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Businesstravel the



June/July 2017

UNDER THE COVERS An extended guide to business accommodation


Traveller safety Airport developments Focus on: China T A L K I N G

T R A V E L :




ANA is Japan’s largest airline and one of only nine airlines to have been awarded a 5-star rating from Skytrax. ANA flies daily from London Heathrow’s Terminal 2 to Haneda, Tokyo’s most central airport. From Haneda, a hub for 40 of ANA’s domestic routes and 24 of its international routes, ANA also connects you to Sydney with a daily non-stop flight. And it’s all by Design.



Contents 40

JUNE/JULY 2017 Features


16 Traveller safety 30 Airport developments 57 Extended feature: Accommodation



Everyone's Talking About...

11 Six of the Best...


New hotels in NYC 12 Spotlight on: Airline booking fees 14 Speaking Out: A TMC boss airs their views

Hotels, serviced apartments and the latest challenges for the corporate community

15 The Knowledge: Promoting compliance



Opening Shots


BA's new booking fee

Extended feature




20 The Conversation: Pat McDonagh 22 The People Awards 25 Event report: ITM Conference 26 The Debate:





Is service being de-prioritised? 27 Event report: Advantage Conference 28 Picture This 29 Meet the Buyer: Rod Richardson 35 Technology: Booking portals 36 Sustainability: Green policy 38 Event preview:


The Business Travel Conference 40 Talking Travel: Ray Mears 82 Event review: TBTM Dinner

The Review 87




43 Twelve pages of news, views and the latest developments


86 New Kid on the Block 87 On the Road 89 On Business in Muscat 90 Meeting in Brighton 92 Focus on China 96 Reality Check 98 The Final Word



A twist on the classic Afternoon Tea to suit all tea & cocktail lovers. To book: or 020 7391 3000 Dry Martini at Meliรก White House, Albany Street, London NW1 3UP | |

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Welcome Distribution dilemmas


ust when the business travel community was beginning to wonder if Lufthansa was a lone mover among major airlines, British Airways went and did it. Shortly before we went to press, its parent group IAG informed the travel community of its intentions to introduce

a new fee on bookings made through certain channels from this November – a fee that will be picked up by businesses who rely on travel management companies and their GDS-based operations. What ensued, not surprisingly, was serious discontent among the corporate community. For British Airways, meanwhile, the uproar it had unleashed was quickly superseded by a catastrophic weekend of IT-related delays and cancellations that has caused it serious reputational and financial damage. The unfortunate double whammy of events is covered on several pages within this issue: Everyone's Talking About..., on page 9; Spotlight, on page 12; and Speaking Out – in which a senior TMC boss airs their frustrations with the airline – on page 14. The accommodation sector is facing distribution challenges of its own, with global hotel groups promoting direct bookings and online travel agencies muscling in on the corporate market. The latest developments are tackled in this issue's extended feature on the accommodation sector, from pages 57-84, which also covers the burgeoning serviced apartments and aparthotels sectors, global hotel groups and advice on securing corporate deals for your business. Behind every successful business are great staff and our annual event, The People Awards, pays tribute to the industry's rich talent. You'll find the winners of this year's awards, as announced at a glittering ceremony in May, on pages 22-24, together with a gallery of photos from the event. Congratulations to all the winners – keep up the good work!

Businesstravel the




Catherine Chetwynd, Colin Ellson, Rob Gill, Linda Fox, Gillian Upton & Angela Sara West STAFF JOURNALISTS

Benjamin Coren & Laura Gelder EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge



Craig McQuinn



Louisa Horton, Ross Clifford, Monica Notarnicola & Zoe Tarrant PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER

Clare Hunter


Steve Hunter


Martin Steady

Andy Hoskins, Editor





The hotel draws inspiration from Britain’s obsession with the weather and each section pays homage to a different season”

Daring design

IBIS STYLES Quirky, bright and not frightened to laugh at itself – the new-look Ibis Styles Manchester Portland hotel makes a virtue of the city's much-loved character and its 'predictably unpredictable weather'. Rates start from £71 including breakfast. 6


Eye-catching images of the latest news and developments

Hollywood chic


Sky highs


The Viceroy Hotel Group has opened its second property in the UAE – the spectacular Viceroy Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Rates start from £219 per room.

The Novotel Canary Wharf is the latest sky-high addition to London's Docklands, boasting 313 rooms over 29 storeys, with terrific views across the capital.

Luxury launch

KERRY HOTEL HONG KONG Shangri-La Hotels has opened the 546-room Kerry Hotel in Hong Kong, a flagship for its relaxed lifestyle brand. The property features a Grand Ballroom that can accommodate banqueting for more than 1,000 guests.






“Sabre has been in discussions with IAG on opportunities to drive greater value and revenue. It is therefore disappointing to see BA and Iberia introduce a surcharge that will impose costs and inconvenience for those using the GDS channel” Sabre statement


“It is disappointing to see British Airways and Iberia follow a small set of other carriers who choose to transfer the cost to the customer of booking via a GDS, a channel to market which to date is by far its most reliable and valuable”

Paul Wait, CEO of the GTMC


Jason Geall, VP and General Manager, Amex GBT UK

“Situations where parties seek to impose changes to distribution that reduce comparison shopping, impose content fragmentation, drive technical and operational inefficiency, and shift distribution costs to the highest yielding channel and customers, are not productive” Carlson Wagonlit Travel statement



A bright new TMC Clarity Travel Management and Portman have now come together, as Clarity - The Business Travel Experts. Combining our expertise, award-winning technology and global buying power, to offer a bright new approach to business travel.



See what bright ideas we have for your travel: Call 0800 731 1627 Visit



Six of the best... new hotels in New York City 1

The Whitby

The second Firmdale Hotels property to open in New York brings a distinct British boutique feel to Midtown NYC. The modern, lavish property is well located and all guest rooms come with king-size beds, widescreen TVs, Bose soundsystems and free wifi access.

4 2


8 The Times Square EDITION

The newly built Marriott Edition boutique hotel on Seventh Avenue in Times Square is the second member of the EDITION brand. Due to open later this year, the property will feature 452 rooms and unobstructed views over Manhattan.

Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel

In Manhattan’s Garment District, this new flagship Renaissance hotel features interactive hightech experiences such as a digital concierge to help plan guests' stay in the city. The hotel also features a restaurant, rooftop patio and 4,500ft2 of event space.


InterContinental New York Barclay

Following a $180million remodel, this hotel combines modern comforts with 1920s architecture. The hotel features a 5,000ft2 ballroom, seven meeting rooms and a new Gin Parlour.


Public, an Ian Schrager hotel

Master of the boutique hotel model, Ian Schrager opens his latest property, Public, in NYC's Bowery district this June. Billed as providing 'luxury for all' with 'great prices', it will house over 360 guestrooms, two restaurants and three bars, and have expansive landscaped gardens.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Situated south of the Brooklyn Bridge, the new 1 Hotel comprises 194 guest rooms, including 29 suites and a Presidential Suite with views of the East River and Manhattan skyline. The hotel has a spa, fitness centre, restaurants and over 20,000ft2 of event space.



A closer look at industry developments

Spotlight on... Airline distribution models

British Airways has announced a new fee that will add costs for corporates and calls into question the future of the GDS and TMCs, writes Linda Fox British Airways and sister carrier Iberia have announced an £8 surcharge on every fare booked via systems not using an NDC-led connection. The move will come into play from November with agencies informed via a letter at the end of May. Channels exempt from the charge includes the airlines’ own websites, sales offices, callcentres and additional channels including NDC direct connections, NDC provided via a third party, self-booking tools and an IAG

These moves from airlines will lead to further distribution complexity and extra costs for corporates” 12

Booking Portal to be made available shortly. The airlines are following Lufthansa’s decision to levy a surcharge on fares announced almost two years ago, saying the fee is to recover “the additional costs applied” on sales via existing distribution channels such as the GDS. When asked to comment on the move, all three GDS players said they continue to be in discussion with British Airways and Iberia. Amadeus said it is working with the airlines' parent group IAG to find a solution to its distribution needs today and in the future. “We are working in good faith to find an agreement regarding the integration of NDC-based API content,” said a company statement. ”Travellers today are looking for consistency, transparency and choice and we as an industry can deliver that best by connecting and integrating all players with all content in all channels.” Travelport, meanwhile, said: “Travelport regrets that British Airways and Iberia are imposing what looks like the equivalent of a travel agency APD seeking to penalise consumers who enjoy the benefits of choice, efficiency and value by booking through the

travel agency medium. They will be penalised both through this surcharge and the potential introduction of less efficient working practices.” Many in the corporate travel world have not been surprised by the move, with rumours circulating for some time. Carlson Wagonlit Travel said “there have been recent announcements by various players in the industry pertaining to IATA NDC and further promulgating airline surcharges on GDS bookings. “We are focused on harnessing technology to improve the user experience and drive increased value to our clients and their travellers, as well as to our airline partners.” The TMC goes on to describe the move as “unproductive.” While TMCs including HRG, Click Travel and Clarity have recently announced their own direct connect initiatives with airlines, there continues to be a strong belief that these moves from airlines will lead to further complexity and fragmentation in the distribution landscape, not to mention extra cost for corporates and their agency partners as they tackle new developments.

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my evolvi Customisation built into the EvolviNG online rail booking platform means you define precisely the travel policies, functionality and management information you want for your people... right down to each individual. Enabling you to create benefit that’s yours and yours alone – and which goes way beyond offering the most fulfilment channels of any online system and average ticket values considerably below walk-up fares. An online platform exclusive to TMCs and corporate travellers that’s as unique as you are. Corporate rail travel has never felt so personal.


British Airways Losing friends & alienating people A senior TMC boss who wishes to remain anonymous hits out at the airline’s new booking fee and its Bank Holiday weekend of delays and cancellations What a weekend for the ‘world’s favourite airline’! First came IAG's announcement that British Airways will begin charging for GDS bookings and then, as if punished by the gods, came three days of delays and cancellations at Heathrow and Gatwick Airport. The irony of the sequence of events was certainly not lost on the travel management community. The thousands of passengers queuing at Heathrow and Gatwick – and the further thousands attempting to log into the BA website – were unable to access any kind of service from the airline. It very quickly communicated refund and rebooking options to TMCs and the retail travel agency channel, but those who’d booked direct couldn’t initially access this information as they’d no means of getting in touch with BA. In the meantime, the agency channel had full access to British Airways inventory and cancellation information via their in-house booking



systems. Probably of more importance, the TMC channel had access to other carriers, in the customary way of comparison shopping and inventory access via their neutral display screens. Passengers who had booked via a TMC were able to talk to their agency's 24-hour teams and rebook quickly on other carrier services. TMCs took care of the process with minimal fuss while those who had booked direct floundered at the airport or tried to access distant, overwhelmed call centres. Incidentally, the TMCs would also handle the refund process and, in some cases, the initiation of the EU compensation claims. British Airways' decision to start charging for GDS access reflects an almost unbelievable arrogance. The implied expectation is for agencies to rewrite their business model to support direct connections to the airline’s own inventory and remove the neutral shopping and inventory displays that are the backbone of GDS airline distribution – or, of course, for the traveller to avoid the new fee by booking direct with the airline and removing the cost of distribution altogether. The disruptive events of that Bank Holiday weekend call into question the reliability of either of those models. If British Airways had adequately pressure-tested its systems then the weekend’s chaos would not

have occurred. It’s expected that any direct connect link, and of course direct booking by business or leisure travellers, would access the same IT systems that failed the airline on that busy weekend. TMCs deciding to avoid the fee by buying new technology or third party solutions would find themselves no better off than those poor travellers in the check-in melee.

British Airways' decision to start charging for GDS access reflects an almost unbelievable arrogance from them” But those TMCs who continue to deploy the soak-tested long-term reliable mechanism of GDS distribution will be able to service their customers effectively, quickly and efficiently and, in a further piece of irony, probably rebook their travellers on a carrier which has not taken the shortsighted decision to impose a booking fee for GDS-based bookings. Perhaps there is a god of irony that has used this event to give BA a chance to think through this proposal again. With a start date envisaged for November this year – two years on from the implementation of Lufthansa's DCC fee – it’s not inconceivable that the airline will cancel the fee plan. Will their arrogance let them? TMCs who have a sales and marketing relationship with British Airways have to agree to various conditions in order to receive support from the airline. One of those requires the TMC to always show BA in a good light in any communication or release. So don’t expect to hear TMCs publicly saying anything negative about British Airways – they’d be penalised the moment the report hit the press, and that's why I'm writing this anonymously. Damage limitation is required at all times.


How to... Do compliance differently Media, marketing and communications company Dentsu Aegis Network was looking for new ways to promote compliance. Craig Cherry, the company’s Procurement Director, explains how a travel roadshow was part of the solution


Looking for new ways to help increase compliance and reinforce its corporate travel policy, Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) hosted a roadshow at the start of the year. It enabled its bookers and travellers to meet with the company’s preferred suppliers, learn more about the corporate travel policy and enter various competitions. “It was a way of starting the year a bit differently rather than just handing out the travel policy and wishing people a happy 2017,” explains Craig Cherry. “Our air compliance is very good but there is still a bit of work to do on accommodation.” The event was open to anyone in the business and was promoted through emails and company newsletters.

“As a marketing and communications business, a roadshow was very much in our company culture,” says Cherry.


The roadshow was held at DAN’s head office in London and featured a dozen of the company’s preferred suppliers, including airlines, hotel groups, rail operators and its travel agency, American Express Global Business Travel. “The suppliers were all open to the idea,” says Cherry. “I’m not sure many had done internal business roadshows before, but they all wanted to take part and they really got behind it.” Attendees were issued passport-style UK&I Travel & Expense Guides covering preferred suppliers, how to book travel, best practice (booking horizons, hotel rate caps, lowest logical fares, online adoption) and CSR initiatives, which attendees had to refer to in order to enter competitions. “I didn’t want to make light of what we were doing in the passport. It had some

great stuff in there around policy and it wasn’t done in a half-hearted way. It drove the message home about booking travel in a smart way,” says Cherry.


The event attracted around 600 attendees during the course of the day, the majority of whom were PAs or travellers who self-book. “In terms of ROI, you could tell from that point onwards that we had a real improvement in booking behaviour,” says Cherry. “The passport piece was great. There were some excellent prizes up for grabs and people had to work hard to find the answers. They had to really look at the travel policy. “The event also put our people in front of our suppliers and both they and us got some useful feedback. We also had some criticisms and we’ve acted on those and made some changes.” Cherry adds: “The event was a bit quirky but with a serious point. It gave us some nice momentum to start the year and people really appreciated that we did something a bit different.”






Traveller safety remains top of the agenda, writes Benjamin Coren, who finds out how the latest developments are helping corporates inform and assist their business travellers


nasty stomach bug, a road traffic accident or even a major terrorist incident – what’s the biggest concern for business travellers today? Human nature probably suggests it’s the latter. Widespread media coverage of recent attacks, such as the outrages in Manchester, central London and Nice, obviously put the spotlight on the most extreme threats. But the truth for corporates is that the question is the wrong one. Anything that could impact the safety and wellbeing of employees is a cause for concern – underlining the need for robust safety protocols and risk mitigation processes. 16


“Duty of care, risk management, traveller tracking – these are all topics that are high on corporates’ agendas,” says Wings Travel Management’s Chief Operating Officer UK/ Europe and Americas, Paul East. “Many companies tend only to focus on the obvious risks and threats – natural disasters, terror attacks and kidnapping – but it’s also important to consider incidents such as medical emergencies, or accidents while travelling. First and foremost, any corporate should have a process in place for traveller tracking, so that they know where their people are at any given time should there be an emergency.”

In fact, the responsibilities of businesses today and the policies in place must meet strict duty of care laws – something the vast majority of medium- and large-sized companies are now familiar with. But it’s not a matter of just ‘ticking the box’ and having the most basic traveller tracking practices in place; companies need to demonstrate that traveller wellbeing and safety is accounted for, and there are some aspects of particular importance. Julie Oliver, Managing Director at Business Travel Direct, says: “As a minimum all companies should have a travel policy that provides guidance for both travellers and


suppliers. It is essential to think about suppliers, as they can be key to helping ensure travellers are kept safe. “Pre-planning is much better than trying to address issues during a trip. That includes simple things like having a detailed itinerary, which helps to narrow down where travellers should be. Having this information also opens up other channels of communication such as hotel suppliers or airlines.”

Corporate concerns

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) recently partnered with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) to evaluate the impact of geopolitical change and travel disruption on business travellers. The study found that 56% of corporate travel managers reported heightened personal security concerns among travellers in early 2017, while 54% say travellers have expressed new concern about travel to the US in light of Trump-inspired changes to immigration and visa policies. “The pace of change – and the amount of anxiety – in the corporate travel industry has accelerated tremendously over the past three to six months, and it will be critical for companies to stay ahead of the curve if their employees are to remain productive and happy on the road,” says Greeley Koch, Executive Director of ACTE. “Luckily, travel technologies are evolving just as fast and offering executives and planners new tools to address happiness, safety and security.” The study also found that 87% of buyers plan to improve safety training, with one third having introduced changes already.

The future of security

New developments in the security arena are announced regularly. Simply knowing where employees should be, with itinerary tracking, is rapidly being complemented with GPS tracking apps and devices allowing real-time visibility. These operate outside of mobile phone networks – usually the first thing to fail if a major incident occurs.

In the past, traveller privacy may have been a concern, but such apps are increasingly an ‘easy sell’ for companies if they take time to explain duty of care to their travellers. George Taylor, iJet’s Vice President of Global Operations, says: “I see the need to account for employees’ whereabouts evolving beyond only high-risk travel. Attacks in Europe and other traditionally low-risk locations have demonstrated that crisis situations can happen anywhere. “While full-time tracking may not be necessary, the ability to turn on a tracking feature in times of crisis will become increasing relevant,” adds Taylor.

Live location data will allow companies to make instant decisions about threats and redirect travellers to safety” Going forward, he suggests real-time location data will allow companies to make instant decisions about threats and redirect travellers away from danger. Additionally, data generated by tracking will be used to make informed decisions on future travel. International SOS is currently operating the seventh iteration of its TravelTracker software, enabling employers to locate travellers and educate them on their locations, says James Wood, Regional Security Operations Manager. “Travel tracking technology has become a lot more integrated. There is an increased and more immediate awareness and the ability to communicate in real-time is greater. Our technology can send advice and receive a message back in. In the future it will also be tying in with greater geographic accuracy. This will plot safe locations the travellers are in and look at

sites they are moving to,” says Wood. Traveller safety is also closely linked to traveller wellbeing, says Randall GordonDuff, Head of Product, Corporate Travel, at Collinson Group, who believes neither should be subjected to cost-cutting measures. “Companies should evaluate what they are offering to employees in the context of their wellbeing,” he says. “Not every company will need to invest in business class tickets or high-end hotels, but better trip quality means better business impact and when travellers are well looked after, risks to their health and safety are mitigated.” He continues, “The optimal results between cost containment and ensuring staff performance in a safe and productive environment can only be achieved when travel management is not viewed solely through the lens of a financial matrix.” 




In January 2013, ATPI assisted oil company Petrofac in the evacuation of approximately 300 of their staff in Algeria because of a security risk posed by a terrorist attack on the Amenas Gas Plant. Petrofac partner BP had chartered three planes to airlift Petrofac workers and their own staff to safety. The flights were due to arrive at Gatwick on the same evening and ATPI's role would be to provide support on-site and arrange onward transportation for employees to their home nations. During the first hour after receiving the call ATPI established a disaster recovery team and dedicated phone numbers to handle the emergency, plus a unique client account that would streamline cost and administration of the situation. The projected arrival time at Gatwick changed constantly, resulting in onward reservations frequently being altered which included individual flights and travel for a group of 43 to Dubai and onward connections. Two of the aircraft were diverted to Dubai and the third charter arrived on the second night. ATPI’s online booking tools were used to provide instant schedule information for the changing requirements.




The highest levels of protection

When business requires sending travellers to volatile destinations a new level of protection is required, writes Neal Baldwin. In June 2012 Canadian aid worker Steve Dennis was kidnapped at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya along with three colleagues. During the attack, Dennis was shot in the thigh and his driver killed. Held captive in neighbouring Somalia for four days, the group were eventually freed by Somali militia and Kenyan troops. The injuries he suffered, plus subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder, meant Dennis was forced to give up work. Three years later the incident gave rise to a landmark legal case, which saw Dennis sue his employers, the Norwegian Refugee Council, for its failure to protect him. An Oslo court found NRC guilty of gross negligence and awarded 4.4million krone (£401,000) in damages.

Don’t stay in a hotel near a US Embassy, simply because you’re more likely to get caught up in demonstrations or even terrorism” Operating as they do in some of the world’s most hostile environments, aid workers are perhaps the most exposed overseas workers of all. In 2016, 287 were victim of major attacks – a staggering 110 of those killed. The figures highlight the dangers faced by executives when travelling to unstable nations. In these cases, meeting the duty of care threshold often means employers calling on the expertise of specialist risk and security consultants. Typically staffed by former police and military personnel, these companies offer a menu of services covering everything from itinerary planning and recces of foreign destinations through to providing drivers trained in high-speed evasion and even armed ‘close protection’ (ie, bodyguards). International Intelligence is one of numerous global businesses providing risk 18





1. Pick a provider registered under the voluntary Approved Contractor scheme run by the Security Industry Association. These companies meet quality standards that are agreed by the Home Office.

management and protection. “Around 80% of our work is overseas,” explains Group Chief Executive, Alex Bomberg. “Duty of care is an area that is overlooked by many businesses. We get an awful lot of companies coming to us who have suddenly realised they need to raise their game because they’ve been winging it in dangerous countries,” he says. For Bomberg, a former soldier and aide to the royal family, security always begins with preparation. Having as much information about a destination as possible is the best way to avoid trouble. His company has developed a comprehensive set of ‘travel risk reports’ covering all countries around the globe – like “a supercharged version of the FCO country guides”, he says – which are constantly updated with intelligence and even feature interactive mapping. “In an ideal world we like a week to look at travel plans but it often doesn’t work that way. Being able to work alongside a TMC or a company’s risk experts means we can advise on the logistics of a trip and get the best solution. For example, don’t stay in a hotel near a US Embassy, simply because you’re more likely to get caught up in demonstrations or even terrorist incidents. “At the extreme end of the scale is having armed protection, but in the majority of cases we can mitigate risk by working in a covert way – moving people fast and having a well-planned route between A and B. “If you are going somewhere dangerous the most important thing is knowing where the hospital and British Embassy are located, and having emergency telephone numbers on you at all times. The simple techniques are always the best.”

2. Many contractors offer e-training courses for executives travelling to danger zones covering topics such as identifying threats early and avoiding danger.

3. Road safety should be a major concern in high-risk countries. Poor driving standards are an obvious danger, but travellers are often targeted by robbers when driving. Hijacking and hostage taking is also easier. Security specialists will arrange expert drivers for you.

4. Use a firm with a global reach if possible. These have operatives around the world so they can cater for last-minute arrangements.

5. Don’t be cheap. Expect to pay around £1,000 per operative per day for close protection.

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CEO, Clarity

pat mcdonagh The boss of the newly merged and re-branded travel management company speaks to Andy Hoskins about its new direction


wo days after his company's staff conference and the big reveal of its new brand, Pat McDonagh speaks effusively of the TMC's new direction. Over seven months has passed since its parent company purchased Portman Travel and merged the two, but the revealing of Clarity as the combined businesses' new identity marks the merger's near-completion. In the end the decision was taken to use the Portman name in the parent group's new title – Portman Travel Group – and incorporate its slogan in the new 'Clarity' branding, minus the ‘travel management’ suffix. “We had two great brands so it would be a mistake to throw them both away and bring in something else,” says McDonagh. “At the same time, we didn't want to sit on the fence by going ahead with Portman Clarity – that would have suggested indecision.” He continues: “The TMC world is at times pretty dull and full of three letter acronyms. We want to stand out and that means being great to deal with, intelligent and positive.” The company has also been in the news, together with Click Travel, for becoming the first UK TMCs to implement Direct Connects with the Lufthansa Group following the introduction of its DCC fee. “We told Lufthansa we weren’t happy, that the clientbase wasn’t happy and that it wasn’t in the interests of the end user,” explains McDonagh. “We said 'If you’re going to do this, what is your direct channel and how does it 20

work? Where is your technology?' At the time, as I’m sure they’d admit, it wasn’t ready. “They had an agency website that didn’t work in terms of TMC workflows – it couldn't handle things like amendments, cancellations and schedule changes to the extent that we want to be able to handle them. “But now we have what we asked for, which was the opportunity to work on the new tech solution. Our clients wanted to hear that. They didn't want to hear we'd just waited for something to happen,” says McDonagh. Is it the beginning of the end for the GDS, I ask? “Absolutely not. I think they're up to the challenge. In fact, the new Travelport API is in use within our business and it offers additional merchandising opportunities we've not had before,” says McDonagh. And what about a future where Clarity has multiple direct connects into the business? “There has to be an aggregator somewhere. The role of TMCs is to manage complexity on behalf of their clients but also to ensure full

The role of TMCs is to manage complexity for clients but also to ensure full content and parity of pricing”

content and parity of pricing and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he answers. Moving forward, the TMC has three booking tools in its tech suite – Go2 Book, Clarity One (formerly Portman One) and Concur – making it “without parallel”, says McDonagh. Its mobile app is currently focused on itinerary management but that will change this summer when it introduces hotel and taxi booking, followed by rail and, further down the line, air travel too. “In terms of our mobile offering I think we’re pretty well up there, and with the additional investment we’re bringing to bear on the product we think we’ll be market leading,” claims McDonagh. Clearly the TMC's technology offering is much improved. “Go back three, four or five years and I think it's fair to say both TMCs were some way behind the competition in that respect,” he concedes. All of which means Clarity, now a £400million turnover business, is moving into new territory and targeting £500million by 2019, “assuming it’s purely organic growth and there are no additional acquisitions”. McDonagh continues: “We’ve already undergone significant growth and we expect to be able to compete in a bigger arena now than we have before. “I genuinely feel there are businesses out there serviced by some of the mega TMCs who would benefit from the more personal service we can offer them.”


in brief... Can we expect any further acquisitions? We would always entertain the right deal at the right time. It took us about a year to get the Portman deal done and naturally we’re always in touch with what's going on in the market. What have been the toughest decisions you’ve made during the merger? Closing Portman's Chertsey office. With Manchester being the headquarters of the new combined business and the size of the property in Chertsey, it was always going to be a challenge justifying that site. We made a similar decision with the Aberdeen office and a small Clarity site in Newcastle. There were around 50 redundancies.

PAT MCDONAGH Pat McDonagh began his career in travel in commercial and general management roles, before taking on a change management project within the old Cooperative Travel and Thomas Cook joint venture. "My role was about getting it through the Competition Commission review, which we did without remedies, and then integrating the businesses," he says. He was then offered the role of Head of Business Travel for Cooperative Travel Management, "which raised some eyebrows – the leisure guy taking on business travel". That was then sold to the Al Tayyar travel group in 2014 and was re-branded to Clarity Travel Management in 2015.

Did you have any other names in contention for the merged businesses? Honestly, no. We engaged three groups of people. We had 500 survey responses from staff and we spoke to 100 of them in workshops. We also spoke to numerous clients, suppliers and one or two expert consultants. The procurement community basically said 'call yourselves what you like, we're just interested in what you've got to offer'.




And the winners are... Recognising excellence in business travel

Announced at a lunchtime ceremony in London on Friday May 26, we are delighted to reveal that the winners of The People Awards 2017 – as selected by an independent panel of judges – are as follows: TMCs & HBAs CATEGORIES





RISING STAR Jodie Edwards-Locke, The Appointment Group




OPERATIONS MANAGER OF THE YEAR Michelle Labonte, Travel Leaders UK OPERATIONS TEAM OF THE YEAR ATPI UK Operations Management Team



MEETINGS & EVENTS MANAGER OF THE YEAR Caroline Medcalf, NYS Corporate MEETINGS & EVENTS TEAM OF THE YEAR CWT Meetings & Events Group Travel Team, Carlson Wagonlit Travel SUPPLIER CATEGORIES ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT TEAM OF THE YEAR Virgin Trains East Coast Acc. Man. Team

Congratulations to all the winners! To read a full description of each category and find out more about the awards, visit


The People Awards

2017 awards ceremony Winners and finalists get together The People Awards 2017 ▼

Over 400 people gathered at the Grange Tower Bridge hotel for the sixth annual People Awards in May. The winners across 13 agency, supplier and MICE categories were revealed, as well as the winners of the prestigious Rising Star and Outstanding Achievement Awards

▲ 26.05.2017

With thanks to all our sponsors

Independent Chair of the Judges, Mark Cuschieri

Congratulations to all our winners at The People Awards 2017




The People Awards


The People Awards 2017 ▼

A team effort!

▲ 26.05.2017

Pre- and post-dinner drinks courtesy of Evolvi and ANA

Over 400 guests gather to find out the winners




ITM Conference The power of politics Brexit and Trump were as high on the agenda as distribution and technology at May’s ITM Conference in Birmingham. Andy Hoskins reports The UK's future outside the European Union might not be as bleak as feared by many in the travel industry, suggested leading economist Jim Power at the ITM Conference. Speaking at the event’s opening plenary session, Power said global economic growth is the driver of the travel industry – and it’s gaining momentum. “The UK outside the EU will establish itself as a strong economy again, I have no doubt about that,” he said. “Brexit is not the end of the world for the UK.” Power said the UK economy has “held up well” since the Brexit vote and believes the government will invest in the country’s transport infrastructure to keep the country connected and open for business. However he named currency movements, the growth of protectionism, border controls and heightened security as areas of concern for the travel industry. Tackling the global scene, Power said the years since 2007 have been “an extraordinary period of economics comparable to the 1930s” and highlighted a series of global economic and political risks. They included ‘Trumponomics’, high debt levels, growing nationalism, the ending of quantitative easing, the rejection of conventional politics and terrorism.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS The ITM named the winners of its annual hievement Awards at the conference’s black Achievement tie gala dinner. They went to: Rising Star, Lewis Bayne of Ascential Plc; UK Travel Manager, Anne Barlow of UBS; Multinational Travel Manager, Nikki Rogan, Symantec; and Travel Team of the Year, Morgan Stanley; while the Chairman's Award went to Melia Hotels' Gianni Salvadori (pictured)


BUZZWORDS Meanwhile, the rapid evolution Director for Amadeus UK & BREXIT • TRUMPONOMICS • of travel technology was likened Ireland, said: “Technology is PERSONALISATION • DISTRIBUTION to an arms race by panellists in an expensive game and it is • CONSOLIDATION • CHATBOTS • a seminar tackling distribution. beginning to feel like an arms RECURSIVE TOOLS • RISK • Lufthansa’s Andreas Koester race,” adding that some new SECURITY heralded his company's “first developments are quickly mover” approach to content rendered obsolete. distribution, highlighting new direct connect Concur’s EMEA Managing Director, links with two UK TMCs and with German Chris Baker, agreed but added: “The ‘arms corporates Siemens and VW. race’ will drive competition and innovation Asked if corporates in the UK should also that will solve the complexity in the market. be considering direct deals with airlines, There is a lot of legacy technology in the fellow panellist Champa Magesh, Managing market and that is a challenge.”


MICROSOFT'S OUTLOOK Microsoft’s Julia Fidler said the company has slashed its travel policy from 30 pages to two and begun categorising employees in order to personalise communication with them and predict their booking needs and preferences THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM




VP of Global Customer Operations, Egencia


We have to be able to offer travellers a high-touch service that leaves them as satisfied as those who self-book online”


Head of Sales, Hillgate Travel


ravel is a complex industry so ervice is and always has been at we don’t see service as the heart of everything we do as something that is losing a TMC. But even as a TMC with a importance among clients. traditionally high-touch clientbase However, I do think the meaning in the City, we are enjoying and expectations of service is changing. phenomenal success in driving extremely Donna Miller Service no longer means simply answering high online adoption rates for our customers. the phones and having someone on call to However, we do not believe this means we support your travel needs. Travel can make concessions elsewhere. managers want more technology, Service remains fundamental; after all, more tools and more data. That is not everything can be managed all part of a full-service offering online. Travel can be complicated and it is the job of TMCs to and sometimes even stressful. deliver this. That is when you need great Our priority is about people and great service. providing intuitive tools We recently lost a client which makes selfwho had decided to service easy. As a consolidate with a global result, our online agency. During the bookings are very implementation it high, generally at quickly became around 80%. Saying apparent that many that, of course there of the tasks that are a are times when our standard expectation customers want and as part of our service need to speak to one proposition were not of our travel agents. so with the other TMC Picking up on a question posed at May’s ITM Conference, Importantly, our and its tech suite. two TMCs ponder whether there is less appetite agents use the same In fact, it was even for traditional service and what exactly tools as our customers – suggested that the client that way we can provide take on additional headcount service means the fastest and most efficient themselves to assist the new service possible. Being able to TMC! They subsequently provide both online and offline recognised that there is value in support is critical for us as a paying for great service and they full-service TMC. returned to us. Many clients have their regular self-serve I appreciate there is continual pressure on bookers but also have that set of executive many buyers to find savings. However, I travellers who are quite demanding and have would pose one key question – would you complex itineraries. We have to be able to pay your TMC more to receive great service offer those travellers a high-touch service that not only generates travel-related cost that leaves them as a satisfied as those who savings, but also provides efficiencies within enjoy a smooth self-booking experience your business and a service that eliminates online. We’re watching the consumer space programme noise from unhappy travel very closely and we’ll go wherever the new bookers? Travel is ultimately about human normal takes us, be it interaction. While chatbots or AI, but service technology is now an – no matter what form essential component, it takes – must always we are still in a people be fast, accurate business where great Julian Munsey and reliable. service remains key.

Are corporates de-prioritising service?

Technology is an essential component but we are still in a people business where great service remains key”




The Advantage Conference Man and machine The Advantage Travel Partnership’s annual conference – held at the Club Med Opio in the south of France – was dominated by talk of technology and innovation but drove home a message that even the best technology is not much use without the human element. Andy Hoskins reports “We’ll see 1,000 years’ worth of technology and innovation in the next ten years,” said keynote speaker Jason Bradbury. “If you think you’ve seen change since the first iPhone then you’ve seen nothing yet.” Virtual reality, wearables, robotics, artificial intelligence, personal production (3D printing, for example) and holograms are all on the brink of mainstream adoption, he said, but reminded delegates that “the human is the most important element in the machine”. Another keynote speaker, Alistair Pritchard, Lead Partner for Travel at Deloitte, took delegates on a tour of the challenges currently facing the travel industry – including regulatory reform, political instability, currency volatility, terrorism, cyber attacks and, of course, Brexit – but also looked at innovation in the industry. Airports are deploying beacon technology to smooth and enhance the passenger experience, he said, while 20% of airlines are currently trialling some form of wearable technology and driverless cars are “coming in the next five, ten, 15 years,” he claimed.

TECH TALK “Most corporate technology tends to disappoint us. Leisure technology has set a very high benchmark” Simone Buckley, ITM Chief Executive


Meanwhile, Mark Cuschieri, have one single objective – to MACHINE LEARNING • CYBER ATTACKS • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Global Travel Lead at UBS, deliver the right information, at • SINGULARITY • VIRTUAL REALITY discussed the organisation’s the right time in the hands of • MOORE’S LAW • GEN Z recent travel priorities. the right person so they make • HUMAN ELEMENT “We want our travellers to be the right decision.” • PERSONALISATION able to book travel any time, Cuschieri said around 70% of anywhere and on any device,” he said. UBS’ business travel bookings are “The traveller experience is critical. Our now made online, a figure that rises to 90% travellers want to self-serve and don’t want of all eligible bookings. to speak to people when they don't need to. “In the future we need to bridge some We’ve created a real self-serve environment gaps using technology and ensure we have and made a huge investment in technology. the best pricing available. The GDS is not “But we also wanted to keep it simple. We enough on its own,” said Cuschieri.


GENERATION GAMES Thought you were getting to grips with Gen Y? Well Gen Z is on the horizon. “It will be the first generation that doesn’t remember life without the internet. They’re constantly connected and typically have five devices and short attention spans,” said Festive Road’s Sara Rooney





NUMBER ONE Paris has been named the number one city worldwide for international association meetings. The rankings, from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), saw Vienna and Barcelona named the second and third most popular cities and London fifth. The USA was declared the most popular country overall, with Germany second and the UK third.





ROD RICHARDSON Rod Richardson is Travel Manager at Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation supporting scientists and researchers

We have the 'red face test', which is basically would you feel embarrassed if your travel decision was made known to your colleagues?”

I have been in this role for 12 years, and have been in travel for 25 years. I cut my teeth as a ticketing office junior at the tender age of 19, progressing to a business travel consultant two years later. I have worked for The Travel Company (now BCD Travel) and Hogg Robinson. I am not a flitter – as you can tell I don’t like to be the new boy! As a non-profit organisation, Wellcome’s drive to keep costs down is equally as important as meeting the organisation’s mission, all the while meeting the challenges of operating in large number of developing countries. I manage a small team of senior business travel consultants and within that the operation of the internal team. I also manage the supplier-related contracts, hotel programme and TMC. I am currently working on a project to develop our Diversity and Inclusion platform by engaging with all areas of the organisation to help build and shape our LGBTQ+ network and policies. I do not arrange travel very often now, although I am keen to stay in touch with the booking process and systems out of habit.

then the next be hosting a meeting for 80 people in Gaberone. The not-for-profit sector has its own challenges, as budgets are managed tightly. We travel to some high-risk destinations – it is key to strike the right balance between travelling to places where we can be effective at the same time as meeting our duty of care.

We have just under 700 staff and around 350 travel regularly. This does not include our regular external travellers, conferences, events, and funding applicants all of whom "I am a keen baker which is use our in-house team.

We work with Diversity Travel which is a leader in the not-for-profit sector. It provides us with access great for my team but not for my to the same systems and waistline! I have set myself a goal We travel to pretty processes as a regular to apply for a well-known cookery travel implant. The travel much anywhere there show and to win it too. are people. Our regular service would not be what I’m also training to become a destinations include India, it is today without their stand-up comedian in my Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand, dedication. We have an spare time" South Africa and the US, as well established rail booking tool as across Europe and just about which works well. Our air selfevery major UK city. booking tool is in the final stages of its pilot It can be challenging to forecast what our with a launch planned for this summer. travel patterns will be as our travel is so Neither tool is mandated but both have varied from month to month. One month we been well received and have helped drive can host a meeting for 120 people in Geneva down costs and increase compliance.


All our policies are based on what is known as a values-based proposition with very few rules. We believe in empowering our employees to make the right choices for them and the organisation. For example, there is a rule included for the class of travel in relation to the flying time but if a traveller has a valid reason why the lowest fare may not suit them they are empowered to spend their budget as they see fit. We have the “red face test”, which is basically would you feel embarrassed if your travel decision was made known to your colleagues? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you should consider other options. I admit I struggled with the concept at first and was certain that our compliance levels and costs would spiral out of control. This has not been the case – our compliance to policy hovers around the low 90%s. I take my Duty of Care responsibilities seriously and at times can struggle with the need to travel over the need to keep my clients safe. Travellers are more tech savvy now than they have ever been and, with the introduction of self-booking tools and OTAs, it is a constant strive to be seen as adding value to a programme. It is important that a programme grows with an organisation, taking into account the business model and all the while chasing the Holy Grail of best price versus lowest price.






Brexit, the ongoing saga of expansion at Heathrow and another general election are among the many issues affecting the UK’s airports and aviation strategy, writes Rob Gill


ust when you thought that the decision over airport expansion was reaching some sort of conclusion, Prime Minister Theresa May called a General Election, throwing everything back up into the air again. Before calling the surprise election, the government had backed a third runway at Heathrow Airport in preference to a second runway at arch-rival Gatwick, but with the proviso that key critics of the decision, such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, would still be able to state their case against it. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Gatwick Airport



officially backed Heathrow expansion in October 2016, although the government put off the final decision and House of Commons vote on the issue until winter 2017/18. Whether this timetable still stands remains to be seen. Of course, the election result will play a key part in whether Heathrow finally gets the green light for expansion. The Liberal Democrats are still fiercely opposed to Heathrow expansion, while the Scottish National Party believe it will lead to more air links to Scotland and so are in favour. Labour, meanwhile, seem to be somewhat divided on the issue, although shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald cautiously welcomed the government’s policy when it was announced last year. Since February, the Department for Transport has been carrying a 16-week consultation on Heathrow expansion, as it looks to create a new Airports National Policy Statement backing the third runway. “A northwest runway at Heathrow will produce significant benefits, delivering tens of thousands of additional local jobs by 2030 and up to £61billion of benefits to all passengers and the wider economy, not including wider trade benefits,” said Grayling when the consultation began.

“It will provide new global connections and better routes for domestic customers, reduce passenger fares, and provide new capacity for freight imports and exports.” Assuming the General Election result does not scupper the third runway, Heathrow plans to begin its first phase of consultation this summer with the aim of eventually submitting its final proposals for the new runway to the Planning Inspectorate in summer 2019. The airport has suggested the runway could be operational by 2025, providing extra capacity to launch up to 40 more long-haul destinations, as well as additional domestic services. Even if the third runway does get parliamentary approval later this year, there will remain considerable planning and legal hurdles to clear before the project can even begin construction.


Even if the third runway does get parliamentary approval later this year, there will be considerable planning and legal hurdles to clear”

Airports strategy and Brexit As with Heathrow, the rest of the government’s aviation strategy will be affected by the result of this month’s General Election but both business travel and airport groups have been quick to make their cases to all of the parties. Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), said: “To enable the aviation industry to deliver further jobs and economic growth across the country, a new government will need to move ahead swiftly with some of the burning issues facing the sector. “This includes a fair framework for sustainable growth through a new aviation strategy, modernisation of UK airspace to ensure it is fit for purpose and a reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD) to encourage new links to existing and emerging markets.

“The new government will also have to ensure the UK has the international agreements necessary to continue aviation connectivity after the UK has left the EU, which should be a priority in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.” The aviation industry will be pressing hard for the new government to resolve the issue of whether the UK will remain part of the EU’s Single European Sky after Brexit – Ryanair has even suggested there may not be any flights between the UK and EU “for a period” in March 2019 following the end of two-year Brexit negotiations. As a result of these fears, the AOA has called for the new government to agree a “transitional deal on aviation early in negotiations to provide certainty for business and consumers”. Paul Wait, Chief Executive of the GTMC,

has also been urging all parties to commit to putting together a long-term strategy for airport expansion. “Expansion needs to look beyond current plans and address, for example, Gatwick Airport and how Manchester can truly fuel a northern powerhouse,” he adds. “The UK needs greater transport infrastructure around all its airports, and greater links between other international hubs and our regional airports.”

Airport developments While government policy has been thrown into doubt due to the election and the start of the Brexit process, airports have been doing what they can to improve facilities. Aside from the third runway, Heathrow’s shareholders have vowed to spend £650million on the airport in 2019, which 






Heathrow Airport's new Plaza Premium lounge

could include “enabling works” for the possible expansion of Terminal 2. Gatwick is also continuing to invest with the planned expansion of departure lounges and immigration halls at both terminals by 2021. Elsewhere, Luton Airport is currently undergoing a £110million redevelopment to increase capacity over the next three years, and Stansted has revealed plans for a new £130million arrivals building due to be completed by 2022. Stansted’s owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is also spending £1billion on a ten-year project to improve and expand Manchester’s existing terminals, and there has been talk of a major expansion and even a second runway at Birmingham

airport, which could be linked to the rumoured High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line. Meanwhile, Bristol has been expanding its immigration hall this year as part of its ongoing £24million terminal extension. These developments are much needed as the vast majority of UK airports are booming. Most have reported record passenger numbers for 2016 and this trend has continued into 2017. Highlights include Luton passing the 15 million passengers mark for a 12-month period, while Birmingham has broken through the 12 million milestone and Gatwick continues to set new records for a singlerunway airport with 44 million passengers between April 2016 and March 2017. 


Speedy and convenient rail links between UK airports and the centre of the cities they serve can make life a lot easier. London’s major airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, have long been served by 'express' train services into the heart of the UK capital. Luton is the only major London airport that continues to miss out, and to make up for this has called for the introduction of four extra fast trains per hour from central London as part of the new East Midlands rail franchise. Meanwhile, other airports around the country are starting to improve their rail connections. The new Edinburgh Gateway station, which opened in December 2016, offers transfers from the ScotRail network on to the city’s tram network for travel to Edinburgh airport. There are also plans in Glasgow to create a direct rail link between Glasgow airport, Paisley and the city centre, as part of the £144million Glasgow Airport Access Project, which could be operational by 2025. Scottish passengers can now prepurchase rail tickets from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted to central London before they fly from a team of mobile sales agents at Edinburgh airport. Tickets from Luton to London on Thameslink are also available.

Business Travel Extras

Make business travel better At Holiday Extras our mission is to help customers ‘Travel better’ and we achieve this by giving our partners and travellers the ability to manage all pre-trip ancillaries through one simple booking channel. Get in touch to find out more! Airport parking | Airport hotels | Airport lounges | Fast Track Security | Transfers | Car Hire | Insurance Contact us today to find out more: Lisa Hornsby, Business Development Manager


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• A £4million consolidated car rental centre has opened at Glasgow Airport which houses all the airport’s rental firms including Avis, Dollar/Thrifty, Europcar and Hertz. It is set next to Terminal 2. • Manchester airport has opened the first in a new brand of lounges called 1903 – named after the Wright Brothers’ first flight in that year. The £1million lounge in Terminal Three caters for up to 71 people and is priced from £30 when booked in advance. Passengers receive a Fast Track security pass when they book. • Plaza Premium Group has opened a new lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 arrivals, which can accommodate up to 75 people. Facilities include 25 shower rooms, a lounge and bar area, plus a new dining “healthy eating” concept called Flight Club. • Three major airlines at Gatwick have changed terminals: easyJet and Virgin Atlantic now solely operate from the North Terminal, while British Airways has moved all flights to the South Terminal. • Norwegian is partnering with Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) to offer members of the airline’s loyalty scheme up to 18% CashPoints when they book at one of APH’s 26 airport car parks, while 13% CashPoints are being offered at APH’s partner car parks. • Hertz has launched a full rental service from the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel and in doing so becomes the only rental company to have fleet available at the airport’s North Terminal, as well as a rental desk. The new branch is situated in the Sofitel hotel’s lobby which is reach via a short walkway from the North Terminal. • Aberdeen Airport will open the Northern Lights Executive Lounge on July 1 in the airport’s new firstfloor extension. It will have three times the seating capacity of the current Swissport lounge, have a strong focus on locally sourced food, drink and suppliers, and feature a Whisky Wall for tastings.



New-look Stansted Airport

Only two of the top 20 UK airports saw a drop in passenger numbers during 2016 compared to the previous year: Aberdeen and Belfast City. Aberdeen’s traffic has been heavily affected by the slump in the energy sector over the last couple of years.

Network additions The growth in passenger numbers should continue throughout 2017 thanks to a combination of expansion by low-cost carriers and also new long-haul services, although Ryanair has pared back its planned growth in the UK to only 5% due to the impact of Brexit. One development to watch is the expansion of Norwegian’s low-cost, longhaul services from its Gatwick base. These flights have previously been concentrated on transatlantic routes, but Norwegian is to launch its first Asian route from Gatwick to Singapore on September 28. Much of Gatwick’s recent growth has been driven by long-haul services and it helps that British Airways has decided to take on Norwegian head-to-head on routes such as Oakland, near San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale in Florida. This competition should only hot up as Norwegian plans to launch flights to Seattle and Denver from September 2017. Other new long-haul services from Gatwick include Tianjin Airlines’ route to Xi’an. Not to be outdone, Heathrow has been boosted by a raft of new BA routes. These

include the Chilean capital Santiago, New Orleans, Tallinn in Estonia and both Nantes and Montpellier in France. Virgin Atlantic has also taken over the Heathrow-Seattle route from its partner Delta, while China Southern is adding a second daily flight to Guangzhou from June. Transatlantic links have also been boosted between Manchester and the US with Virgin launching routes to both Boston and San Francisco this summer, and the airport will also benefit from Cathay Pacific upgrading its Hong Kong service from four times per week to daily from December. Further long-haul additions include Delta adding a Glasgow to New York JFK service for summer 2017 in addition to its existing service from Edinburgh. Looking further ahead, Qatar Airways is planning to start flights from Cardiff to Doha in 2018. Short-haul developments include Flybe’s first foray into Heathrow with services from Aberdeen and Edinburgh, which started in March. These were two of the routes formerly operated by Virgin’s short-lived Little Red domestic brand. Elsewhere, BA has returned to both Birmingham and Bristol after a gap of ten years with flights to Malaga, Ibiza and Palma in Spain, plus the Italian city of Florence. KLM has also resumed services to London City after nearly eight years away with flights to Amsterdam Schiphol and TAP Portugal is planning to launch a route from London City to Lisbon from October 29.



SPREADING THE NET Accommodation providers are expanding their offerings as they bid to bag more corporate business, reports Linda Fox


irbnb, perhaps the most famous ‘disruptor’ entering the corporate travel arena, has recently added new search functionality specifically for business travellers. Called Business Travel Ready, it enables travellers to filter results down to properties relevant to their specific needs. The BTR feature is available for both desktop and mobile and means business travellers can access results which should be relevant to them – about 150,000 listings globally – with facilities such as wifi and designated work space. Travellers just need to link their work email address to their Airbnb account to use the search functionality. Airbnb says it has seen significant business travel growth recently – in fact, it says more than 250,000 companies use its services. The company plans to integrate with corporate booking tools later this year, as well as make it easy for business travellers to immediately re-book their preferred properties. Airbnb has now been making steady progress in corporate travel for almost three years, starting with its partnership with Concur in July 2014. The travel and expense management company released data earlier this year showing that businesses in France, Germany and the UK spent $9.2million for their travellers to stay in Airbnb-listed properties between the third quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2016. Despite the steady growth and demand, most corporate travel policies don’t allow for home-sharing properties, with recent GBTA Foundation research showing only 17% include them. However, the perception of more than a third of business travellers is that they do come within their travel policies.

Serviced apartment specialist BridgeStreet recently stepped in with its own online travel agency initiative to try and make the alternative accommodation market more accessible. The company hopes to offer some 85,000 serviced apartments worldwide by the end of 2017. BridgeStreet Chief Executive Officer, Sean Worker, says: “This digital shift is democratising competition in the industry. It has allowed us to cater to each of our constituents in new ways [and with new technologies] that have made

it easier for them to access supply. It’s all about offering serviced apartments and homes where our guests want to stay, close to where they want to be.” In recent weeks has signed up with large technology companies to use the platform. The reality of business travellers wanting access to the same range of accommodation as in their leisure lives is also borne out in data from The accommodation giant says one-infive bookings made are now for business travellers and it too has been developing functionality to further tap into the lucrative sector. Specific features include highlighting those places frequently used for business travel by sifting through review data. Travel managers and bookers can also book on behalf of their colleagues and gain access to reports. Ripsy Bandourian, Director of Product Development at, says: “Technology has really put choice into the hands of consumers and there’s no reason why a business travel experience should be any different.” She adds that it’s important for employers to keep up with today’s travellers who are increasingly mobile and want flexibility in their plans, even leaning towards adding a leisure element. The good news is that many businesses are reviewing their corporate travel policies with an increased focus on these alternative accommodation sources. One thing is for sure: demand for these services will only increase as they continue to be tailored to today’s business travellers.





LEADING THE CHARGE The government's recent green paper on Britain's industrial future offers the business travel sector a chance to champion sustainability, says Roger Gardner


he government has thrown down the gauntlet in its recently published industrial strategy to achieve a step-change in energy performance. This renewed commitment presents opportunities to the business travel and hotel sector to lead the way in sustainability performance. In its green paper ‘Building our industrial strategy’, the government states that it will set out in 2017 a long-term roadmap to minimise business energy costs. The General Election may interrupt that process but commerce is unlikely to see the same price caps promised to domestic consumers. Many hotels, travel service



providers and TMCs have been strenuously controlling energy costs anyway, but without the Damascene spark making the sector stand out as care for the future of the planet. There are two key areas, both flagged in the industrial plan, that the business travel sector could champion. As the move towards electric vehicles gathers pace, charging points should be a standard feature of hotel offerings. Some, like Best Western, have been rolling out charging stations across the network and, increasingly, rental car companies offer hybrid or full electric options. Sites such as zap-map can help guide people to charge points – most are on-street or in car parks and very few are linked to hotels. Searching relies upon personal dedication rather than sector-wide cooperation, whether

through TMCs or having the significant support from the likes of GBTA or the ITM. Another compelling reason to promote EV is the poor air quality of larger cities where much business takes place. In the case of the capital, the sector could become a low emissions partner with the Mayor’s office and Transport for London. The Green Paper is also looking for input to shape future policy and support for greater energy efficiency. Hotels and travel hubs could band together to demand clean energy from wind, trial energy storage and promote wider usage of smart metering. The industrial strategy presumes new research funding to meet goals and the sector should be looking to exploit that. At its most basic, the industrial strategy targets the engines of growth in the economy that will allow the UK to differentiate its offering in a post-Brexit world. That applies to the business travel world as much as to other sectors. We do not always compare as favourably as we could and looking at the density of EV charging points across northern Europe, for example, shows that the UK has a long way to go compared to its neighbours. Collaboration with new government initiatives can put it on the front foot. A somewhat unscientific review of the trade body and leading company initiatives on carbon reduction and energy efficiency launched in recent years shows that the sector may be in the trough of a cyclic waxing and waning of interest in sustainability. At a time when prospects for UK business growth are more uncertain than for some time, the business travel industry needs strong industry initiatives that mark it out as a leader. New governments present opportunities to the forward thinking, so it is a good time to be proactive.


meet the keynote speaker


TBTC 2017 will kick off with a keynote speech from Lloyd Figgins, CEO of LFL Global Risk Mitigation and author of Looking for Lemons – A Travel Survival Guide He is a former expedition leader, police officer and soldier who has worked in over 80 countries, including some of the world’s more hostile and remote regions. Lloyd will ensure delegates come away with practical advice on managing this critical area. emphasis on traveller safety. It’s not just morally right to ensure you have a robust travel risk management strategy in place, it is actually cost effective. It’s far cheaper to mitigate risk than it is to deal with the aftermath of an incident. Staff also greatly appreciate the investment their company makes towards their safety.

Tell us a little about your background in travel and risk management. It started when I found myself on the wrong side of a crocodile enclosure in the Far East when I was two years old! Since then I have worked as a police officer, a soldier and expedition leader. I have operated in over 80 countries, including remote and hostile regions. I have gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge during my career in keeping others safe.

You must come across some worryingly poor corporate case studies? There have been a few! This is why I am working with tour operators and the government to try and develop a collaborative approach to effective travel risk management. This doesn’t have to be complicated or costly; in fact some of the most effective systems are very simple.

Where has your career taken you around the world? I have worked in places like Mali, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which, while they have their own challenges, I am always amazed at the kindness and hospitality extended to a visitor by people who seemingly have nothing. Any particularly sticky situations? I’ve avoided getting kidnapped in the jungles of Colombia, been targeted in a grenade attack in Syria, caught up in a coup in Madagascar and I once rowed 3,200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a 23ft plywood boat. The row had enough sticky situations to last a lifetime, including pirates and a few close encounters with sharks. How often are you on the road these days, and to what sort of destinations? I make a point of getting out on the road as 38


much as I can. It’s important to remain current, as things change and we are living in an everevolving world. You don’t want to suffer from skills-fade in my line of work. Recently, I have been working with teams in Indonesia who are protecting tigers from poachers, which is a dangerous business. Are businesses taking their duty of care responsibilities seriously enough? I’m pleased to say many are, although there are still those who don’t place enough

What is your next big trip? I’m off to Kenya with some of the team to provide training for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Rangers. They do a great job in protecting wildlife, so the least we can do is provide them with the right skills to help them carry out their amazing work.

It's far cheaper to mitigate risk than it is to deal with the aftermath of an incident. Staff also greatly appreciate the investment their company makes towards their safety”


PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS Tuesday September 19th 10:00 Keynote speech from Lloyd Figgins, travel survival and international risk expert

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Whe󰇳? Tuesday September 19 and Wednesday September 20, 2017


12:00 How to… use data to drive more savings 14:00 How to… get ahead in business travel 16:30 Getting to grips with… traveller wellbeing and satisfaction 17:00 Drinks and canapé reception across the exhibition zone


󰇭 Kic󰈫󰇮󰈡g 󰈜󰈣l󰈇󰈆󰇶i󰈤wki󰇹󰇪󰈀󰇵󰈥r󰇹 in󰇹󰇪󰈦n󰈜󰇹i󰈢󰈡

Wednesday September 20th 10:00 Personalisation: How can travel managers make their programmes more personal? Is it worth it?

12:00 How can travel managers be prepared for sudden changes within their company? Group workshop 12:30 Getting to grips with… Global travel programmes

14:00 Meet the Gurus session: Hear leading buyers views on key issues and topics 14:30 Getting to grips with… benchmarking

Full programme available online

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Bo󰈢k 󰈜 󰇷󰇺an󰈧 “Well known exhibitors return to TBTC'17 such as Premier Inn, ATP Corporate Travel, Trainline, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Cabfind, Flybe, Applehouse Travel and many more!” Tel: 07747 697 772




Wild thing

RAY MEARS Author, photographer, bushcraft expert and star of countless TV documentaries, Ray Mears is a man of many talents. He speaks to Angela Sara West


is travels have taken him to some of the remotest places on the planet and his wilderness courses teach respect for the natural world in diverse environments, from the Arctic and desert to the rainforest and jungle. This is a man whose fascination with the wild has shaped his life from a very young age. “I travelled a lot with my parents and spent the first two years of my life in Nigeria,” he tells me. “My interest in wild places and the wildlife you find in them has been an inspiration for travelling.” The survivalist has a particular fondness for areas as yet untouched by civilisation and, through his work, he helps to keep them that way. “I try to show people the beauty and magic of places. You can go just for sightseeing, but if you can go for something unusual, or an environment you’ve never felt before, that gives you something more,” Mears explains.

We have just two days to make each programme. Effectively we have to find a rare species every six hours. I like that challenge” 40

He continues, “Travel is really important; it broadens your understanding of other cultures. It also teaches faith in humanity; if there’s a problem, people do help each other out.” Some years ago, Mears survived a helicopter crash while filming his first TV series in Wyoming. “I didn’t die, as I thought I was about to. It was a bad crash. I just did what you learn to do. I adopted the brace position and tried to relax to absorb the impact.” His survival techniques and first aid skills quickly kicked in and he says it was a defining moment for him. “Everybody should undergo first aid training. It’s actually one of the most interesting and useful things you can learn. One of your loved ones could some day benefit,” he says. How often is he on the road for work? “An awful lot! I’m just back from three weeks’ filming in Australia, which was amazing. We covered a lot of distance. We have just two days to make each programme, which is difficult. Effectively, we have to find a rare species every six hours. I like that challenge.” One of Mears' early ventures was the founding of Woodlore, which offers courses on the very basics of bushcraft through to advanced skills. “We take people trekking in Namibia, on canoe trips into the wilderness of northern Canada, we teach winter skills in Finland, how to track and how to live with nature. It’s all real and it’s the highest-quality tuition on this beautiful subject. No bull****!”

Naturally, Mears spends a lot of time in the great outdoors, but when it’s time to indulge, he says he has another enviable skill – a knack for nosing out a good eatery. “I can sniff them out! I love local, authentic, good-quality food; it’s part of the culture. I found an amazing, genuine sushi restaurant in Tokyo which hasn’t changed since 1939.” For exciting adventures, he recommends Indonesia and he has a fondness for Japan. “It’s a beautiful country with interesting people – and their trains are just amazing.” His top travel tips? “Travel light and keep it simple. I always take a small first aid kit, a water filter, an alarm clock and a little torch, which can be especially useful in New York tower blocks when there’s a power cut!” Mears singles out Etihad, Emirates and Qantas among his favourite airlines – but he recalls another air travel experience for all the wrong reasons. “We were going to film in America and the airline was overbooked so the director couldn’t fly. He was told, ‘You should expect this because it’s holiday season,’ which is outrageous. When you buy a ticket, it should constitute a contract.” Does he have any other travel bugbears? “I can’t stand it when people going through security pretend they’ve never flown before, emptying their pockets of all the things they shouldn’t have, slowing everyone down.” Finally, he offers some unconventional survival advice: “Source a supply of gin and tonic! And a machete, of course.”

R AY M E A R S Ray Mears’ new Born to Go Wild tour kicks off on October 8, taking in 31 dates around the UK. His latest book is Out on the Land: Bushcraft Skills from the Northern Forest. See


business stays


/StErminsHotel @sterminshotel

St. Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton Street, London SW1H OQW



Review [ the lowdown ]


GTMC sets out its transport manifesto

Travelodge sets sights on business travellers

[ Room report ]

Eurostar welcomes more business travel

[ on the ground ]

[ M e e t i n g p l ac e ]





Worktel brings UK 'offices by the hour'

[ In t h e a i r ]

Multiple investments from British Airways





I The latest industry appointments p54






IN BRIEF SkyTeam addition

The SkyTeam airline alliance has launched a specialist Marine and Offshore (M&O) division for those working in the industry. Managed by IAS Global, it will initially include travel on six SkyTeam airline members: Aeroflot, Air France, Delta, KLM, Kenya Airways and Saudia.

Capita acquisition

Capita plc has acquired York-based NYS Corporate Limited, strengthening Capita Travel and Events’ service offering across events, meetings and travel. NYS will retain its market identity, operating with the same staff and no change in name, "creating two powerful brands appealing to very specific audiences," says Capita.

VR travel search

Navitaire, part of the Amadeus group, has unveiled what it claims is the world's first virtual reality travel search and booking experience. Travellers can 'visit' a destination, search for flights, select seats, check out rental cars and pay for their entire trip all within a virtual reality environment.

Travel spend rise

A European companies report conducted by American Express Global Business Travel found that business travel spend in Europe is set to increase by 2.5% this year. The report also showed that over two-thirds of companies say Brexit has had no impact on the business travel market.



GTMC sets out its transport manifesto THE GTMC has set a manifesto of its own in which it lists the transport and trade initiatives it hopes the next government will prioritise following June’s General Election. It focuses on four themes designed to support economic growth and international trade. Under the first category, the organisation calls for major infrastructure projects to be delivered on time. A second category urges the prioritisation of business travel in the North. To assist global trade, the government should support new air services to international markets beyond the EU, says the GTMC, as well as abolishing APD to priority export markets and negotiating free trade deals. Lastly, its policy on productivity says the government should deliver free and reliable wifi on all mainline rail.

FEMALE traveller safety organisation Maiden Voyage has launched a travel safety training e-learning programme. The series, which consists of five modules, identifies key safety risks and offers practical advice for business trips. The five modules can be taken on any device and cover preplanning and packing, safe ground transportation, hotel safety, intercultural awareness and safe meetings and leisure time. "We have successfully delivered classroom style training for a number of years. However, the launch of our e-learning marks a new chapter in the evolution of Maiden Voyage," says the organisation's CEO, Carolyn Pearson.


[ TMC NEWS ] >> GOOD TRAVEL MANAGEMENT has partnered with travel data company Travelogix to deliver a new data management suite for their customers >> ADVANTAGE TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP has been identified as one of the London Stock Exchange's 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain for the second year running >> THE ATPI GROUP is partnering with Mexican company Creatur Mayoristas to provide support in Latin America >> CARLSON WAGONLIT TRAVEL has been awarded the Gold Corporate Social Responsibility rating by EcoVadis for its responsible business practices >> REDFERN has been appointed by fashion label Mint Velvet as its TMC. Both feature in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100

of business travellers belong to hotel loyalty schemes

More than threequarters of frequent business travellers are enrolled in hotel loyalty schemes – compared to 28% of the general population according to research from Wanup, a loyalty scheme for independent hotels



IN BRIEF FCTG into Germany

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is expanding its business travel foothold in Germany following the acquisition of Opodo Corporate from eDreams ODIGEO for an undisclosed sum. Opodo Corporate will operate as FCTG Corporate until the end of this year and transition to Flight Centre’s flagship global travel management brand, FCM Travel Solutions, from January 2018.

R&M boost

Travel management company Reed & Mackay has created a new global network featuring select corporate travel providers operating in their local markets. To support the growth it has appointed Chris Truss as International Development Director.


London is the best for air connectivity LONDON is the best-connected city in the world, helping the capital welcome record numbers of business travellers, says London & Partners. New research from fDi Benchmark shows London’s six airports operate flights to 336 destinations globally, an increase of 5.7% on the previous year, and a considerable way ahead of second-placed Paris (269 destinations). Frankfurt is the third best-connected city worldwide, with flights to 242 destinations worldwide. Dubai is fourth (237) and Istanbul is fifth (236). Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) International Passenger Survey show that international business visits to London have grown by 34 per cent over the past five years.

CWT content

Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Meetings & Events division has partnered with for a new meeting room booking platform for the UK and Ireland. The platform is due to launch this summer and has been designed to expand bolster CWT's small meetings business among clients.

Lufthansa connections Click Travel and Clarity are the first TMCs in the UK to implement Direct Connects with the Lufthansa Group. The NDC-capable links allow the TMCs to receive exclusive content from the group’s airlines and bypass a €16 booking fee levied on indirect sales.


G T M C U P D AT E Paul Wait Chief Executive, GTMC

By the time many of you read this, the outcome of the 2017 General Election will be known. Our focus has been to campaign for, and protect the interests of, the business travel community. The GTMC’s election manifesto lays out recommendations for any government on how to achieve this. At the heart of it lies a focus on how it can actively enable and empower businesses to deliver economic growth via travel. There must be consolidated effort by government to develop our aviation and rail networks. That means establishing a new Airports Commission to look at options for more air capacity. There must also be a clear focus on further horizons. Opportunities for international trade and economic growth will lie with partners in markets such as the USA, China and India. It therefore makes economic sense to abolish APD to priority export markets and prioritise free trade deals with these larger export nations. As I sign off ahead of my departure from the GTMC, I maintain there can and must be a focus on business travel when the next government comes to power.







noRWEgiAn'S RouTE bonAnZA AS nETWoRK gRoWTH conTinuES

Multiple investments from british Airways BriTiSH AirWAYS has labelled its new business-class cabin on domestic UK routes a “real hit”, with nearly 70,000 passengers booking the premium service in the first six weeks of operation. The feedback comes alongside news of wider investments across the company, including plans to spend £400million on its Club World product and seat. The details include an upgraded inflight dining experience, new inflight amenities, premium lounges, wifi fitted on long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years, and, from 2019, a brand-new Cub World seat on long-haul flights. BA is also investing £53million on its facilities at New York JFK Airport’s Terminal 7 by the end of 2018, including a new premium check-in zone and updated lounges.

norWEgiAn will launch a new route from London Gatwick to Singapore this winter as the low-cost long-haul carrier expands into Asia for the first time. From September 28, the airline will operate four weekly flights, increasing to five, to Singapore's Changi Airport. One-way fares will start from £179. It follows the carrier's recent announcement of new routes from London Gatwick to Seattle and Denver, also due to start in September. The airline’s operation into the US Pacific Northwest

Qantas' lonGest hop now on sale: from london to perth in 17 hours QAnTAS' London Heathrow to Perth route – the first non-stop flight between the UK and Australia – is now on sale. The 9,009-mile daily service is due to begin on March 28, 2018 and will be operated by the carrier's new B787-9 Dreamliner. Year-round economy fares for the London-Perth route start from £1,095, with premium economy returns leading in at £2,335 and return business class fares starting from £4,240.

[ TAKING OFF ] >> JET AIRWAYS is introducing a third daily service between London Heathrow and Mumbai from October 29 >> New FLYBE services between London Heathrow and Aberdeen and Edinburgh have commenced, with the airline reviving routes last operated by Virgin’s short-lived Little Red service in 2015. Flybe will also launch a Birmingham-Hamburg service on July 10 >> CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES has added a second daily departure from London Heathrow to Guangzhou. The year-round service will be flown by a B787 Dreamliner >> TAP PORTUGAL will add a twice-daily weekday service from London City Airport to Lisbon this October, complementing its existing services from Heathrow and Gatwick


commence on September 17 with a year-round, four-times-weekly service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. And services from Gatwick to Denver take off on September 16, with an initial twice-weekly service increasing to three-times-weekly in the winter. Additionally, the airline has announced that its new low-cost transatlantic flights from Ireland to destinations on the US East Coast – taking off in July – will include use of the US preclearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports to speed up entry procedures.


the potential passenger compensation cost for BA

British Airways could be liable for around £150million in passenger compensation following three days of cancellations and delays from Heathrow and Gatwick airports over the bank holiday weekend. Solicitors Bott & Co say claim amounts could range from €125 to €600





delta boosts transatlantic connections

IN BRIEF Emirates first class

Emirates has confirmed its new First Class product will be showcased at the Dubai Air Show in November. It will debut onboard a B777-300ER and feature six private suites compared to the existing eight. The new aircraft will also include new features in the business and economy class cabins.

American lounges

American Airlines has opened a newly renovated Flagship Lounge and launched brand new Flagship First Dining at New York JFK Airport. New or renovated Flagship lounges are also planned for London Heathrow, Chicago O'Hare and Los Angeles, among others.

Star partner

Shanghai's Juneyao Airlines has become the first airline to expand the Star Alliance network as a Connecting Partner, It gives Star passengers new transfer opportunities at Shanghai’s two airports - Pudong International and Hongqiao International.

Ryanair tie-up

Air Europa has signed a "ground-breaking deal" with Ryanair which makes the Spanish airline’s long-haul flights available for booking on the Irish carrier’s website.

The jet set

Luton is the most popular UK airport for private jet charter according to new data from Victor. Luton is twice as popular as runner-up Biggin Hill. Farnborough was third and RAF Northolt fourth.

Qatar airways will introduce a daily service from Cardiff Airport to its hub in doha next year, with onward connections to more than 150 destinations worldwide

DELTA Air Lines has boosted transatlantic connections with the launch of routes from Glasgow to New York and from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon. The daily flight into New York JFK is the airline's first-ever service from Glasgow. Operating during the summer, it complements the existing daily Delta service between Edinburgh and New York. In addition, the carrier has introduced the first non-stop service from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon for the summer season. The new services feature the airline’s Delta One cabin with fully flat-bed seats as well as Delta Comfort+ seating with additional legroom and more recline than standard economy seating. Alasdair Allan, the Scottish Government's Minister for International Development and Europe, says, “The new route improves our business connectivity by giving Scottish companies better access to American markets.”

Virgin Atlantic goes mad for Manchester

bmi regional bolsters brum services

Virgin Atlantic is putting its faith in Manchester with an expanded schedule from the airport this summer. The airline introduced flights to New York JFK in May, having already launched Boston services at the end of April and a thrice-weekly service to San Francisco in March. The 'Man-Fran' route, as it has been dubbed, cuts journey times for regional travellers by three hours compared to transiting via London. “This marks our biggest ever route expansion from the city,” says Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer, Shai Weiss. Manchester Airports Group CEO, Charlie Cornish, says: “We will continue to ensure the North’s businesses have access to global markets and encourage government to work towards a new national Aviation Strategy.”

BMI Regional has launched new routes from Birmingham Airport to Gothenburg and Nuremberg. The routes will be operated six times a week and are the latest in a series of launches from the carrier, including a Stansted to Derry service and a Birmingham to Graz, Austria, service. Fares start from £79 one-way for Nuremberg services and £89 one-way for Gothenburg. Nuremberg is bmi’s seventh destination in Germany and Gothenburg is the carrier’s fourth Swedish destination.




Budget brand adds 'premium economy' BUDGET hotel brand Travelodge has launched a 'premium economy' room concept called SuperRooms. The new room class is the first of its kind in the UK's budget hotel market, with rates set at £10-20 more per night than standard rooms. SuperRooms feature a new colour scheme, blackout curtains, Lavazza coffee machines, upgraded showers, USB charging points, ambient LED lighting, larger desks, wallmounted flatscreen TVs and in-room irons and ironing boards. The new rooms are currently available at Travelodge hotels in London Waterloo, Farringdon, Euston, London Central City Road and Heathrow Central properties. It plans to invest around £5million in the launch of a further 1,000 SuperRooms, including further Central London locations, Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Bath. The group has also reported a 6.8% rise in revenue, an increase it attributes to strong growth from business customers who now account for more than half of its sales.




IN BRIEF Kimpton goes Dutch

Kimpton Hotels has opened its first property outside of the Americas, a 274-room boutique property in Amsterdam. The IHG-owned group’s latest addition, the Kimpton De Witt, is located in the Palace Quarter, close to the city’s Centraal train station. Guests will have access to a 24-hour fitness centre and complimentary bikes. A second European property is due to open in Paris in 2020.

Manchester Aparthotel


Accor opens flagship hotel in London THE French AccorHotels group has opened its flagship Novotel property in London's Canary Wharf, with 313 rooms, and a top-floor restaurant, bar and terrace. The hotel additionally features 26 individually designed suites and has done away with the typical reception desk, favouring check-in on iPads operated by staff in the reception area. Further facilities include nine meeting and event rooms, free wifi access throughout, gym, sauna and swimming pool and the Bokan 37 restaurant, Bokan 38 bar and Bokan 39 roof terrace. “Canary Wharf will be the iconic Novotel for AccorHotels and aims to become the place to be in the Canary Wharf business area,” says Thomas Dubaere, Managing Director of AccorHotels UK and Ireland.

Staycity Aparthotels’ second Manchester property is now open in the city’s Gateway House, also known as the ‘Lazy S’, close to Piccadilly Station. The property features 182 apartments set up as one, two, and three-bed units.

Culloden upgrade

Hastings Hotels group has completed a £4.8million renovation of the luxury Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast. The three-year project has included the redevelopment of two floors of bedrooms, its Mitre restaurant, conference facilities and spa. The group operates six properties in Northern Ireland and is currently converting the city’s Windsor House office block to the 300-room Grand Central Hotel.

EasyHotel UK growth The budget easyHotel group has opened a 115-room hotel in Manchester with rates from £19.99 a night. The hotel is located close to Piccadilly Garden.

IBIS BUDGET SHAKES UP SECTOR WITH FLEXIBLE 'NEST' CONCEPT IBIS BUDGET'S new 'Nest Room' concept has been unveiled at the brand’s London Whitechapel Brick Lane property. The new rooms have been designed to provide flexibility for guests with a possible 10 room configurations available including a pull-down single bed which can be stowed away. The 'Nest Room' will initially be available in 110 rooms at the Whitechapel property, followed by

143 rooms in the London Luton Airport property. The rooms will then be gradually integrated across the chain as new renovations and buildings are added. SVP of Budget and Economy Brands at AccorHotels UK, Karelle Lamouche, says: “The new ibis budget room ‘Nest’ is evidence that we really redefine the boundaries of the guest experience in the budget segment.”

I T M U P D AT E Simone Buckley Chief Executive, ITM

Travel buyers and managers have listened to experts talk about open booking in recent years. The idea was that business travellers could book anything through any channel and clever technology would pull the data together. Travel 2.0, Travel 3.0 and gamification are among the buzzwords used to describe the future of managed travel. While some progress has been made, there has been no revolution. Travel buyers and managers should ignore the PR spin and jargon from the supply chain and focus on the fundamentals. • Content: good travel management companies (TMCs) should now offer access to rates and fares well beyond the global distribution systems. • Rates and fares: use your company’s scale or the buying power of your TMC to get the best deals. • Channels: work with your TMC and technology provider to make sure your onlineoffline balance is right for your programme. No one should need to call an agent to book a point-to-point trip. Keep travellers happy and comfortable and they’ll adhere to policy. Focus on these fundamentals and you’ll succeed.








A C T E U P D AT E Greeley Koch

East Coast Enterprise

Enterprise Car Club will locate vehicles at key stations along the Virgin East Coast train route in a new partnership. Travellers will be able to pick up cars at Wakefield, Durham, Peterborough and Doncaster, making it easier to continue their onward journey. Further stations are expected to be added soon. The deal comes as Enterprise unveiled an ehanced app for users, featuring geolocation, business/ personal toggle and mobile reservations.

Ticketing milestone

Train operator CrossCountry has sold its one millionth Advance ticket on the day of travel, a booking concept it introduced in 2015. The operator allows passengers to purchase Advance tickets as close as 15 minutes to departure rather than paying the full walk-up fare.

eTicketing success

Over 1.4 million mobilefriendly eTickets have been purchased by train passengers in the first six months of operation. Latest figures from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) show that 85% of tickets sold online by Gatwick Express are eTickets.

Model hire guarantee

Europcar has extended its 'model guarantee' at UK airports. The initiative gives customers more certainty they will get the exact model of vehicle booked and covers popular vehicles from Audi, VW and Nissan.

Executive Director, ACTE

Eurostar rolls out new trains to Brussels CROSS-CHANNEL operator Eurostar has introduced its new e320 trains on services between London and Brussels. The new trains are part of a £1billion programme of investment in Eurostar's fleet, stations and service which includes the purchase of 17 new e320 trains and the refurbishment of existing rolling stock. With its new e320 trains, which can operate on the European high-speed network, the company is in the final stages of preparation for the launch of its new direct service to Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The operator has also reported a 9% leap in business travel passengers ahead of the introduction of upgraded services. The combination of wifi, a new lounge in Paris and more productive time on board is reinforcing the convenience and ease of rail travel for business travellers, says Eurostar.

TRAIN EASES STRAIN ON PLANET BUSINESS travellers can save time and save the planet by swapping the plane for the train on a host of European routes. A study by transport comparison site GoEuro, conducted to mark Earth Day in April, revealed 15 routes across the continent where catching a train is actually faster and more environmentally friendly than flying. The biggest time saving is on the London-Brussels route, which is on average 2hrs 8mins faster by train than by air when city transit and security processing are factored in. The same route is second when it comes to carbon dioxide savings, with rail producing 111.6kgs less CO2 per traveller. The largest CO2 saving can be gained on the Marseille-Lyon rail journey (121.1kg), which is also 1hr 27mins quicker than flying. The biggest domestic UK saving is between London and Manchester, with rail 1hr 21mins quicker and saving 109.6kgs of CO2.

Remember when jobs were hard to come by and recruiters just needed to present prospects with vacation days and a company’s benefits package? Now, thanks to a tight job market, prospects want to know all those details. But they are also asking to see a company’s travel policy. Employees know they’re going to work hard in and out of the office, and want to ensure their company will help them be productive. Among the expectations for airports and airlines: quick in and out at airports, lounge access, fast-track security, wifi on and off the plane as well as priority seating. These necessities are intrinsic to small and large companies. Organisations not at the forefront of on-the-road efficiency will lose the best job candidates, not to mention the inherent loss of productivity. It’s not just new hires. Companies over and over again tell us that travel policy is an important factor in the retention and motivation of employees. This puts additional pressure on travel departments. Travel executives now are being charged with improving airport ease and the overall travel experience. Companies want the best ROI from every business trip.





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IN BRIEF Dubai Parks events

Dubai Parks and Resorts complex has unveiled what it says is the largest events and conference space in the Middle East. Event space includes various theatres accommodating thousands, conference rooms, ballrooms and ride experiences.

Regus partnership

Meeting room platform has expanded its inventory by adding Regus to its list of partners. The deal adds 3,000 Regus venues in 120 countries.

Lane End overhaul

Buckinghamshire-based Lane End Conference Centre has completed a three-year £2.5million investment in its facilities, upgrading lounges, meetings rooms, dining and bedrooms.

New Spaces

Spaces has opened its fifth UK workspace site – an 18,000sqft facility in Marlow, Bucks. The company plans further UK openings, in Teddington, Newcastle and Brighton in the next few months.

Worktel launches 'offices by the hour'

JURYS Inn has completed the 12-month refurbishment and expansion of its Oxford Hotel and Conference Venue. The £13million upgrade has seen the remodelling of the property, including the addition of 72 rooms, taking the total to 240. All rooms feature complimentary fibre wifi, with Executive rooms also including Sky TV and mini-bars. The new-look conference centre has 20 flexible meeting and events spaces, catering for 15 to 300 people, and includes a boardroom and breakout areas with drinks dispensers for refreshment breaks, hi-tech AV equipment, air conditioning and free wifi.

SPANISH office space booking platform Worktel has expanded to the UK. The Madrid-based start-up – which launched in September 2016 – allows users to book meeting rooms and workspaces by the hour, and is aimed at workers who lack their own office and business travellers. Worktel's UK offering currently includes hotels and serviced offices in central London and Manchester. Bookings can be made via the company's app or website, with rates averaging £6 per hour for a desk and £25 per hour for meeting room.

Kempinski Hotels is marking its 120th anniversary with a range of bonuses for meetings bookers. Until October 30, 2017 offers available include free cocktails and canapes and room upgrades. Big spenders also qualify for iPhones and luxury stays.


Dublin saw the biggest rise in ADR during 2016 (Source: Cvent)


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THE TBTM GOLF MASTERS Mannings Heath, Sussex

JUNE 13-15



JOINS: Corporate Traveller AS: General Manager FROM: Flight Centre Business Travel

JOINS: Elite Hotels AS: Group Sales Director FROM: Q Hotels

JOINS: Jurys Inn AS: Regional Sales Manager FROM: Redefine BDL

Flight Centre Travel Group has appointed Andy Hegley as General Manager of SME travel management arm Corporate Traveller. He joins from Flight Centre Business Travel.

Elite Hotels has appointed Marc Buxey as Group Sales Director, overseeing sales activity and corporate business at the independent chain's four properties in southern England.

James Eggle has joined Jurys Inn as Regional Sales Manager South, responsible for the group's 12 hotels in the region. He has was most recently at Redefine BDL.





JULY 15-19





















JOINS: SilverRail AS: Business Development Director FROM: Parkeon Transportation

JOINS: Oman Air AS: District Sales Manager FROM: The Holiday Team

Marco Willa has joined Lufthansa Group as General Manager Sales UK, Ireland and Iceland. He moves to London from his previous role in Zurich with SWISS International.

Mike Lambrou has joined SilverRail as Business Development Director. He was previously at Parkeon Transportation and has also held roles at Trainline and Eurostar.

Oman Air has appointed Feysal Nagi as District Sales Manager in Manchester to support the launch of its new route from the city to Muscat. He joins from The Holiday Team.

ALSO ON THE MOVE... ATPI has appointed Liz Carter as General Manager London Operations and Nicola Reith as Head of Aberdeen Operations >> Alice Linley-Munro, Global Travel Analyst at Oil Spill Response Limited, has joined the ITM board of Directors >> Andrew Fox has joined QHotels as Regional General Manager for the group's northern hotels >> bmi regional has appointed Martin Whittaker as Chief Operating Officer >> Jasmeen Kaur is now Head of Product and Solutions EMEA at Travelport >> Andrew Langton has been appointed Chief Development Officer at Movenpick Hotels & Resorts >> The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers has appointed 1 11/05/2017 15:01 Stuart Winstone of SilverDoor as Deputy Chairman of the association



JOINS: Lufthansa Group AS: General Manager Sales UK, Ireland, Iceland FROM: Swiss

EXECUTIVE SEARCH AND RECRUITMENT SPECIALISTS Dedicated to the business travel sector • +44 (0)845 605 9055 •


TBTM Dinner Club

Dinner at The Dorchester

A taste of things to come

The Business Travel Magazine Dinner Club â–ź

Senior personnel from across the business travel industry joined TBTM for its latest Dinner Club event at The Dorchester hotel, London, in May, where guest speaker Steve Dunne, CEO of Digital Drums, advised attendees on crisis management and social media

â–˛ 23.05.2017

Pre-dinner drinks in good company

With thanks to our generous event sponsors

For details of the next Dinner Club contact

Guest speaker Steve Dunne, CEO of Digital Drums, got to grips with crisis management

Travega Travel Marketing Solutions Worldwide

The Business Travel Magazine in partnership with Travega



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Apartment living for the business traveller Apartment living is more on trend than ever before for the modern business and leisure traveller. Adagio is the European market leader in aparthotels – serviced apartment living is our business, our passion and our expertise


OMBINING the autonomy of apartment living with the hospitality of hotel life, Adagio offers flexibility, independence and added hotel services such as 24hr reception, free Wi-Fi, housekeeping, kitchen and inclusive breakfast options. Based in the heart of city centres, Adagio apartments are contemporary in design, comfort and convenience, with tiered pricing from the fourth night onwards – so the longer you stay the less you pay. Adagio is the true apartment living brand for the business traveller.

Adagio in the UK Aparthotel Adagio Liverpool City Centre ★ ★ ★ ★ Opened: March 2013 – the first Adagio aparthotel to open in the UK Apartments: 126 apartments Address: 1 Fairclough Street, Liverpool, L1 1FS Tel: 0151 703 7400 Email: Located in the city’s iconic Lewis’ Building, the aparthotel boasts various listed features in its public areas, including wooden etchings that tell the story of Liverpool dating back to the 11th century; bold, coloured tiled walls; and 1950s ceiling lamps in the former renowned Lewis’s 5th floor restaurant – now the Adagio breakfast room, lounge and meeting space – which have survived since the building’s heyday as Liverpool’s leading department store, and are preserved as part of the refurbishment. 56

Aparthotel Adagio Birmingham City Centre ★ ★ ★ ★ Opened: August 2015 Apartments: 108 apartments Address: 131 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR Tel: 0121 399 0500 Email: Adagio Birmingham is part of the Beorma Quarter Development scheme in Digbeth. The first phase of the landmark development saw the conversion of the 35,000ft2 Grade II listed Cold Store building on Allison Street into the innovative Adagio aparthotel. The Beorma Quarter, which has received national recognition for the extensive development, provides a new wave of leisure and business capital to the city centre, with Adagio at the heart of the development. Its central position is an ideal base for business travellers, within easy walking distance of the city’s business district, Colmore Row and New Street Station which has excellent connections to BHX airport.

Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile ★ ★ ★ ★ Opened: December 2016 Apartments: 146 apartments Address: 231 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8BJ Tel: 0131 322 8299 Email: A new look property from top to bottom, Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile is

the first aparthotel worldwide to feature the new look apartments – a lighter, brighter and altogether more dynamic living space. The Edinburgh property is also the first Adagio to feature the new concept public space – bold, creative and as welcoming as the city itself. Created to be an open space where guests can meet, share and collaborate, the living space is welcoming, comfortable and stylish. The design has taken its inspiration from the stunning architecture and nature that make up the famous Edinburgh landscape. Located on the world-famous Royal Mile, minutes from Edinburgh Waverley train station, the Adagio is perfectly located for business and leisure in Edinburgh.

the dynamic world of hotels and serviced apartments isn't always a bed of roses for travel management. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BEST PRACTICE AND THE INDUSTRY'S LATEST CHALLENGES IN OUr ANNUAL GUIDE TO

ACCOMMODATION Introduction, 58-60 / Spend management, 62-64 / UK hotels, 66-68 Five reasons to..., 70 / Serviced apartments, 72-74 / Aparthotels, 76-77 Global hotel groups, 79-81 / Reader's rant, 83 / Hotels versus apartments, 84


Accommodation / Introduction



Hotel group consolidation, Airbnb and co, new brands, new distribution models and more are keeping travel managers on their toes when it comes to corporate accommodation programmes, says Gillian Upton


one are the days when a corporate could complete the company’s annual hotel negotiations and leave it alone for 12 months, comfortable in the knowledge that the negotiated rates would be available, in the right room category, and no other rates would undercut their deal. Today, hotel programmes require dynamic management to ensure the right rates have been loaded, that there is no rate squatting and that the rate is still the least expensive. The more complex and challenging market has been fuelled by the changing distribution landscape which has given travellers choice and ease of booking – two things they are demanding in the business arena. Policy leakage is the price corporates are paying in this transitional period until that’s achieved. “Leakage numbers are significant,” says Kevin Carr, Global Hotel Programme Manager at UBS. “Some 20%-30% of hotel bookings are not going through the right channels,” he says. Tempting offers from multiple channels are to blame. Hotels are persuading travellers that it’s cheaper to book direct, and offering 58

loyalty rates online too, while online travel agents are communicating identical messages. The OTAs are a major player in the marketplace, something you can blame on the hotels. They happily shared content with OTAs when they lacked their own technology, and the OTAs provided a good source of business. But while OTA bookings improve hotel occupancy they do little for profitability. Moreover, consumers finding better rates from the OTAs have caused a huge rise in hotel cancellations. A hotel’s main driver is to minimise cost of sale, but they’re now having to pay 15%-18% commission to OTAs to help fill their rooms. “We don’t mind paying a higher cost for a booking in a quiet period but in peak periods we don’t want to pay,” explains Paul Mulcahy, Senior VP Commercial of Movenpick Hotels. With hotel owners breathing down their necks demanding a healthier bottom line, tactics have changed. “Our focus is to work out what profitability we get from the OTAs and direct bookers and forecast that accurately,” adds Mulcahy. “The horse has bolted and it’s definitely clear that OTAs are big now,” he says.

“OTAs have won the game in search optimisation. They use generic key words that are insanely expensive and with a high probability of conversion.” Hotels cannot compete with the vast marketing budgets of the likes of Expedia and and are fighting back with direct-sell campaigns, incentivising the deals with added-value items such as breakfast. The approach results in a lack of channel rate parity, something that concerns the GTMC. “Hotel businesses may well have a distribution issue, but this is a challenge with OTAs and not other channels,” says Chief Executive Paul Wait. “We’re asking hotels to be clearer about where their frustrations lie. The tactics undermine the B2B market and corporate buyers’ expectations. “Many hotel brands have added benefits and price advantages into direct-sell channels only, without taking into consideration the impact on the B2B channel customers. Business travellers need to be valued too and not miss out on added-value incentives.” The GTMC would like to see hotel groups cut supply to OTAs and also reduce their reliance on them. 

Introduction / Accommodation

Many hotel groups have added beneďŹ ts and price advantages into direct-sell channels only, without taking the B2B channel into considerationâ€?


Accommodation / Introduction

In the meantime, corporates are having to handle queries from business travellers sure that they have discovered a cheaper rate on an OTA. Invariably it is not, as OTA bookings come minus account management, VAT reclamation through invoice consolidation and billback, plus a corporate would have to pay cancellation charges and pay in advance. This is certainly argument enough to avoid OTAs and this market turmoil falls neatly into the laps of TMCs, who can up their game by offering consultancy services on channel compliance and creating strong policy. TMCs are clambering to install rate auditing technology which checks rates up to the day of departure. Business Travel Direct, for example, uses Tripbam; another brand is Yapta, while Inntel has Auto Rate Checker, an in-house developed system. Inntel displays the OTA rate alongside the Inntel corporate rate – “and usually we’re cheaper,” says CEO Douglas O’Neill. Expedia and have open-source content (ie, freely available) but work then has to be done to de-duplicate properties so it’s not a seamless procedure.

TMCs are clambering to install rate auditing technology that checks rates right up to the day” But if the OTA challenge weren’t enough, then the spectre of higher rates in key cities is another daunting prospect. The trend towards consolidation in the hotel market continues apace but one acquisition – Marriott’s purchase of Starwood – is the most worrying. Clinched last year, little impact has been felt so far among corporates as 2017 has largely been about the two mega-groups integrating their systems, shedding duplicate roles and finding synergies. However, some industry observers believe the ramifications are not too far away. “As we get further into this year we’ll see them test the water and push prices up as they look to leverage their position in the market,” predicts David Mitchell, Senior VP of Supplier Relations and Global Hotel Strategy, BCD. 60

Most susceptible are major markets such as London, Paris and New York where the combined group’s number of rooms could be a monopoly. “They could dictate prices in certain cities based on their sheer market share,” says Margaret Bowler, Director, Global Hotel Relations at HRG. According to a Carlson Wagonlit Travel White Paper, the combined group will command a third of all available rooms in 14 of the top 20 cities, and 50% in some. “We’re getting a lot of questions from buyers, asking advice on strategy to help tackle this. Marriott’s always tried to lead the category on rate so there’s an expectation of that,” says BCD's Mitchell. Moving market share is the best advice: “It will open some doors for the independent hotel brands.” HRS is hoping for just that opportunity. “We bring local and independent chain options to the market that traditionally are not available to corporates,” claims Keith Watson, Director of Hotel Solutions, Western Europe. “London and New York are peppered with alternatives,” adds Russell Kett, Chairman, HVS London. “There are a phenomenal number of independent hotels to choose from.” He believes corporates should be more concerned with disruptors such as Airbnb which, although good for leisure travellers on a limited budget, are still unsuitable for business travellers.

“There are less scrupulous owners without the proper insurance,” he claims. “Airbnb has its attractions but an employer has liability issues that need to be resolved.” More suitable accommodation alternatives include serviced apartments, aparthotels and other long-stay provisions, which help corporates stretch budgets. Improved availability and automated booking have spurred acceptance levels. Consolidation is not only hitting suppliers but also intermediaries and one such segment, hotel booking agents (HBAs), have all but disappeared, or morphed into TMCs or venue-finding agents. An example is former HBA, Inntel, which now frames itself as The Meetings & Travel Management Company to reflect that 65% of its business is accounted for by services other than accommodation. “We’ve up-skilled our staff from transactional bookers to more highly trained staff with a bigger breadth of expertise,” explains CEO Douglas O’Neill. “The market used to be more about the booker phoning us and we then made the booking. Now that booking is irrelevant as it’s all about the additional service and our expertise,” he says. That expertise will be a crucial part of the corporate's armour if they are to meet the challenges infiltrating the hotel sector to ensure that their hotel programmes remain relevant to their travellers.

Accommodation / Spend management



Keeping control of your travel spend and negotiating the best deals is no mean feat, writes Gillian Upton


uyer Michelle de Costa, Director, Category Strategy & Corporate Travel at Liberty Mutual, cites six items that impact on the success of her company’s hotel programme. With 19,000 travellers to keep happy and an annual spend of $160million to manage, these are real challenges. The six areas are: ensuring the hotel loads the agreed upon rates in the GDS; ensuring that hotels honour the amenities agreed during the RFP; ensuring widespread awareness of the hotel programme; avoiding hotel leakage that may be booked at BAR rate instead of the corporate discount; avoiding bookings made outside the preferred channels; and calculating the value of included amenities. Meanwhile, buyer Jill Huffman, Global Travel Manager at Cardinal Health, has a spend of $65million and some 11,300 travellers and her challenges are different, bar one: “Travellers’ predilections for collecting points, the 62

location of facilities, duty of care, the quality of hotels, and communicating to employees the amenities included in the rate are my issues,” she says. These two examples highlight the range of issues facing buyers today when trying to run a successful hotel programme. Fewer than 40% of travellers book via their company’s recommended providers so buyers must act to bring travellers back into the correct channel if they are to meet their savings targets. “If you don’t provide a good traveller experience they will go outside,” says Lisa Scott, VP Global Client Management, BCD. Scott advises: “Diversify your programme and offer a broader programme of different room types and rate types. Engage travellers. – it’s a struggle to communicate with them so use multiple channels and at different stages of the journey; and dynamically manage your programme and hold hotels accountable.” Chris Roe, VP Sales, Distribution and Loyalty for Accor Hotels UK, sympathises

Spend management / Accommodation

Buyers are caught between a rock and a hard place, managing both cost and traveller convenience”

Fewer than 40% of travellers book via their company's recommended providers so buyers must act to bring them back”

with buyers. “They are caught between a rock and a hard place, managing cost and traveller convenience,” he says. Regular rate audits are at the heart of one buyer’s strategy in the financial services sector. Wishing to remain anonymous, she explains: “I do four audits a year. The first directly after the fares are loaded to check there are no squatter rates; usually they’re 88%-90% correct. Three months later we do another and it’s reached the upper 90%s. The third audit makes 100% and the final audit I check for squatter rates. “You need a mechanism in place internally to check you’re not being over charged. Hotels often sell second category rooms that are the slightly bigger and costlier rooms, rather than the first category or entry-level rooms, which is a standard room that we negotiate on. Travellers can only accept an upgrade at no cost, but you need to check receipts to see if it’s been charged.” It’s a cautionary tale and Cardinal Health’s

Huffman ensures that the company’s online booking tool flags up and prevents the booking of any rate that is $1 over the negotiated rate. “Then I go back to the hotel and get them to reload it.” Liberty Mutual’s Michelle de Costa found 14% rate errors this year. “Some brands have more issues than others and some we pull from the programme until the hotel figures it out. It can be $1 difference or the cancellation policy is wrong. Wifi is usually the thing we get charged for and shouldn’t. We meet with the global hotel reps every quarter to check their numbers tally with ours.” Buyers agree the key is to actively manage your programme. “Keep looking at the data, at the rate parity reports. Ensure hotels continue to deliver,” says Kevin Carr, Global Hotel Programme Manager, UBS. “Look at the hotels you use,” he adds. “Try moving from five star to four star. Push hotels to get availability. You have to keep active during the life cycle of the agreement.”


Accommodation / Spend management

The bottom line is that it’s difficult to make savings if you keep the same programme. “Benchmarking tells us that our corporate rates are best in class so we can’t source any better. The only way is to change the programme,” he says. His team is looking to change by bringing OTAs into the UBS hotel programme and open up the company’s internal marketplace. “The problem we have is how to bring them into our managed programme. How do we bring web content and GDS content into our selfbooking tool, as we want one place where people can make bookings? “GetThere, Concur and Amadeus make it sound like it’s simple but our research says availability isn’t there, that there is duplication of hotels and a difference in the way rates are shown, so there’s still work to be done. “We want a programme that stops the need to book outside the programme so we want a programme that includes OTAs, the GDS, BridgeStreet Apartments and Airbnb, for example, all offered side by side, but the technology today is not available.” TMCs can help by creating preferred hotel programmes in return for volume and better rates. Policies need to dictate hotel categories, cap rates in certain destinations and feature serviced apartments. Hotel loyalty schemes are often the cause of travellers booking outside policy, according to a GBTA survey of travel managers. Hotels personalise offerings by targeting their likes and dislikes. The combined Marriott/ Starwood loyalty scheme/s have real pulling power but perhaps the best course of action is to give travellers what they want and pull those hotels into content. Accor claims channel parity but its three million Le Club loyalty members in the UK receive a 10% discount and members can be leisure or corporate travellers. They also receive online check-in, a free drinks voucher, early check-in and late check-out and earn points. None of those frills are available through an OTA booking, although they typically are with a corporate rate. The starting point to savings is simple, says David Mitchell, Senior VP of Supplier Relations & Global Hotel Strategy, BCD: 64

If you want to be in a better negotiating position, know what you can offer. Capture your spend and diversify your partners” “If you want to be in a better negotiating position, know what you can offer. Capture your spend, understand your footprint and diversify your partners,” he advises. Our anonymous buyer has made massive savings by diversifying away from hotels into serviced apartments. Travellers are back-office staff on long-term projects on stays of over seven days. “It’s between a 35%-40% saving, and even more when two staff share the apartment,” says the buyer. With compliance correlated directly to savings, Cardinal Health’s Huffman surveys travellers after check out. Questions are weighted on items such as amenities, cleanliness and the billing process. She then aggregates the scores. “It means that any issues are highlighted quickly and if any hotel is graded under three, we take it out,” she explains. She also works with the company’s security team to select the right locations and uses the notes field in the OBT to list amenities included in the rate as a visual reminder during the booking process. But the starting point is to secure a rate, which is always based on volume. Hotels today are aggressively managing their rates, and rack rate has become BAR (best available rate) and a corporate rate a discount off BAR. It could be just 5% off in top markets but as much as 25% in soft markets. Best practice is to fix the rate first before negotiating on any value adds. Hotels’ aggressive stance often means they are more willing to negotiate on soft benefits. Wifi is a given. And perhaps you don’t need breakfast. There is renewed appetite for discounts off F&B, but last room availability

is less common, so too room upgrades. Rate caps can be used to keep a lid on prices and are prevalent with government accounts. They are usually set at the most expensive of the mandatory hotels in travel policy. If hotels won’t meet the rate cap they will suggest a less expensive brand within their group that will. Accor’s Roe explains: “We say, ‘This is the rate here but we can offer a cheaper Ibis around the corner.’ “ And when negotiating bear in mind that hotels are looking for corporates with a spread of business that includes F&B spend and meetings, preferably on a Monday or Thursday. If there is any wiggle room on days of the week this could result in a better rate. “We look at a piece of business across the estate. We need not to be dependent on one segment,” says Paul Mulcahy, Senior VP Commercial at Movenpick. One new bullish segment corporates have to compete with is high net worth individuals, at least in the luxury hotel sector. “Corporates are looking at cost reduction and don’t look at suites and top room categories but high net worth individuals do,” explains Greg Ward, VP Sales for EMEA at Shangri-La. “Hotels don’t want all their eggs in one basket so corporates are no longer the most important client,” adds HRG's Margaret Bowler. “Hotels have better data and hold the reins now.” So what does an attractive corporate customer look like? Amanda Elder, Senior VP Business Development at Kempinski Hotels, explains: “It’s not volume, but days of the week, depending on city and airlift. We love Sunday and Monday. Also total spend. F&B is key, as are meetings spend and how they book. If they’re a loyalty member, we understand their profile.” Kempinski Discovery members receive free wifi, bottled water, a priority room category and 10% off BAR rate. Bigger volumes can be put on the negotiating table if corporates combine their transient and event spend and some hotels are now boasting integrated systems that allow that to be successfully managed. “The world is more challenging,” says our anonymous buyer, “but technology should allow us to keep suppliers on their toes.”

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Accommodation / UK hotels


home front The UK’s hotel market is experiencing mixed fortunes but the budget sector shows no sign of slowing, says Colin Ellson


UK hotels / Accommodation


ncertainty about Brexit has cast a long shadow over UK plc, not least the hotel sector. But despite the 'B' word, there is some positive news. A PwC report, published earlier this year, found that after “a dismal year”, December 2016 marked the capital’s highest year-on-year growth in hotel revenue since the 2012 Olympics. “We didn’t anticipate such a sensational finish in London,” said a PwC spokesperson, “although in the provinces our outlook (the sixth consecutive year of ADR growth in 2017) was largely correct. And we are now more optimistic about London performance. “There are two key reasons for this,” they continue. “First, the economy hasn’t turned out as bad as previously predicted after better than expected GDP growth in 2016. Secondly, the weak pound appears to be finally driving stronger travel demand and this is reflected in robust RevPAR growth since November last year.” PwC does, however, counsel caution, with considerable headwinds remaining. And despite recent reported rises in business confidence, the analyst says there are reasons to remain gloomy on the outlook for household expenditure, inflation, costs and business investment. In brief, PwC says global turbulence is making for a highly unpredictable future. Another analytical report, this one by Capita Travel and Events, reveals that there are significant fluctuations from region to region. “The UK hotspots, where demand continues to outstrip supply, are Leeds, Farnborough, Portsmouth and Bracknell,” says Sam Welch, Capita’s Director of Proposition & Consulting Services. “Here, initial room rate submissions show an increase from 3.3% to 7%. “Meanwhile, previous hotspots such as Milton Keynes, are starting to indicate a slowdown, and locations experiencing rate reductions year on year include Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.” 


Accommodation / UK hotels

Looking at trends in the UK hotel market, Hotel Bulletin for the first quarter of this year shows that budget hotels now account for almost two-thirds of the UK’s top ten brands. This concludes that global hotel companies are continuing to diversify from their more upmarket offerings to the everpopular budget sector. The truth of the trend is borne out in terms of room numbers in the British pipeline. With Premier Inn and Travelodge planning 5,086 and 2,660 respectively. Third in the supply of rooms up and running is Holiday Inn, although it has just 430 in the pipeline. “Overall, it is the emerging brands that have among the most aggressive opening plans,” says the Hotel Bulletin survey. These include Hampton by Hilton, Hub by Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

The UK hotel industry is massively buoyant, with a lot of new investors in the market and high quality refurbishments of existing stock” An insider’s overview of the UK hotels scene is given by Craig Bancroft, Manager of luxury country house property Northcote in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire. “I think the UK hotel industry is massively buoyant,” he says, “with a lot of new investors in the market and high quality refurbishments and redevelopments of existing stock. This is making the overall business an exciting and vibrant one. “One of the benefits of the weakened pound is a large increase in inbound tourism and by the same token an increased level of staycation activity. The most difficult thing, however, is current [staff] shortages within the industry and in particular for middle management and chefs,” adds Bancroft. Hoteliers across the UK will hope that such issues will be a major consideration in the Brexit negotiations, whichever party holds the reins after the General Election in June. 68


UK hoTELS – WHO offers what

Britannia Hotels There are 54 Britannia hotels across the UK, offering 9,000 rooms. Located in major cities, near airports or set in attractive countryside, these include, London, Birmingham, Coventry Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford airport, Brighton, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. easyHotel Owner, developer, operator and franchisor of so-called “super budget properties”, easy owns hotels, in London (Old Street), Croydon, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester, the latter opening in May this year. In addition, easyHotel Liverpool is due to open this summer. Other hotels in the pipeline include new, easy-owned properties in Ipswich, Sheffield and Leeds. GLH Hotels GLH offers four brands: Amba, Thistle, Clermont/Guoman and Every. The group has 14 hotels in central London, among them The Cumberland, The Grosvenor, The Royal Horseguards and the Royal Trafalgar. In recent years, large investment has been made in Thistle, the four-star brand. Grange Hotels London The group has 17 properties in the capital, providing four-star and five-star luxury accommodation, hospitality and events services. The hotels include the Grange St. Pauls, Grange Tower Bridge, Grange White Hall, Grange Buckingham, Grange Portland and Grange Lancaster. All include exclusive dining and conference facilities. Hastings Hotels The Northern Ireland group has six hotels including the celebrated Europa and Stormont in Belfast. Outside the capital, Hastings also owns the four-star Everglades in Derry/ Londonderry, and Ballygally Castle on the Antrim coast. The group's Grand Central Hotel is due to open in Belfast in 2018. Jury’s Inn Claiming its properties are picked for their prime positions, proximity to business centres and transport hubs, fast-growing Jury’s has over 35 hotels across the UK and Ireland. They include hotels in London, Aberdeen, Brighton, Manchester and Edinburgh, plus hotels in Belfast, Dublin and Cork and at Aberdeen and East Midlands airports.


Macdonald Hotels & Resorts Noted for charm and character, the group’s 54 hotels are found across the UK, from Bath, Oxford and Southampton to Birmingham, Coventry and Windsor. The Scottish portfolio includes, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Malmaison/Hotel du Vin Owned by the Singapore-based Frasers Hospitality Group, the boutique Malmaison brand comprises 15 hotels in the likes of London, Oxford, Leeds and Liverpool. Its highend sister brand, Hotel du Vin, has 17 hotels around the country. Montcalm Luxury Hotels A six-strong collection of luxury hotels across London, including properties in the City, Marble Arch, Finsbury Square and Shoreditch. Point A Hotels A new kid on the block, this budget brand has seven properties – one in Glasgow and six in London – following the takeover and re-branding of Tune Hotels earlier this year. Rates start from £69 per night in London. Premier Inn The UK's largest hotel chain has over 750 properties in prime locations all over Britain. It claims to be the only group in the UK to offer a Good Night Guarantee, confident that if guests are not happy with their stay they will receive a 100% refund. It has a target of 50 international properties by 2018. Principal Hotel Company The former Principal Hayley group operates De Vere (country house hotels) and Principal Hotels, the latter featuring landmark buildings in city locations including London, York, Edinburgh and Manchester. Travelodge Travelodge is the second-largest hotel brand in the UK. It leases, franchises and owns over 540 properties in Britain, Spain and Ireland, with the UK the largest market, generating 99% of total revenue. It has recently launched upgraded SuperRooms. Z Hotels The designer budget group promises "concentrated style and an out-of-town price" at its hotels in London (six), Liverpool and Glasgow, with an opening in Bath due in 2018.


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Accommodation / Five reasons


THINK INDEPENDENT HOTELS Independent hotels make up a huge portion of the market and are often cheaper than chains, says Andy Besent, Managing Director UK & Ireland, HRS

1 2



Research by HRS found that rates at independent hotels in the same location as chain options, and of the same rating and with the same amenities, were generally cheaper, by 8% to 15%. “Buyers should consider independent hotels as part of their travel programme,” says Andy Besent. “Chain hotels have traditionally been used as it's easier to book them via the GDS, but these days it’s much easier to get hold of wider content.”


Many independent and boutique properties offer character and a unique experience for travellers. Besent explains: “Business travellers expect consistency and smooth processes around their hotel stay. Beyond this minimum requirement, many appreciate the personal service and the ‘sense of place’ that might be more easily found in an independent hotel.”

DISTRIBUTION Travel bookers are able to access and book a wider range of hotel content than ever before – including independent hotels – via structured and more standardised technology. The GDS systems and travel management companies take their feeds from more sources than ever and deliver corporates a greater choice of hotels. Of the 300,000 hotels globally on HRS's platform, more than half are independent properties. “Sourcing is important,” says Besent. “We can negotiate with independent hotels through our own terms and negotiate rates, for example, all through our own systems.”

Many business travellers appreciate the 'sense of place' which might be more easily found in an independent hotel”



FLEXIBILITY Independent hotels aren't restricted by parent brands and layers of bureaucracy, meaning they can be faster to act and more flexible in the way they negotiate corporate deals to suit a company's specific needs. They also work well if you have high volumes in a small number of locations. “This is an attractive prospect for many travel managers and it can reduce the amount of paperwork and time needed for negotiations,” says Besent.


Independent hotels dominate the market, accounting for around 88% of properties in Europe and 95% in Asia. In fact, only in North America do chains dominate (60% versus 40% independents). Besent says: “In a highly fragmented hotel market there are far more independent hotels from which to choose than chain hotels, which could mean more convenient options and better rates.”

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Accommodation / Serviced apartments

LONG-STAY solutions

Travellers spending more than a few nights away on business might appreciate the benefits of serviced apartments, says Catherine Chetwynd, while buyers will like the potential cost savings


erviced apartments provide space, flexibility and freedom for corporate travellers. Kitchen facilities give them the chance to eat what they like, when they like and those travelling alone are not left looking lonely in a restaurant or bar. They can also be very cost effective. “Apartments tend to be quieter than hotels, as there are fewer people walking past your door,” says Senior Account Manager at SilverDoor and Citybase, Chris Lyon. With travellers’ wellbeing of increasing concern to corporate buyers, the convenience, comfort and security of a serviced apartment answers these worries. And the kind of shortterm projects that serviced apartments are ideal for are increasing, with assignments of less than 12 months doubling over the past decade, according to PwC. International SOS is a company increasingly asking for serviced apartments. “We use them for those transferring to a location but people also want them for shorter trips, so we are looking at more options for transient travellers,” says Group Senior Manager – Assistance Travel, Ryan Taylor. “I travel every two weeks, and I like to do my own shopping and enjoy the space of a serviced apartment. Rather than be con72

strained by hotel menus or be sitting at a bar, I can spend three or four nights doing my own thing,” he says. Versatility is all, and this year Cambridgebased Citystay responded to customer demand by offering one-night apartment stays. “To become part of a company’s global travel programme, serviced apartments must be prepared to adapt to the business traveller’s requirements through flexible

The longer that employees stay, the more cost-effective apartments become, and self-catering is also a lot cheaper than eating out” service provision, intelligent online booking tools, streamlined procedures and detailed reporting systems,” says Operations Manager, Declan Fitzhenry. The longer employees stay, the more cost- effective apartments become, while self-catering is also a lot cheaper than eating out. Many services are included and

companies often choose locations that are close to where employees are working – thus reducing travel costs. “It is important to take into consideration the entire cost of the stay,” says General Manager EMEA at Oakwood Worldwide, Tom Meertens. AET Tankers uses serviced apartments for directors visiting London for short stays. “Apartments are nicer and more spacious than hotel rooms – and are also cheaper,” says PA and Team Coordinator, Jackie Long. “Two-bed apartments can be shared, which also saves money. And you always have a large TV with Sky, a DVD player, music system etc, which you do not get in hotels. In addition, the wifi is free and you get a welcome pack and usually a concierge.”

Onwards and upwards The serviced apartments industry continues to reinvent itself, ensuring that suppliers are able to differentiate themselves. Branding is at the forefront of this and one of the latest to join the fray is Cheval’s property in Doha. It is the group’s first departure from the UK and will open late 2020/early 2021. “We will be introducing a four-star brand Cheval ApartHotels and as we go on, we might be looking at Cheval Homes or Cheval Villas,” 

Accommodation / Serviced apartments

The serviced apartments industry continues to reinvent itself, ensuring that suppliers are able to differentiate themselves�


Accommodation / Serviced apartments

says Director, George Westwell. “We want to be clear that Cheval Residences in London is our five-star, long-term brand but with the scale of the Doha property, we feel it is more apt to describe it as an aparthotel. It will have Cheval quality throughout.” And where SACO’s forthcoming Amsterdam property was originally billed as a Locke aparthotel, Head of Sales and Account Management, Matt Roberts, says: “It is a high-end, heritage property and is not quite SACO or Locke.”

Online versus offline The online/offline debate continues but as the sector grows, booking technology is becoming ever more versatile. “We do all our bookings offline and we will stay with that. It is so much easier to pick up the phone and make changes or send an email,” says Ryan Taylor. “Last month we had 30 people from around the globe going into apartments in the UK and it was simpler to phone to give a heads up and then confirm things by email.”

The number of room nights booked per year required for corporates to get a good rate ranges from 50 up to 250” This year, BridgeStreet launched an OTA for businesses to book its owned and managed properties. “Anyone who owns a serviced apartment or extended stay hotel can list on our website and we will make them available in real time to everyone,” says the company's former Managing Director of EMEA & APAC, Shaun Hinds. “Companies are able to book their rates under their rules on the site.” The tool plugs into the property management system (PMS) of all providers on the site, allowing live booking. It handles short and long stays, tax implications after 28 days, and payment, including billback. SilverDoor’s booking tool can be predicated on client requirements, with budget caps built in, and MI reports feeding directly into corporate technology. 74

Clarendon Serviced Apartments recently upgraded to Rerum, the latest generation of Resharmonics’ system, which it has been using for ten years. “The new model links the operational side, guest services and housekeeping, so we have got the whole guest picture in one place,” says Commercial Director, Peter Morgan. The internet booking engine is live, and integrating the channel manager follows. MI reporting is available at the click of a button and, “In the next 12 months, we will be providing a dedicated log-in for corporates so they can access some of this information directly. They will be able to check their rates, their contract and potentially submit enquiries and bookings,” he says. The system provides considerable time savings in processing reservations and enquiries and highlights areas where clients are making enquiries, alerting Clarendon to development potential. “It is starting to add value to the business,” says Morgan. Halo Apartments, meanwhile, installed the modular system TEAMS by AVQuest to replace a PMS and channel manager. “The systems provided exposure and straightforward bookings but we needed to automate the payment process to take full advantage of the increased number of requests,” says Director of Halo Serviced Apartments, Jennifer Bryson. “It has speeded up all processes and reduced the risk of human error, so we have fewer charge-backs [refunds] and fewer no shows,” Bryson explains.

Deal or no deal? The number of room nights booked per year required for corporates to get a good rate varies widely but from 50 to 250 are figures often cited. Although as Karim Malak, Deputy CEO at Adagio City Aparthotel, points out: “The number of room nights is not the key metric. We look more at the number of potential clients and the potential long stays,” he explains. Aggregate one-off projects can add up to a lot of additional room nights. Cheval Residences, meanwhile, negotiates from 100 room nights and SACO will offer a corporate deal but review it if the volumes are large enough. “Some large corporate customers can probably command anything from 20% off the corporate rate,” says the company's Matt Roberts.


Apartment openings BridgeStreet launched Stüdyo in London Paddington (21 units), which has rooms without kitchen and living room but with communal kitchen, dining area and laundry. A Stüdyo-like Waterloo property follows, called Stow-Away (20). Roomzzz opens three properties in the autumn: London Stratford (87); Newcastle City, extended from 14 to 88 rooms; and Manchester Corn Exchange (114). Staycity is operating in Marseille (108) and Lyon (144), with Manchester Piccadilly and London Covent Garden arriving later this year, and Liverpool in 2018. In fact, Manchester is opening 1,000 apartments across the city, including CitySuites, La Reserve Aparthotel and a 550-unit Kampus scheme. Edinburgh is also centre of attention and openings include Lateral City (50) and Apple Apartments’ aparthotel (21) both in 2017, and BridgeStreet’s Mode in 2018. In London, Residence Inn graces London Bridge (87) with its presence in Q2 and Kensington (307) in Q4. A Moxy/Residence Inn is under construction in Amsterdam and Crowne Plaza/ Staybridge Suites will rise in Manchester. Marlin Waterloo opens in June (234) and Citadines Islington (108) in 2019; Grange Hotels’ all-suite property will overlook Tower Bridge (late 2017) and SACO Fitzrovia (34) now rules over Tottenham Street, W1. SACO will also open Locke aparthotels in Manchester, London and Dublin. The Squ.are has launched in Berlin, Bangalore and San Francisco, with Washington (May) and Boston (June) to come. Frasers Hospitality moves into 48 properties in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Oakwood Suites’ property in Singapore is aimed at millennials.


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Accommodation / Aparthotels


THE MIDDLE Serviced apartment providers and major hotel groups alike are building their presence in the aparthotel market, a sector rapidly increasing its market share, says Catherine Chetwynd


he rise and rise of aparthotels – the middle ground between hotels and serviced apartments – ties in with the growing corporate emphasis on traveller wellbeing and companies’ duty of care towards them. Their similarity to hotels – with 24-hour reception, often somewhere to eat, smaller bedrooms and increasingly large public spaces, plus the facility to book guests in for any length of stay – makes them familiar to travellers and bookers, and they are largely bookable through GDS, overcoming another management hurdle. “It is easier to position an aparthotel alongside a hotel programme for short and extended stays, which can offer anywhere from one night’s to one year’s stay,” says Head of Sales and Account Management for SACO, Matt Roberts. Until recently, around 80 units was the average size of an extended stay property but a new, larger model is coming into play such as Citadines Islington with 108 units, Staycity’s two properties in France with 108 and 144 keys, and Marlin Waterloo with 234 units. The property is a new model for the company, with onsite facilities such as bar, café, meeting rooms and a Sainsbury’s. “The culture of the company has always been to bring people together. The bar will 76

enhance that and anybody from any of our properties can attend,” says Managing Director, Susan Cully. And commercially, “The size of the property brings the benefits of economies of scale across the portfolio. It gives us better purchasing power.” Staycity is seeing particularly strong corporate bookings and the brand is evolving to include bigger lounges with flexible seating, cafés serving breakfast and light lunch and, in the new Manchester property, four meeting rooms. Its London Covent Garden property (due to open in July) will establish a new premium brand. “Larger properties have greater economies of scale so we can achieve superior guest satisfaction because we have the commercial ability to provide a fitness room, an all-day café, guest laundry room etc, while still offering better value for money and superior guest in-room amenities compared to hotels,” says Staycity CEO, Tom Walsh. Staycity’s pipeline comprises mainly properties of up to 300 keys. “A larger property allows the operator to offer various sizes of accommodation according to market demand and the cost of staffing can be spread across more units,” says Chairman of KVS, Russell Kett. “There are generally few public areas, as that’s not what guests require, although

there is a move towards including some public space such as a café or coffee shop for both guests and local people.” Cheval is entering aparthotel territory on a grand scale with 350 rooms in an upmarket four-star property in Doha, Qatar. Also new to the game is City Stay, which opens with 58 units in Milton Keynes. Leman Locke by SACO is typical of the lifestyle aparthotels that are raising the profile of the segment, which is reflected in its cultural programme that runs the gamut of entertainment, from talks by business leaders through meditation to cooking classes. And Go Native is also entering the fray with Empire Warehouse (75 unites) on London’s Bankside, opening this summer. This will be followed in 2018 by properties in Glasgow (60 plus) and Manchester (100 plus). To mitigate the stresses and strains of business travel, newcomer CitySuites in Manchester has forged partnerships with companies that provide personal training, catering, hairdressing, dentistry and more. The big global hotel groups mostly have an aparthotel brand in their portfolio too. One such offering is Accor’s Adagio which is undergoing a reinvention with a new style that is captured by Be My Guest and modelled on conversations with clients, former clients and non-clients.

Aparthotels / Accommodation

“It struck us that they recognised the value of interaction with teams, something they can’t find in C2C models and won’t have in a larger hotel,” says Deputy CEO for Aparthotels Adagio, Karim Malak. “So we wanted to increase that part of our offering and make sure the teams were increasing interactions with clients.” The brand is also refurbishing and reinventing its common areas, and adding an object library, which is stuffed with eclectic items such as a seesaw, knife for shucking oysters or guitar, allowing customers to personalise their room. Another facet of Be My Guest is also to make it easier for guests to meet each other, with events to animate public areas such

drinks in the lounge or dinner served by guest restaurants. Aparthotels’ popularity has risen as customers have become disenchanted with standardised hotels, which has inspired niches such as aparthotels, Airbnb and boutique hotels. The ability to stay in and cook is another boon for guests, while for operators it comes down to “real estate and price: a lot of property companies want to develop aparthotels because they find good margins there”, says Malak. Conversely, Airbnb has also played a role in raising the profile of serviced apartments by showing customers that they can rent a flat for a week or a month. “Serviced apartments have a big advantage over Airbnb properties in that you know where to get the key, you have somebody there if something goes wrong and, for corporates, they tick all the health and safety regulations and duty of care boxes on the RFP but guests still feel it is their space,” says Director of Nina & Pinta, Claudia Unger. The hotel groups that have long been running aparthotels in the US are increasingly making their mark here. Cycas Hospitality, which manages

five of IHG’s Staybridge Suites in the UK, has launched ‘project smile’ with the intention of employing ‘fun’ people to bring their personalities to work with them. “We create rapport with our guests which in turn builds loyalty and guest satisfaction,” says Cycas Director, John Wagner. Guest entertainment ranges from table tennis tournaments to silent discos, and Handy Phones are being introduced at some properties to provide local knowledge, allow restaurant bookings and free international phone calls to selected destinations. Staybridge Suites’ Liverpool property has just received a £1million makeover, and a further Staybridge Suites will open in Manchester as part of a dual branded property with sister IHG brand Crowne Plaza. Meanwhile, Hilton’s aparthotel offering, Embassy Suites, are located in North and South America and Homewood Suites in North, South America and Canada. And the eponymous Hyatt House is largely in the US, plus two in China and one in Germany. Operators of aparthotels continue not only to raise the profile of extended stay properties but to push the boundaries as well, whether through varied levels of service, quirky, distinguishing services, or the brand name to represent these things.

Aparthotel operators continue not only to raise the profile of extended stay properties but to push the boundaries as well”


Global hotel groups / Accommodation

WORLD service Global travel programmes need global hotel groups but are buyers currently facing more challenges than solutions?


hen Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts last year it became the world’s largest hotel group, a behemoth comprising 30 brands, nearly 6,000 hotels and over one million rooms. The hotel giant promised “the world’s best portfolio of hotel brands, the most comprehensive global footprint, and the most extensive loyalty programs, providing an unparalleled guest experience.” But travel managers were concerned about the future of their negotiated deals and the prospect of less competition in key business centres, while travellers wondered what would happen to Marriott and Starwoods’ respective loyalty programmes and their hard-earned points. Nine months later the dust is still to settle and procurement’s concerns remain untested (see p58-60). Further unsettling the buyer/supplier relationship are the big groups’ tactics to win back their own business from the OTAs who take a large chunk of commission. Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Hyatt and, most recently, Best Western, have all launched campaigns offering incentives such as free

Global groups are diversifying from their traditionally more upmarket offerings by increasing their foothold in the budget segment”

wifi and guaranteed best rates to those who book direct through their respective portals. Not surprisingly, it has ruffled the feathers of TMCs and travel managers battling to keep travellers compliant for reasons of negotiated deals, accurate MI and duty of care. "The current tactics undermine the B2B market and corporate buyers’ desires and expectations,” says Paul Wait, Chief Executive of business travel organisation the GTMC. “The hotel industry created a problem that led to the growth of OTAs and their constant undercutting of hotel website prices. As a way of competing with this, many hotel brands have added benefits and price advantages into direct sell channels only, without taking into consideration the impact on the B2B channel customers. Business travellers need to be valued too and not miss out on added-value incentives.” For many companies with global travel programmes – and those with big volumes in certain cities – it makes sense to work with the global groups who have hotels of varying standards and price points, from economy to luxury, concentrated in business locations around the world. Travel managers need enter fewer RFPs and negotiations and can land favourable rates and soft benefits while travellers can bag their loyalty points and expect certain brand standards and service levels. A study from HRS found that, on average, chain hotels make up almost half of global corporate hotel programmes, and in a quarter of cases this share is as high as 70% to 100% of accommodation requirements.

But it also noted that chain hotels “make up only a fraction of the hotel market”. It says independent hotels comprise 88% of the hotel market in Europe, although the picture is different in the US, where global groups account for around 60% of the “traditionally chain-heavy market”. In the UK, two domestic brands, Premier Inn and Travelodge, dominate the market – with 67,500 and 39,500 rooms respectively – but the global groups still have good penetration. IHG’s Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands are the next most prevalent in the country (with 20,700 and 16,000 rooms), while Hilton is fifth, Marriott eighth and Accor’s budget Ibis brand ninth. Homegrown budget brands evidently dominate the UK market but the global groups are getting in on the act. “Global brands like Hilton and Marriott are continuing to diversify from their traditionally more upmarket offerings by increasing their foothold in the budget segment,” says the latest Hotel Bulletin report from HVS, AlixPartners, STR and AM:PM. Globally, these groups also continue their relentless launch of new brands and entry into new markets. Hilton, for example, which in the last few years alone has launched the Tapestry, Curio, Canopy and Tru brands, called 2016 “a year of record growth and innovation”. It also claims that one in five hotel rooms under construction globally is being developed under a Hilton brand, with nearly 310,000 rooms in the pipeline. • Turnover for our guide to the top ten global hotel groups’ brands and worldwide presence.


Accommodation / Global hotel groups PARENT COMPANY





C&S America


Middle East

Bulgari Luxury Marriott International Edition Luxury 5,948 properties JW Marriott Luxury 1,160,686 rooms market share Luxury Collection Luxury 7.1% Ritz-Carlton Luxury St Regis Luxury W Hotels Luxury Autograph Collection Upper upscale Delta Hotels Upper upscale Gaylord Upper upscale Le Meridien Upper upscale Marriott Upper upscale Marriott Executive Apartment Upper upscale Renaissance Upper upscale Sheraton Upper upscale Tribute Portfolio Upper upscale Westin Upper upscale AC Hotels by Marriott Upscale Aloft Upscale Courtyard Upscale Element Upscale Four Points by Sheraton Upscale Residence Inn Upscale Springhill Suites Upscale Fairfield Inn Upper midscale Moxy Upper midscale Protea Hotels Upper midscale TownePlace Suites Upper midscale Conrad Luxury Hilton Worldwide Waldorf Astoria Luxury 4,873 properties Canopy by Hilton Upper upscale 793,252 rooms Curio Collection Upper upscale 4.9% market share Embassy Suites Upper upscale Hilton Upper upscale DoubleTree by Hilton Upscale Hilton Garden Inn Upscale Homewood Suites Upscale Hampton Upper midscale Home2 Suites Upper midscale Tru by Hilton Midscale Intercontinental Luxury Intercontinental Hotels Group Hotel Indigo Upper upscale 5,025 properties Kimpton Upper upscale 728,242 rooms 4.5% market share Crowne Plaza Upscale Even Hotels Upscale HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts Upscale Staybridge Suites Upscale Holiday Inn Upper midscale Holiday Inn Express Upper midscale Candlewood Suites Midscale Dolce Hotels & Resorts Upper upscale Wyndham Worldwide Wyndham Grand Hotels Upper upscale 7,705 properties Wyndham Upscale 675,941 rooms 4.2% market share Days Hotels Upper midscale Tryp by Wyndham Upper midscale Wyndham Garden Upper midscale Baymont Inns & Suites Midscale Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Midscale Ramada Worldwide Midscale Wingate by Wyndham Midscale Days Inn Economy Howard Johnson Economy Knights Inn Economy Microtel by Wyndham Economy Super 8 Economy Thriftlodge Economy Travelodge Economy


North America

Global hotel groups / Accommodation PARENT COMPANY HOTEL BRAND CHAIN SCALE Africa APAC C&S America Europe Middle East Fairmont Luxuy AccorHotels Raffles Luxury 3,900 properties Sofitel Luxury 529,307 rooms M Gallery by Sofitel Upper upscale 3.3% market share Pullman Upper upscale Swissotel Upper upscale The Sebel Upper upsacle Grand Mercure Upscale Novotel Upscale Adagio Upper midscale Mama Shelter Upper midscale Mercure Upper midscale Ibis Midscale Ibis Styles Midscale Adagio Access Midscale Ibis Budget Economy Formule 1 Economy Hotel F1 Economy International Ascend Upscale Choice Hotels Cambria Hotels & Suites Upscale 6,449 properties Clarion Collection Upscale 512,045 rooms Clarion Upper midscale 3.2% market share Comfort Inn Upper midscale Comfort Suites Upper midscale Quality Upper midscale MainStay Suites Midscale Sleep Inn Midscale Econolodge Economy Rodeway Inn Economy Best Western Premier Upscale Best Western Hotels & Resorts BW Premier Collection Upscale 3,602 properties Best Western Plus Upper midscale 287,489 rooms 1.8% market share Best Western Midscale Quorvus Collections Upper upscale Carlson Rezidor hotel group Radisson Blu Upper upscale 1,143 properties Radisson Red Upper upscale 179,315 rooms market share Radisson Upscale 1.1% Park Plaza Upscale Park Inn Upper midscale Country Inns & Suites Upper midscale & resorts Andaz Luxury Hyatt hotels Grand Hyatt Luxury 666 properties Park Hyatt Luxury 173,925 rooms market share The Unbound Collection Luxury 1.1% Hyatt Upper upscale Hyatt Centric Upper upscale Hyatt Regency Upper upscale Hyatt House Upscale Hyatt Place Upscale Jin Jiang Hotel Upscale Jinjiang hotels (Data unavailable) Magnolia Midscale Metropolo Jinjiang Midscale Bestay Hotel Express Economy Goldmet Inn Economy JinJiang Inn Style Economy JinJiang Inns Economy

North America

Source: data and analytics specialist STR Global (Jan 2017). STR’s data sample in the hotel industry comprises more than 52,000 hotels and 7.1 million rooms around the globe


Reader's rant / Accommodation


BEDDING DOWN An anonymous travel manager bemoans their travellers’ exacting hotel requirements

Why oh why are so many of our travellers stuck in their ways? Business hotels: most of us stay in them a couple of times a week at most, so what do we really need? A clean and comfy bed? A shower or bath? A TV? Some food? Those things are enough for me, so why are my travellers so anal about where they stay when they're travelling on business? Why does it have to be the one that costs twice as much as the one that's actually in policy? Does it really need to be the one with the pool? Does it really have to have a Michelin star restaurant? And that one you like just because it’s a hundred yards closer to the office – well,

is that really necessary? The walk would do you good! And must it really be the same brand every time? Oh yes, of course, you need to bag your loyalty points. Honestly though, the hotel across the road that’s £15 a night cheaper is just as clean, just as comfy, just as nice, and just as suitable for business use! I know £15 a night extra doesn’t sound a lot for you to stay at your preferred choice, but when you add your stay to the 2,000 other nights we book, then actually you and all the other travellers who are apparently terrified of change are costing the company £30,000 a year. Believe me, I have heard all the excuses under the sun. There aren’t any prostitutes at the hotel, the extra (100-yard) walk isn’t 'dangerous', the rooms aren’t dirty, you won't get food poisoning and there aren’t any rats. I would know because I've stayed there enough times! Please, live a little, embrace change and try doing the right thing instead of the same thing you have been doing for years.



THEAccommodation DEBATE

/ Hotels versus apartments


COUNTING THE COST Hotels and serviced apartments have their various merits, says Catherine Chetwynd, who also considers the price points of each

The prevalence of hotel brands – and thereby customer expectations – is one of the key differentials separating the hotel industry and the evolving serviced apartment sector. Just as no one would expect Mandarin Oriental standards from Premier Inn, the latter still promises and delivers a comfortable bed and quality bed linen, for example. Similarly, Cheval ApartHotel is guaranteeing a four-star experience with all the quality associated with the Cheval name and Mercedes-Benz’s partnership with Frasers incorporates the automotive manufacturer’s sleek, high-end design into Frasers’ elegant, welcoming environment. But even hotel companies’ bent for gathering together disparate properties under the 'collection' banner has entered the serviced apartment lexicon through the likes of Ascott. Space, is of course, another key differentiator. Limited space in hotel bedrooms means that however comfortable guests may be for two or three nights, after that, they may well want to move to the greater space and flexibility of an aparthotel but still with the security and reassurance of 24-hour reception. Serviced apartments, meanwhile, fulfil a valuable role for employees on relocation, project work or even directors travelling together. 84


Price is also a factor. Serviced apartments of all types are generally less expensive per night than hotels, go down in price as the number of nights stayed goes up, and where employees share an apartment, not only do savings start to ramp up in a big way but food bills get proportionately lower. In short, it is a matter of marrying up the individuals with the work they are doing and the length of time they are doing it, ensuring they are comfortable in practical surroundings that meet their needs.



Sample rates provided by The Apartment Service


London (The City)

One-bed apartment

Two-bed apartment


1-7 nights 7+ nights One month+ Three months+

£270 £261 £195 £177

£347 £330 £260 £248

£300 £270

London (Canary Wharf)

One-bed apartment

Two-bed apartment


1-7 nights 7+ nights One month+ Three months+

£210 £195 £150 £120

£280 £250 £210 £185

£250 £210


One-bed apartment

Two-bed apartment


1-7 nights 7+ nights One month+ Three months+

£129 £72 £66 £60

£171 £125 £88 £80

£140 £125


One-bed apartment

Two-bed apartment


1-7 nights 7+ nights One month+ Three months+

£200 £157 £140 £125

£260 £200 £160 £135

£195 £170


One-bed apartment

Two-bed apartment


1-7 nights 7+ nights One month+ Three months+

£85 £80 £75 £68

£120 £115 £107 £94

£140 £120

stay ahead stay with us With over 3,000 apartments, In 10 major European cities, Your next step is simple. Book direct at

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Untitled-6 1

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This highly

anticipated new property is due to open in July and will be Nobu Hotels’ first European venture. Located in trendy Shoreditch, it will feature 150 guest rooms, including seven suites with private balconies, and a 240-seat Nobu restaurant that opens on to an open air terrace with seating for a further 80 people. There is also a semi-private dining space overlooking the open kitchen. The Kaijo meeting and event space is suitable for small meetings and conferences and can be used as one 180m2 space for up to 200 people or divided into six spaces. that's a FACT

The unique

design of the hotel is a result of the collective efforts of Ron Arad Architects and Ben Adams Architects. The striking design features overhanging floor slabs and cantilevered steel beams forming a frayed edge. they said it

“Each of the

guest rooms exudes refined, relaxed sophistication, linking timeless design with contemporary functionality. Black joinery contrasts with the exposed concrete structure and soft textiles of the furniture.” RATES

Deluxe rooms

start from £249 per night (including VAT). Suites range from £449 to £749 per night.

Each of the guest rooms exudes refined, relaxed sophistication, linking timeless design with contemporary functionality” 86


On the road with


Luke Richards travels the world as Head of Client Services for global law firm Pinsent Masons. Yet something keeps drawing him back to Birmingham... Next trip: Birmingham! It's all due to the completion of two new office projects in the city.


D E TA I L S Name: Luke Richards. Position & company: Head of Client Services, Pinsent Masons. Nature of your business: Law firm. Based in: London. Business trips per year: Lost count. Estimated annual mileage: A lot! Regular destinations: Currently Birmingham, which is not necessarily the most exciting destination but the city is changing. Most recent trip: Birmingham again.


Memorable experience: Flying on the Airbus A380 to Hong Kong when British Airways first launched it on their network. I was on the upper deck in Club World and the cabin was just huge, like nothing else. I also flew the Boeing 787 Dreamliner recently with Qatar Airways… I am a bit obsessed with flying. Worst travel experience: Years ago on a team building course, where the room reservations had been messed up, meaning I TOO CLOSE had to share a room with FOR COMFORT someone else. I like my privacy and personal space, so I did not sleep a wink.

SUPPLIERS Preferred airlines: British Airways for its classiness, Virgin Atlantic for its coolness and Qatar Airways for its complete and utter luxuriousness. Loyalty points – obsessive collector or not bothered? Specific, but not obsessive. Favourite loyalty scheme: British Airways Executive Club.

S T E P P I N G O N B OA R D Flights: work, rest or play? I love flying, so all of the above, but in the reverse order of preference. Onboard connectivity: take it or leave it? Leave it. Onboard habits: A decent gin and tonic mostly.

D E S T I N AT I O N S Happy never to go back to: Birmingham for a while, but only

because I have spent too much time away from home. But otherwise I have always found something amazing about almost every destination I have ever been to. Send me back to: New York, Ibiza, Sydney... these are my regular trips that I love. But there are so many places still to go, so I try and not revisit places too often. Top overseas landmark: Probably Golden Gate bridge and the hills and houses in San Francisco.

R O O M F O R I M P R OV E M E N T One thing that would improve business travel: Never being delayed when heading home. Biggest business travel irritation: Getting a text from the airline telling

you the flight is delayed, but also telling you that PILLOW you still need to arrive at XXXXX PRO the airport for the scheduled departure time. Pack light or go prepared? Always pack light. Never leave home without: Pillow spray is a must when staying in a hotel.

T R AV E L P O L I C Y Stick to the travel policy or a bit of a maverick? I try to conform, but if there’s a loophole I will find it! If you could change one thing about your travel policy... I would allow a free leisure trip each year tagged on to a business trip, just to be nice.




On business in…


The port city of Muscat, capital of Oman, has historical roots in trade that are manifested today in some of the world’s major trading companies that maintain offices in the city, not least in the dominant oil sector

setting. The Kargeen Café is a great

rental companies on the airport

spot for Arabian fare and to enjoy

arrivals concourse should you prefer

Plenty of international hotel brands

a shisha. The Beach Pavilion at the

the freedom of your own wheels.

are represented in Oman. Among

Al Bustan Palace Hotel is located on


them are the Grand Hyatt and


InterContinental and, at the

dining and fresh seafood.

budget end of the scale, Ibis and Holiday Inn. Three of the best known luxury hotels in the region are The Chedi,

Getting there Oman Air flies twice-daily from London Heathrow to Muscat and, additionally, operates a new daily flight from Manchester. British Airways flies to Muscat five times a week from Heathrow and one-stop options are available with various airlines.

the seafront and offers outdoor

Must-see sights Muscat is the place to be for


traditional architecture and natural eye-openers. Key highlights

Muscat has a large number of

include Sultan Qaboos

Ritz-Carlton's Al Bustan Palace and

licensed pubs and bars, which are

Grand Mosque, the

Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort.

mainly found in hotels. Trader Vic’s

Royal Opera House and

in the InterContinental is a popular

Bait Al Zubair museum.

spot for cocktails and Duke’s Bar in

Qurum beach is the

the Crowne Plaza hotel is the most

perfect spot to catch some

popular English-style pub in Muscat.

sun and unwind, or consider

For a more relaxed evening try the

visiting Qurum Natural Park. City

John Barry Bar which is the main bar

Centre Muscat has a large number

of the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel.

of modern shopping malls.

E at i n g


G e t t i n g D o w n to w n There are plenty of taxis available

The popular Bait Al Luban restaurant

from the airport to downtown Muscat

offers traditional Omani cuisine and

but be sure to agree a fare before

views over the corniche, while The

starting the journey. Some hotels

Beach Restaurant at The Chedi serves

operate courtesy buses from the

seafood from its private beachside

airport. There are also numerous car



Meeting in



Brighton is known for its strengths in the digital, cultural and creative industries, as well as health, environmental and life sciences. The trendy seaside city is recognised as a dynamic conference setting with a vibrant atmosphere, writes Benjamin Coren

British Airways i360

Royal Pavilion

Lower Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2LN 03337 720 360 /

4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE 03000 290 902 / royalpavilion

The world’s tallest moving observation tower is available for exclusive event hire for receptions for up to 175 people. There is a sky bar, sound system and video screens. Beachside event rooms are also available for hire, featuring state-of-the-art AV systems and superfast fibre-optic broadband. DDR BLUE-SKY from £49.50 THINKING (+VAT) per person.


Malmaison Brighton Waterfront, Brighton Marina Village, Brighton, BN2 5WA / 01273 679 799 /

Getting there Brighton is well connected with road and rail links to international airports and major UK cities. Brighton is under an hour away from London by rail and 40 minutes by road on the M23. London Gatwick Airport is 30 minutes away and Heathrow is 90 minutes away. Further information Contact the conference team at Visit Brighton: Tel: 01273 292635; Email:; and see



The newly opened seaside hotel at Brighton Marina is suitable for both board meetings and conferences. Bespoke meetings packages are available and there are numerous ‘Work & Play’ room options for up to 84 delegates theatre style. Packages include room hire, lunch, LCD projector and screen or TV, various accessories and high-speed wifi. DDR from £40 (+VAT) per person.

The former royal pleasure palace of King George IV is steeped in history and heritage. Designed to entertain the King's court, the magnificent banqueting room can host up to 200 delegates for a drinks reception and 150 for a buffet. Various other rooms in the property are also available to hire as well as the Brighton Museum rooms. Room hire costs starts from £580.



Sussex County Cricket Ground The 1st Central County Ground, Eaton Road, Hove, BN3 3AN / 0844 264 1736 /

With pitch-side views, the county ground's FLEXIBLE event facilities are a SPACE FROM good choice for VALUE OPTION meetings and product launches. A variety of rooms and layout options are available, for 10 to 500 people. Catering is from the 1839 hospitality team. DDRs from £25 (+VAT) per person.


Jurys Inn Brighton Waterfront

American Express Community Stadium

Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2GS 01273 320 6700 /

Village Way, Brighton, BN1 9BL 01273 878 272 /

The Jurys Inn Waterfront has fully refurbished its meetings and events spaces as part of a £5.6million refit. The nine flexible rooms boast new interiors suited to meetings and training session for eight up to 300 delegates. Each room is equipped with modern AV and high-speed wifi networks. The DDR ranges from £35-£52 UPGRADED (+VAT) per person. EVENTS SPACE

The American Express Community Stadium, home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, has nine conference rooms, 21 executive boxes and five concourses for hire. The stadium has good transport links with parking for over 800 cars and an onsite train station. The venue can host events for as few as two delegates or up to 500. The DDR starts from £29.50 (+VAT) per person.

Hainan Airlines – China in your hands Experience the height of luxury at higher altitudes

Non-stop flights from Manchester to Beijing with 787 Dreamliner wide-body aircraft. The only airline in mainland China awarded 5-star airline. Fine cuisines of the world created by Michelin star chefs.

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Focus on...

The Chinese economy might be stuttering but airlift between the UK and cities across the country is nevertheless increasing, says Colin Ellson



Writing 1,500 years ago, the Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” It’s advice as pertinent today for UK companies seeking a foothold in China as it was for the merchants of the Middle Kingdom in the days of yore. The watchword then, as now, is patience, backed today by a longterm strategy for tackling the world’s largest economy. It has a population of 1.3 billion, 160 cities of more than one million inhabitants, and is a fastgrowing consumer market, forecast to become the biggest on earth for luxury goods by 2020. There is almost universal optimism about China’s prospects. The International Monetary Fund (IMF),

for example, has upgraded its growth forecast for the country in 2017 to 6.5%, 0.3 percentage points higher than last October. This is based on IMF findings that consumption is holding up, factories have pulled out of a four-year streak of deflation, and overall growth is expected to meet the Chinese government’s target. While it is equally optimistic about the opportunities for Sino-UK trade, the Department for International Trade (DIT) outlines the unique challenges facing British companies. These include the fact that large parts of the economy are still closed to full foreign participation; strong competition from well-resourced state-owned enterprises; finding and

retaining the right skills in the local workforce; language barriers; and a complex business culture. Nevertheless, based on current UK exports to China, ranging from electrical machinery and equipment and mineral fuels and oils, to vehicles, plastics and copper, the DIT says there is huge potential for expansion, especially in consumer goods and products. Li Ruogu, former chairman of the ExportImport Bank of China inevitably brings up the subject of Brexit, now preoccupying


Prime Minister Theresa May, along with the forthcoming General Election in June. “Brexit will pave a new path for free trade between China and the UK,” says Li, “despite fears about rising anti-free trade forces in the current global environment. “The UK may already be a more open market than the EU”, he adds, citing inefficiencies in the EU agricultural policies and its dispute with China over steel exports as examples of protectionism in the EU. Li said China will be focusing on market reforms and the restructuring of state-owned enterprises in its next phase of development, opening up new opportunities with the UK in terms of financing. In fact, the value

of British trade to China is expected to have expanded by an unbelievable 115% between 2016 and 2026. This will be boosted by Theresa May’s visit to China later this year – provided she is still in office after the June election. Flying to several destinations in China means a relatively simple longhaul flight from the UK, although it means spending upwards of 10 hours in the air. There is also an extensive choice of airlines flying to China via their various hubs. To this list of travel options can be added the train. Relax, it is not intended for passengers but to boost British trade with China, whose rail links will eventually cover Asia and the whole of Europe.

The weekly freight service was launched on New Year’s day, arriving at the vast London Gateway freight complex 18 days later with 68 containers of items such as clothes and retail goods. The 600-metre-long train later left London bound for Yiwu on China’s east coast laden with 32 containers holding whisky, soft drinks and baby products, all UK products cherished in China. Make the journey and, hopefully, your return from China after a business trip, laden down with orders from new contacts, will be equally joyous.



Factfile: China fLIGHts

Non-stop flights

the jaDe Dragon snow mountains

BEIJING: From London Heathrow, British Airways flies to Beijing daily, Air China twice-daily. Hainan Airlines serves the capital from Manchester five times a week. CHENGDU: There are no flights to direct flights from the UK to China are on the capital of China’s One-stop alternatives the rise Sichuan province. One-stop With 68 non-stop flights from options from London include the UK to the destinations in China Eastern via Shanghai and our survey, the bewildering array China Southern via Guangzhou. of one-stop alternatives is only CHONGQING: Tianjin Airlines has launched a twice-weekly service from London Gatwick to Chongqing, using an Airbus A330200. The same aircraft is deployed on its new twice-weekly Gatwick route to Xian, home to the Terracotta Army. GUANGZHOU: China Southern Airlines flies from Heathrow to the port city twice daily. HONG KONG: From Heathrow, British Airways flies to Hong Kong twice daily, Cathay Pacific five times a day, and Virgin daily. Cathay also offers a daily service from Gatwick and five services per week from Manchester. SHANGHAI: From Heathrow, BA serves China’s largest city 10 times a week, with Virgin Atlantic and China Eastern both flying daily.

worth considering if you have sound business reasons for visiting the gateways en route or you're flying from a regional airport. From Birmingham, for example, Hong Kong can be reached via Istanbul, Munich, Zurich, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Other international transit points en route to China include Helsinki (Finnair flies to six cities across China) and the Middle Eastern hubs of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.


The InterContinental Hotels Group is among the top Western global hotel groups in China, with 33 hotels offering six brands. These include Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza and various Holiday Inn titles. IHG also has 19 properties in the pipeline. But Western dominance of the market is being challenged as Chinese entrepreneurs seek a slice of the action. Hong Kong-based ShangriLa Hotels and Resorts is resisting such moves, with hotels planned in mainland China and in its own backyard. The exclusive portfolio includes four brands with more than 58 hotels, with five properties in Beijing, one each in Chengdu and Guangzhou, three in Shanghai and four in Hong Kong. Additions this spring/summer include the Kerry Hotel in Hong Kong and the Hotel Jen Beijing. The a night at upmarket Swire Hotels the opera group offers two unique brands, the House Collective and East. House properties include the top of the range Upper

House in Hong Kong (pictured), The Opposite House in Beijing and The Temple House in Chengdu. Its East business-oriented hotels are located in Hong Kong and Beijing. Other Western groups with a strong presence in China, include Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which offers 11 brands with a total of 296 hotels. Among Chinese chains are the upmarket budget groups Home Inns, with 500 properties, and 7 Days Inn with 300.

t H e D e tA I L s

Time zone: GMT +8hrs. Currency: Renminbi Yuan (CNY). £1=8.62CNY. Travellers should beware of counterfeit 50 yuan and 100 yuan notes, which are common. Credit cards are widely accepted in cities. Languages: Standard upper Chinese is a form of house for Mandarin, spoken in luXurY mainland China. English and Cantonese are also spoken in Hong Kong. Dialling code: +86.



also visit numerous tea houses, Sanxingdui Museum, Jiuzhai Valley National Park, and the Thatched Cottage home of the Tang Dynasty poet, Du Fu. visit the great wall from beijing CHONGQING: A mountain city in China’s southwest, Chongqing enjoys a tropical climate and is noted for the spectacular Three Gorges of the After Hours Yangtse River. Other notable local sites of interest include Fengdu BEIJING: With three millennia of Ghost City, Dazu Rock Carvings history, the Chinese capital has and Snowy Jade Cave. seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Any bucket list should include the Great Wall (a day trip), the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Ming dynasty tombs and Tiananmen Square, scene of the 1989 pro-democracy protests. CHENGDU: This south-western city is home to China’s iconic giant pandas, a threatened species in the wild, but living in safety at Dujiangyan Panda Base. You can

GUANGZHOU: If you are into extreme sports, you can bungee jump off the Canton Tower or dip into the rapids at Chimelong Paradise Water Park. More leisurely pursuits are found at Shamian Island and Baiyun Mountain, while spiritual stimulus is offered at the Temple of the Six Banyan trees and the impressive Guangxiao Temple.

HONG KONG: Still pursuing its freewheeling race for riches under Chinese rule, HK offers many sights when the dealing is over. These include Victoria Peak, ascended by tram, Avenue of Stars, Ocean Park, Ten Thousand Buddhas monastery, Lantau and Lamma islands and Golden Bauhinia Square.

SHANGHAI: This global financial hub is steeped in history and romance. Not to be missed are The Bund, lined with colonial-era buildings, Yu Garden, Oriental Pearl Tower, shopping on Nanjing Road, Jade Buddha temple and Shanghai Museum. spiritual

highs at Ngong ping


Reality check F L I G H T : A I R N E W Z E A L A N D, B U S I N E S S P R E M I E R THE FLIGHT

Flight NZ01 from


I was in 5B, which was

London Heathrow Terminal 2 to Los

as comfortable as it sounds. On the aisle

Angeles International (LAX). Operated by

of a 1-2-1 configuration, it felt extremely

a Boeing 777-300, the flight left at 16.15.

spacious, with lots of creative storage


A helper approached

spaces. The reading light was perfectly

me at a self-check-in kiosk, identified

placed and the TV screen slid back

my name on an upgrade list and then

beyond the dinner tray. The seatbelt

accompanied me to Star Alliance

was positioned to make it easy (and

counters 27/28/29 – which usually

comfortable) to buckle up once the seat

means good news for those looking to

had reclined into a lie-flat position.

turn left on-board rather than right.


This was spot on from

My bag and golf clubs were dispatched

the moment I boarded. The staff were

efficiently and I was directed to the

both informative and engaging and

Priority Lane at security.

were happy catering to my every


It’s a 15-minute (brisk)

request. I was welcomed aboard with a

walk to the B Gates and Star Alliance

glass of Champagne and a friendly

fennel, spinach, white beans and rocket

partner Singapore Airlines’ Silverkris

explanation as to how to use my inflight

salad. The Kiwi wines were top-drawer.

lounge. Although busy, there was a

entertainment system and the various

variety of stools, chairs and couches

buttons that turned the seat into a

fitted with a power outlet and USB port.

vibrating massage option or a lie-flat

The food stations were plentiful, with

bed. When it was time to sleep a crew

options including soup, pastas, ravioli,

member laid out my bed, with its down

chicken curry, wraps, samosas and a cold

duvet and pillow. Dinner was excellent:

Los Angeles. Return fares in Business

sandwich selection. There was an ice

a starter of sumac-dusted salmon with

Premier start from around £2,836.

cream fridge and a bar manned by two

grapefruit couscous and cauliflower and

staff adept at shaking up cocktails.

a main course of cod with slow-cooked



Outstanding. What you

hope, anticipate and expect a business class flight to be – and then some. THE DETAILS

Air New Zealand flies

daily between London Heathrow and

Steve Hartridge


I had a Business First

there are complimentary magazines and

return ticket from London Paddington

newspapers for passengers. Video

Station to Heathrow Airport Terminal 4.

screens display news and information.

Heathrow Express trains depart every

It is important to note that travel to

15 minutes from Paddington and the

Terminals 2, 3 and 5 is direct but that

journey time is only 15 minutes,

isn't the case with Terminal 4. I had to

compared to around 50 minutes on the

change at Terminals 2 and 3 on to the

tube. Tickets can be purchased in

Heathrow Express shuttle. The shuttle to

advance online or in person at

Terminal 4 is only one class and does

Paddington Station, as well as on board

not feature a Business First carriage.

the train or using the Heathrow Express mobile app. THE SERVICE


This was a fast, stylish

and comfortable service offering a high The Business First

degree of privacy. It is a calm and

carriage I sat in was located at the rear

relaxing transfer prior to a flight with

of the train. Seating was laid out in a 1-1

good online access to send any last

style mostly facing forward, with a

minute emails or to receive or send

couple of facing seats around tables.

documents. The journey passes quickly

The cabin itself is large and spacious,

and is recommended for travellers

and offers passengers a high degree of

arriving at the airport from central

privacy and comfort. Each seat has a

London. The Heathrow Express certainly

small table and 2 power supplies and

trumps tube and coach for transfer

there is free wifi throughout the train

times and luxury, and the hassle-free

on the line from London Paddington.

which maintains signal through tunnels –

journey brings an element of joy back to

Travellers can book online or download

a definite positive for business travellers.

the notion of train travel, given the

the Heathrow Express app.

Large luggage stacks are available,

recent poor service offered by some

offering plenty of storage space, and

franchise operators.




Standard fares for

Heathrow Express Business First are £32


for a single per person and £55 return. Standard Express Saver Class is also available with single fares from £15. There are 150 daily services operating

Benjamin Coren



The WestHouse hotel in

entrance hall with cupboards and

central Manhattan is excellently located

drawers. The bathroom had a marble

on 55th Street West in Midtown. The 57th

finish, with a glass front rain shower.

Street and 7th Avenue Subway stations


Guests are required

are a quick stroll away, offering easy

to pay a nightly resident's fee of $42

access to the entire city. JFK International

plus tax to cover hotel services and

Airport is a 45-minute train journey. The

amenities. The hotel lacks a traditional

art deco-style boutique hotel has 172

restaurant, although there is a breakfast

deluxe bedrooms and suites.

buffet served every morning covered by


I arrived late at night

the fee in The Terrace on the 23rd floor.

after an afternoon flight from the UK,

The breakfast lounge features a barista

transferring into the city via the New

bar and tea is served during the

York subway. I was greeted in the

afternoons. The fee also covers light

reception area and was swiftly checked

food and snacks in the evenings served

in and shown to my room. My bag was

in the downstairs bar, as well as covering

taken up to my room for me. The

some alcoholic drinks. There is high-

connections to the city and surrounding

reception was stylish and small. It had a

speed wifi throughout the hotel as well

boroughs. The casual serving of

refined 1920s feel to it which reflected

as business centre services. A small

its cosmopolitan city location.

fitness centre on the third floor is also


I stayed in a twin room,

open around the clock. The Westroom

which had two double beds. The mid-

boardroom is available for hire with

sized room was bright with a large

seating for up to eight, and catering can

window offering city views. The room

be arranged in the room.

was divided into the main bedroom area



location is excellent for business

include a desk, large TV, chair and an

travellers in Manhattan with good

by the resident's fee gives the hotel a more casual, relaxed feel. THE DETAILS

WestHouse Hotel

New York, 201 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019, United States. Rates start from around £276 per night.

The hotel's central

and the bathroom. In-room amenities

breakfast and evening snacks covered

Benjamin Coren


Flying Butler Apartments

kitchen and lounge, where a large corner

operate over 115 serviced apartments

sofa sat adjacent to glass doors over-

across 18 London properties, including

looking Tooley Street. The TV came with

this London Bridge/Tooley Street

the usual Freeview Channels and there

building. It is a five-minute walk from

was also a useful tablet device with

London Bridge Station and the average

information on the apartments and the

stay at the property is 14-21 nights.

surrounding area. Wifi access was


I was emailed the

included. The unit was well soundproofed

address and access codes (for the main

and the largely neutral decor and wooden

outer door and then for a key box outside

floors were typical of many serviced

my apartment) several days before the

apartments. Some basic provisions were

date of my stay and gaining entry proved

supplied – tea bags, washing up liquid etc

to be straightforward.

– and there was also a hairdryer hidden


The 2.5 bedroom

away in a draw that I discovered shortly

apartment was vast, with a long kitchen

before checking out. The bedrooms had

particularly visible but they did respond

diner and lounge, a master bedroom,

plenty of storage space and quality linen,

quickly and effectively when I called with

second large bedroom, 'box' room with

plus views of the Shard.

a query and left a message.

single bed (the 0.5 in the '2.5') and a


The light, spacious


Flying Butler Apartments,

bathroom. A large cupboard in the

apartment was appropriately equipped

hallway contained an iron and ironing

for longer stays and it's in an excellent

board, vacuum cleaner, fan, airer and

position close to key transport hubs.

laundry basket, while the kitchen came

The large apartments with multiple

with all the essentials: oven, hob, fridge,

bedrooms and bathrooms are ideal for

nights and from £168 per night for stays

freezer, microwave, dishwasher, washing

colleagues sharing, which has obvious

of less than seven nights.

machine and cupboards full of crockery.

cost benefits. This being a serviced

A dining table bridged the space between

apartment block, staff weren't


London Bridge. 116 Tooley St London, SE1 2JP. Rates depend on the length of stay, starting from £136 plus VAT per apartment per night for stays of 180+

Andy Hoskins




The final word

Rooms with a view...


he easyHotel group is offering guests the chance to upgrade their rooms with views of London’s iconic landmarks for only £1 and you don’t even need to book in advance, or so they would have you believe. In reality, the extra pound provides guests with a ‘fake view’ of the city via a picture on the wall as the group takes aim at the high price premium charged by some hotels for a good view in the capital. Instead of paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds for a glimpse of London's famous skyline, easyHotel is urging guests to get out onto the streets of the city to truly experience it close up rather than from a lofty hotel room. Customers staying at the budget hotel chain’s Old Street property in London can pay £1

for a 'view' of landmarks such as Tower Bridge or Buckingham Palace but what they'll receive in return is a fake window view of London to stick on the wall. The group's Jorge Rodriguez says: “The real experience of the capital is the experience on the streets, in the museums,

Pitching up


he entire country of Sweden has been listed on Airbnb, meaning business travellers can turn up and pitch a tent – or sleep rough – almost anywhere they like. Allemansrätten, or the freedom to roam, is a principle protected by Swedish law giving all people the right to be free in Swedish nature. All land is available to access, with only private gardens and land under cultivation excluded. Visitors don't need to book in advance and amenities and upgrades include infinity pools (or lakes), sun terraces (mountaintops) and a wellstocked natural pantry, according to Visit Sweden's tongue-in-cheek sales pitch. “In Sweden we have everything from high mountains to deep forests, from beautiful nature,” says the tourist board's Jenny Kaiser. Find out for yourself at 98


THE TOP 10 INSTAGRAM HOT-SPOTS WORLDWIDE Social photo-sharing app Instagram acts like a barometer of where people are travelling. TravelBird has ranked the top-snapped locations worldwide… 1. Disneyland, California 2. Eiffel Tower, Paris 3. Walt Disney World, Florida 4. South Beach, Florida 5. Berlin Wall, Berlin 6. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada 7. Big Ben, London 8. Times Square, New York 9. Notre Dame, Paris 10. Oktoberfest, Bavaria

restaurants and shops – not staring out of the window.” The group charges from £19.99 for a room and has recently opened hotels in Brussels, Amsterdam and Birmingham. In total it operates 23 hotels, including eight in London and a further five across the UK.

If you can’t face the prospect of leaving your beloved pet behind when travelling for business, then the Principal Edinburgh may be the option for you. The hotel has welcomed its first ‘Very Important Pooch’ which happened to be the tourist board’s ‘ambassadog’, George. All dogs accompanying their owners at the fourstar hotel can expect personally labelled dog beds, Principal pet bowls and a hamper full of gourmet doggy treats.

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The Business Travel Magazine June-July 2017  

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