London, with a second on course to open later in the year. Its debut property in London Bridge lies on Long Lane and comprises 87 studio, one and two-bedroom suites, while the 307-suite Residence Inn London Kensington will open before the year’s end. Suites at the London Bridge property feature separate living, working and sleeping areas, as well as fully equipped kitchens and free wifi. The property also includes communal laundry facilities, a 24/7 Grab ’n’ Go Market in the lobby, and fitness centre. The two London properties will be joined by new openings in Aberdeen and Amsterdam in early 2018, growing the European portfolio from three to seven hotels.
DE VERE, the collection of country estate hotels and event spaces, has relaunched following a £100million transformation. The overhaul is part of a wider £300millon investment by parent organisation The Principal Hotel Company and its owners Starwood Capital Group. De Vere now comprises 22 properties – including five in central London – and a total of over 4,000 guestrooms, 662 event spaces and 1,200 acres of grounds. The collection of mansion house hotels has been extensively
SACO READY FOR AMSTERDAM FIRST SACO'S first property outside the UK is now taking bookings as the Wittenberg aparthotel in Amsterdam prepares for a November opening. The boutique property is located on the eastern side of the city, in the tranquil Plantage district, and overlooks the Nieuwe Keizersgracht Canal. The restored 18th century building has 115 studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments catering for guests staying a week or more. Amenities include a 24/7 reception and free wifi, and there are a number of indoor and outdoor spaces including two cobbled courtyards.
[ ROOMS ROUND-UP ] >> YOTEL has secured a $250million investment from the Starwood Capital Group. The investment will enable increased worldwide expansion for with a focus on Europe, North America and Asia >> The JURYS INN MANCHESTER has a brand new look following an extensive £2.9million transformation >> The boutique Middle House hotel will open in Shanghai this December, becoming the fourth property to open under The House Collective Group from SWIRE HOTELS >> A 143-room DOUBLETREE BY HILTON has opened in York city centre. Its largest meetings space has capacity for 250 guests >> The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, has unveiled 95 guestrooms as part of an extensive renovation
renovated to “celebrate their British heritage and the estates’ natural landscapes”. Among them are the De Vere Wotton House in Surrey, the De Vere Latimer Estate in the Chilterns and the De Vere Tortworth Court in Gloucestershire. Refurbishments at the Wokefield Estate and Beaumont Estate will be unveiled next year. In addition, the group's ‘Great Outdoors’ project has seen wifi installed up to 100metres from properties and the creation of kitchen gardens.
Not being able to control room temperature
Not being able to control the room temperature has been named the number one bugbear among hotel guests. Next up was a lack of cleanliness, while uncomfortable beds was third and expensive/ slow wifi was fourth, according to research from Lyco
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IN BRIEF Bespoke heads north
Bespoke Hotels has taken over management of Harrogate’s Crown Hotel and Manchester’s Townhouse Hotel. The Crown Hotel dates back over 300 years and has 114 guestrooms and extensive meetings and events facilities. Manchester’s 85-bedroom Townhouse Hotel joins the city’s Hotel Gotham in the 200-strong Bespoke portfolio.
The independent New Road Hotel will open in Whitechapel, London, this October. The 80-room boutique hotel lies on the site of the Service House – a former textile factory. Its Chophouse restaurant is the creation of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. Rates start from £169 per night, including breakfast.
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IHG builds midscale presence with Avid INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group has revealed its new high-quality midscale brand, avid hotels. The new brand is designed for travellers who want to experience ‘the basics done exceptionally well’, says IHG, at a price point expected to be slightly below the group's Holiday Inn Express brand. New-build Avid hotels will include open work areas, inviting communal spaces and free wifi, while guestrooms will feature workspaces, open storage and entertainment options that allow guests to broadcast content from their own devices. IHG expects the first avid hotels to begin construction in the US early next year, with the first hotel likely to open in early 2019. They will typically have 95-100 guestrooms set across a minimum of three storeys and will "lead the industry" in environmentally friendly design.
IHG plans to open a dual-branded property in Manchester early next year. Located on Corridor Manchester, the 19-storey building will comprise a 212-guestroom Crowne Plaza hotel together with and a 116-room Staybridge Suites property.
Tyne for a change
Newcastle’s historic Grey Street hotel has completed an 18-month, £1.2million refit. The grade II-listed building has transformed its 49 en-suite rooms, with each featuring tributes to the city. Meanwhile, its Monument Suite for meetings and events has been extended to cater for up to 100 delegates. A new smaller room, The Snug, has also been added.
CORPORATE MARKET CENTRAL TO SANDMAN SIGNATURE GATWICK SANDMAN Signature Hotels has opened its second UK hotel. The new Sandman Signature London Gatwick hotel, a short drive from the airport, has opened following a three-year transformation of the seven-storey building. The four-star hotel has 151 guestrooms, a gym, gastro bar and grill, free wifi and a dedicated floor for meetings and events. Mitch Gaglardi, Managing Director of
Sandman Signature Hotels, says: “Gatwick Airport is a major gateway into the UK, a busy hub for domestic flights and there is also a vibrant international business community that has grown up around the airport, making it a natural choice for us.” The Canadian group also has a Sandman property in Newcastle, with a third UK hotel due to open in Aberdeen early next year.
I T M U P D AT E Scott Davies Chief Executive, ITM
It’s a great pleasure to be writing my first column for The Business Travel Magazine as the new CEO of ITM. With a background in airlines, travel technology and TMCs, I really do have no excuse for not having a balanced perspective on our amazing industry. Although it’s customary on these occasions to reference the amount of change we are seeing, the reality is that the travel landscape is always evolving. This means no one can remain an expert for long unless they listen, learn and share with their colleagues and peers. I am immensely proud to be leading an organisation which has been such an effective catalyst in these areas under our previous CEO, Simone Buckley. Simone’s passion, energy and ability to forge lasting partnerships are reminders of how, even in these times of exciting technologies, distribution complexity and shifting commercial models, people still do business with people and if you have the best people, you will win. I feel very fortunate to be taking on such a privileged role and I’m really looking forward to working closely with our buyers, suppliers and industry partners. So, if you have any suggestions as to how we can do more or better, I would love to hear from you.
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Flexible mobility: evolution in motion In recent years, we have seen a significant shift towards more customer-centric, flexible and intuitive transportation models, propelled by the likes of Uber. Standard rental models are no longer sufficient as a one-sizefits-all approach, and as such we have invested significantly in developing a range of flexible mobility solutions, under the Zipcar and Avis brands, that work for our corporate customers as well as for leisure. Zipcar – a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group – is the world’s largest car-sharing network with over one million members who have access to ‘wheels when they want them’, without the cost and hassle of ownership. While our consumer offering is strong and easily-recognisable, we have also focussed on how Zipcar can offer similar benefits to businesses, including reduced costs and admin time, and reduced stress on office car parks. The low emission status of all cars in the Zipcar fleet also contributes to our business customers’ commitments to environmental responsibility. For owners of large fleets who are looking to streamline their operations, increase utilisation and facilitate seamless sharing, Local Motion by Zipcar allows any fleet vehicle to be turned into a shared asset immediately.
While Avis could be considered a more ‘traditional’ rental option, it has also introduced a range of flexible solutions to better tailor rental packages to businesses’ needs. For example, for businesses that offer seasonal work or require more vehicles at peak periods of the year, Avis Flex offers rentals with no long-term commitments or early return penalties. Avis Budget Group is committed to innovation, launching
industry-first products that allow our customers to rent vehicles in a way that works for them. With an eagerness to adapt, the car rental industry is in a prime position to capitalise on the flexible mobility trend. According to McKinsey & Co, by 2050 one third of all new vehicles will be purchased with shared usage in mind. As vehicle sharing and flexible mobility becomes increasingly common, the car rental industry absolutely must evolve at the same pace as its environment – or risk becoming obsolete.
James Turner Sales Director at Avis Budget Group
Overseas rail travel coming together TRAINLINE for Business has introduced an API to deliver greater access to international rail content. The API brings together 87 train companies across 24 countries, with more content being added on a regular basis. “It will take complexity out of a fragmented global rail landscape, giving businesses, travel agencies and booking agents hassle-free access to rail content across many carriers and countries,” says the company's European Director, Alidad Moghaddam. Trainline has also launched a price prediction tool to help passengers save money on Advance fares. The facility is available in the Trainline app and allows users to see when Advance ticket prices are likely to increase.
[ ON TRACK ] >> GOVIA THAMESLINK has completed the introduction of new longer, modernised trains on Thameslink routes, withdrawing the last of its older trains on the service >> CABFIND has partnered with iCabbi to offer automated end-to-end booking processes, delivering enhanced journey visibility, administration efficiencies, reduced costs and data rich reporting >> Free wifi is now available on TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS' route between Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh and is also being introduced across the operator's wider network >> AUTO EUROPE has reported a 15% rise in luxury car rentals globally, with London the third most popular destination for top of the range drives
On the Ground.indd 54
T H E
G R O U N D
A C T E U P D AT E Greeley Koch
SilverRail has announced a technology connection with Rail Europe. The partnership sees SilverRail provide a connectivity and transaction processing layer to all of Rail Europe's train operators' fares and seat inventory via their SilverCore platform. It will enable Rail Europe to focus on building a distribution engine and sales interface for B2B and B2C channels.
Same car, new airport
Airport parking company, I Love meet and greet, has launched a car transfer service between Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and Birmingham airports. The company will collect customer cars from one airport and deliver them back to customers at another airport for instances where they fly out of one airport and return to another.
New Intercity trains
The first of Great Western Railway's Intercity Express Trains have begun testing in Devon and Cornwall. From 2018 the new fleet of IETs, will connect London Paddington to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance, among other destinations. Some of the fleet is fitted with bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use both diesel and electric power. There will be 20% more seats per train, more frequent trains and shorter journey times. The trains use Hitachi's Japanese bullet train technology to offer a stepchange in the passenger experience, says GWR.
Executive Director, ACTE
Damage limitation for business renters NEW research suggests 13% of business travellers have been accused of damage to a hire car they did not do. A survey commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com and carried out by Opinium also reported one in four (24%) found existing damage on a hire car that was not marked on the checkout sheet, and a third (36%) say they check a hire car fully for damage before driving it. The report found over a quarter (26%) have returned their car without it being signed off by a rental company employee and only 29% take photos of the car. Ernesto Suarez, Founder and CEO, of iCarhireinsurance.com, says: “It’s very easy to miss minor wheel damage or scratches on the bumper when you pick up a hire car, but if these are not noted on the paperwork you could be charged.”
DRIVING TO AN ELECTRIC FUTURE INCREASE in public investment in rapid charging infrastructure for electric cars in London is urgently needed, says a new report. The research by Analytically Driven, commissioned by Addison Lee, examines the infrastructure that would be needed to allow taxis and private hire vehicles to switch to electric power. The Provision of Rapid Charging Points in London: The case for government intervention highlights the long-term cost savings and health benefits that would be achieved by switching to electric. Current policy focuses on low level (7kW) electric charge points throughout London. The city has plans for just 75 charge points by the end of 2017, and for 300 by 2020. Andy Boland, Chief Executive of Addison Lee, says: “We’re keen to adopt new technologies but, in order to do so, the infrastructure needs to be in place. As the report makes clear, decisive intervention is needed to tackle the ill effects of London’s poor air quality and the damaging impact it has on the economy and Londoners’ health.”
Few of us who travel for a living are high-maintenance, but we do need certain tools to be efficient. Chief among them are hotels offering well-stocked business centres, safes for laptops, conference centres and a secure environment. But with 70% of global hotels independently owned, travellers don’t know what to expect until they check in. Not to mention varying standards by country and some franchised hotels that aren’t up to scratch. To prepare, ask local clients or colleagues, check rating systems like TripAdvisor, or call the hotel. But each carries its own risk. If contacts recommend a hotel, they’ll feel responsible if it doesn't work out. As for review sites, most cater to leisure travellers, and calling the hotel poses a risk of miscommunication. In September, we teamed up with Business and Conference Hotels Accreditation to form a global ratings system. ACTE-BCHA plans to have certified or reviewed more than 10,000 hotels worldwide by 2020. DNATA will audit hotels in the Middle East and additional regions will be rated as inspection partners are added. While travellers won’t always wind up in the perfect hotel, we hope they’ll be better prepared.
On the Ground.indd 55
M E E T I N G
P L A C E
M&E SPEND ON THE RISE
IN BRIEF Glorious Gleddoch
The Gleddoch Hotel in Scotland has relaunched its meetings and events facilities after a multimillion-pound refurbishment. “We saw a great opportunity to breathe new life into the hotel and golf course. Former guests will recognise the hotel they loved, but it’s been brought up to scratch and now has all of the amenities expected of a top four-star establishment,” says Director Richard Johal.
Events at Villa Park
Aston Villa Football Club will open a new hospitality and events space at Villa Park this October called the Directors Club. The main space has capacity for up to 150 delegates, and there will also be a Directors Boardroom for smaller meetings and private dining.
Spaces in London
Workspace provider Spaces has opened a 16,000sqft business hub in City Point, London. The venue is located a few minutes' walk from Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations and features flexible workspaces over several floors alongside a cafe. It is the ninth Spaces location to open in the UK.
The Mermaid London events venue has reopened its Upper River Room following refurbishment. Located close to Blackfriars Station, the room includes a new sound system, fewer pillars and a raised ceiling.
Principal group refreshes meetings A NEW meetings and events product from the Principal Hotel Company is being rolled out across the group's Principal and De Vere brands. Called Smart Space, the new programme includes live availability booking, enhanced technology support and up to 1GB super-fast wiﬁ, as well as new outdoor spaces, Burr & Co. coﬀee breakout areas and rewards programmes. “As well as ensuring the functional elements of any event are of the highest standards, Smart Space also ensures that our guests beneﬁt from these new initiatives following a signiﬁcant ﬁnancial investment and refurbishment across the group,” says Tony Troy, Chief Executive Oﬃcer at Prinicipal Hotel Company.
SPENDING on meetings and events is on the rise, according to the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), which also reports higher delegate numbers. The HBAA Meetings Barometer shows average spend per meeting in the UK has risen 31%, from £1,624 in the ﬁrst six months of 2016 to £2,133 in the same period this year. The report also found total spending on meetings with HBAA members over the same period was £70.6million – compared with £64.8million last year – and average spend per delegate increased by 29%, from £72.87 to £93.83. The HBAA report also found the average meeting size has increased 12%, from 49 delegates to 55.
[ NEW & IMPROVED ] >> The ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS has launched the newly refurbished Osler Room which has the capacity to host up to 300 guests for receptions, dinners and events >> The JURYS INN Liverpool has refurbished its meeting and events space as part of a £2million investment at the hotel. The ten conference spaces have been transformed in line with group's new design concepts >> TEWKESBURY PARK has opened a new £3million events space, The Cotswolds Suite, with a ﬂoor-to-ceiling glass façade and views across the Cotswolds and Severn Valley >> The VICTORY SERVICES CLUB in London has reopened its Carisbrooke Hall events space following a £1million refurbishment.
the increase in meetings costs in EMEA this year
The cost per attendee per day for meetings and events in the EMEA region has risen by 4% this year. It is expected to continue rising into 2018 according to the Meetings and Events Future Trends report from CWT THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM
T H E
M O V E
EVENTS OCTOBER 11-13
ACTE GLOBAL CONFERENCE
ITM SUMMIT MANCHESTER Innside, Manchester itm.org.uk
PROMOTED AT: ATPI Group TO: CEO FROM: International Director
PROMOTED AT: Pentahotels UK TO: Regional Director FROM: Cluster GM, Birmingham & Derby
PROMOTED AT: American Airlines TO: Managing Director, EMEA Sales FROM: Director– Corporate Sales
Industry veteran Andrew Waller has been appointed Chief Executive Officer at ATPI Group after spending eight months as International Director of Corporate Development.
Pentahotels has promoted Ben Thomas to Regional Director UK. He joined the lifestyle brand in 2014 and helped launch two properties in his previous role as Cluster GM.
Tom Lattig has been named Managing Director EMEA Sales at American Airlines. He will move to London from the carrier's Fort Worth base. Lattig has been at AA for 18 years.
GTMC AUTUMN CONFERENCE Grange St Paul's Hotel, London gtmc.org
WORLD TRAVEL MARKET London london.wtm.com
THE BUSINESS TRAVEL SYMPOSIUM (Advantage). ME London advantagemembers.com
GBTA EUROPE CONFERENCE
JOINS: arrangeMY AS: National Account Manager FROM: Genting UK
PROMOTED AT: Cathay Pacific TO: Regional General Manager Europe FROM: Director, Service Delivery
PROMOTED AT: EasyJet TO: Head of Business Development FROM: Head of Sales, Northern Europe
Laura Dudley has joined arrangeMY as National Account Manager, responsible for expanding the Midlandsbased business travel agency's client portfolio.
James Ginns will be responsible for European business development in his new role at Cathay Pacific. He has held a variety of sales and marketing roles in 26 years at the airline.
EasyJet has created a new business team focused on strengthening its commercial and TMC relationships. It will be headed up by former Head of Sales Andrea Caulfield-Smith.
ALSO ON THE MOVE... Former Advantage Travel Centres Chief Executive John McEwan has been appointed Chairman at CTI >> Travelport has appointed Sinead Reilly to the new role of Strategic Account Director for Northern Europe >> Inntel has named James Smith as Head of Events >> Amadeus has appointed Joost Shuring as its new Vice President EMEA >> Andy Batty is the new UK General Manager at mytaxi >> Jackie Clark has left British Airways to join Japan Airlines as VP EMEA Global Strategic Sales >> Good Travel Management has added James Plumb to its business 13225-Sirius-BritishTravelMag-AD-138x40.ai development team >> Swire Hotels has appointed Toby Smith 1 11/05/2017 15:01as Managing Director
TBTM CHRISTMAS PARTY Grange St Paul's Hotel, London thebusinesstravelmag.com
THE PEOPLE AWARDS 2018 NOMINATIONS OPEN thepeopleawards.co.uk
BUSINESS TRAVEL SHOW
Olympia, London businesstravelshow.com
EXECUTIVE SEARCH AND RECRUITMENT SPECIALISTS Dedicated to the business travel sector email@example.com • +44 (0)845 605 9055 •
On the move.indd 58
TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY IS EVOLVING SO RAPIDLY THAT IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO SEPARATE THE FLUFF FROM THE FUNCTIONAL. FIND OUT HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU IN OUR GUIDE TO
TRAVEL TECH Introduction, 60-62 / Trending, 64-66 / Booking tools, 68-70 Beginner's guide to blockchain, 73 / Mobile developments, 74-75 Expenses, 76 / Data, 78 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM
Travel tech / Introduction
FORWARD Travel technology has evolved – and continues to do so – faster than any other area of travel management, touching all areas of the business, writes Linda Fox
Introduction / Travel tech
ust ten years ago there was no talk of ‘seamless experience’, ‘end-to-end travel’ or the ‘mobile traveller’, and the very first iPhone had barely rolled off the production line. Airbnb was not quite on the scene so there was nothing like peer-to-peer marketplaces or a sharing economy, and mentions of chatbots were likely to conjure images of Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C3PO. Mobile devices were around, but they had nothing like the functionality of current devices, which have put huge power in the pockets of business travellers. Indeed, fastforward a decade and now, in 2017, that power is beginning to impact on every facet of the corporate travel landscape – from traveller tracking, expense management and self-booking, to policy compliance and the in-trip experience. In short, mobile apps and booking tools are on every RFP now.
For corporate travel, the downside of such rapid progress is the expectation among business travellers that everything should be instant and nothing is impossible to do by a mouse click or the touch of a button. It’s a knock-on effect from the consumer world where people can access so much information on the fly now that they expect the same in their business lives. This, in turn, has led to the rise of startups in the travel sector either looking to disrupt and take things in a different direction or fill in some of the gaps towards improving the overall experience. HRG’s Director of Group Technology, Nigel Meyer, sums up the current situation: “Travel technology is at a point of fundamental transition. The legacy corporate tools based on the use of a GDS and an aggregator are being replaced with consumer-oriented interfaces linked to
multiple sources of richer content built around the new distribution capability. “Aggregators and GDS are still playing a key part in the process, but in a different way. The user experience is built on anticipatory principles, leading a user directly to services, content and information that takes away much of the effort.” Traveldoo Chief Product Officer Dan Fitzgerald adds that a large part of what is happening is also down to how quickly people become comfortable in using these newer technologies, including mobile. But all this is creating a bit of a dilemma for corporate travel managers who are having to manage their travellers pushing for a more consumer-like experience. Most experts still see corporate travel as lagging behind leisure when it comes to the user-experience and the tools available to book travel.
Travel technology is at a point of fundamental transition. The legacy corporate tools are being replaced”
Travel tech / Introduction
The drive towards improving the user experience has thrown a spotlight on traveller behaviour and how it can be influenced” And it will continue to lag, not just because of the complexities of corporate travel, but also because of cultural elements. For example, Fitzgerald reckons there are still only about 50% of business travellers in Europe actually booking their own travel, which means less of a push towards a better user experience. There are developments both from existing players such as Egencia and Concur and newcomers such as Rocketrip and Upside that are improving the experience in different ways. Partnerships and content integration enable travellers to do more with fewer steps. For example, travel booking and expense management systems are becoming more joined up. Technology providers are also partnering with companies such as Airbnb and Uber to provide access to their content. So what’s next? More of the same, inevitably, but also development in the direction of artificial intelligence (AI) and how that might enhance corporate travel tools and processes. Fitzgerald sees driverless cars as having a big impact on business travel and traveller mobility in the not-too-distant future. AI will also play a huge part in the development of the chatbots already helping to improve customer service as well as on-the-go communication for many airlines and other travel providers. Data and personalisation is a further area where there is likely to be significant development. If we know elements such as the time of day travellers like to fly, the destinations they visit most, the sorts of hotels they like and how much they spend, it’s easier and quicker to serve them with the right options. Some of the old challenges remain, however, such as data privacy and content fragmentation, and have even been brought more sharply into focus by developments in technology and new entrants.
Capita Travel and Events' Chief Information officer, Paul Saggar, says every conversation around mobile innovation involves a data privacy discussion: “GDPR is driving people to think about privacy, as well as the highprofile data breaches. Everyone should be concerned about it. The travel ecosystem is complicated and people should be asking questions about how their data is being looked after.” All these developments drive the corporate world towards a more seamless experience, from the initial booking, to during and after the trip too. Experts no longer talk about 'seamless' as the ultimate objective, however, because they see integration as an ongoing process that means something different to every business traveller. Saggar says the concept of end-to-end cannot be applied as a generalisation. It might work for three-quarters of corporates doing simple trips, but travel arrangements within some organisations are more complex and involve lots of factors being taken into consideration. The drive towards improving the user
experience has also thrown a spotlight on traveller behaviour in general and how it can be influenced. For a long time business travel management has taken a mostly 'stick' approach to compliance, but new entrants in the space look to incentivise travellers for making good buying decisions. Traveldoo’s Fitzgerald believes a cultural change is required and says his company is watching these newer players. Saggar, meanwhile, says it could be even simpler than incentivising travellers. Just addressing them differently or tailoring the message to them may be enough to alter behaviour in the future, he says. Whatever the outcome of all these developments, technology will continue to play a vital role in business travel. A recent study by Carlson Wagonlit, conducted with almost 2,000 travellers, reveals that nearly 90% find business travel “easier to navigate” thanks to technology. Business travellers are carrying more devices than ever to stay productive and keep in touch. The mobile is seen as the tool they can’t live without.
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Travel tech / Trending
Artificial intelligence and bots are infiltrating consumer services, but can they really take over travel management too? Neal Baldwin charts the rise of the machines
ou’ve got a client in Chicago and her flight home, the last one of the day, is cancelled. As problems go it doesn’t really get more routine. The response is simple. A good TMC will be quickly on the case, checking out flight options for tomorrow and finding somewhere for the traveller to sleep. The agent knows her preferences too, making sure to secure a room at her favourite hotel group to get the loyalty points and recommending a highly-rated little pizza place just around the corner. Job done. Except the ‘agent’ in this case isn’t an agent at all. It’s a robot. A computer algorithm. A machine that has learned. Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence. The prospect of technology thinking for itself might conjure up a Terminator-style vision of the future for some people, but in travel – and especially the corporate world – it is a future that’s marching ever closer. At its heart, AI uses computers to mimic human functions, and in truth is a pretty catch-all phrase. While the science comprises 64
a whole range of fields, it is the specialities of Natural Language Processing (artificial speech and typing, as used in chatbots) and Machine Learning (when a computer adds to its understanding by noticing past requests) that are especially relevant. Travel is particularly ripe for this type of innovation, since the wealth of information that companies possess about clients, such as their airline and hotel preferences, policy rules and travelling history, all add up to create a comprehensive picture. The more data that is collected, the better the recommendations should become. FCM Travel Solutions is among the first to jump in to AI, showcasing its SAM (Smart Travel Assistant for Mobile) app at the Business Travel Show in February this year. Having been beta-tested by more than 3,500 travellers, SAM is now being rolled out to the company’s clients. Essentially a mobile-based ‘virtual assistant’, SAM acts as a one-stop shop for many traveller-related queries, with the chatbot able to provide information on topics such
visa requirements, the weather and restaurant options in destination. Meanwhile, itineraries are monitored in real-time to keep travellers updated on unforeseen issues such as flight delays or traffic jams near the airport. If users need specialist help, they can opt out of the virtual world and be connected to a human travel manager. FCM’s Head of Mobile Product, Chris Gamlin, says the development of SAM was prompted by a desire to make life easier for travellers by uniting information they would otherwise receive from multiple sources. “Travel technology focuses traditionally on functionality and tools that handle the booking, approval and reporting process,” he
Technology thinking for itself might conjure up a Terminator-style vision of the future”
Trending / Travel tech
explains. “The priority for TMCs is driven predominantly by the need to maximise the value of a client’s travel spend, reduce costs, and mandate travel policy. The experience of the actual business traveller has frequently been a secondary priority.” Of course, making life easier is at the crux of all technological innovation, and AI is already widely used to help automate previously time-consuming tasks such as refund processing. However, a world where computers can genuinely make informed, independent decisions is still a science fiction. With a master’s degree in machine learning, Chris Baker, Managing Director of UK Enterprise at expense management specialist Concur, describes himself as ‘pretty underwhelmed’ by current AI products. “Chatbots are OK, but essentially they are just another interface to talk to your TMC. The end game is when we can say the computer has a ‘sixth sense’ and can take decisions without referring them. “Imagine you have an email conversation about a potential trip away. True AI might see that provisionally scheduled in your Outlook calendar and immediately look at travel and hotel options, within policy, for those dates – and even hold them for no fee. When you confirm the trip, the itinerary is ready and waiting for you. “With the rules in place, technology could do the booking without referring to me. If we ever get to that stage, TMCs will be battling to make their technology faster, since the emphasis then will be on securing the best rooms and seats at the best price.” Mark Knipe, Head of User Experience and Product Discovery for HRG, believes that in the long-term chatbots will go the way of betamax video – a great idea that fell quickly out of fashion. “I don’t see a great deal of demand for chatbots now, and the future is about AI being intuitive. Users won’t want to be in a text chat system,” he says. “TMCs have been very good at driving down costs, but clients are now demanding something more personal. The days of having to text or even speak to someone are over; you should
simply get served up options. In 30 years’ time, we [TMCs] should be completely invisible in the booking process.” The rise in AI comes as consumers welcome virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa into their homes, and Hillgate Travel Chief Information Officer Antoine Boatwright says it is essential that TMCs keep on top of this leisure trend for ease of use and integration. “How people interact with the technology – whether it is speech, by laptop or tablet – isn’t so important. The issue is concentrating on experience. The digital world has just made things easier, so the work for us is to essentially reinvent the booking tool. “At present people pick components for their trip.
The end game is when we can say the computer has a ‘sixth sense’ and can take decisions without referring them”
Travel tech / Trending
Some TMCs are using AI as a marketing tool, but the chatbots around at the moment are far from perfect”
AI can simplify this by seeing where they are going and serving up a selection of tailored pre-made itineraries, with flight, hotels, car hire and restaurants all included. For us, that is only 18 months away.” However, this brave new world isn’t without its problems. As always, technical issues, compliance and data protection are major barriers to be overcome. With disruptive suppliers such as AirBnB and Uber becoming more popular and leading the digital revolution, how do TMCs mandate policy for a new generation of business travellers who are used to doing their own thing? And would it even be possible to integrate all this data from disparate sources, as well as linking with the legacy GDS systems? ATPI Managing Director Adam Knights believes the industry will eventually fall behind two or three ‘standard’ AI platforms as the technology matures. “Developing proprietary systems seems silly to me. At present, some TMCs are using AI as a marketing tool, but the chatbots around now are a long way from perfect because it is impossible to integrate suppliers into one place. Without all the content, you can’t realistically give the benefit,” he says. “The biggest worry for me is the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). If a machine has learned a client’s preferences, what are the legal implications of passing this information on? Who is the data controller? It is already hard enough to get a common interpretation of the regulations for our industry.” Meanwhile, Hillgate’s Boatwright warns of compliance issues should AI-inspired bookings go wrong. “Customers will need to understand the logic that has been applied to make travel decisions,” he remarks. “More importantly, travel managers will want accountability if mistakes are made. And what’s the duty of care situation if a traveller is in an accident or injured?” Ultimately, Concur’s Baker believes AI could eventually apply logic to bookings that might traditionally fall foul of compliance rules. “Maybe you’ve got a traveller who is going to New York to sign a multimillion pound
deal” he says. “At its most advanced, the computer could have learned this information and realise he would be more productive flying first class rather than picking the cheapest option. In that example, the TMC’s ‘machine’ is making a value judgement that benefits the client. “The issue of whether AI-inspired itineraries need to be seen by the traveller, or referred for compliance, is one for society to decide. Younger people are happy sharing their information online and are increasingly trusting in technology, so it could well happen sooner than later.”
AS an FCM Travel Solutions client, Alice Linley-Munro, Global Travel Analyst at Oil Spill Response, is looking forward to rolling out the SAM app to her company’s 175 travellers – but only in certain situations. “The nature of our business in the energy industry means some staff are working in high risk countries,” she explains. “To be honest, I don’t want them relying on the technology when they are in an environment where things can go wrong at a moment’s notice. Having traditional help on the end of a telephone, especially someone who can make instant decisions, is very important in a crisis.” That said, Linley-Munro believes the system’s interactive nature will be a hit, particularly its ‘softer’ features such as highlighting which carousel a traveller’s bag has arrived on, or its in-destination advice. “It’s not just younger travellers that are embracing this sort of technology. People use computers to control their lights, music and heating at home and like the interaction. I like the idea that AI can learn a traveller’s preferences and improve the experience by recommending a place to eat or suggesting they might like to buy football or theatre tickets. “There will always be a need for TMCs to have human staff, and for travel managers. Ultimately, systems like this should make it easier for travellers to solve their own problems. That might mean I don’t get woken up in the middle of the night so often!”
26/07/2017 16:07 7/26/17 04:12 PM
Travel tech / Booking tools
While do-it-yourself travel booking tools are more user-friendly than ever, the challenges of leakage and content remain ubiquitous, says Gillian Upton
ravel booking tools backed up by bots and powered by artificial intelligence may well be the future, but acceptance levels – particularly on the corporate side – will be slow to grow. “No-one wanted to bank online 15 years ago, so it’ll be a slowly aggregated level of trust with AI and bots,” says Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Product Officer with Traveldoo. And as for mobile booking platforms, Richard Kelly, Director of Client Solutions and Content at HRG, believes, “the more expensive the item, the bigger the screen you book it on. A £10,000 trip is unlikely to be booked on a mobile, but when it’s a £23 rail ticket, people feel comfortable.” For now, self-booking tools (SBT) have evolved from point-to-point capability and perform four essential functions: cost control through travel policies being built into the tool; the ability to negotiate better rates with suppliers due to visibility of spend; duty of care compliance; and visibility into the booking and the expense system, helping to eradicate errors and fraud. CTM’s Product Manager, Bob Styles, says that a degree of automating changes and cancellations to bookings still needs to be done offline but “self booking tools excel at simple point-to-point journeys and this constitutes most business travel”. 68
The latest generation of SBTs offer multidestination capability, such as AberdeenAmsterdam-Paris-Aberdeen, or flying into one US city and out from another. However, many travellers lack booking confidence to make the most of it. “They don’t trust the technology as much as they should,” believes Glenn Watson, Business Solutions Manager for Advantage Focus. Filling the trust gap is the TMC, adding value by completing the booking offline that was started on an SBT, and creating online bookings, offline bookings and hybrid bookings that mix the two. “But don’t underestimate SBTs,” says Vicki Williams, Director of Customer Solutions at Click Travel. “They can even deal with items such as additional checks for creative ticketing options.” Complex journeys are still the domain of the TMC. “It’s where the TMCs earn money
Booking tools in general are a lot more powerful than even three years ago, with the inclusion of ancillaries and broader content”
by arranging the necessary logistics and adapting to last-minute changes with workarounds,” says Eric Webb, Solutions Consulting Director, Enterprise, for Concur.
Leading the way
Those SBTs in the vanguard today will also include an expense module to make them fully end-to-end. The big four players in the marketplace – American Express/KDS, Concur, Traveldoo and Amadeus/Cytric – all offer this. Traveldoo, for example, has developed an expense solution in-house so there is only one profile and data flows through it. “Your booking becomes your expense,” says Traveldoo’s Fitzgerald. He reckons that two-thirds of clients want T&E combined. Most SBTs also have the facility to book ancillaries such as car hire, include plug-ins such as travel tracking, client-specific documents, links of interest and in-built chat functions to provide real-time support. “SBTs in general are a lot more powerful than even three years ago, with the inclusion of ancillaries, much broader content sources, ground transportation, recommendations, and approval workflows,” says Hillgate Travel's Chief Information Officer, Antoine Boatwright. Self-booking tools vary between those developed in-house by TMCs, such as Lightning from CTM, Travel.Cloud from
Booking tools / Travel tech
Travel tech / Booking tools
Click Travel and Freeway from Hillgate, to those resold by TMCs such as Sabre’s GetThere or Concur, and those acquired by TMCs, such as KDS, now owned by Amex. Pushing the case for own-label tools is Hillgate’s Boatwright: “We can react at the speed of our customers and the market versus at the speed of our suppliers. We can develop a product with the features our customers think are critical and build in differentiation in line with that of our clients.” ATPI used to have its own SBT but switched to selling KDS, Concur, Cytric and eTravel. Why? “The Concurs of this world have huge IT departments and the cost of building your own tool and keeping up with developments is prohibitive, unless your SBT adds value to the customer,” explains Managing Director Adam Knights.
Doing it differently
Travelport believes it has done just that with Locomote, which is an end-to-end workplace platform rather than SBT. It integrates with whatever modules are required, be it Expensify for expenses, a visa supplier, risk management provider or even other booking tools. It claims to have a more consumer-like user experience. Launched in the UK a few months ago, take-up has been from mid-tier customers and SMEs to date. Ross Fastuca, Co-founder of Locomote, says: “If you can’t book online travellers have to facilitate it offline via a consultant and we’re seeing frustration with that as corporates don’t want their travellers to call the TMC. About 30% of trips have to be booked offline and that can be really painful. “We facilitate offline and online bookings as the modern traveller expects that and they
don’t want to understand a five-sector trip. This way, we get 100% adoption and we reduce TMC fees as we’re more efficient.”
Reticence over rolling out an SBT still exists. CTM’s Styles points to some of the challenges: “It’s a question of finding the balance between creating a tool that is able to manage the complex requirements of a client’s travel needs, yet making it simple enough to use so hours of training are not required.” Locomote’s Fastuca argues that, “If you have to train somebody then there is something wrong with the experience as it should be intuitive. Webex and roadshows should all be redundant.” The worry over control is another concern, says ATPI’s Knights. He knows of travellers cheating the system by booking two days out and getting the only ticket type left – a flexible ticket – rather than 14 days out to get a fixed ticket cheaper and in policy. “When we had dedicated travel bookers these anomalies were picked up,” says Knights. “The average ticket price is lower if booked by dedicated bookers than when the traveller does it himself.” Exception reports take care of this today, as long as the travel manager acts upon the data. Evan Konwiser, Vice President Digital Traveller, American Express GBT, explains the importance of replicating the consumer user experience. “Booking tools can encourage travellers to remain within travel policy, rather than book independently. This is valuable as it makes it easier for travel managers to monitor and track activity, manage the overall T&E spend, negotiate better content deals with suppliers, and provide duty of care while on the road.” Linked to the experience is the importance of the right content. While leisure travellers are happy to switch between different websites to book their holiday, they want all the elements in one place for their business trip. Multiple APIs pull in diverse content from the GDS, NDC, direct and non-GDS aggregators but some can be clunky to use. “You have to consider the balance between your programme needs and what your travellers want,” says Knights. “And ignore travellers’ comments such as, ’I like the booking.com functionality,’ or the travel manager saying, ‘The TMC isn’t providing the right technology’. We can provide Booking. com but there are compromises.”
There is something called ‘decision fatigue’, when a traveller says ‘I don’t want ten things to choose from, give me one or two’” Content rules
There is huge debate about how much content you offer and this is linked directly with the trend towards personalisation, explains HRG's Kelly. “If the traveller always flies with British Airways to New York and only stays at the Sheraton or Hilton we pull that up from our database and only present those choices. “There is something called ‘decision fatigue’ when a traveller says, ‘I don’t want ten things to choose from. It’s fine to give me one or two so I can make a quick decision’. It’ll be less choice but the right choice.” But there will always be a ‘Click More’ button. “It speeds up the booking process and the procedure for us. We’re talking to our customers about it,” says Kelly. Content overload is a real issue. “It is the eternal dilemma of choice,” says Hillgate’s Boatwright. “If one curates too much, then there is a belief that you are not getting the best, and when you get too much the booking process is slow.” Whether an SBT is mandated or not will also influence adoption. Rail adoption should be high, over 90%, as it’s so easy, and air should certainly be above 65%. Hotels, however, “are the battleground” says Fitzgerald. “It’s the B2C influence,” he says. Amex GBT’s Konwiser says tech-savvy companies with mostly short-haul travel can achieve 90% or higher adoption, but those with a more traditional culture and significant international travel volumes are happy with more like 30%. “Adoption alone is not enough to understand success; it must be a combination of adoption, satisfaction and economic value for the company,” he says. Advantage’s Watson suggests getting travellers involved in the SBT selection process to help buy-in, messaging them through the booking to flag up the preferred suppliers, and to incentivise teams to be compliant with the use of leaderboards. “Taking them on the journey is key,” he says.
Behind every journey Amadeus cytric Travel & Expense our integrated online booking and expense management tool. Are you trying to strike the right balance between creating better journeys for your travellers, while ensuring your travel programme is as efficient as possible? Some of the worldâ€™s biggest global corporations are getting it right, because Amadeus is powering smarter business travel for them. What could this mean for your business? Amadeus cytric Travel & Expense will give your corporation complete access to the right travel options. It also takes the pain out of managing and filing travel expenses for your travellers and allows them to get on with making your business more successful. And for your travellers? Great duty of care, making their business travel simpler and stress-free. Stay ahead of the curve and download the new LSE study â€˜Managing every mileâ€™ commissioned by Amadeus at www.amadeus.com/managing-every-mile and hear what other corporations think about Travel & Expense. It could make you the flavour of the month?
You do the business. We do the travel.
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25/09/2017 15:42 15:29
Big data, big deal With more data available now than ever in the history of the world, how is your organisation coping with big data when it comes to your travel and meetings programme? The ability to achieve a 360-degree view of various data has never been more critical, and the opportunities provided by understanding your data are staggering. But transforming data into meaningful and actionable insights can be a challenge. Check out our whitepaper â€˜Big data, big dealâ€™ which sets out to provide travel and meeting buyers with a view of the challenges and solutions big data presents them with: capitatravelevents.co.uk/bigdata capitatravelevents.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org 0330 390 0340
Capita Travel and Events Limited. Registered office: 17 Rochester Row, London, SW1P 1QT. Registered in England No. 01094729. Part of Capita plc. www.capita.co.uk. All rights reserved.
Travel and Events 15/09/2017 15:07
Beginner’s guide to… / Travel tech
BLOCKCHAIN Heard of blockchain but have no idea what it is? Katherine Grass, Head of Innovation and Ventures at Amadeus, explains all Heard about blockchain but still not sure what it’s really all about? This groundbreaking technology presents exciting possibilities for the travel industry, but widespread penetration is some way off. Read on to find out the basics and how it might be adopted. What is blockchain? Blockchain is a database technology that enables a new way of conducting digital transactions safely and transparently, without the need for an intermediary body, like a bank, to validate it. It is a shared database, which is synchronised, meaning it is ideal for organising information amongst different stakeholders. Bitcoin is an example of where blockchain has been used to create a currency. Why do I need to know about it? John Naughton, Professor for the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University, recently described blockchain as the ‘single most important IT innovation of our age’. Blockchain is quickly becoming a buzzword in many industries. The hype is all down to its disruptive nature. What is its relevance to the travel industry and how might it be applied? There are several potential applications for travel. One could be enabling travellers to store their loyalty points from various travel sellers in a single, digital wallet. This would
Blockchain is becoming a buzzword in many industries. The hype is all down to its disruptive nature”
allow them to be more universal, redeemed easily and even shared with friends – like cash is today. The trustworthy and unalterable nature of blockchain also makes it ideal for improving the way travellers are identified during a journey. Traveller IDs are required at booking, when changing a booking, at security, the boarding gate, duty free shopping and the hotel. Imagine how much easier it would be if you didn’t need to use a passport at all these points. Blockchain could deliver a much smoother experience. Baggage tracking is another complex challenge involving several stakeholders, such as airlines, ground handlers and airports. Using blockchain, travellers could have a single view of where their bag is, perhaps via a mobile app. It may also improve the accuracy and efficiency of managing bags across the industry.
What are the pros and cons? One of blockchain’s main advantages is the fact it is highly secure and transparent. The information contained on it is trustworthy, due to the way it is encrypted and validated. Participants can add data, but data cannot be removed once a transaction is validated. Each individual ‘node’ or party within the blockchain must validate a transaction before it is approved. This negates the need for a trusted central organisation. The challenge is the need for industry-wide collaboration. What is the future of blockchain? Widespread adoption is predicted to be five to seven years away. However, experts expect ownership of assets as varied as houses, cars and even people’s identities might be registered on the blockchain in the future.
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Travel tech / Mobile developments
Do business travellers really want full booking functionality from mobile phone apps and, if so, are suppliers answering their calls, asks Linda Fox
third of business travellers take three or more mobile devices with them when on the road, according to a survey from travel management company CTM. Research from Carlson Wagonlit Travel suggests the average business traveller takes four. We are, it seems, addicted to our devices. Where once checking email and storing travel itineraries was the battleground for TMCs and travel technology specialists, the goal posts have moved to booking functionality, deeper expense management integration and duty of care as well as softer on-trip assistance. CTM’s Marketing Director EMEA, Scott Alboni, says its research also reveals most travellers use their mobile devices for ticket and itinerary references and about half for checking departure times and changes. The reality is these devices can and will do a great deal more. Biometric prototypes in airports are seeing devices used to take a picture of a traveller and use it as identification to pass through the various checkpoints at the airport. At the same time, more and more 74
airlines are introducing chatbot functionality via mainstream consumer interfaces such as Facebook Messenger to offer basic customer service as well as functionality such as check-in and the provision of boarding passes. The hotel segment is also looking at how it can take fuller advantage of mobile services, also through chatbots as well
The market seems divided on whether travellers actually want to book via their smartphones or just want them for information” as via location-based apps and the ability to use mobile phones as room keys. Existing services and apps from TMCs and travel technology companies have improved but there is more to come. While many TMCs have begun offering booking functionality, for some it remains just for hotels. Others have incorporated air but acknowledge it is more complex because
of the vast number of factors involved. ATPI UK Managing Director Adam Knights says: “At the moment the market is not set up to organise multi-option or multi-sector routes on a mobile app. The ultimate challenge is to make sure that apps are adding value to the traveller experience and are not just introducing technology for the sake of it.” The market seems divided on whether travellers actually want to book via their smartphones or simply want them for sourcing information and some of the added in-trip functionality. The size of smartphone screens has generally increased but the experience is still not that good, especially for more complex trips. However, the rate of booking via devices is expected to rise as an improved user experience makes people more comfortable. Right now travellers want a central point for their information: bookings, itineraries, travel policy, airline and airport alerts, traveller security alerts, some expense management and access to help if it is required. An Egencia survey released in the summer revealed half of travellers would like to update travel via text, and
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Mobile developments / Travel tech
there are already a number of interesting initiatives in this area including startup Comtravo. It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to interpret text messages sent via Skype or email and return the best options to them. The business has just received an injection of €8.5million in funding. These sorts of services will grow and are going to become increasingly sophisticated as NLP and chatbot technology develops. Currently many of the developments are catering for the pre-trip and booking process, but what about during the trip? Travelport has launched a number of interesting mobile-based developments recently targeting the in-trip experience. Trip Assist helps travel management companies with itinerary management and communication in real-time. It enables travellers to connect directly to agents if necessary and provides them with travel updates during the trip. Travelport’s Resolve tool around disruption management is a further interesting development. It’s likely to be an area that many will invest in as current industry predictions put annual losses because of airline disruption at about $60billion. This says nothing of the productivity and stress-related costs of travelling employees not being where they need to be, nor when they need to be there. The Resolve service, as well as a similar service provided by Switchfly, are aimed at airlines and enable them to provide help to disrupted passengers by offering hotel rooms. According to Travelport, the service has already attracted interest from the travel management community, which needs to know what is happening with travellers and that they are adequately being taken care of. Mike Melton, who works within technology management at Travelport, says there is the potential for TMCs to be provided with the similar information on disruptions as that being provided to the airlines. In the event of a disruption, the mobilebased technology notifies passengers who are connected to the service, of itinerary changes, and offers local hotel options. The current process of queueing for hotel vouchers is inefficient and a frustrating,
stressful experience for travellers. Developments such as the above automate just one part of the travel process but make a huge difference to travellers and bring the industry a step closer to a seamless experience. The Travelport development should help the whole industry but at a TMC to corporate level, more fundamental discussions are being had about traveller apps and future mobile functionality. Mobile strategy has become standard on any RFP and TMCs need to decide whether to opt for in-house development, which means they can control what is done and when, or to work with third parties. HRG says it has built its mobile app in-house separately from other core teams. Director of Group Technology Nigel Meyer says the development around mobile calls for “a different skill-set and culture” and so far the app has been developed to focus on
the customer experience. Travel management features will be added. The other side of the build in-house or go with a third party debate is the belief that TMCs should focus on what they’re good at and leave technology experts to do the development. Expedia Affliate Network Senior Vice President and General Manager, Ariane Gorin, says: “It makes sense to make use of the R&D in the online travel agency space and marry that with the assets of the traditional corporate space.” She also points out that consumers have become used to online travel tools and that it is where the innovation regarding selfbooking is coming from. Mobile technology will continue to develop at a rapid pace and in all likelihood developments and channels we haven’t yet thought about will surprise in the future.
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Travel tech / Expenses
[ EXPENSE MANAGEMENT ]
EASY MONEY The process of paying, claiming and reimbursement of travel expenses has been painful and protracted in the past, but that should no longer be the case, writes Gillian Upton
allelujah! The process of completing travel expenses is becoming simpler and automated. The days of blocking off a Friday afternoon to trawl through paper receipts is disappearing, and doing them on your phone rather than in Excel is becoming the new norm. Technology has transformed expenses, specifically mobile applications making the most of geolocation. Today, travellers can expense the trip while they’re away by snapping a photo of the invoice and prepopulating a claim form. This expedited process also means travellers receive the money back more quickly. There is also a further benefit, explains Nick Campbell, Head of Product Strategy and Innovation at Fraedom. “Finance teams are able to work with more accurate data with increased compliance.” This translates to companies saving significant money and time with their expense process.
The holy grail of end-to-end T&E is almost here. Travellers can request approval for spend, facilitate the payment and report on it all within the same mobile app. “It’s a brilliant outcome for cardholders on the go,” says Campbell. Occasionally the technology isn’t 100% accurate and system miss details from the receipt images. The technology relies on advanced Optical Character Recognition technology (OCR) to digitise the receipt capture process. Concur, for example, has solved this issue by enabling providers such as Uber to send electronic receipts directly into a traveller’s Concur account. “This direct approach removes the need to photograph or email receipts and mitigates the risk of information being missed during the extraction process,” explains Matt Abbott, Solutions Consulting Director, Concur. Although virtual cards have been heralded as replacing or augmenting physical cards in many instances, acceptance levels have been slow. But with their set spending and merchandise limits, they are ideal for infrequent travellers and contractors not eligible for a corporate card and also help reduce card fraud. The AIDA virtual card from travel payment company AirPlus has proven a boon to corporates for another issue – hotel billbacks. Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Product Officer at Traveldoo believes travel managers are slow to embrace new technology. “They’re not tech savvy,” he says, and suggests tests and trials with one department for six months to enable data to be collected and interpreted. Huge gains have been made with
expenses where the payment and the exchange of service is simple. However, reporting remains challenging with hotel accommodation, explains Antoine Boatwright, Chief Information Officer at Hillgate Travel. “So many things can happen between the time a person books and the person does or does not exit the hotel,” he says. “A single occupancy booking can become a double, a booking might get upgraded on arrival or an error might occur and some goodwill may be applied. Hotel spend still remains by far the hardest thing to track and the most expensive to get right.” Conferma’s virtual card solution on mobile, Trip Pay, may help acceptance levels, particularly in hotels where travellers can show a card alongside a booking confirmation. It can also be used to resend reservations to the hotel when on the move. The card image disappears from the app after check-out. Other innovations are on the horizon. Traveldoo’s Fitzgerald points to a time where travellers will be able to track their mileage on their phone, then click stop and automatically get paid for it. “Geolocation and big data will provide that,” he says. Fraedom’s Campbell says the next phase of competition will be managing the advance coding requirements of large corporates within the mobile space. “Often these corporates have more advanced workflow and spend categorisation needs, so a more configurable and tailored product is required,” he says. Removing the need for paper altogether is clearly in sight, alongside further integration with merchants, which will capture rich spend information and achieve a touchless expenses experience.
The Business Travel Symposium
20.11.17 â—Š ME London
Official Media Partner
The Advantage Travel Partnership, the UKâ€™s largest independent travel agent consortium is proud to host its 2nd Business Travel Symposium. The event will further explore the Advantage 2017 conference theme of Man and Machine. Join us for this one-day conference and hear from thought-provoking speakers and network with industry peers.
Bt Symposium Advert for Business Travel Magazine 2017-V2.indd 1
Travel tech / Data
COGNITIVE COMPUTING Talk of artificial intelligence and chatbots is widespread, but ‘intelligent’ live products are relatively few and far between, as a research paper from IBM’s Institute for Business Value explains. “When we initiated a survey of global travel executives on the topic of cognitive computing, we expected to find many companies whose efforts were blazing a trail in the travel industry,” declares the company’s Beyond bots and robots report. “Instead, we found an industry that is just starting to explore this transformational technology. For the most part, companies in the travel space are implementing cognitive solutions in the form of chatbots and robots, neither of which have matured enough to advance crucial strategies in the industry or demonstrate the technology’s full capabilities. For now, most of the industry is in a wait-and-see mode.”
of travel companies believe operational improvements are the best use of future cognitive computing investment
of respondents report frequent use of advanced analytics, which is often a precursor to cognitive technology
WILL CHATBOTS HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY? OF COURSE! I DON’T THINK SO IT’S TOO SOON TO TELL
67% 7% 26%
42% of consumers already use digital assistants, while 72% of business execs and 53% of millennials are using them
of business execs believe AI can offer a superior one-to-one personalised experience
of consumers believe AI will have serious, negative implications
of consumers believe AI will harm people by taking away jobs
of business execs believe AI will be the business advantage of the future Source: PwC
New kid on the block THE TITANIC HOTEL, BELFAST THE LOWDOWN
luxury hotel, the 119-room Titanic Hotel is now open following a £28million restoration of the historic building, part supported by £5million of National Lottery funding. The
Drawing Offices, at the front of the property, are now home to the Harland Bar and the hotel’s ballroom and heritage experience. The fourstar deluxe hotel, which is the sister property to the Titanic Hotel, Liverpool, is furnished in a Art Deco style. The property has a 166-seater dining room, The Wolff Grill, with its own private dining area. THAT'S A FACT
The hotel is
located in the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and Headquarters, the shipbuilder responsible for RMS Titanic. The lottery cash has allowed heritage spaces in the property to be retained, including the Telephone Exchange, which received the first news about the ship having hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage. THEY SAID IT
“Now the most
authentic hotel in the world to honour the majesty of the Titanic and Belfast’s shipbuilders, it offers 360 views of the Titanic Quarter, with the Harland & Wolff cranes to the east and Titanic Belfast and the slipways to the west.” RATES
Room rates start
from £110 per night. Guestrooms range from Standards through to Superior Kings, Junior Suites and a Penthouse Suite.
New kid on the block.indd 79
On the road with
Stuart Hobbs ROAMING WITH THE ROMANS
As European Sales Director for ASG Worldwide, Stuart Hobbs sets off on over 100 business trips a year – and always makes sure he banks the air miles GOOD & BAD Positive memorable experience: A flight from New York in Delta's business-class cabin. I was expecting it to be average, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Worst business travel experience: That would have to be flying with Ryanair to Bydgoszcz in Poland. It's cheap for a reason! Stansted is also a terrible airport to navigate.
DETAILS Name: Stuart Hobbs. Position & company: I'm European Sales Director at ASG Worldwide Nature, a media packaging business. Based in: UK. Business trips per year: Well over 100 in a typical year. Estimated annual mileage: I'd have a guess at around 250,000 miles. Regular destinations: Warsaw, Berlin, Dusseldorf and the US – mainly Los Angeles and New York. Most recent trip: Poland. Next trip: Berlin first and then it's over to New York.
CHILLING WITH NETFLIX
SUPPLIERS Preferred airline or hotel: British Airways is my favourite airline. It has the best timetable and network for my needs. As for hotels, it's IHG. I love the variety of products, but I particularly like the InterContinental and Crown Plaza brands. Loyalty points – obsessive collector or not bothered? Definitely a dedicated collector. Favourite loyalty scheme: As above – British Airways and IHG.
STEPPING ONBOARD Flights: work, rest or play? Definitely some rest. I look forward to the chance to relax. And then I normally watch some films or television – Netflix is an essential travel companion. Onboard connectivity – take it or leave it? Take it. I love having wifi onboard for keeping up to date on social media, but I try not to look at emails if I can help it. It's nice to have a break from work. Onboard habits: First and foremost, an aisle seat is an absolute must for me. I can't stand being blocked in by other passengers. And preferably it's a seat near the front or, even better, in business class! Once I've taken my seat I'll get a film on right away.
NO NEED FOR BRONZE BENEFITS
Happy never to go back to: Bydgoszcz in Poland. Send me back to: Rome. Top overseas landmark: The Colosseum in Rome.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT One thing that would improve business travel: There'd be no holidaymakers wherever I go. Biggest business travel irritation: As much as I like British Airways, the lack of complimentary food and drink in economy on short-haul routes is disappointing. And also that they allow Bronze members too many of the perks that Silver members receive.
Pack light or go prepared? For Europe I pack light and for the US I'm better prepared. Never leave home without: Passport, noise-cancelling headphones, back-up charger for iPhone and iPad, and a good selection of TV and films.
TRAVEL POLICY Stick to the travel policy or a bit of a maverick? Definitely a maverick. I'm always looking at ways to save money or get myself an upgrade. If you could change one thing about your corporate travel policy... It would be guaranteed LEFT TURN business class travel on ONLY! on transatlantic flights.
Bath is a unique destination brimming with history and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area has strong software, publishing and service-oriented industries, and is home to some big names within these sectors
Getting there Bath is located 90 minutes by train from London Paddington with Great Western Railways and is accessible by road from the M4 and M5 motorways. It is 20 miles from Bristol Airport which is well connected to numerous European destinations with carriers including easyJet and Ryanair.
ON A SHOESTRING
Bath Spa University
c/o Bath’s Historic Venues, Stall Street, Bath, BA1 1LZ 01225 477 786 / bathvenues.co.uk
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW 01985 844 328 / longleat.co.uk
Newton Park, Newton St Loe, Bath, BA2 9BN / 01225 875 572 / bathspa.ac.uk
Dating back nearly 2000 years, the Roman Baths and Pump Room provide a unique backdrop for a drinks reception amongst the torch-lit and steaming waters of the Great Bath. The Georgian Pump Room can accommodate dinner for up to 200 guests and smaller events can be hosted on the Terrace overlooking the Baths. They can be hired for the evening (from 7pm) from £1,194.
A leading UK attraction and one of the first locations outside of Africa to open a drive-through Safari. Longleat House offers flexible conference packages to suit events of various types and sizes. Lord Bath’s Banqueting Suite can host up to 50 for dinners, and each of the estate’s diverse venues can host 10 to 500 people indoors or over 5,000 for outdoor events. Day delegate rates are available from £63pp.
Bath Spa University’s Newton Park Campus is located four miles from the centre of bath. The Commons building has numerous flexible spaces for groups of up to 250 people with smaller breakout spaces. Additionally there is a 150-seat amphitheatre space and on-site accommodation is available for attendees with all rooms en-suite. BACK TO Contact the venue for SCHOOL bespoke rates.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
OUT OF TOWN
Bath Brew House
The Apex Hotel
14 James Street West, Bath, BA1 2BX 01225 805 609 / thebathbrewhouse.com
James Street West, Bath, BA1 2DA 01225 328 440 / apexhotels.co.uk
Lansdown, Bath, BA1 9BU 01225 424 609 / bath-racecourse.co.uk
The Tank Room is equipped with full AV equipment, and wifi. Homemade food from the smokehouse and BEST rotisserie are BREWS AND FINE FOOD available alongside a
This city centre hotel opened in August and is Bath’s largest hotel in terms of conference and events spaces. The largest single space has capacity for up to 400 people and is fitted with the latest technology including high-speed wifi, TVs, audio and conference calling, and there's a dedicated on-site events team. The lead-in DDR MAXIMUM is from £65 MEETINGS including VAT. SPACE
From executive boxes to the 500-capacity Paddock Pavilion, Bath Racecourse can cater to small meetings and large events and conferences. A brand new three-storey Langridge Stand is purpose built for up to 300 delegates with state of the art equipment and private roof garden. Complimentary parking is also available on-site and there is a golf club nearby. DDRs start from £39 plus VAT.
selection of signature beers. The room provides private dining for up to 24 and standing room for up to 50 attendees. Room hire from 9am to 5pm on weekdays is priced from £50 plus VAT.
Further information Contact Visit Bath and Bath Venue Finder for advice on all aspects of organising a conference or event in the city. bathvenuefiner.com / visitbath.co.uk / @visitbath
Meeting in Bath.indd 81
On business in…
Saudi Arabia’s second city is the country’s commercial capital. Historically an important port servicing the Middle East, it is now focused on developing capital investment in scientific and engineering areas
VISIT THE ABDUL RAOUF KHALIL MUSEUM
Al Khayal is heralded as one of the
to negotiate a rate beforehand. There
best Turkish restaurants in the city
are also buses, but these can be
There are numerous major
and is reasonably priced. For
crowded and uncomfortable. Car
international hotel brands
traditional fare with a modern twist
hire is available, although driving
represented in Jeddah including
visit Maison De Zaid, a popular
conditions can be dangerous.
Crowne Plaza, Movenpick, Hilton and
breakfast destination in the city.
Women will finally be allowed to
drive in the country from June 2018.
Holiday Inn. Popular business hotels in the city include the Centro Shahheen by Rotana and the InterContinental Hotel Jeddah.
Getting there Jeddah is served by King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED). There are two non-stop flights a day from London Heathrow, one operated by British Airways and the other by Saudia. Several other airlines offer flights from the UK via their hubs, including Kuwait Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Egyptair, Pegasus Airlines and Gulf Air.
Alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia so there are no bars or pubs. Visitors
Al-Balad old town is one of the top
should be aware that punishments
sights in the city. Here, you’ll find
for consuming alcohol are
ancient buildings and traditional
Eating out is a big part of the city’s
harsh. Eating out is the
culture and there are plenty of great
primary option for nightlife,
restaurants to visit. Al Nakheel
although several cafes
restaurant is a popular Middle
serving coffee also serve
Eastern option styled like a tent with
hookahs – the traditional
open sides to let in the sea breezes.
Middle Eastern flavoured tobacco
HUBBLE BUBBLE, BUT BOOZE IS TROUBLE!
souqs and Jeddah’s famous coral houses. The bustling Souq al-Alawi is located in the heart of the old town. Haggle with merchants and keep an
eye out for genuine Arabian finds.
pipe – until late.
GETTING DOWNTOWN King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) is located about 19km from Jeddah. The best way to reach the city is by taxi with fares from SR60SR130 (around £12-£26), but it is best
On BiZ_Jeddah.indd 83
Non-stop flights between the UK and Australia are edging closer, but business trips Down Under still require plenty of preparation. Colin Ellson is your guide to travelling to, and doing business in, Australia and New Zealand
Australia & NZ
For a country noted for its machismo and most things male-orientated, Australia can display a surprisingly softer side to its nature. It comes in the shape of a café in the Melbourne inner suburb of Brunswick, which markets itself as an eatery “by women, for women.” Handsome Her has three house rules. These stipulate that women have priority seating and men pay an 18% surcharge to reflect “the gender pay gap”. The third rule states “respect goes both ways.” The café was pictured on social media worldwide, where its business concept was hotly debated: was this clever social responsibility or male discrimination? To be clear, the surcharge is optional, only applies
once every four weeks, and is donated to Elizabeth Morgan House, Victoria’s main refuge for Aboriginal women’s services. UK business visitors to Australia will find such establishments few and far between, and that pay equality is not a major item on the agenda. Rather, their focus will be on the outcome of talks between British, Australian and New Zealand ministers to determine the future terms of the UK doing business Down Under once it leaves the European Union. As with everything Brexit, discussions are not always what they seem. The Australian premier, Malcolm Turnbull, phoned Theresa May after the vote to leave Europe to float the idea of a free trade
agreement between the two countries. Then, in July this year, on a visit to Britain, he added that first he would conclude a deal with the EU. Confusingly, he added: “As Britain moves to completing its exit from the EU, we stand ready to enter into a free trade agreement with the UK as soon as Britain is able to do so. At the same time, we are looking forward to the early conclusion of a free trade agreement with the EU.” There are barriers, and Australia has a strong bargaining position. It has a strong economy, based on structural reform and a long commodity boom, and recently turned towards the Pacific for trading relations. The UK accounts for just 4% of Australia’s total trade.
PICTURED: Wellington, New Zealand Australia & New Zealand Time zone: Auckland, Wellington GMT+12hrs; Sydney, Melbourne, GMT+10 hrs; Perth GMT+8hrs Currency: New Zealand dollar £1=NZD1.77; Australian dollar £1=AUD1.64 Dialling code: Australia 00 61; New Zealand 00 64 Visas: UK citizens need an Electronic Travel Authority to enter Australia. Apply online. UK visitors can enter New Zealand for up to six months without a visa.
Focus on OZ NZ.indd 84
One potential focus to save the day could be the export of Australian agricultural products to the UK, a market lost when the UK joined the EU in the 1970s. Fast forward 40 years and the Department for International Trade, formerly UK Trade & Investment, is again looking at the potential Down Under and has identified a raft of opportunities for UK plc. These include the healthcare, public transport, software, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, accountancy, security, liquid natural gas and mining sectors. Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is among the bestperforming economies in the world. Its economy is export-driven, based
on pastoral, forestry and horticulture activities, along with sizeable manufacturing and service sectors and growing high-tech capabilities. The country is also developing its tourism, film production and constructions industries. In this context, it also needs to attract designers and consulting engineers for rail and road projects. Says UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox: “New Zealand will be the first cab off the rank when it comes to a new free trade agreement (with the UK).” Will you be a passenger or driver when we can once again negotiate Down Under on the UK’s own terms? Exploiting the opportunities definitely requires commitment. It’s a long flight to the Antipodean markets:
some 22 hours to Australia and 23 hours to its neighbour. There are plenty of flights from the UK to Australia and New Zealand, all of which – for now – require a brief stop or change of aircraft. ‘For now’ anyway, because Qantas is all set to introduce non-stop flights from London to Perth from March next year – the first regular passenger service direct from Europe to Australia. It is scheduled to operate 14 times a week using 236-passenger Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with a journey time of 17 hours. The next big leap is the prospect of non-stop flights between London and Sydney, which Qantas is hoping to introduce by 2022.
Focus on OZ NZ.indd 85
Factfile: Australia & New Zealand FLIGHTS MELBOURNE WILL BOWL YOU OVER
British Airways: flies from London Heathrow to both Sydney and Melbourne daily via Singapore. Qantas: flies from London Heathrow to both Sydney and Melbourne daily via Dubai, but will instead fly via Singapore from next March. At the same time, it will introduce non-stop flights from London to Perth. Emirates: has departures from several UK cities to its Dubai hub, with connections available to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Qatar Airways: has departures from several UK cities to its Doha hub, with connections available to Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland. Etihad Airways: flies from several UK cities to Abu Dhabi, with connections to Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane. Singapore Airlines: flies from Heathrow to Singapore twice daily and from Manchester to Singapore fives times a week. From Singapore it flies to Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in Australia, and Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand. Air New Zealand: flies daily from Heathrow to Auckland via Los Angeles. Cathay Pacific: flies from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Hong Kong, with onward flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Auckland and Christchurch.
FIND SHANGRI-LA IN SYDNEY
SLEEPING Both Australia and New Zealand are enjoying a hotel building boom and record occupancy levels. Australia, for example, has 120 projects in the pipeline, which will increase the accommodation stock by up to 30% by 2021. Meanwhile, New Zealand is enjoying high demand, and reported record-breaking occupancy levels of 90% at the end of the first quarter of 2017. Australia All the major international hotel groups are represented in Australia and operate properties in all the major cities. These include the likes of Accor, Best Western, Choice, Crowne Plaza, Four Seasons, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt International and Marriott, plus local big players such as Rydges and Mantra. Highly rated in Sydney are familiar brands such as the Sydney Harbour Marriott, Shangri-La and Radisson Blu. In Perth a major name is the upmarket Pan Pacific, and in Melbourne, the notable names making their mark include Double Tree by Hilton, The Langham and Rydges.
AFTER HOURS AUCKLAND: Viaduct Basin and Wynyard Quarter, Voyager NZ Maritime Museum, Sail NZ America’s Cup yacht sailing, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Shopping on Main and Queen Streets. WELLINGTON: Museum of NZ, Mount Victoria Lookout, Wellington Cable Car, Botanic Gardens, sightseeing tour. BRISBANE: Australia Zoo, Koala Sanctuary, Queensland Gallery of Modern BOOM TIME Art, Anzac Square. FOR HOTELS DOWN UNDER
SYDNEY: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Sydney and Bondi Beach Tour, The Rocks Discovery Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Circular Quay. PERTH: Penguin Island, Caversham Wildlife Park, King’s Park, Perth Zoo, Fremantle Prison Tour. MELBOURNE: Great Ocean Road, Royal Botanic Gardens, Yarra River, Queen Victoria Market, National Gallery of Victoria, St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne Cricket Ground Tour. MAKE TRACKS IN WELLINGTON
New Zealand As in Australia, most of the international hotel groups have properties in New Zealand. In Auckland, the country's primary city, Accor is represented by 20 hotels. Among the major groups in Wellington, the country’s capital city, are Rydges, Copthorne, Travelodge, Comfort and Novotel.
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TBTM Dinner Club
Dinner at The Dorchester A taste of things to come
Senior personnel from across the business travel industry joined TBTM for its latest Dinner Club event at The Dorchester hotel, London, in September, where guest speaker Joanna Kolatsis, Head of Aviation and Travel for international law firm Hill Dickinson, advised attendees on duty of care
The Business Travel Magazine Dinner Club â–ź
Guest speaker Joanna Kolatsis shared a wealth of information on duty of care
Pre-dinner drinks in good company
With thanks to our generous event sponsors
For details of the next Dinner Club contact email@example.com
Guests had the chance to network and meet contacts both old and new
Travega Travel Marketing Solutions Worldwide
The Business Travel Magazine in partnership with Travega
Reality check HOTE L: FOUR SE ASO NS AT T E N T R INIT Y SQUAR E , L O NDO N THE HOTEL
The highly anticipated
and intricate green and gold mosaic
Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square
tiling. Room features also included a
opened earlier this year in the grade
wall-mounted TV, coffee machine,
II-listed former headquarters of the
minibar, safe, tablet (for various room
Port of London Authority, opened in
and hotel-related functions), electric
1922. The 100-room hotel is adjacent to
blind and curtains (the room looked into
the Tower of London and Tower Hill
the hotel's central atrium), a small
Underground station, and joins its sister
selection of books about London and
Park Lane property in the capital.
enough lighting options to make it a
I downloaded the Four
Seasons app a couple of days before my
challenge achieving complete darkness. THE FACILITIES
There are two highly-
visit and used it to check-in, but this
rated, attractive restaurants: La Dame de
didn't seem to expedite the process on
Pic for French cuisine and Mei Ume for
arrival at the hotel. I'd earlier received a
Asian. The highlight of the meetings and
push notification informing me my room
events facilities are the beautifully
was ready. The small reception area and
restored wood-panelled UN Ballroom
excellent facilities and services. Of
large adjacent Rotunda bar and lounge
and the circular Merchants Hall. There's
course, it has the price tag to match and
area are elegant and airy.
also an appealing pool, spa and
that is further inflated by its enviable
I stayed in a spacious
surprisingly large gym. The app also
A TYPICALLY FABULOUS FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
location in the City of London. My only
and well-equipped Executive room with
proved useful. While I was out that
stylish yet relatively subdued decor and
evening I used it to request an iron,
furnishings. There was ample room for a
ironing board and a mobile phone
sofabed, coffee table and desk, while
charger, which had all been delivered to
Ten Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ.
wardrobes were set either side of the
my room by the time I returned.
Rooms start from £630 per night.
entrance to a lavish marble bathroom. This had a huge bath, walk-in shower
regret is I was unable to sample neither of the hotel's revered restaurants. THE DETAILS
Four Seasons at
This is a typically
fabulous Four Seasons hotel with
HOTE L: THE PR INCIPAL E DINBU R G H, CHAR L OT T E SQUAR E THE HOTEL
Formerly known as the
and the bathroom included signature
Roxburghe Hotel, this is a five-storey
toiletries designed in collaboration with
property offering 199 rooms and
The Perfumer’s Story and a rainfall
suites, now under the management
shower. Principal’s signature Tuck Box
of Principal Hotels. It has recently
was a nice treat.
undergone a multimillion-pound
The hotel has six
refurbishment, with all the rooms and
meeting rooms offering space for
suites having been given a smart
between 12 and 350 delegates, which is
overhaul inspired by the golden age of
part of Principal's new Smart Space
travel. The newly rebranded property
product. The largest of the rooms is the
consists of seven inter-connecting
Gallery and all the rooms are kitted out
Georgian townhouses in the heart of
with audio visual equipment. Centrally
the New Town area of Edinburgh, a
located on the ground floor is The
UNESCO world heritage site.
Garden where guests can enjoy
Friendly check-in staff
breakfast and, later, an all-day menu of
greeted me, we went through the
salads, sandwiches and so forth. The
you walk into reception. It was definitely
registration process and I was then
corner shop in the lobby is open 24
a home-from-home and the staff were
shown to my room. My bags were
hours a day and there is also a full
very attentive. There are a number of
delivered almost immediately.
room service menu available. A new
I stayed in a Superior
open kitchen restaurant called BABA is
MODERN CHIC WITH ADDED SCOTTISH CHARM
smart stylish touches throughout the hotel, helping create a distinctive
guestroom which was very tastefully
due to open in November, serving
decorated, the tartan touches and
Scottish lamb, beef and seafood.
pictures on the wall immediately
There’s free, superfast wifi with
Edinburgh,EH2 4HQ. Rooms are
reminding me I was in Scotland. The
available throughout the hotel.
available from £169 per night including
spacious room had a double bed, a coffee table and a couple of armchairs;
The hotel's extensive
refurbishment is evident the minute
Scottish air to the property. THE DETAILS
38 Charlotte Square,
Reality Checks.indd 88
T R AIN: V IR G IN T R AINS E AST COAST Virgin is trying hard
The train quickly
to win passengers from airlines on Anglo-
reached its 125mph top speed but the
Scottish routes, offering trains every 30
ride was lively at times, making it difficult
minutes on the London-Newcastle-
to type on my laptop. Arrival in Edinburgh
Edinburgh route with a journey time of
was a few minutes late but still under
around four-and-a-half hours. I travelled
four-and-a-half hours from London.
on the 0900 departure from King’s Cross. The first-class
The big plus points
comparing rail with air travel are the
lounge at King’s Cross offers coffee and
unbroken journey from city centre to city
wifi, and the one-off pre-registration
centre, the ability to work comfortably
process is quick and simple.
and use wifi throughout, and the
Most of the first class
availability of a good meal service on
seats were reserved, with roomy leather
longer routes. On all three points the
seats in 2+1 configuration at tables and
train delivered, and when journey times
power points by windows. Email onboard
come down to four hours on London-
the train worked well but loading
Edinburgh in 2018 with the introduction
websites was rather slow, and this is likely
of new 'Azuma' trains then rail – usually
Typical fares are from £68 one-way in
to be the case especially at busy times.
marginally slower than flying on centre-
standard class and £142 in first class
Catering is a plus point with hot and cold
to-centre journeys – will win over many
food and drinks included for first class
more business travellers. But wifi speeds
passengers. After tea on departure, I was
need to be improved. And don't expect
tucking into a full English breakfast 40
lots of working space, even in first class,
minutes later. By the time we reached
during busy times.
York lunch was being served, with dishes
(Advance), or from £138 return in standard
CATERING IS A PLUS POINT, WITH HOT AND COLD OPTIONS
hour for much of the day, but fares vary
gourmet sausage roll.
widely depending on when you book.
one-way fares are £151.50 in standard and £237.50 in first. Lower fares may be available on Virgin’s Euston-Edinburgh route, but this takes about one hour
Trains operate every half
including Moroccan lamb couscous or
and £221.50 in first. ‘Walk-up’ Anytime
HOTE L: HYAT T PL ACE L O NDO N HE AT HR O W AIR PO R T THE HOTEL
Hyatt Place London
high-speed wifi was available in the room,
Heathrow Airport lives up to its name
which was sufficient for email and
and is conveniently located just to the
streaming content to personal devices.
airport's northern edge. A Hotel Hoppa
The roomy bathroom had a bath and
bus service offers transfers to all five
shower, two sinks and the usual toiletries
terminals, and there is also on-site
parking (£12 for 24 hours). The hotel,
The hotel reception
which was rebranded last December, is
opens on to the bar area, which serves
perfectly located for overnight stays
coffee, juices, beer, wine and cocktails.
before early departures.
The Gallery Cafe offers a full breakfast
I arrived at the hotel
buffet and dinner. There is additionally
in the evening directly from central
a 24/7 Gallery Market serving snacks,
London via the Underground and the
sandwiches and drinks. Room service is
local free hotel bus service. The bright
available from The Gallery and the food is
and open-plan reception area was clean
excellent. Free wifi and remote printing is
bonus for business travellers, and
and welcoming. Staff were helpful and
available throughout the entire property
there are excellent public transport
provided hotel information in a concise
and public computers are also available
connections to and from the property.
manner. Check-in was quick and I was
for use round the clock. There are eight
The staff were friendly and highly
offered a wake-up call.
flexible meeting spaces available for small
I stayed in a View
to medium-sized events. Additional
A WELCOME REST THE NIGHT BEFORE A FLIGHT
knowledgable, ensuring a friendly and comfortable stay.
Room with a king-size bed and views of
facilities and services include a 24-hour
the airport runway. The room was of a
gym and an odds and ends menu of
higher standard than I had expected, and
items for guests to buy, borrow or use for
West Drayton, UB7 0DG. Nightly rates are
was comfortable with plenty of space to
free in some cases.
available from £90. londonheathrow
relax. The main bedroom had a large HD TV, desk, seating and a wardrobe. Free
The hotel's close
proximity to Heathrow is a definite
Hyatt Place London
Heathrow Airport, The Grove, Bath Road,
Reality Checks.indd 89
The final word
Kids? They're alright... B
ritish business travellers miss their bed more than their children when on the road. Findings from the fourth Business Travel and Technology Survey, carried out by Egencia, revealed 42% of business travellers long for a familiar mattress and pillow – that's more than miss their kids (33%). Topping the most-missed list was, unsurprisingly, their spouses (55%). With family and sleep high up the scale, it is little wonder that companies choose to offer time off as compensation over other travel-related perks. Weirdly though, it appears some travellers are starting to be swayed by all the little treats and extras they enjoy along the way. Services such as in-flight wifi and non-stop flights have become more valuable – and
with travel management providers continually looking for ways to make travellers' lives easier and more productive, we may soon see a day when business travellers miss something like connectivity or the chance for a flight class
ver felt trapped in an airport? Chinese online star Ryan Zhu will be enduring that experience for 30 days from October 10 as he moves into a cabin at Helsinki Airport. Just like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, he will be trying to make a home in a place visited by thousands of people every day, with his experience broadcast on social media around the clock. It is part of the #LIFEINHEL marketing campaign by Finnish airport operator Finavia to try and prove Helsinki Aiport is the best airport in the world. Zhu will go through daily challenges and get familiar with the Finnish way of life in a project that mixes reality TV, game show and social media. If you're feeling creepy, watch him here: ifeinhel.tv and follow the campaign using #LIFEINHEL. 90
Research looking into how much drinks cost around the world conducted by Honest Coffees has produced an enlightening rundown of the most expensive places to buy a beer around the world... 1 Dubai - £8.78 2 Hong Kong - £6.31 3 Paris - £6.14 4 New York - £6.09 5 Singapore - £6.02 6 Chicago - £5.22 7 Melbourne - £5.11 8 London - £4.99 9 Tokyo - £4.71 10 Sydney & Los Angeles - £4.70
THE TOP 10… PRICIEST PINTS
upgrade over their little ones. The figures seem high, but global travellers prize non-stop flights (33%), class upgrades (33%) and in-flight wifi (33%) more than extra time off (32%) when it comes to improving life in the fast lane.
Marmite is the top branded food item confiscated from hand luggage, according to security officials at London City Airport. Lots of travellers seem to stuff it in their bags, but with jars bigger than the permissible 100ml it is the airport's most intercepted item. In response, London City and Marmite teamed up to swap prohibited jars for travel-sized 70g miniatures – with the prospect of similar swap stations nationally in future.
St. Erminâ€™s Hotel, 2 Caxton Street, London SW1H OQW
7/20/17 04:06 PM
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Published on Sep 28, 2017
The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...