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Elevating business travel intelligence

FCM wins World’s Leading Travel Management Company Brain dump How biometrics are changing the way travellers move through their journeys

Mixed signals

What travel managers can do to support more diverse corporate travellers

Dial S for service Finding the right service delivery for the company and the traveller

Service delivery shouldn’t be a game of chance



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very new year brings change; it can be difficult to embrace but is sometimes good for us or even necessary.

However, change with the right amount of adaption is what will keep us in equilibrium. In the world of business travel, TMCs must constantly adapt to bring solutions with the right amount of balance between technology and service to our customers. This issue of Upgrade Asia focuses on bridging the forces of motion between service, technology, data and suppliers to get that right balance for your travel programme. Our cover story on pages 4-6 examines the role of service in an increasingly online and automated world, reviewing the service provision content that travel managers should expect of suppliers and intermediaries. Another article you won’t want to miss is our feature on travel manager’s challenges as organisations become more diverse on pages 10-11, as it examines how increasing diversity of business travellers caused by globalisation, social and cultural change impacts travel programmes. Technology has been a double-edged sword in the world of business travel. Much as it is driving transformation and enabling conveniences, there are also increasing concerns with data privacy, and the story on growth of

biometrics and personal security on pages 8-9 considers how managers can review data compatibility and privacy protection protocol to improve their travel programmes. The media is often the mouthpiece for the stories that the industry wishes to tell. We spoke with Yeoh Siew Hoon, Founder and Managing Director of Web In Travel (WIT) and Editorial Director of Northstar Travel Media Asia on pages 22-23, whose honest and funny narratives captured an unadulterated view of the travel and tourism industry, and shared how balance, adaptation and innovation has kept the travel and tourism ecosystem running which in turn, has shaped WIT into what it is today. This is also the time of year when results of the World Travel Awards are released. I am pleased to report that FCM took home the trophy for Asia’s Leading Travel Management Company, as well as the World’s Leading Travel Management Company for the ninth consecutive year (page 18). The win reflected FCM’s agile approach and culture of fluid thinking and testifies to the dedication and professionalism of our people, which drives us to continually innovate and deliver exceptional service and right solutions to address changing customer needs. Enjoy the second edition of Upgrade Asia. Continue to adapt and innovate and I wish you a wonderful start into 2020.

Bertrand Saillet Managing Director, Asia FCM Travel Solutions

Contents 4

Dial S for service Finding the right service delivery for the company and the traveller



FCM News FCM wins at prestigious World Travel Awards


Connecting rooms Corporate hotel programmes are becoming much more dynamic

Balancing act What data do your suppliers actually need?


10 Mixed signals What travel managers can do to support more diverse corporate travellers



ILLUSTRATION André Albuquerque, Oliver Sleeman


Brain dump How biometrics are changing the way travellers move through journeys

PRINTING Oxford Graphic Printers Pte Ltd ©FCMUPGRADE 2019 Images sourced from suppliers, FCM Travel Solutions, and stock photography

Melbourne Melbourne is the home to some of the nation’s largest companies, with a highly diverse economy

New business enquiries Editorial and advertising enquiries FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM



Dial S for service It’s essential to find the service delivery that’s right for the company and the traveller


e no longer seek service from our suppliers for only one reason, or expect it to be delivered through one channel. Take your average supermarket trip as an example. Mackerel is on offer, but you don’t know what to do with it – either you snatch a recipe card from a display or ask the person handing it over to you at the wet fish counter for tips. And when it’s time to pay, you can choose to speed up the process by scanning your own shopping - or you can place your items on a conveyor belt for someone else to do it while discussing the weather. And that’s without even going near the customer service desk when you’ve been overcharged or need to organise a delivery. Anyone who wants to eat at home needs to shop, but different people need and want different service delivery. The same is true for corporate travellers. Business travel is not only about automated transactions. It’s about service. WHO’S IT FOR? Service is needed both by travellers, who might need help with a change of travel plans or cancellations, and by management to fulfil corporate objectives. According to Dusko Kain, Head of Account Management, England for FCM Travel Solutions, “There has to be an equilibrium between traveller satisfaction and delivering cost control/savings.” And travellers have different service expectations and needs. Millennials are much more comfortable online but many other travellers, especially in certain sectors and markets, want a


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more offline service. From disrupting technology start-ups to more traditional professional services such as law and consultancy, companies have different cultures and so do their travellers. And it’s not just the organisation that will define the traveller’s profile. As Carol Randall, Managing Director of Sage

If it’s an emergency, you don’t want to listen to ‘press 3 if...’ Dusko Kain, Head of Account Management, England, FCM Travel Solutions

Consultancy says, “Just because you’re in the same company doesn’t mean you have same profiles.” Travel needs also affect the kind of service required – online might be cheaper and easy to use for pointto-point trips but for more complex journeys involving multiple flights and nights away with different suppliers, perhaps needing extras such as visas or ground arrangements, a personal service is likely to be more efficient and time and cost-effective. And managers need service from their suppliers whether it’s prompt handling of disputed invoices or supporting a new product or service. WHY IS SERVICE NEEDED? Support Any kind of business transformation – a new online tool, for example – may need training and access to a support desk. Any product or service can break down or be disrupted. When things go wrong, the client will need expertise and service from the provider. Disruption Journeys can be disrupted for many reasons. Flights can be cancelled due to weather conditions, labour disputes, an incident or going ‘tech’.

FCM’S TRAVEL ASSISTANT SAM (FCM’s Smart Assistant for Mobile) is an app which makes all the information, documentation and advice travellers need available in one user-friendly place. FCM clients can have their actual bookings connected, but anyone can receive more general support such as destination information. Travellers can also input their travel arrangements themselves and have some itinerary management. If the traveller shares their trip information and location, SAM can send travel updates such as changes to the flight gate or departure time, as well as any relevant security alerts. SAM is a chatbot-based interface backed up by real people who can communicate with the traveller through the app.

“If there’s an emergency or a crisis, you work along with risk management to make sure travellers are safe and okay,” explains Dusko, “except for media customers who you’re trying to get in rather than out.” Booking changes New travel arrangements might be needed because of overrun meetings or traffic. A change in business plans can require a change of itinerary. New flights or accommodation arrangements require service. WHAT COMPRISES SERVICE? In a digital age, there is more variety in how service can be delivered. “Personal” service need not be in person, nor does it need to be with a person on the telephone. Travel companies also offer online service via mobile apps or online chat. Both Dusko and Carol stressed the value of offline service. "There's a need for both, and there's a real resurgence in the professional travel consultant and the service they provide," says Carol. “It’s about putting in place the service that meets the needs of the community.”

Dusko’s view is clear: “You need a team behind it online to manage 24/7. If emergencies happen – airlines closing down or pilot strikes – you will need to call a human.” SERVICE DELIVERY There are many methods of service delivery – apps (eg SAM, see box), phone, online – and it’s important to have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of different methods and which might be appropriate for what. In Dusko’s words, “If it’s an emergency, you don’t want to listen to ‘press 3 if...’ Service categorised as ‘online’ coexists under a very broad umbrella with different individual suppliers providing very different levels of service, some much more timely than others. Online service can be personalised in a helpful way, say prioritising appropriate booking options for a traveller’s regular journeys, or in a less satisfactory way such as bombarding the traveller with hotel offers in response to a search for a flight. HOW TO MEASURE SERVICE? Every travel management company is at pains to highlight the quality of the service and support they offer, but measuring that quality and its value for money is much more challenging than simply comparing the online booking transaction fees. FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM




Service availabilty

Response time

Dusko says that corporates might measure service by a range of factors including their online booking tool’s downtime – “this is still a service because it’s something you’re delivering to the customer – response time, and the accuracy of that response, etc." Carol urges all corporate travel managers to agree a means of measuring the service they receive from their travel management company as opposed to what has been promised.


User satisfaction

2 Response time – There should be a prompt resolution of any difficulties regardless of what channel has been agreed to access service. 3 Accuracy – Items such as the error ratio on bookings, data and financial elements should be measured. For example, are invoices and payments accurate and prompt? If the finance department has issues, how long does it take to correct money or data errors? 4 User satisfaction – Both management – and that includes all internal stakeholders such as finance and HR as well as the travel manager – and travellers should be polled. CONCLUSION For the travel management company, these KPIs are invaluable. Carol points out that “If the TMC can prove their value, it helps them and the travel 06

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Carol Randall, Managing Director, Sage Travel Consultancy

manager to keep the programme from fragmenting.” For the travel manager, it would be evidence of the value of a travel programme to any doubters.

consultant improves the experience

Of course, not everything will be measurable – you can measure the time on the phone but how can you measure how courteous or nice the consultant was? A friendly and courteous

apply consistently.

“In the past it would be along the lines of 80% of calls should be answered within 20 seconds, but it’s questionable how relevant that will be in the future.” She suggested some up-todate measures for those looking to create – or revise – their service level agreements (SLAs): 1 Service availability – An organisation’s travellers need to be constantly supported regardless of whether it has opted for offline or online service. Has support been available to the degree expected?

If the TMC can prove their value, it helps the travel manager to keep the programme from fragmenting.”

but measuring whether the user experience was pleasant or unpleasant would be difficult to quantify and

But times are changing. As Dusko observes, “Service is going to become even more important.” 


LOOKING AFTER THE CLIENT When all doesn’t go to plan, frustrated business travellers appreciate the patience, courtesy and understanding they receive from consultants such as Sara Windsor. “When a client phones up frustrated, they value someone on the end of a line who can listen and help them in a calm way,” says Sara, a senior FCM consultant. “If a flight is cancelled and there are 300 others in the same predicament, travellers are just happy to be able to pick up the phone and get help, especially if they’re desperate to find any way possible to get home for a birthday celebration. “One passenger had a fixed ticket but had booked the wrong return date which he only discovered when


he arrived at the airport to return home. I rebooked him, checked him in online and emailed him the boarding pass so that he could travel. He was very pleased.” The team must not only be knowledgeable in travel but also be able to act as an online helpdesk to get any client issues resolved as soon as possible. “One minute you’re talking to someone who’s missed a flight, the next minute it’s someone who can’t complete their low-cost booking.” explains Sara. There are also clients who don’t always know or want to stick by company travel policy which means Sara has to explain diplomatically that if they want to fly business class, they will have to get sign-off.




Balancing act Data is essential for meeting corporate and traveller expectations, but what data do your suppliers actually need?


recent, online click-bait story claimed that a BA passenger was told he couldn't check a vegetarian meal "due to data protection rules". A marketing director had allegedly been told – by – that he couldn’t find out his menu choice for "privacy reasons". Is this in fact the standard operating procedure in a travel industry hyperconcerned about violating traveller privacy or, as the marketing director described it, GDPR gone mad? Readers wouldn’t know what booking channel the frustrated marketing director used, but the issue of what data travel management companies release, and to whom, is a significant one for many a traveller – and travel manager. So who owns the data? Tony Pilcher, director of consultancy Pilcher Associates, stresses the need to have “the right data for the right people for the right job”, and that starts with understanding who has custody of what data. “In most cases it comes down to who created it.”

You need to get the right data to the right people for the right job” Tony Pilcher, Director, Pilcher Associates

WHAT IS THE DATA FOR? A travel profile holds personal preferences which means that managers must take care when procuring with Virgin, for example, that it doesn’t see that the traveller’s preference is actually BA. “Traveller profiles and booking information is owned by the travellers and the corporate,” explains FCM’s Head of Account Management EMEA, Juan Antonio Iglesias. “We as the TMC make it available in a format which managers can consume and utilise to understand travel patterns and travellers’ behaviour.”


These hold different fields of information, only some of which is relevant to different suppliers. For example, a carrier needs to know if a traveller’s preference is for a window or aisle seat. The hotel does not need to know whether they’ve requested an Asian vegetarian or Kosher meal, but it does need to know if there are any special guest requirements such as an allergy to feathers.

The world has become data-driven. Companies have a plethora of information, so decision-making is increasingly evidence-based. Different information is needed for different objectives. The challenge is to ensure that every supplier partner has what they need to deliver the service required without crossing the line and releasing data which is neither appropriate nor permitted. Corporates create a PNR (Passenger Name Record) for each one of their travellers.

BOOKING CHANNELS As all GDS’s operate their booking processes and management of traveller information in the same way, they are well set up to pass relevant information from the PNR within a booking to the relevant supplier. Juan Antonio explains: “An airline cannot see what’s not associated with their segment. If a traveller has one segment booked with British Airways and the next with Lufthansa, Lufthansa cannot see the BA frequent flyer information.” However, booking through newer systems such as requires the creation of a false PNR to hand off the needed information to the supplier. “The systems still have some limitations


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Passenger itinerary Destination 1 4th January 2020 Kingston, Jamaica, 3 nights Becking Hotel Name John Smith Address 7 Horden Lane Bishopsgate EN4 8LP United Kingdom Loyalty Scheme Number PGE938-294-UK Reference Number JSYWHWU2O

Destination 2 8th January 2020 USA, Seattle, 7 nights Spinter Royal Hotel

Transfer 16th January 2020 Seattle to JFK Airport

Destination 3 18th January 2020 Germany, 12 nights

Meal preference Vegetarian Airline preference

Departur preference London Gatwick Special requirements 

Ground floor room

onference room C access

Outdoor seating

Priority seating

“The method of booking shouldn’t matter but what does is the bridge, so that when the journey is under way any changes are communicated.”

DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF SUPPLIER There are also personal data management challenges with suppliers which are part of the chain but not historically booked via the GDS. Rail bookings for example, with the exception of Eurostar, are not tied to specific names so traveller data is not handed off. Car rental is usually not booked though the GDS, nor are airport transfers which Juan Antonio describes as the “main challenge”.

PRIVATE “Ground transport generally sits outside the TMC and PNR and yet in some countries that’s almost the biggest risk.”

Juan Antonio points out that another challenge is communicating data when a client is not working but still on the business trip. “At the end of the day, you have to have permission and location data is only handed over if the traveller is willing to do it.”

– managers must ensure that data is not shared when it shouldn’t be shared,” he adds. In addition to the channel used, the individual company’s approach to travel booking is significant. According to Tony: “Smaller companies may have a programme but still let travellers book themselves so they will indicate their preferences at the time of booking rather than there being a profile depository.

Tony makes the same point: “You have to include the elements of the trip where there is any risk. It’s no good knowing the flight and accommodation details but not knowing how the traveller is being moved from the airport to the hotel.



These are significant considerations given that another important supplier who needs to have the right data to do the job they’re contracted to do is the risk management company.

RISK MANAGEMENT A risk management company doesn’t need to know if the traveller is a vegetarian but it does need to know a traveller’s itinerary including the flight and hotel booking details. According to Tony Pilcher, the abiding principle is a “need-to-know” basis. “You should only give them access to data which is essential for risk management – the financials of that trip are not essential. Inform the source consistently with what they need, no more, no less.” And ground transport can be a headache for risk management companies. “We can know you’ve taken a rental car, but we can’t control where you’re driving it,” says Juan Antonio.

Managers must ensure that data is not shared when it shouldn’t be shared” Juan Antonio Iglesias, Head of Account Management EMEA, FCM Travel Solutions

Some people don’t want it to be known where they are for a weekend – this is getting increasingly challenging because of bleisure. “This is a conflict between company and personal perspective – and you can see both sides,” he adds. For all travel managers, it is a balancing act.  FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM



Mixed signals Mark Frary looks at what travel managers can do to support more diverse corporate travellers


ver the past few decades, increasing globalisation and liberalism have made multinational companies more diverse.

Companies are also wanting to tell others – shareholders, investors and customers – that they are getting more diverse too. The number of companies reporting that they have a diversity and opportunities policy has increased from 39% in 2013 to 85% in 2017, according to research company Refinitiv1. There are solid moral reasons for encouraging diversity but there are also strong business reasons, as revealed by a wide evidence base. Research from Boston Consulting Group says companies that are more diverse are more innovative, and those with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue2.

One of the issues for organisations looking to make their travel programmes fit for a diverse workforce is that travel buyers often do not have the responsibility nor the budget for related issues, such as traveller safety. For those companies that have grasped the idea of travel risk, they are treating it as a generic risk rather than one that needs a nuanced approach.

Research by McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The figure is 15% for gender diversity3.

Saul Shanagher of security awareness training company beTravelwise says that companies are seeking advice for LGBT travellers first and foremost.

Those who argue for better diversity and inclusion in companies argue that if an organisation’s employees are diverse, they will be better at creating products and services that appeal to a wider range of customers.

“Generally, there is buyin from the diversity and inclusion networks within companies and there is a very real risk to travellers that they are happy to talk about,” he says.

And if your employees are more diverse, surely companies need to make sure that the way they are treated in the workplace is not necessarily equal but equitable, where employees are recognised for their diversity and internal processes designed to follow suit? When it comes to travel, there have been strides made in recent years in recognising the specific needs of certain groups, for example female, 10

LGBTQ and disabled employees, and this can only continue to improve.

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“We find that the organisation’s DNA matters a lot. If diversity is embraced by the organisation, it is very easy to offer differing advice to different groups of travellers. Those that have successfully offered advice do so freely and anonymously (no tracking of who views it) and

The relationship between diversity and performance Likelihood of financial performance above national industry median, by diversity quartile %


54 +15%







Source: McKinsey & Company, Diversity Matters, 2015

If diversity is embraced by the organisation, it is very easy to offer differing advice to different groups of travellers.” Saul Shanagher, beTravelwise

should account for female travellers’ specific needs yet just 18% of policies address these. Carolyn Pearson, CEO of Maiden Voyage, which offers consultancy on gender issues in business travel, says the reason for this gap is clear. “Organisations are fairly clear where duty of care and travel safety sit in an organisation – it could be travel security, in other teams it might be travel buyers, health and safety or HR,” she says. “When you add diversity or sexual orientation into the mix, it gets put into the ‘too difficult’ basket.”

interconnect it to all their travel safety measures,” he says.

That is not to say that all organisations have not grasped the nettle.

Many of the company’s clients are now offering e-learning modules and anonymous email support for company travellers.

“Where I have seen success is if the person who is the budget holder and decision-maker is passionate about that subject, then it gets done really quickly.”

Saul cites a real-life example of how the latter can help. “At one client, we had a company's junior trainee being sent to do an overseas posting for three months to a country with antigay laws. They felt too junior to say no but were concerned and sent an email to the helpline. Their fears were taken seriously, and another country was found for this placement for them.” When it comes to female business travellers, there is a gap between what travellers want and what their companies do.

Maiden Voyage has one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies as a client and it has rolled out traveller safety e-learning to all its travellers with a focus on LGBTQ and female travellers. “Yet if you ask those people whether their companies are actually doing it, that falls to the 40s,” says CEO Carolyn. Carolyn adds that including a link to travel advice on a travel itinerary email is never enough. “One company, a large bank, put this information on their intranet. When they send the travel booking email out there was a link at the bottom to the advice, but the problem is people don’t read their travel itineraries.”

The FCM special report on Women in Business Travel revealed that 77% of women travel buyers and their travellers felt that travel policies







+35% 54




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There is even some doubt as to whether such a passive way of communicating information for diverse employee groups would even stand up in court. “If something happened to a traveller and they looked at traveller briefings then they would be on sticky ground,” she says. There is a danger that in better reflecting the diversity of the workforce in the travel programme, it will lead to more calls from those not in minority groups to demand different treatment.

So should companies be moving to individually personalised travel policies? The challenges – and cost – of doing so are probably too onerous for companies to consider this, particularly given the challenges of collecting and maintaining large amounts of highly sensitive personal information “The amount of data that would need to be collected plus the fact that, say, an LGBT employee might not be out at work might make this an unworkable beast,” says Saul Shanagher. “I also don’t think it is needed. Good travel risk training, with a thorough travel risk management programme and advice/ information for different profiles of traveller, does the job well enough.” Ultimately, travel’s answer to the diversity challenge should not be seen in isolation. Diversity policies are rightly seen as powerful recruitment and retention tools by many organisations. To be a diverse employer means getting all processes in the organisation working well for everyone, not just those within the travel manager’s remit. 

1. measuring-diversity-and-inclusion-progress

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2. 3. organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters







elbourne is home to some of the nation’s largest companies such as ANZ and BHP Biliton, as well as many SMEs and NGOs. Its highly diverse economy includes finance, manufacturing, research, IT, education, transportation and logistics. Its location on Port Phillip Bay means stunning views along the Great Ocean Road which runs for approximately 150 miles along the coast. Additionally, wine lovers will enjoy being very near the Yarra Valley.

STAYING THERE Most business travellers want to stay near the location of their business meetings. In Melbourne, this is likely to be one of three main business districts: the CBD or Central Business District (postcode 3000), Docklands (3008) where a significant number of large organisations have relocated to over the years, and the beautiful boulevard of St Kilda Road (3004), a stone’s throw from the CBD. Crown Towers

GETTING THERE The so-called ‘Kangaroo Route’ between the UK and Australia is one of the most competitive in aviation. Qantas is currently trialling non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York, however it will take quite some time before this becomes the norm. Cathay Pacific, Thai, Singapore and the Gulf carriers have routes between Australia and Heathrow requiring only one connection. Etihad and Emirates allow single connection flights via airports other than London Heathrow, such as Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Gatwick and Dublin. Other UK and Irish airports will require two changes. 12

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CBD •C  EOs would be very happy at the Crown Towers, Sofitel on Collins or Westin (also on Collins). Sofitel's No.35 restaurant has some of the best views in Melbourne – a great location for a private one-to-one coffee or lunch with a client. • Excellent accommodation for middle management business travellers can be found at the Crown Metropol, Marriott or Sheraton. •B  udget conscious travellers should try the Ibis Budget CBD or the Adina Apartment Hotel for serviced apartments. Docklands •F  or CEOs, the Intercontinental Rialto is a five-star luxury property housed within a beautiful 1891 building designed by William Pitt. •F  or Middle Management there are fantastic views of the city, port and Yarra River from the Pan Pacific South Wharf and the Four Points Sheraton, located close to trams going into the CBD.

•F  or travel budget conscious companies there is a Travelodge which has both a coin-operated laundry and room service and rooms with flat-screen TVs, as well as minifridges, microwaves, and tea and coffee-making facilities. Quest New Quay offers apartments including studios with kitchen facilities in the same room. St Kilda Road • Both CEOs and middle management will love the Blackman Hotel. It is an Art Series hotel, a group of luxury properties, each of which showcases an Australian artist. The hundreds of examples of Richard Blackman's work at this all-suite property make it seem more personal than many business hotels. •T  he brand new Quest St Kilda Road is one to try for budget conscious travellers. •F  or meetings, the Pullman Albert Park has 32 meeting rooms with a capacity of 500 delegates.

Maha restaurant

Maha is a modern Middle Eastern restaurant located in a quiet lane in the CBD which is great for either a business lunch or client entertaining. St Kilda’s Eating at one of the restaurants near St Kilda Beach where you can dine indoors or outdoors and walk straight onto the sand is an absolute treat. If you’re looking for somewhere upmarket to entertain clients with incredible sunset views, try the upstairs dining room at the Stokehouse.

BUSINESS CUSTOMS Melbourne, once a very formal business city, is much more relaxed these days. Melbourne business people appreciate punctuality, as time is considered a valuable commodity, and an authentic approach.

GETTING AROUND A free City Circle tram runs throughout the CBD (the tramTRACKER app provides live information). Trains also operate underground on the city loop, but visitors need to be careful as they change direction at midday, heading anti-clockwise in the morning and clockwise in the afternoon. Taxi ranks and Ubers are plentiful.

TIME OFF As well as using the free tram to reach business appointments, it’s also invaluable for accessing ‘must-see’ attractions such as St Paul's Cathedral, Parliament House, Royal Exhibition Building, as well as Queen Victoria

INSIDER’S TIP Julie McLean, Director Global Enterprise Sales Strategy, FCM Travel Solutions "If you like sport and can arrange your trip to align with one of our major events, you will experience an electric atmosphere. My favourite time of year is January when the Australian Open is held. Don’t panic if you don’t get hold of centre court tickets, because all you need is a Day Pass to access all the outdoor courts as well as the grass entertainment, beer gardens, eateries and deck chair cinemas to watch the game that happens to be going on at the time. If your trip is in March or April, then you may find yourself here over the Melbourne Grand Prix. Another event that cannot go unmentioned is our Spring Racing Carnival and the world-famous Melbourne Cup which is always the first Tuesday in November. "

Market and the famous cobbled laneways. There are wonderful museums – National Gallery of Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art – and cultural centres such as the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre and Koorie Heritage Trust. But if sport’s more your scene, Melbourne also has you covered (see Insider’s Tip). 

Intercontinental Rialto

EATING France Soir, which has been in South Yarra since 1986, is a bustling, classic French bistro. Its menu has all the old favourites as well as Melbourne’s most extensive wine list. Do book – it is almost always busy at both lunch and dinner! It is also good for dinner on your own or with friends. FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM



First in Business



usiness class first debuted about four decades ago in the aviation world to create distinction for its full-fare business passengers back in the late seventies. While some airlines will continue to place their bets on first class passengers, others are gradually phasing them out and placing greater emphasis on business class instead. Come 2020, first class will remain on just 18 airlines globally*.

BUSINESS TRAVEL TURNED INTO A COLLABORATIVE, SOCIAL EXPERIENCE In vying for consumers’ attention and revenue in this highly competitive segment, airlines have been introducing new in-flight products to outdo each other. With business class products getting fancier, the gap between First and Business Class is narrowing fast, and Qatar Airways’ Qsuite Business class has been leading the pack by winning the prestigious Skytrax World’s Best Business Class Award 2019. Qatar Airways Qsuite business class first turned head at its launch in March 2017 by revolutionising the way Business Class passengers are served. Coined “First 14

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in Business”, Qsuite incorporates many elements exclusive only to First Class cabin such as the industry’s first-ever double bed; individual suite with privacy panels can be easily stowed away; ondemand dining etc. Qsuite also allows passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room, while adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the centre four seats allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together. In addition, Qsuite passengers can look forward to fine dining as and when they wish to with the on-demand meal services. Qatar Airways have also worked with various celebrity chefs around the world for selected routes, such as the popular Chef Ian Kittichai for Thai routes and MasterChef Australia’s George Calombaris for Australian services. The Qsuite onboard menu also offers a delectable selection of snack 'sharing dishes' throughout the flight, allowing passengers to taste different appetisers while sharing them with family and friends. Thus, turning dining at 35,000 feet in the air into a social experience. Since its inception, the game-changing Qsuite has won several accolades including ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards for three consecutive years since 2017. For 2019, Qatar Airways also clinched the Skytrax World’s Best Airline Award for the fifth time, making it the

only airline in the world to have won this highly coveted award five times. REACHING BEYOND PASSENGERS TO CORPORATES With the Global Business Travel Association forecasting that global business travel spending will reach US $1.7 trillion in 2022, the battle for business travellers certainly needs to extend beyond the passengers. Airlines too are up to speed on this, offering corporate loyalty programmes that allow companies to not only save on travel costs but to provide additional perks to their employees. In January 2019, Qatar Airways introduced the Beyond Business programme, a corporate loyalty programme that rewards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by enabling them to take advantage of a wide range of exclusive benefits with a currency called ‘Qrewards’. With ‘Beyond Business by Qatar Airways’, participating companies earn valuable Qrewards redeemable on flights to any of Qatar Airways’ extensive list of over 160 destinations. As a shift from the other programmes where redemptions are permitted only on select flights at select times, Beyond Business allows for redemption of Qrewards on any flight with available seats. With the race for business travel heating up, airlines will continue to be hardpressed to continue exploring how they can attract new customers while retaining customer loyalty. To this end, a passenger-first strategy will remain key for driving innovation that satisfies. 

* jamesasquith/2019/08/14/ten-airlinesthat-are-changing-the-game-in-business-travel/ #379a746f4c8f


Experience Business Class like never before Whether travelling with colleagues or friends, our award-winning Qsuite provides a personal space to work and dine together. With one of the fastest Wi-Fi connections above the clouds, continue your business in comfort at 35,000 ft. Experience Business Class like never before.


CSR update in Asia RUN A MARATHON, NOT AN ORPHANAGE – SUPPORTING THE CAMBODIA CHILDREN’S TRUST Since 2016, FCM Asia has supported the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT), a non-profit child protection organisation in Battambang, Cambodia co-founded by Tara Winkler and Pon Jedtha. CCT advocates for communityled, preventative child protection through a pioneering care reform movement – Village Hive - that mobilises community networks to drive child protection initiatives in the villages and bring vital services and support functions to help families and children thrive and be self-sufficient.

One of the biggest annual fundraising efforts for CCT is the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM). 2019 saw a total of SGD 14,410 being raised via the run, put together by 21 of FCM Asia’s passionate runners. Proceeds from the 2019 run will go towards helping CCT to embed 36 Village Hives across Cambodia by 2020.

FIGHTING THE PINK BATTLE WITH WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women today and affects approximately 1 in 11 women in their lifetime (to age 99) in Singapore with 1,850 women diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 400 die from the disease each year. To help raise awareness towards breast cancer, promote early detection and provide support to those affected by the disease, Westpac Banking Corporation embarked on their first-ever Breast Cancer Fundraiser and Awareness Campaign in October 2019. Through local partners and sponsors including FCM Asia, the bank managed to raise a total of SGD 56,624 for the Breast Cancer Foundation of Singapore.


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The bank managed to raise a total of

SGD 56,624 for the Breast Cancer Foundation of Singapore.

IGNITING THE PASSION IN OUR PEOPLE. BUILDING BETTER FUTURES FOR CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD. Back in July 2019 during FCM Asia’s National Conference in Hong Kong, teams across Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and mainland China continued with the #illuminatingBetterFuturesForChildrenAllAroundTheWorld campaign to build 400 SolarBuddy lights. This was carried out in continued support towards Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) dedicated charity partner SolarBuddy, an organisation that seeks to illuminate the lives of those living in energy poverty. Around 18% of the world’s population has no access to electricity, meaning 1.4 billion people live in the dark including six million children. The gift of a SolarBuddy light helps children to study long after the sun goes down, improving their education and overall wellbeing. “It was such a privilege and emotional experience to witness first-hand the impact that the lights had for these kids and their communities,” said Vicki Parris, Senior Director of Customer Experience, FCM Asia, who was part of the delegation to Cambodia, handing out the assembled lights to children from the Cambodian Children’s Trust. “Being able to follow-up and complement FCTG’s Global CSR efforts in Asia is something we are all very proud of. The enthusiasm and passion I see in the eyes of our people when they were building those lights for the kids warms my heart and we are excited to have the opportunity to deliver a positive impact on the environment and their communities.” To date, FCTG has donated more than 17,000 SolarBuddy lights to children around the world and this initiative will be growing even more powerfully through #LightUpMadagascar, an initiative which seeks to alleviate energy poverty in the country, one of the biggest killers to women and children, taking more lives than malaria and HIV Aids combined. 





FCM wins World’s Leading Travel Management Company trophy at prestigious World Travel Awards FCM Travel Solutions, which has a presence in over 95 countries globally, ended 2019 on a high after being named the World’s Leading Travel Management Company at the World Travel Awards for the ninth consecutive year. The World Travel Awards serves to celebrate and reward excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry and is acknowledged as the ultimate travel accolade. Awards are voted for by travel and tourism professionals worldwide, which have recognised the commitment to excellence FCM has demonstrated over the past 12 months. Marcus Eklund, Global Managing Director, FCM commented: “We are proud to be the recipient of this award for the ninth year running – it is a tremendous achievement to be recognised consistently for almost a decade as the Leading Travel Management Company worldwide. This award is a huge endorsement of FCM’s agile approach and culture of fluid thinking, plus the dedication and drive of our people all of which enables us to deliver exceptional service and the right solutions for our customers”

2019 World's Leading Travel Management Company The award rounds off another year of outstanding growth and innovation for FCM with further investment in enhancing technology, products and processes. The global Leading Travel Management Company award also tops off a year of regional World Travel Awards wins for FCM in 2019 as follows: f Africa's Leading Travel Management Company f Asia's Leading Travel Management Company f Europe's Leading Travel Management Company f Mexico and Central America's Leading Travel Management Company f Middle East's Leading Travel Management Company f North America's Leading Travel Management f Oceania’s Leading Travel Management Company f South America's Leading Travel Management Company

FCM ENHANCES NDC CAPABILITIES IN EMEA FCM Travel Solutions has announced several significant developments in its drive to book and service NDC content for customers in the EMEA region, following extensive testing of NDCenabled solutions with Amadeus and other leading technology providers. As a driver partner in the Amadeus-NDC [X] program, FCM and parent company Flight Centre Travel Group


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(FCTG) have successfully booked NDC airline content within the new NDC-enabled version of Amadeus desktop solution Selling Platform Connect. In the UK specifically, FCM can also now book and service British Airways NDC content via new technology capabilities This means FCM clients and their travellers will have access to British Airways’ latest NDC content,

including British Airways’ short-haul and long haul NDC fares, ancillary bookings, allowing FCM consultants to fully service this content. The next stage on FCM’s NDC roadmap is to ensure online booking tools improve their ability to integrate and display NDC content, and therefore provide a better user experience and wider range of content.


STAY ON BUDGET STAY ON TIME COST EFFECTIVE ADVANTAGES Turkish Corporate Club helps corporations to save time which, in many cases, is more important than the cost itself. Members enjoy various benefits that save time such as quick check-in and easy reebooking/rerouting. To become a member and start receiving benefits of Turkish Airlines Corporate Club please visit:


Connecting rooms Corporate hotel programmes are becoming much more dynamic MANY BUSINESS TRAVELLERS SHOP AROUND

“We look at the overall travel of a customer and align a hotel programme with its objectives such as CSR, sustainability and the kind of traveller experience they want their people to have.”


s Wimbledon is for tennis fans, the hotel RFP is a long-established fixture in most travel managers’ diaries. But there seems to be a revolution afoot… At last summer’s BTA Conference, a panel discussing trends in the corporate travel industry agreed that “Supplier RFPs are now dead.” “There’s a change in how people are approaching things. A lot of people are trying to find a way of moving away from a soul-destroying 250-page document,” says Jo Lloyd, a partner at consultants Nina & Pinta and one of the panellists at the session. Rachel Newns, Head of Accommodation Programme Management for FCM consultants 4D, endorses this sentiment wholeheartedly. “The hotel RFP in its old format, where a customer is approaching hotels in hundreds of locations and getting alternative rates for every property, every year and then loading them into the GDS and publishing them is no longer the standalone, but it can form part of a hotel programme.


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The RFP in other words is about more than negotiating rates. Jo says, “You need the RFP process because it covers governance and makes sure that all is fair and equitable.” Rachel explains that an RFP need not be done on an annual basis – it could be for two years or longer if the client is amenable. “The hotel RFP is a starting point to get basic information and establish a framework for key hotels, validate that they’re the right properties to meet the company objectives, whatever they are.” The historical RFP lacked flexibility – there was an inherent assumption that corporates had a constant demand in terms of destinations and kinds of accommodation, that suppliers had a constant supply and that the market was stable.

73%* spent at least 10 minutes shopping for the last hotel they stayed at

81%* considered at least two hotels before booking their last work trip

*among those who booked through a corporate online booking tool Source: GBTA, Personalisation in Corporate Travel Lodging, 2018.

Hotel RFPs will soon be a thing of the past.”

HOTEL PROGRAMMES FOR TODAY’S NEEDS Business needs and business conditions are constantly changing. According to Rachel, “Hotel RFPs will soon be a thing of the past but you might want a subject matter expert to help you navigate the many kinds of rates, different booking platforms, channels and properties – everyone bombards managers to say their property is best.

Rachel Newns, Head of Accommodation Programme Management, FCM consultants 4D

“The challenge now is to find ways to keep a hotel programme relevant for market conditions and the client.”

The process may need innovation, but experts agree that the key is to understand the basics such as a company’s profile and what it wants to achieve through a travel programme. “The key to any category management is foundation – be clear on what you want. If not, the process will be conflicted because you don’t know what good looks like for you,” says Jo.


“LIFESTYLE BRANDS (e.g., Hotel Indigo, Cambria, W Hotels)



These views take hotel programmes way beyond purely saving money on transient traveller accommodation. As Rachel points out, “Anyone can create savings – just book cheaper hotels.” But corporates all have different travel needs. Some might have 10 locations and require only 10 good rates with 10 properties in those locations. On the other hand, a construction company is likely to have many projects in many locations so the places where accommodation is needed will be changing all the time because as one project ends, another begins. A DYNAMIC PROCESS For buyers, the explosion in available data means sourcing hotels is becoming increasingly dynamic. Hotel programme management is now being done on a regular basis rather than as a once-ayear exercise. “We have so much data now,” says Rachel. “It’s at our fingertips. You can see exactly where travellers are staying. It’s not good enough to wait six months or a year to change your programme. You’ve got to be on top of it all the time.” Rachel stresses the importance that 4D places on identifying their clients’ objectives: do they need to generate savings or is the goal to increase employee retention and traveller satisfaction? The properties that go on the programme and are listed on the corporate self-booking tool will change in line with a client’s objectives. Companies have traditionally opted for properties in close proximity to their various locations, but the quality of the accommodation can also be an important factor. One main objective of a hotel programme for an FCM client in the pharmaceutical sector was to encourage employee loyalty and staff retention. It therefore prioritised including extras which improved the traveller experience such as premium WiFi, breakfast and transfers.

SMALL BOUTIQUE BRANDS (e.g., 21C, Kimpton, Joie de Vivre)


Source: GBTA, Are Corporate Hotel Programmes Riding the Traveller Experience Wave?, 2019

People are trying to find a way of moving away from a souldestroying 250-page document.” Jo Lloyd, Partner, Nina & Pinta

There are definitely new approaches. Jo Lloyd believes that innovation is key to the successful management of a modern hotel programme. She explains how some will look at their hotel analytics and ask, “How can we go about it in a more creative way? For example, one new disruptor suggests just emailing a hotel in a destination with the message “Company XYZ would like a deal and they will pay a rate of so much.” Some properties apparently accept. “People are trying to manage these programmes dynamically,” she says. “The key is the ability to make informed decisions.” THE HOTEL COMPANIES Corporates may be moving from a once-a-year rate negotiation to a more dynamic programme, but suppliers are not adapting in the same way. They are unsurprisingly reluctant to fix rates for two or three years as markets can be volatile and demand

and supply in any destination can change rapidly. However, the increasing popularity of dynamic pricing means this could be changing. As this method is simply an agreed percentage discount off a property’s BAR (best available rate), a dynamic rate will have an inherent link to market conditions. Corporate programmes could very easily veer towards a blended approach of having fixed-term corporate rates in heavily used destinations, and dynamic rates in less popular business locales. After all, a client is unlikely to want dynamic pricing in a heavily used destination as high usage would signal an increase in demand and trigger a higher rate – not exactly the reward a corporate would want in exchange for giving a property a high volume of business. Rachel observes that “Hotel chains are now ready to promote chainwide agreements – the customer gets a discount across all or many of the group’s properties in exchange for performance at a few top hotels for their travellers.” Accommodation sourcing is no longer about an annual RFP; it’s an on-going programme. 




In conversation Upgrade Asia talks to Yeoh Siew Hoon, Founder and Managing Director of Web in Travel, also known as WIT. A veteran journalist in the travel and tourism media with a storied career, Siew Hoon is also a published author, speaker and facilitator at events around the world

You live and breathe travel and tourism. How did you get into the world of travel and what gives you the passion for this industry? Growing up in Penang, Malaysia, I was exposed to tourism from an early age and always thought travellers looked so carefree, so I always wanted to travel. Then I discovered a love for writing and decided to combine the two and applied for a reporting job for a UKbased travel trade publication wanting to expand in Asia.

What is a typical day for you? The reason I do what I do is so that I do not have a typical day. Everyday is different – the ideas I have, the people I meet and interview, the stories I write, the concepts that come to my mind. (Okay, I lie – when I am back in Singapore and not travelling, a typical day would involve daily walks with my two doggies. They force me into a routine, for which I am thankful.)

Web in Travel (WiT) was started back in 2005, 13 years later this medium has grown into a massive beast. What would you say has been the biggest contributors to its success? Hopefully it’s not a beast that kills me, but feeds the people who love it and have helped it grow, and that’s the biggest contributor – the community that has coalesced around WiT. WiT gave shape and identity to the online travel market in Asia Pacific, and that ecosystem is what keeps it going. It’s symbiotic. 22

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One of the exciting parts of your job must be learning about new travel technologies everyday. Can you share with us some of the upcoming travel technologies which you are most excited about? Personally? I love all the new payment apps that make it so easy for me to pay. I also love the messaging apps that help me stay in contact. I have to confess though, I get confused sometimes by what groups I am chatting with and I can’t tell which channels which message came in on – it’s so fragmented. Yet this is so reflective of the thing I love most about Asia – the diversity. I think machine learning is exciting – seeing machines get cleverer the more you interact with them, and it helps you sort out your photos, anticipates your searches, it’s like it is extending your intelligence or some more cynical people might say, it's eroding our intelligence. Depends how you manage it, I guess.

What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about travel? That it’s nett nett bad for our planet. Yes, we do need to fix aircraft emissions, every player in travel has to become more environmentally-sensitive but I suspect that treasures such as Angkor Wat, Sphinx and many of natural wonders would not be there if tourism hadn’t offered alternative livelihoods to local communities. I visited Kayak state in Myanmar this year – it just opened to tourism four years ago – and villagers are being shown the ways of community-based tourism where they

take responsibility for the experience, by hosting, cooking and guiding guests. They do this with dignity and grace and the visitors they get respect their culture and heritage. Hopefully this gives them enough income so they don’t have to chop down more trees and kill more wildlife – the last tiger was killed there some 10 years ago, we were told. I also visited the last dugong hunter in Bintan recently when I was staying on Cempedak Island. He’s in his 70s, five generations of dugong hunters – these “cows of the sea” are prized for their tusks and tears – and the local staff of Cempedak asked if he would stop hunting but instead play host and tell his stories to travellers like us, and he’s so happy and proud doing that. I believe there are more good and cheerful stories in travel, that we need to share, especially in these current times.

You have over 30 years of experience in the travel and tourism sector. What has been the most significant changes you have observed in the last five years and what do you predict for the next five years? How travel has become so mainstream. Everyone can fly anywhere at any price. How everything has become on-demand, instant – food, cars, bikes, dates. How everyone can stay anywhere on holiday – couches to camps, hotels to homes, igloos to ice caves (I am sure there’s one somewhere in the world on some rental site somewhere). How everyone can buy anything from anywhere, and have it delivered anywhere.

Favourite business travel destination and why? Tokyo, because I never feel it’s all about business when I am there. Great food, always some new bars and restaurants to discover, and new experiences to uncover. And I always combine it with a trip to a new part of Japan.

Pet peeves when travelling on business? Visas.

I wish I could see into the future – I did have eye surgery to have lens implants but they only allow me to see this world better. But at this year’s WiT in October, we did ask our audience to predict the future together and there were some very interesting predictions. We have put them in a “Time Capsule” (a movie file) so that those of us around in 2029 can look back and see what we got right and what we got wrong.

What would you say has been the biggest change in business travel over the last decade? Freedom.

You have interviewed many travel and tourism head honchos over the course of your career. Which interview was the most memorable and why? Too many but I guess a few standouts. Glenn Fogel, before he became the big honcho he is now at Booking Holdings – when he spoke to me of hedgehogs and how they have to stick to their knitting. For some reason, that visual has stuck with me. Ivy Wong, of VS Media when she spoke at a WiT, and showed a video of Chinese girls wearing bikinis and somehow I just blurted out, “I bet that got a lot of

male followers” which cracked everyone up. An interview again on stage at WiT with Mandip Singh Soin of IBEX Expeditions when we had a blackout and Mandip and I moved to the centre of the room and continued our conversation to the glow of mobile phones – and his talk was about learning to say enough … serendipity.

Recently, FCM and many other travel and tourism partners participated in Tern Travel Careers, which is another one of your new projects. Can you share a little bit more about this project with us? I started Tern four years ago because I felt well, how can we grow this industry if we don’t have the right talent with the right attitude and skills? We need to inspire youths about travel – try and get them as young as possible so that they become both our future customers and talent. People – teachers, parents – are not aware of the diversity of jobs available in travel, and they are changing with technology. Academia can only prepare their students up to a point – but technology is such a dynamic force, by the time they enter the industry, maybe what they’ve learnt has already become redundant. I think travel is also the most accessible and democratic industry – you don’t have to have super grades to enter, you can start at a junior working level and

work your way up, so the barriers to entry are not high, you just need the right attitude. During our one-day conference, we have industry leaders speak and share real stories of their careers and opportunities, mentors run coaching circles where groups can learn about life skills such as how to get a job, how to build influence, how to build your personal brand or learn about different sectors of the industry – hospitality, corporate travel, startups, and we match mentors with mentees in a lucky draw. It’s open to students, job seekers, executives working in travel – those who want to stay relevant and learn to navigate their careers. Our purpose is to enable everyone to have a meaningful career in travel because it really is a cool industry with cool people.

So what can we expect next from you? I launched a podcast series called “A Life In Travel” in November. It’s interviews with people whose lives have been changed by travel. Whose life hasn’t been changed by travel, right? It is aligned with Tern’s purpose of spreading the love of travel. We want everyone to celebrate travel as a way of life, and there’s no better way to do that than tell stories of people whose lives have been changed by travel. In Season 1, I speak to folks ranging from sci-fi and fantasy author, Lisa Huang (Zero Sum Game), film-makers of Jimami Tofu (Jason Chan and Christian Lee) and CEO of Accor Asia Pacific, Michael Issenberg, and more. Download the podcast here Happy listening and happy travelling.  FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM




Brain dump Linda Fox looks at how biometrics are changing the way travellers move through their journeys


ot many travellers stop on their way through airport security to consider what the biometric scanning gates they pass through are really

all about.

There is an assumption that it’s just a part of the process that we have to go through, with travellers inherently trusting both the system and that our personal details will be looked after. After all, a quick glance at the Gatwick Airport’s website for example, reveals that the iris recognition technology used is by order of the UK’s Home Office and is not optional. What’s interesting however, is that builtin trust in these airport systems helps build confidence in biometric technology which is gradually being employed across different pockets of the wider travel industry. There are a number of additional factors which are helping to drive adoption. For one, anything that helps speed customers more seamlessly through

checks and queues, enhancing the experience along the way, is seen as a positive. In April this year, British Airways said that 250,000 of its passengers had used biometric technology to verify their identity to board flights from the US. Global distribution giant Amadeus recently piloted technology with Ljubljana Airport to speed up boarding. This enabled passengers to take a selfie, alongside passport and boarding card details, and have it matched with a photo at boarding. Some travel suppliers are employing the technology to provide a perk for frequent travellers. Hertz, for example, introduced biometric lanes using facial recognition and fingerprint scans almost a year ago, with a claim that they would make renting a car 75% faster. At launch, these lanes were open to the company’s Gold Plus Rewards members as well as members of CLEAR,

As biometric technology becomes ubiquitous, consumers are naturally becoming more accepting of it.” FCMUPGRADEASIA.COM




5 billion




the company which developed the technology, who chose to upgrade. Earlier this year, it also upgraded its mobile app to enable customers to log in via fingerprint or facial recognition, and then use the app to reserve vehicles, manage their accounts and access other services.


experience, from enabling guests to access lifts to unlocking rooms through facial recognition. And Alibaba, Fliggy’s parent company, is using biometrics in further innovations. A partnership with Marriott in China was unveiled last year, enabling guests to check in using facial recognition.


As these pockets of innovation grow and the technology becomes ubiquitous, consumers are naturally becoming more accepting of it. But should travel managers be concerned about their travellers’ data and whether it’s being looked after?

Biometric technology is also being made use of in the hotel and payments industries.

Some of the answer lies in the counter question: what privacy is there really in a world of social media platforms and seriously smart smartphones that are said to track us and even listen to our every word?

For example, Chinese travel platform Fliggy announced the opening of a hotel, FlyZoo, in Hangzhou, in March 2019. The property uses biometric technology to improve the guest

Many people have heard stories of talking about travel plans and being served advertisements for those travel plans shortly after in their social media platforms, Gmail or ads on Google.

Digital security specialist Gemalto says that while there are no legal provisions specific to biometric data protection, legislation such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation do address biometric data. Individual countries are likely to have their own biometric privacy regulations. So far it seems the onus is on travel companies to know the rules and stick within them. Although unrelated to biometric data privacy, both British Airways and Marriott International were handed down multi-million pound fines for data breaches by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office. Privacy issues around biometric usage will become clearer as the technology advances. In addition to the developments mentioned above, there are wider industry initiatives such as the World Economic Forum’s Known Traveller Digital Identity (KDTI). KDTI is about using emerging technologies to create a more seamless experience for travellers, as well as giving them more control of their data.


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The idea is that identity information usually stored on a passport is encrypted and stored on a mobile phone. Passengers consent to share their data with border security, airlines and other travel partners. The data is checked along each segment of the journey, using biometric technology. A KDTI trial of paperless travel involving Canada, the Netherlands and the WEF, as well as airline and airport partners, was carried out earlier this year.

Some travel suppliers are employing the technology to provide a perk for frequent travellers.” The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is developing a similar paperless concept involving biometrics called One ID. The airlines’ organisation highlights benefits of the development such as enhanced security, a seamless experience and cost and efficiency gains. In many ways, it already feels as if biometric technology in travel is a tide that won’t be held back.

A recent report from SITA1 - 2025: Air Travel for a Digital Age reveals that by 2025, the number of travellers using a government-issued digital ID will rise from a predicted 1.7 billion in 2019 to more than 5 billion in 2024. The research also reveals that most airport and airline IT executives believe that tech-savvy travellers have the most important influence on their passenger solutions strategy. It also reveals that by 2021, more than 70% of airlines plan to invest in biometric ID technologies. Further developments are also likely to fuel the spread of biometric usage in travel. Voice recognition technology is another one to watch. Younger generations are already comfortable with voice search via mobile devices and are growing up with Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices.

This might indicate a general shift away from biometrics such as fingerprint scanning and a move towards other measurements such as voice recognition. Only time will tell. 

Anything that helps speed customers more seamlessly through checks and queues is seen as a positive.” 1. SITA, 2025: Air Travel for a Digital Age, 2019




Profile for Flight Centre

Upgrade Asia Issue 2  

Travel magazine produced by FCM

Upgrade Asia Issue 2  

Travel magazine produced by FCM