The Business Travel Magazine Feb/Mar 2019

online.magazines

74 February/March 2019

MEETING

OF MINDS

From bots to booking tools

– the latest in travel tech

+

Car hire innovation

Car hire innovation

Business class cabins

Focus on Latin America

Talking Travel: Kate Humble

BUSINESS TRAVEL DESIGN TEAM OF THE YEAR


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WE’VE GOT THE NETWORK.

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ARRIVALS

Contents FEBRUARY/MARCH

2019

78

22

Features

28 Business class

40 Car hire

61 Extended feature:

Travel technology

14

46

Extended feature

Travel

tech

Booking tools, bots, distribution...

we've got it covered!

(p61-79)

84

80 40

28

6

Arrivals

6 Opening Shots

8 Everyone's Talking About...

Traveller wellbeing

11 Six of the Best:

First class rail lounges

13 The Knowledge:

How to rejuvenate your

travel programme

14 Speaking Out:

Climate change

Regulars

17 Event preview:

Business Travel Show

20 The Conversation:

Steve Barrass, CEO TAG

22 The Big Picture

23 The People Awards:

Meet the winner

26 Technology: Mobile services

38 Event preview:

The Business Travel Conference

46 Talking Travel: Kate Humble

62

20

The Review

49 Ten pages of news, views

and the latest developments

81

26

13

Departures

80 Gadgets & Gear

81 New Kid on the Block

83 On Business in: Cape Town

84 Focus on: Latin America

88 Reality Check

90 The Final Word

23

11

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

3


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ARRIVALS

Welcome

Rise of the machines

Technology has long been the driving

force behind the travel industry's

evolution, but as you absorb the pages

of this issue's extended feature (p61-

79) you might come to the conclusion

that 2019 could be something of a

watershed moment for the tools and processes that power the business

travel industry. Booking tools are increasingly incorporating bots and

artificial intelligence as TMCs bid to deliver greater personalisation and

efficiencies, while the divisive topic of NDC is also gaining traction.

It is interesting that technology also underpins the vast majority of

entrants in this year's Disrupt Awards. I'll have the pleasure of joining the

judging panel when the finalists pitch their businesses to delegates at the

Business Travel Show on February 20-21 and I look forward to hearing

more about their various innovations. The Business Travel Magazine team

will be out in force at the show reporting on the latest announcements

and trends, so come and say hello.

One topic that will undoubtedly reverberate around the halls of Olympia

London is that of Brexit. At the time of writing, it is still not clear how – or

even if – the UK will depart the European Union on March 29. Perhaps the

picture will be clearer by the time our next issue goes to press at the end

of March – or perhaps not!

Finally, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Colin Ellson who

passed away in January. Colin was a regular contributor to The Business

Travel Magazine and other BMI Publishing titles. A veteran travel journalist,

he was well-loved and respected by his many industry acquaintances.

the

Businesstravel

MAGAZINE

EDITORIAL

EDITOR

Andy Hoskins

andy.hoskins@thebusinesstravelmag.com

CONTRIBUTORS

Catherine Chetwynd, Linda Fox,

Rob Gill, Gillian Upton

& Angela Sara West

JOURNALIST

Benjamin Coren

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge

SALES

PUBLISHER

David Clare

david.clare@thebusinesstravelmag.com

DESIGN & PRODUCTION

SENIOR DESIGNER

Louisa Horton

DESIGNERS

Ross Clifford & Zoe Tarrant

PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER

Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION CONTROLLER

Steve Hunter

BMI PUBLISHING

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Matt Bonner

CEO

Martin Steady

Andy Hoskins, Editor

(Print) ISSN 1754-8543. THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY

BMI PUBLISHING LTD: SUFFOLK HOUSE, GEORGE STREET, CROYDON,

SURREY, CR9 1SR, UK. T: 020 8649 7233

E: ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK

BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK

ALL PAPER USED IN THIS PUBLICATION IS SOURCED FROM SUSTAINABLE

FORESTS AND IS FULLY RECYCLABLE.

WHILE EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO ENSURE ACCURACY, BMI PUBLISHING LTD

CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS.

©BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2019

IMAGES: SOURCED FROM SUPPLIERS, ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

AND BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

5


ARRIVALS

OPENING SHOTS

Eye-catching images of the latest news and developments

Inhabit London

will be free of

single-use plastics and has

partnered with a number

of social enterprises”

Inhabit London

SCANDI CHIC

New brand Inhabit

Hotels will open its

debut property in

London this summer.

Occupying six

revamped Georgian

townhouses in

Paddington, the

90-room property

mixes classic

Scandinavian and

British design. Inhabit

London will include a

café, plus a pantry

stocked with free

trendy snacks.

6 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


One Aldwych

FRESH LOOK

One Aldwych will

reopen in April

after completing a

multimillion pound

refurbishment of its

guest rooms and

public spaces. The

work includes four

new suites, a

revamped bar, lobby

and dining areas.

Biltmore Hotel

LUXURY FIRST

Hilton will launch its new

luxury brand LXR Hotels

& Resorts into Europe

with the opening of the

Biltmore Hotel in

London’s Grosvenor

Square this spring. The

property will have 257

rooms and 51 suites,

fitness studio, alfresco

terrace and cocktail bar.

Hotel Indigo Manchester

BLUE MOON

Hotel Indigo Manchester

Victoria Station has

opened its doors to

guests, marking the

brand’s debut in one of

the UK’s largest cities.

The boutique hotel, with

187 rooms, takes its

design cues from the

city's industrial past and

is located in a Grade II

listed building close to

the Northern Quarter.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

7


ARRIVALS

EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT...

Traveller wellbeing

“WE RECOGNISE THAT

BUSINESS TRAVEL - PARTICULARLY

FREQUENT “TECHNOLOGY LONG-HAUL DOESN’T

TRAVEL – CAN

RESCUE HAVE A HUGE YOU IMPACT BUT IT ON PROVIDES

THE HEALTH

CONFIDENCE AND WELLBEING AND OF TRAVELLERS. VISIBILITY. WE HAVE YOUR

TMC THEREFORE SHOULD LOOKED HAVE AT WAYS THE OF SUPPORTING PROCESS

AND THEM PROCEDURES WITH THEIR WELLBEING, TO RUN WHILST REPORTS

AND MAINTAINING HELP YOU IMMUNITY REACH AND THOSE ENERGY

LEVELS SO THEY CAN HIT THE

AFFECTED BY AN INCIDENT”

GROUND RUNNING”

Ewan Kassir, Head of Sales, Clarity

The importance of travel wellness is increasingly

becoming recognised by business travellers and

their employers. As a result, ‘conscious travelling’

in mind, body and spirit is here to stay”

Papillon Luck, CEO, 15th Degree

Mel Phaure, Director, Blue Cube Travel

“TRAVELLERS ARE INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR

PERSONAL SAFETY AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE. OUR CLIENTS ARE

LOOKING FOR TECHNOLOGY AND TOOLS THAT WILL SUPPORT THE

WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES… WE WILL THEREFORE BE

ANNOUNCING AN INNOVATIVE NEW MOBILE SOLUTION EARLY IN

2019 TO SUPPORT OUR CLIENTS’ TRAVELLERS MORE EFFECTIVELY”

Andy Hegley, UK General Manager, Corporate Traveller

Some organisations now have

a Chief Happiness Officer – an

enviable title reflective of the growing

emphasis on

staff wellness,

morale and

retention”

Sam Cande, UK Country

Manager, Traveldoo

“MORE AND MORE TMCS ARE BEING ASKED TO PROVIDE SUPPORT AND

ADVICE FOR DIVERSE TRAVELLER GROUPS. BY PARTNERING WITH

ADVANTAGE TRAVEL PARTNERSHIP, WE CAN SUPPORT THE TMC

Carolyn Pearson,

Founder and CEO

of Maiden Voyage

COMMUNITY AND ULTIMATELY REACH MORE TRAVELLERS”

“Wellness is becoming increasingly important to our

customers and The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga in our Pier

Business Class lounge is the perfect place to relax before

a flight. We listen to the needs of our

customers and continuously evolve to

improve their experience with us”

Vivian Lo, General Manager Customer Experience, Cathay Pacific

8 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


LONDON TO

EDINBURGH

BY TRAIN

IN JUST

4HRS 19MINS

Planes are

fast, airports

are not.

Get the train from London to Edinburgh in just

4 hours and 19 minutes, and get a load of work done too.

LNER.co.uk/Business

Most common journey time between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley Monday to Friday.


ARRIVALS

SIX OF THE BEST

Six of the best...

First class rail lounges

1

Eurostar

Business Premier customers and

Eurostar carte blanche holders

can access Eurostar’s luxury

lounges. There are locations in

London, Paris, Brussels and

Ebbsfleet. Visitors can benefit

from free wifi, a digital library,

food, drinks and a range of

magazines and newspapers.

2

3

Virgin Trains

First class passengers can access

Virgin’s lounges up to two hours

prior to travel and an hour after

arrival. The operator has lounges

across its network. Most have

wifi, TVs and workspaces, plus

free food and soft/hot drinks.

LNER

Since the recent takeover, the

line’s first class lounges feature

new relaxation areas, workspaces

and chaise longues. They also

offer free wifi, drinks, snacks and

newspapers. Its lounges are

across the East Coast network.

4

Great Western Railway

GWR operates lounges at London

Paddington and Cardiff Central

stations. Both offer visitors free

wifi and food and drink. The

Paddington site is currently being

remodelled with a new look and

feel. Check in advance for

opening times and entry

requirements.

6

Scotrail

Aberdeen has a lounge managed

by Scotrail which offers showers,

free wifi, snacks and drinks. The

lounge can be accessed by

passengers carrying first class

tickets for travel that day.

However, First Class Advance

tickets are not accepted.

5

East Midlands Trains

Entry is granted to first class

ticket holders, including First

Advance. Each lounge features

free wifi, refreshments and a

selection of newspapers. Lounges

are located at Derby, Leicester,

Nottingham, Sheffield, St Pancras

and East Midlands Parkway.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

11


ARRIVALS

THE KNOWLEDGE

How to...

Rejuvenate your travel programme

The RSA insurance group changed TMCs

in a bid to improve processes and ease

the procurement department’s workload.

Find out how they went about it

THE BACKGROUND

RSA’s incumbent TMC had

been in place for eight years

but the company felt the

service and technology it

supplied was falling short

of expectations. RSA

launched a competitive

tender for its UK, Ireland

and Group Corporate

Centre (GCC) travel

management programme and ultimately

appointed FCM in January 2018. RSA has

around 12,600 employees and operates in

over 100 countries.

THE GOALS

RSA wanted to improve its travel

programme in several ways, including

having a greater focus on personal service

and more of a partnership approach with

its TMC. It also wanted to deploy futureproof

technology – including an online

booking too – as well as introducing an

approvals process, automated traveller

tracking and, finally, to lighten the workload

of its stretched procurement department.

“We needed more support from our

TMC in terms of taking

over some of the

business travel tasks

and responsibilities

that had been handled

by procurement,”

says Sarah Morrison,

RSA's Procurement

Category Manager.

THE SOLUTION

RSA was allocated six FCM

consultants to look after its

travel needs, plus a VIP

consultant to work with a

number of its executive

assistants. The FCM team

also handles any general queries from

bookers or travellers, considerably

lightening procurement’s workload.

RSA also implemented FCM’s Seeqa

booking tool – for which PAs and EAs were

invited to attend training roadshows –

which incorporated a new approvals

process based on rate caps for hotels and

flights in accordance

with RSA travel policy.

The roadshows

gave travellers

and bookers the

opportunity to flag

up any changes

they felt were

needed within

Seeqa and we were

able to respond quickly

and ask our IT people to

make those changes,”

says Hayley France,

FCM Account Manager.

There are always a few

teething problems when

implementing an OBT,

but despite some initial

challenges, Seeqa is proving

to be a great online tool for

RSA and adoption rates are

excellent,” she adds.

France acted almost as

‘implant’ account manager,

providing greater internal

support and communication,

assuming responsibility for

RSA’s intranet travel pages and overseeing

all internal travel communications. She has

an RSA email address and travels the

country visiting RSA’s offices.

“At the end of the day we are not travel

experts, so having Hayley and the support

of the offline FCM team – who have access

to our systems – made a big difference,”

says RSA’s Sarah Morrison.

THE RESULTS

By October last year online

adoption had reached 82%

for hotels and 61% for air

while the approvals process

resulted in a more streamlined

and efficient set up.

Traveller satisfaction has also risen

following improved service levels and

traveller tracking has been vastly improved

with greater visibility.

“We are very happy with the level of

engagement and service that FCM is

providing,” says RSA’s Sarah Morrison.

They did an excellent job of training

our staff to use the online booking

tool,” she continues, “and the

introduction of FCM’s HUB portal as

our own travel portal means that

everything is integrated in one

place include rail, car hire and

other services.

“We can also make better

business decisions as a

result of the proactive

provision of data and MI

available to us via HUB.”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

13


ARRIVALS

SPEAKING OUT

Climate change

Your part in its slowdown

Are suppliers and corporates playing their

part in arresting the pace of climate

change? Possibly not, says Gary McLeod,

who asks what more we could be doing

Twelve years to halt cataclysmic climate

change: so what are your organisation and

travellers doing about it? Are business travel

suppliers doing enough? And how can we

help them perform better?

The United Nations COP24 climate change

conference in Poland agreed to implement

the 2015 Paris climate agreement and has

got China and the USA on-board – who

jointly create 40% of the world’s greenhouse

gases – but the business travel community

has an important role to play in reducing its

own impact on the environment.

It’s easy to say “it’s too big a topic for

me to be able to influence”, but there are

millions of global business travellers who,

if they all did some of the “small stuff”, could

have a huge impact.

The UK’s Department for Transport recently

published Aviation 2050 – the future of UK

aviation, which invites comment from all

interested parties on various topics, including

feedback on how to “support growth while

tackling environmental impacts”. Very

laudable, but 2050 is 31 years away and we

only have 12 years to effect a slowdown in

global warming, so what can we do today at

a corporate and individual level?

The obvious steps seems to be to use more

efficient public transport when aviation can

be avoided. Train travel is the primary option

in the UK and Europe, but in the UK all we

tend to hear is bad news about high fares,

cancelled services and over-crowded

carriages. Many of the train operators,

however, are investing in new fleet and there

If buyers add more

‘green’ questions into

RFPs we will see operators

become more open about

what they are doing and how

we can help them”

is strong evidence of this across the network.

Check out what your local operator or longdistance

provider is doing, and avoid the UK’s

over-crowded roads by trying the train option.

There are of course instances when train

travel is just not practical and cars will reach

the destinations that trains don't – but what

of the availability of electric powered or

hybrid hire cars? Most car rentals tend to

involve relatively short distances, so why are

we not being offered more electric cars or a

range of hybrids by suppliers?

Prices are high and lack of charging

infrastructure are primary concerns among

potential renters but, over the next couple of

years, manufacturers are promising to

deliver sensibly-priced electric cars with

impressive range.

If car hire companies get enough requests –

especially from large corporate users – it will

be fed into their buying operations and may

actually impact their fleet decisions and

depot infrastructure planning.

‘Green’ hotels are a talked about concept,

but you rarely see much evidence of how

they are making themselves more energy

efficient other than the ubiquitous “do you

need to change your towels?” cards.

On a more positive note, it was interesting

to see that a Premier Inn in Edinburgh

recently claimed to have become the first

hotel in the UK to be powered by battery –

albeit a five-tonne lithium ion battery! Its

parent company Whitbread said the trial

would help it meet its goal of halving its

carbon emissions by 2025 and save the hotel

some £20,000 a year in energy bills.

We all know how easy it is to leave the keycard

in, the lights and the television on and

run endless showers, but being mindful of

our behaviour is one easy way we can take

personal responsibility a bit further. If it helps,

act as if you were paying the electricity bill!

And how about the way hotels operate,

often with over-heated hotel corridors and

always-on, inefficient lighting? There are

many things that hotels could do to reduce

power consumption, so let’s start asking the

questions of them about how and when

they’re going to act.

If buyers start putting ‘green’ questions into

travel RFPs we will see operators become

more open about what they are

doing and suggest how we can

help them be more efficient

– maybe even incentivising

travellers to make

greener choices

through better

pricing? Millions

of us, all doing

our bit, can

actually make

a difference.

GARY MCLEOD

Gary McLeod i s Managing

Director of Traveleads and has

worked in the travel industry

for over 35 years across

a variety of companies

and in operational,

sales and

management

roles.

14 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


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EVENT PREVIEW

The Business Travel Show 2019

There's no business

like show business

The Business Travel Show celebrates its 25th anniversary this year

and will include a range of new features

The p Aar

ren a fh

coci ya

12p, Day 1, Fut Fom

Europe’s largest business travel

exhibition and conference takes place

on February 20 & 21 and is expected to

welcome more than 9,000 travel

professionals through its doors.

The two-day event includes over 80

conference and seminar sessions – for all

levels of experience – and features over 260

global travel brands, from innovative new

start-ups to the world’s

largest airlines, hotel

groups and TMCs.

Dedicated exhibition areas include the

new Meetings Management Pavilion,

International Hotel Village, Airline Pavilion,

the GTMC Pavilion and the ASAP Pavilion,

with the latter showcasing members of the

Association of Service Apartment Providers.

A comprehensive educational programme

features a focus on the future of business

travel management, including sessions

on creating an agile travel platform;

Brexit and the global risk outlook;

introducing bots to your travel

programme; and artificial intelligence,

blockchain and more. The 25-year-old

event will also include several new and

returning features under its ‘Travel

2022’ theme, including WonderLAB,

Future Forum and the Disrupt

Launchpad and Awards.

“A comprehensive

educational programme

features a focus on the

future of business travel

management”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

17


EVENT PREVIEW

BTS Conference Programme

WEDNESDAY 20 FEBRUARY

10:00 - 11:00 Brexit & the global risk outlook

10:00 - 11:00 Introducing bots into your

travel programme

10:00 - 11:00 How to get your business

booking meetings smarter

10:00 - 11:00 Ten quick wins to get you

started in travel management

Buss av

bos a mer

wi dn un

Olpi Lon

THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY

10:00 - 11:00 How to improve traveller wellbeing

without harming your travel budget

10:00 - 11:00 Buyers’ revolution – let’s take

back control of our data!

10:00 - 11:00 The meetings revolution

10:00 - 11:00 Negotiating the best savings

and value with travel suppliers

Whe?

Wednesday February 20 &

Thursday February 21

Whe?

Olympia London

11:30 - 12:30 Predictive analytics – can it

improve your travel programme?

11:30 - 12:30 How to influence my C-suite

and win big – a boardroom exec reveals all

11:30 - 12:30 Managing supplier

consolidation to make sure you win

11:30 - 12:30 Traveller profiling – a new

way to organise your travel programme

11:30 - 12:30 Solving the challenge of

booking non-employee travel

11:30 - 12:30 How to find what you need

when you’re drowning in data

To rte

businesstravelshow.com

13:00 - 14:00 The annual hotel

RFP

13:00 - 14:00 Getting

data protection right

13:00 - 14:00

Benchmarking – check

how well you're doing

13:00 - 14:00 Stars of

the East – getting to

grips with travel in China

and India

13:00 - 14:00 Corporate payments

– achieve more savings and efficiencies

14:30 - 15:30 NDC – will travel buyers win?

14:30 - 15:30 Integrating transient travel

& meetings

14:30 - 15:30 Does traveller incentivisation

really lower spend and help your business?

14:30 - 15:30 Inside track – how I manage

our air and hotel programmes

14:30 - 15:30 Choosing a TMC

“Sut o

evne m

to sti

te ces

to m

exen

tal er”

11:30 - 12:30 Online booking

and expense management

13:00 - 14:00 Forecasting

Forum 2019

13:00 - 14:00 Making

hotel and meetings

payments work

13:00 - 14:00 Managing

the mavericks

13:00 - 14:00 Get ready for

One Order

13:00 - 14:00 Safety and security – a

best practice guide for beginners

14:30 - 15:30 How AI, blockchain and bots

will transform travel management

14:30 - 15:30 Re-thinking what success

looks like for a travel manager

14:30 - 15:30 Get what you

want by telling data stories

14:30 - 15:30 Life as a

multinational travel manager

Mor o

@btshowlondon #BTShow

BusinessTravelShow

Business Travel Show group

businesstravelshow.blogspot.co.uk

16:00 - 17:00 What are the new skills I need

to win as a travel manager?

16:00 - 17:00 New opportunities to make

the most of your travel policy

16:00 - 17:00 Dangerous liaisons – How to

de-risk your meetings programme

16:00 - 17:00 Using data for improved

savings and control

14:30 - 15:30 Travel policy

– your key to balancing

maximum compliance with

traveller experience

16:00 - 16:45 The first steps

to managing meetings spend

16:00 - 16:45 How to engage

your travellers

18 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


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THE CONVERSATION

CEO, TAG

STEVE BARRASS

The industry stalwart tells Andy Hoskins about his move into business

travel and the future for TAG following private equity investment

There are two new names in the

business travel arena, although

both have impressive pedigrees

in the travel industry.

TAG is the new moniker of The

Appointment Group, the company that

specialises in travel and events for the music,

entertainment and corporate sectors. And

Steve Barrass is its new CEO, appointed as

part of the investment by Apiary Capital that

is anticipated will “drive transformational

growth”, according to a statement from the

fledgling private equity investors.

Barrass, now six months into his role,

arrived at TAG after some 20 years in leisure

travel that included senior roles at Gold

Medal, Thomas Cook and, most recently,

Emirates-owned dnata Travel in Dubai.

“It’s where I got a passion for mergers and

acquisitions,” says Barrass, as he explains

how his latest role came about. “I wanted to

return to the UK in travel but in something

quite specialist and as a CEO.”

He continues, “I hadn’t heard of The

Appointment Group but the stars seemed to

be lining up. Travel is a hobby as well as a

career and I love music too. It is a perfect fit.

Now, with TAG's private equity backing, it is

very much my remit to raise our profile and

deliver sustainable growth.”

Nearly two-thirds of TAG's revenue comes

from clients in the entertainment, film and

media sectors, with corporate and events

business accounting for the remainder.

So how does Barrass describe the

company's position in the market? “We are

a high-quality, premium TMC providing a

global personalised concierge experience

and we are completely flexible,” he says.

The organisation handles over 2,000 tours

a year and former clients include Coldplay,

U2, Lady Gaga and myriad other global stars.

“Imagine organising a two-year worldwide

tour for the artist, their band and their crew!

TV and film is no less challenging. It's a hugely

complex process getting crews through

customs and on planes with all their kit and

then getting them on location,” says Barrass.

He continues: “We can do point-to-point

travel too but we're better at serving

demanding clients, including the likes of

C-suite executives, hedge funds, high net

worth individuals and bankers.”

Barrass is based in TAG's new Manchester

office – where there is plenty of room for

expansion – and travels regularly between its

nine global offices. “We have 300 staff now

and John [Gianquitto, Co-founder and now

As a TMC you

have to be big or be

specialist. The middle ground

is tough right now. All the old

drivers of profitability are

being squeezed”

President] and Maurice [Veronique,

Co-founder, who has stepped down from the

board] have built almost a family alliance.

“This is a very successful entrepreneurial

business with great people. Apiary want to

build on that and take it to the next level but

without 'corporatising' it.”

He continues: “Private equity will look to,

say, double the business over a period of

time. What I’m doing is building the plan to

achieve that. It will come from organic

growth – which is already double digit across

all our verticals across the globe. We may

open up in other territories – Asia is an

economic hotbed – and we are also looking

at a couple of new business sectors.”

Back in the UK, Barrass, like others, believes

the TMC market is ripe for M&As. “We've seen

plenty of it and we’d love to make two or three

acquisitions of our own over the next five

years. There are new opportunities in Asia

and the United States, with its huge music

industry, is a natural target, but the real

consolidation options are here in the UK.”

He continues: “In my opinion, you have to

be big or be specialist – the middle ground is

tough right now. All the old drivers of

profitability are being squeezed, there’s all

the regulatory issues, and then there’s the

technology and infrastructure that's required.

It’s easy to be left behind. Technology is

important to us, but we’re a people-driven,

customer-centric business and that's where

our future lies.”

20 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


THE CONVERSATION

in brief...

How did you enjoy your

time in Dubai with dnata?

"I had an absolute ball

looking after multiple

businesses out there. It was

an incredible place to be.

I’d been almost blinkered

by my background in UK

outbound travel so it was a

new experience. It has a

completely visionary

approach to business and

is growing so quickly. The

culture is ‘anything is

possible’. They’ve built one

of the biggest and best

airlines in the world in just

30 years! It wasn’t quite an

epiphany but it certainly

opened my eyes to the art

of the possible."

Any other favourite

destinations?

"For all the long-haul

destinations I’ve been to

– and I started out in the

Merchant Navy so it's a lot

– my favourite destinations

are actually closer to home.

I love spending time in

Austria in both summer

and in winter, and also the

Algarve. I’m a big family man

and I’d love my kids to go

into the travel industry too."

STEVE BARRASS

Steve Barrass joined TAG from dnata Travel, where he

was Senior Vice President responsible for multiple

businesses throughout the Middle East and South East

Asia. He previously held a number of senior positions

across the leisure sector including roles at Thomas

Cook, Avis, Airtours and as CEO of the Gold Medal

Travel Group where he led the successful sale of the

business to the Emirates Group in 2014. He started his

career as an officer in the Merchant Navy where he

developed his now lifelong love for travel.

NDC - love it or loathe it?

"I understand why the

airlines are doing it and,

with British Airways as our

number one airline, we are

having some high level

conversations because we

have so much premium

travel. We’re also working

closely with Travelport and

are part of their pilot NDC

programme."

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

21


the big picture

Konnichiwa!

OSAKA

British Airways will

commence non-stop

flights between London

Heathrow and Osaka,

Japan, on March 31

when its new fourtimes-weekly

service

commences. Flights will

operate to/from Kansai

International Airport.

The 2019 Rugby World

Cup takes place in Japan

this autumn while capital

city Tokyo will host the

2020 Olympic Games.

BA last operated flights

to Osaka in 1998.

26 22 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


AWARDS

meet the winner

Paul Coghill

CTM’s Paul Coghill was named Reservations Consultant of the Year

at The Business Travel People Awards 2018

How did it feel to be

named Reservations

Consultant of the Year?

It was a massive shock.

I didn’t expect to be

shortlisted, never mind

win. When they said my

name, my first thought was ‘Oh God, I’m

going to have to get up on stage in front of

everyone!’ I’m not one for attention. I never

blow my own trumpet or big myself up. So,

it was a massive surprise, but I was delighted.

Why did you decide to enter the awards

or how did you come to be nominated?

CTM UK’s General Manager Julie Cope

nominated me, which was really lovely of

her and obviously it was worth doing!

Tell us about your role and the work

you’ve done that clinched the award?

I’ve been with CTM for nearly 19 years, back

when we had to print tickets and I would

hand deliver them to our City clients. I’d

previously worked in travel at Lunn Poly

and with Gemini Travel, where I moved over

from leisure to business. I work on lots of

different accounts with CTM and some of

my clients have been with me for

over a decade – Sir Tim Rice,

for example. He and his

family are a joy to work

with. Having worked on

the same team for

some 18 years, I

naturally know my

clients really well.

We have solid

relationships and a

great rapport. My whole

ethos is to always provide

them with the best possible

service at all times. I give every

booking the greatest attention to

detail to ensure everything runs as

smoothly as possible for my clients which

reflects well on me and on the business.

The Business Travel

People Awards recognise

outstanding individuals and

teams across all aspects of

the supplier element

of corporate travel.

Nominations for the 2019

awards are now open!

What do you particularly enjoy about

your role?

I love stepping in to help people when

they have problems and finding the best

solution. And I love building those

relationships with travellers and bookers.

What do you think of The Business

Travel People Awards, and of the

winners event?

It’s really important to look

beyond the business and

profit and loss sheets in

any industry, and to

recognise the people

who make things

happen and who go

above and beyond,

and that’s what the

People Awards does so

well. I really enjoyed the

awards ceremony – it was

a great event, and a lovely

opportunity to meet up with

people as I work from home. I would

have loved to join everyone on the winners’

trip to New York, which sounded fantastic,

but sadly I wasn’t able to.

What impact do you think winning an

award will have on your career?

For younger winners, I can see how winning

this award could have a massive impact on

their career ambitions and trajectory. For

me, I’ve been in the industry for nearly 30

years so that was never the goal behind

entering. However, I have changed roles at

CTM since winning, moving from the

reservations team to the Elite/VIP team and

I’m really enjoying building relationships

with a new group of clients.

What do you think are the travel

industry’s biggest challenges right now?

The continuous transition from offline to

online bookings, plus NDC and finding a way

to manage this within a TMC.

It’s really important

to look beyond the

business and the profit and

loss sheets in any industry,

and to recognise the people

who make things happen”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

23


AWARDS

RECOGNISING EXCELLENCE

IN BUSINESS TRAVEL

The Business Travel People Awards are

your chance to pay tribute to those in

the business travel industry whose

professionalism and excellence help them

really stand out from their peers. The

winners of The Business Travel People

Awards are individuals and teams who

are judged to be outstanding performers

in their field, with an emphasis on

recognising winners that are leading the

business travel sector into the future.

Nominations close on March 4th

If you’d like to enter The 2019 Business

Travel People Awards or want to nominate

someone you know or work with, visit

thebusinesstravelpeopleawards.co.uk and

complete your nomination by March 4th.

AWARDS CEREMONY

The Business Travel People Awards

will be presented at a celebratory

lunch on Friday May 24th at the

Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London.

The 2019 People Awards are now open for

nominations in the following categories:

TRAVEL MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

& HOTEL BOOKING AGENCIES

• Reservations Consultant of the Year

• Reservations Team of the Year

• Operations Manager of the Year

• Operations Team of the Year

• Account Manager of the Year

• Account Management Team of the Year

• Sales/Business Development Manager

of the Year

• Sales/Business Development Team

of the Year

SUPPLIERS

(airlines, accommodation, ground

transportation, online booking tools,

GDS, data management services)

• Account Manager of the Year

• Account Management Team of the Year

• Sales/Business Development Manager

of the Year

• Sales/Business Development Team

of the Year

MICE

• Meetings & Events Manager of

the year

• Meetings & Events Team of the year

INDUSTRY AWARDS

• Rising Star Award

• Best Newcomer

NOMINATIONS CLOSE ON MARCH 4TH

THEBUSINESSTRAVELPEOPLEAWARDS.COM


A R R I V E R E A DY FOR B U S I N E S S

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Book your business trip with your local TMC or at GWR.com

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For full terms and conditions visit GWR.com


TECHNOLOGY

[ TRAVEL ON THE GO ]

MOBILE APPETITE

The demand for mobile-friendly services shows no signs of abating,

writes Linda Fox, who examines travellers’ biggest priorities

Amobile experience that captures

day-to-day tasks such as emails

is now a given but travellers still

yearn for something that allows for

much more in a consolidated way.

Research from Travelport released late

last year shows that business travellers

also want elements and functionality such

as voice search, e-payments and digital

room keys to help simplify their trips.

The 2018 Global Digital Traveler

Survey of 16,000 travellers from 25

countries reveals that more than half

of participants have now booked and

paid for part, or all of, a business trip

via smartphone.

While the focus of the study was

leisure travellers, as the lines continue

to blur the findings will continue to put

pressure on the corporate travel space,

with travellers looking for the same userfriendly

experience, if not better.

Mobile applications are now a firm

feature when it comes to making life easier

on the go with maps, airlines, weather and

social media among the preferred apps

that travellers reach for.

Demonstrating the point, the research

says nine out of ten travellers have apps

on their phones that are specifically used

in-destination.

What’s interesting here from a business

travel perspective is developments to bring

in far more contextual services to

travellers’ mobile devices. Event-based

Leisure travellers want

searching and booking

functionality but corporates

prioritise having an entire trip

itinerary in one place and

real-time flight alerts”

messaging is one good example which

some TMCs and their partners have

developed in line with the consumerisation

trend in corporate travel, as well as the

desire from corporate customers to have

access to timely information.

While leisure travellers put the ability to

search and book flights as the most

important feature in apps, for corporate

travellers it was having the entire trip

itinerary in one place and access to realtime

flight alerts, which come out second

and third in the study.

Other technologies such as voice control

and newer payment methods are also

gaining momentum. The Travelport

research shows that half of travellers use

voice to search during booking or while

travelling, up from 3% a year ago.

It adds that in China and Turkey, more

than 70% of travellers are already using

voice search functionality.

The finding comes as no surprise with

voice being the most natural way we

communicate, across all generations. In

corporate travel, it has already been

accepted as perhaps the most efficient way

for carrying out tasks while on the go.

Further efficiency will also be driven in

new and more seamless payment

methods. It’s often the business traveller

who will have Apple Pay on his or her

mobile device, for example, and

acceptance of such methods is growing.

The research shows that 55% of

business travel respondents see the

ability to pay via mobile phone as

important or very important, compared

to 47% of leisure travellers.

In addition, it’s business travellers

that are driving innovation such as

hotel check-in and room lighting and

temperature control via an app, and

50% say they also want to use a digital

room key on their phone to unlock a

hotel room – a feature that is gaining

traction and will surely become the norm.

It’s fair to say that leisure and corporate

travellers are not that different when it

comes to technology for travel. After all,

we all want access to convenient services

that make travel a more seamless and

efficient process so that the actual trip can

be the best it can be.

26 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

ON THE ATTACK

Blue Cube Travel has invested in extensive cyber security

measures to ensure clients’ data is safe

Over four in ten SME businesses

(43%) and seven out of ten (72%)

large companies in the UK

experienced online data attacks last year

according to a 2018 governmental Cyber

Security Breaches Survey.

The travel sector has also seen its fair share

of high-profile data breaches involving the

hacking of customer credit card information,

passport details and personal information.

Cyber-attacks not only cost money and

threaten the loss of existing customers, they

also cause brand and reputational damage.

As a leading independent travel management

company with a large and varied client

base, Blue Cube Travel handles significant

amounts of sensitive data on behalf of its

clients. Robust cyber security systems and

processes to protect that data are critical to

the continued success of Blue Cube’s business.

That is why the TMC has invested in working

with leading cyber security consultancy CNS

for the last two years. CNS implemented

Aegis, a benchmarking tool that measures

and scores the TMC’s cyber security maturity

against standards such as PCI DSS, ISO 27001

and Cyber Essentials Plus.

“CNS and Aegis enabled us to identify any

potential risks and prioritise areas we needed

to focus on bolstering our cyber security,”

says Kevin Trill, Blue Cube’s Director of

Technology and Transformation. “We now

have a multi-layered approach in place to

deal with the vast array of existing and

future cyber threats. For example,

our new online booking tool,

launched last year, is fully PCI

DSS compliant.”

Blue Cube has also enhanced

safety for sending and

receiving sensitive data via

email by implementing message

encryption and the internet email

standard DMARC (Domain-based

Message Authentication, Reporting &

Conformances). This means Blue Cube staff

can encrypt emails sent to clients if required.

“Our customers need to be confident that

emails they receive from us are genuine and

cannot be tampered with,” explains Kevin

Trill. “These enhancements ensure identification

of fraudulent emails, and when

needed, secure message encryption to

protect sensitive information.”

Mel Phaure, Director and

Co-founder of Blue Cube adds:

“We have built up a very successful

business over the last 15 years with a

reputation for providing exceptional personal

service. To suffer a cyber breach would be

hugely detrimental. We believe Blue Cube

has gone further than any other similar-sized

TMC in ensuring clients’ data is safe. Meeting

and surpassing not only what clients require,

but also what GDPR regulations require, is

essential to our continued growth.” •

bluecubetravel.co.uk | sales@bluecubetravel.co.uk | 0208 948 8188


BUSINESS CLASS

pitch

PERFECT

Airlines are enhancing their business class products

as corporate use of the premium cabin continues

to grow, writes Gillian Upton

Take a look at any major long-haul

carrier’s business class capacity

between 2017 and 2018 and almost

all of them have increased capacity from

the UK to each country market overseas.

It’s a bullish market and demand for this

premium cabin has not abated.

The likes of British Airways, Qatar Airways,

Singapore Airlines, JAL, Emirates and Air

China have all piled on the extra seats, the

latter soaked up by the introduction of a

third daily flight between London Heathrow

and Beijing. And those extra business class

seats equate to healthier profits.

“That’s where the highest yield is for

airlines,” says John Grant, Senior Analyst

at aviation intelligence specialist OAG.

Business class revenue can make up to

40% or 50% of their profits.”

That is as long as the seats are full, which

they seem to be right now. An Egencia

study on global flight demand highlights

total business travel flight bookings

increased globally by almost 110% between

January 2014 and December 2018, with

New York, London, Paris and Singapore the

four stand-out destinations.

Richard Jewsbury, Divisional Vice President

UK at Emirates, is particularly bullish. “We

are optimistic that our business class will

continue to be in strong demand among UK

passengers in 2019. With the A380 being

deployed on to the Glasgow route from

April-October 2019, more UK passengers

will be able to enjoy the unique A380

premium offering this year. Our recent

launches into Stansted and Edinburgh also

put us in good stead to meet business class

demand,” says Jewsbury.

Bob Schumacher, Managing Director UK &

Ireland at United Airlines, paints a similarly

positive image. “Corporate traffic was

exceptionally strong last year. Some 70%

is US-sold on the back of a strong US

economy and that underpins our

investment in new fleet,” he explains.

For example, the 787-10 series has just

joined the United fleet, the largest and

longest of the 787 family of aircraft, which

will bring new capacity to certain markets

such as Dublin from May this year.

The fleet street

And there’s the rub. New fleet has triggered

a whole host of innovations in the business

class cabin and, arguably, it’s never been

better. Lie-flat beds are now the norm, so

too direct aisle access and forward-facing

seats. Today, the gold standard is suites

which is all about the level of privacy, be

DELTA AIR LINES

28 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


BUSINESS CLASS

New aircraft have

triggered a whole host

of innovations in the business

class cabin and, arguably, it’s

never been better”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

29


celebrating 5 years of

bringing people together

Over the last five years, our transatlantic partnership has gone far.

We’ve introduced WiFi on all our flights and fully flat bed seats in our Virgin Atlantic

Upper Class and Delta One® cabins. We’ve set up mutually rewarding loyalty

programmes and we’re co-located at key international airports. Not to mention,

we offer award-winning lounges and Clubhouses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here’s to many more amazing years together.


BUSINESS CLASS

Companies really

recognise the value of

business class travel and that

it will get their travellers to

their destination in the best

possible condition”

it with a cocoon-like moulded seat unit,

sliding doors, a moveable privacy screen or

an all-singing, all-dancing suite. On the

ground is restaurant-quality food service in

departure lounges, dedicated check-in

counters, spa-like facilities and, in some

cases, chauffeur transfers.

United Airlines, for example, is opening

new departure lounges exclusively for their

Polaris business class passengers. Its fifth

has recently opened in Los Angeles and

during 2019 it is hoped that Heathrow T2

will be upgraded to a Polaris Lounge.

Moreover, airlines are paying as much

attention to the soft facilities – the quality

of the duvets, amenity kits, food and

BRITISH AIRWAYS

QATAR AIRWAYS

entertainment. Singapore Airlines has fitted

a bigger bi-fold table and ambient lighting,

for example, while American Airlines has

partnered with celebrity chefs and a Master

of Wine to offer local cuisine and wines on

different routes.

“Companies really recognise the value of

business class travel and that it will get

their travellers to their destination in the

best possible condition,” says Jo Lloyd,

partner of consultancy Nina & Pinta.

There is a caveat, however, as there is a

difference between what a traveller wants

and what their employer wants from

business class. “Key for the business is the

right network, speed of getting there, direct

aisle access and a lie-flat bed,” she says.

The suite products are priced differently

and I haven’t seen much uptake by

corporates; they place no additional value

on suites. All they want is to ensure that

the product is fit for purpose.”

Delta Air Lines’ Country Manager UK &

Ireland, Nadia Clinton, says that privacy and

conferencing are the two priorities for the

business traveller. Delta introduced its

Delta One Suites – with sliding doors – in

2017 across its fleet of A350s and is

currently refitting all its B777s with suites,

which will be completed by end 2019.

The plan is to go across the entire fleet.

Suites are a new concept plus we really

focus on giving corporates what they want

in the palm of their hands via our app

which allows travellers to arrange a cabin

upgrade or to change their fight. Time is

precious to them so we focus on our

on-time performance.”

The airline holds regular Corporate

Advisory Boards to elicit feedback from

travellers and to ensure they deliver on

customer requirements. Traveller wellbeing

is one issue that’s come to the fore and

Delta has been trying to improve the

on-board experience in its Delta One cabin

– its international business class cabin –

with additions such as a new duvet, pillows,

amenity kits and larger IFE screens.

“Wellbeing could also mean changing the

flight schedule or biometric terminals to

enhance the boarding process and being

able to get to your seat quicker – something

we did at Atlanta airport in 2018. That has

shaved nine minutes off the boarding time,”

Clinton explains.

Overdue upgrades

All eyes are on British Airways this summer

when it is due to unveils its new larger

business class seat on the A350 when it

enters the schedule in July. We already

know that it will offer direct aisle access

from all seats – a shortcoming of its current

product – as well as a restaurant-style

dining experience offering freshly prepared

starters and desserts served from a


THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

31


BUSINESS CLASS

AMERICAN AIRLINES

SINGAPORE AIRLINES


trolley, and more comfortable bedding

from The White Company.

The overhaul is part of BA's wider £6.5bn

investment for customers in the air and on

the ground and will help it compete with

the likes of Delta and Qatar Airways. The

latter has the Qsuite Quad which comprises

pairs of aft and forward-facing seats which

can be configured so that four passengers

can work or dine together.

As with other airlines, British Airways is

also paying attention to its soft facilities.

”We completed our roll-out of The White

Company bedding in Club World and we

are installing our industry-leading

streaming wifi on long-haul aircraft, while

all short-haul aircraft will be fitted with the

system by next summer,” says Carolina

Martinoli, the airline's Director of Brand

and Customer Experience.

“In terms of food, we’re proud to be

extending our partnership with Do&Co, a

premier provider of fine dining in the skies,

for all flights departing from Heathrow.

“We’ve also launched a multimillion-pound

investment in our World Traveller catering,

improved dining in Club World, and

revamped our Club Europe offer with new

Business class

thresholds are static,

with most corporates keeping

them at flights of over six to

eight hours – travellers can

then upgrade to business and

languish in greater comfort”

menus and improved recipes. Feedback

from these changes has been extremely

positive,” says Martinoli.

“Looking to the ground, we’ve enhanced

our connections service, doubling the

number of cars offering premium customers

on tight connections a chauffeur-driven

ride to their next flight. Connections

managers now fast-track customers

through to their next flight or re-book them

onto another flight and organise a hotel if

needed, all while they’re still in the air.”

Back in the air, not all airlines have gone

the suite route. Singapore Airlines, for

example, long synonymous with high-end

service, has created a fibreglass shell which

the airline claims provides the same level of

privacy as a door or screen but minus the

claustrophobia.

American Airlines has also turned its back

on the suite, preferring to offer a lie-flat

bed, direct aisle access and fast wifi. Japan

Airlines and South African Airways have

taken a similar view.

Paying the price

All this innovation does comes at a cost and

corporates have the challenge of writing a

travel policy that balances cost against

traveller wellbeing and risk. It’s why some

opt for business class only on overnight

flights and save the money by downtrading

on the daylight leg.

“Mixing classes is popular,” says Vanessa

Bailey, Director of Client Partnerships at

Business Travel Direct. “If the traveller is

not going straight into a meeting on arrival

then it’s premium economy on the day

flight,” she says.

Business class thresholds are static, with

most corporates keeping them at flights of

over six to eight hours when travellers can

then upgrade to business and languish in

greater comfort. Business trips to the Far

East and the West coast of America, for

example, are exclusively in the premium

cabin. A six-hour threshold will secure

business class to New York.

Some say short-haul business class has a

limited future but it still thrives in the US

domestic market. “I don’t think it will die a

death,” says United’s Bob Schumacher.

British Airways is the only UK airline

offering short-haul business class and

remains positive about its future. “Such is

its popularity that in 2017 we introduced

the service on our domestic flights, with

nearly 70,000 customers choosing the

premium service in the first six weeks of its

operation,” says BA's Carolina Martinoli.

“We continue to invest in the cabin and

EMIRATES

32 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


1

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Untitled-7 1 31/01/2019 09:53


BUSINESS CLASS

That some companies

can afford to buy

short-haul business class

travel is surprising, but

keeping an eye on cost is

also driven by advance

booking behaviour”

this year revamped Club Europe with

new menus and improved recipes.”

That some companies can afford to buy

short-haul business class is surprising but

keeping an eye on cost is also driven by

advance booking. Booking at least 14 days

in advance helps the bottom line, slashing

two thirds off some flight prices (see panel),

although some corporates are becoming

exasperated by the increasingly long list of

exemptions travellers hide behind.

Carol Neil, Global Travel Manager at

Fidelity International, has a long list of

exemptions. “It creates major problems,”

she says. ”We’re looking at our policy and

reviewing it. We have 64% of travellers

flying business class. It will cost us to

change the business class policy so we’ll

need to balance that with wellbeing.”

The other attempt at cost-cutting is by

the annual rounds of airline negotiations.

Traditional route deals are more prevalent

from non-domestic carriers who will

discount based on volume and the client

being able to shift market share. Our

national carriers drive a harder bargain,

preferring to discount across the network,

regardless of where the corporates’

volumes lie.

Partnership approach

Jo Lloyd has seen a shift to more corporates

getting fully behind their air programmes

and preferred carriers so they can focus

more on cost efficiency rather than just

cost alone.

“That way they get real benefits from

those relationships, but that does require

compliance,” she explains. “In previous

[ TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE ]

BA - £2057.42

VS - £2057.42

UA - £2610.42

years buying air travel was around leverage

but now it’s around making the air

programme effective.”

In tandem, Lloyd is seeing a far more

collaborative approach from airlines.

“Depending on the carrier, there is a lot

more flexibility in how they’re willing to

price a programme; that’s really a positive

change. Before, airlines were more rigid

and attached to a specific route say,

London-New York, but now they’re trying to

reach a blend of getting the value on their

high volume routes but also the rest of

their business, with more flexibility around

terms and conditions.”

Delta’s Clinton says the airline is in a good

position in this regard because of its

Booking flights as far in advance as possible can save thousands of pounds, especially for

business class fares, as these examples supplied by Business Travel Direct illustrate

Flights booked more

than 14 days before

departure

Flights booked

7 days before

departure

New York Hong Kong Johannesburg

VS - £6023.42

UA - £6496.42

BA - £6568.42

AF - £1875.84

VS - £2993.82

BA - £2997.82

CX - £5819.42

VS - £6613.82

BA - £8376.82

SA - £1813.32

VS - £1813.32

BA - £2290.32

VS - £4148.32

SA - £6338.32

BA - £6902.32

Source: Business Travel Direct

34 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Rosewood Grosvenor Square

BUSINESS CLASS

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS

QATAR AIRWAYS

joint venture with Virgin Atlantic. “If

there’s enough traffic to validate a route

deal then we sit around a table and offer a

deal and a rate. We sit with our corporates

and work with what suits them. A route deal

is our classic offering,” she explains.

It’s a strategy echoed by United Airlines.

“We’ll give the customer what the customer

wants,” says Bob Schumacher at the US

airline. “We appreciate that in this market

we’re not necessarily the brand leader

but the discounts will vary depending on

whether it’s a soggy Wednesday in winter or

a sunny day in May.”

Who goes where

Just who is filling the business class cabins

is a moot point. Having two separate travel

policies within the same company is

commonplace, with one rule for one part of

the workforce – usually the engineers – and

another for the execs.

“Probably in more than half of our client

base, even around 60-70%, we find this,”

says Business Travel Direct’s Bailey. “Some

companies have CEOs who set a good

example, but they’re in the minority.”

By industry vertical it tends to be the

traditional companies with strict hierarchies

and executive perks who operate two travel

policies, rather than the more modernthinking

companies such as media and

technology companies who often operate

with a flatter management structure and a

more egalitarian travel policy.

United Airlines is conscious that the

millennials and employees in the new

industries are happy to travel in premium

economy, which is the rationale behind the

airline’s introduction of Premium Plus in

2018, with the cabin's seating featuring five

inches more legroom than economy.

Although there are no statistics to support

the theory, some industry observers believe

that swathes of Ultra High Net Worth

individuals form a chunk of the new breed

of business class travellers.

These wealthy individuals – two-thirds of

whom are said to be self-made – are often

indistinguishable from their business

counterparts and commonly tack on a

leisure portion to their business trip. One in

four do so. But whoever is filling airlines'

business class seats, they are in greater

numbers than ever before.

Modern-thinking

companies such

as media and technology

businesses often operate

with a flatter management

structure and a more

egalitarian travel policy”

UNITED AIRLINES

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

37


EVENT PREVIEW

The Business Travel Conference 2019

Navigating

the future

Reserve your place at The Business Travel Conference

and find out if you qualify as a hosted delegate

Whe?

Tuesday 17th & Wednesday

18th September, 2019

Whe?

London Hilton Bankside

The Business Travel Conference is

returning to the Hilton London Bankside

this September, bringing buyers and

suppliers of business travel together for

a two-day exhibition and packed

conference programme.

Now in its 13th year, the 2019

conference could be the first time the

event takes place when the UK is no

longer a part of Europe – or maybe

negotiations will still be ongoing.

"Europe and our

ongoing relationship

with it is likely to

feature highly on

the conference

programme," says

Event Director

Kirsty Hicks.

"It will be key to

ensure that we

provide a forum

for buyers and

“a f fo y

an per

dis hi se”

suppliers to

discuss their

issues and

navigate what could

be a challenging transition period."

Corporate buyers and arrangers are

already signing up for complimentary visitor

passes and will be able to network with

around 60 leading travel suppliers

in the private exhibition.

Our popular ‘silent

conference’

headphones will

enable both visitors

and exhibitors to dip

in and out of the

educational sessions

taking places throughout

the two days and the inspiring opening and

closing keynote sessions, with guest

speakers to be confirmed.

The conference programme is compiled

by the editorial team of The Business Travel

Magazine and will be unveiled in the April/

May issue. It will include several subjects

nominated by readers and TBTC delegates

who have already signed up to attend this

year's event. As a buyer, if you feel your

business has made an interesting

journey with your travel and meetings

programme and you would like to

share your experiences on

“ner t an

60 leg av

sul in pat

exti”

stage, then please

contact Andy

Hoskins, Editor

of The Business

Travel

Magazine, to

discuss speaker

opportunities.

To rte

an fi n u f u

quy o hed c...

thebusinesstravelconference.com

Bok an

kirsty.hicks@bmipublishing.co.uk

Tel: 07747 697 772

38 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Registration open


The FREE event for

buyers and arrangers

of business travel and

meetings

Hilton London

Bankside, Southwark

For further information about attending as a delegate or exhibitor

contact Kirsty.Hicks@bmipublishing.co.uk

thebusinesstravelconference.com


CAR HIRE

new

DIRECTIONS

New technology and new competition have forced car hire

firms to explore new avenues, writes Rob Gill

40 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


CAR HIRE

Car hire used to be so simple – a

business traveller would simply

make their way to the rental firm’s

airport desk, sign a few forms and then

receive the key to their vehicle, which

would be waiting in a nearby parking lot.

While this experience still exists across the

world, the car rental sector is becoming a lot

more complex in the range of services now

on offer to the corporate market, with

technology inevitably playing a big role.

Traditional car rental still represents the

bulk of their business but the likes of Avis,

Hertz, Enterprise and Sixt have been quick to

move into other areas of ground transport

including car clubs, chauffeur-drive services

and even car-sharing pools.

We are also seeing them starting to work

with ride-hailing firms by renting part of their

“excess fleet” to ride-hailing operators – for

example, Lyft works with both Hertz and Avis

Budget on its Express Drive programme in

the US for drivers who don’t own a car.

Some rental firms are even moving away

from describing themselves as car hire

companies – Europcar last year renamed itself

as the Europcar Mobility Group to reflect its

role as a “global provider of mobility

solutions”. The industry is also full of talk

about offering “mobility as a service” (MaaS).

Sixt, meanwhile, bills itself as the “largest

integrated mobility provider” and offers

traditional car hire, leasing, chauffeur

services, ride-sharing and on-demand

services. And late last year it invested in

Berlin start-up Chargery, a mobile charging

facility for electric cars.

Flexi time

There seems to be growing demand for this

more flexible approach to car hire, according

to Dean Rose, Head of New Business and

National Accounts at Nexus Vehicle Rental .

“Clients are moving away from single-source

modes of mobility and incorporating different

forms of transport such as car hire, trains

and ride-hailing apps like Uber to get to

where they need to be,” he says.

“In the UK, the demand for flexibility has

been accelerated by the ongoing economic

uncertainty we face over Brexit. Businesses

are holding back on decisions to invest in

assets and new vehicles, and many are

turning to car rental as a short and mediumterm

solution to their mobility needs.”

This increased variety and flexibility of car

hire options is also giving buyers the chance

to better address some of their key priorities

– such as cost, duty of care and increasing

the sustainability of their travel programmes.

Sez Beecher, Corporate Land Product

Executive for FCM and Flight Centre Travel

Group, says: “We are seeing our clients begin

to take advantage of the increase in

Our policy now says

that travellers cannot

pick up a rental car at the

airport if they have been on a

flight of six hours or more”

alternative methods of transport. This is

largely due to the recent focus in the evergrowing

chauffeur transfers sector within the

corporate travel industry as service levels,

technology and integration begin to catch up

with the current car rental offering.

“This coupled with the fact that many client

travel policies are beginning to look deeper

into traveller welfare means that many

corporate clients are considering it safer for

their employees to use transfers over selfdrive

options, particularly after long or

overnight flights,” adds Beecher.

One UK-based buyer agrees: “Our policy

now says that travellers cannot pick up a

rental car at the airport if they have been on

a flight of six hours or more. Instead they

should take a transfer to their hotel and pick

up the vehicle the following day. This process

is now much easier to do as many car hire

firms offer chauffeur-drive and other more

flexible collection options than in the past.”

Integrating these different types of services

is becoming a key part of car hire firms’

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

41


YOU ARE ALWAYS

ON OUR MIND

We keep our customers at the heart of everything

we do. That’s why every time we innovate, we aim

to make your experience easier and better. From

our brand-new Avis app that puts you in control of

choosing, picking up and dropping off your car, to

investing in rental tools to make corporate booking

simple and transparent - it’s all with you in mind.

To find out more, visit us on stand

B6200 at the Business Travel Show

20 - 21 February 2019, Olympia London

WE TRY HARDER

0808 284 0284 | AVIS.CO.UK/BUSINESS


CAR HIRE

strategy. Enterprise, for example, has

already co-located its car club within many of

its rental branches around the UK.

David McNeill, Assistant Vice President of

Global Corporate Sales, EMEA, at Enterprise/

National, adds: “Rental still has a vital place in

the ground transport sector, particularly for

organisations that are keen to provide a

viable alternative to the grey fleet and ensure

their employees drive modern, safe and

environmentally-friendly vehicles.

“We work closely with businesses and

analyse journey data to determine how their

employees travel and what can be done to

make it more efficient and sustainable.”

With the advance of technology and the

ability to tap into more 'connected' data

sources, car hire firms will also increasingly

be able to monitor the behaviour and even

the tiredness levels of drivers in the future –

this sort of telematic data from vehicles can

obviously help to improve duty of care for

business travellers.

Sustainable solutions

Making travel programmes more sustainable

and environmentally friendly has been a key

goal of many organisations, with a priority of

reducing their carbon emissions. While most

of the focus of this sustainability drive has

been on air travel, it is also an issue being

tackled within ground transport as a whole.

One of the major ways of doing this in the

UK has been through the introduction of

electric and hybrid cars, which are widely

offered by the rental companies.

“Corporate demand for

sustainable car hire solutions is

Hybrid and electric

vehicles are having a

massive impact in the car hire

world now, which is great,

and they are easily bookable”

being driven by increasing legislative

measures from local and central authorities,

as well as a global understanding for

businesses to be more sustainable,” says

James Turner, Sales Director UK at Avis

Budget Group.

In the UK, its fleet comprises a growing

percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles

and its car-share brand Zipcar has added

over 300 e-Golfs to its London fleet.

“Hybrid and electric vehicles are having a

massive impact in the car hire world now

which is great to see, and they are easily

bookable and comparable to conventional

fuel vehicles in our booking channels,” says

Sez Beecher from FCM.

“When going through the car rental RFP

process we identify the most important

aspect to our customers and many customers

opt for electric or hybrid vehicles in order to

comply with CSR policies as well as lower

costs on fuel and carbon emission taxes.”

Accountancy giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers

(PWC), for example, provides its employees

with information on choosing the most fuelefficient

and low-carbon cars as well as advice

on driving “efficiently” and car-sharing options.

PWC also uses sustainable vehicles within

its car lease scheme in the UK in a bid to

lower its carbon footprint, while hybrid

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

43


CAR HIRE

and electric vehicles are heavily promoted

on its booking platform to ensure that

“environmental issues are front of mind when

our people are choosing a vehicle”.

Tech takes the lead

Technology is also allowing car rental

providers to supply more detailed

management information (MI) to both buyers

and TMCs about their car rental usage and

emissions, with increased automation also

helping to speed up some of the traditional

car hire processes.

A good example is Hertz’s new partnership

with security technology firm CLEAR to create

Hertz Fast Lane. It utliises biometric identification

to speed up the rental process with

travellers able to use just face or fingerprint

recognition at the exit gate to get on the road

more quickly. Hertz says the service, introduced

at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta airport in

December and currently open to U.S. license

holders only, can reduce the time it takes to

pick up a rental vehicle by “at least 75%”.

Innovation is also the name of the game for

Avis, which signed a deal 18 months ago to

manage Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars. In

another move, Avis has teamed up with

Amazon and Google to allow customers to

use voice technology to make or change their

reservations. The company also has a target

of connecting all of its vehicles to the internet

by 2020 to allow increased data analytics.

Co-operation seems to be the name of the

game in the car hire sector. The major players

are working with potential competitors (such

as the ride-hailing companies), TMCs and

technology providers. This growing trend

should only benefit buyers looking for a

more joined-up approach to their ground

transport programmes.

“Rental providers are increasingly working

with TMCs to confront some of the challenges

businesses face when moving their

employees between locations,” sums up Dean

Rose from Nexus. “A less siloed approach is

required and companies should be working

collaboratively to meet the needs of the

modern day business traveller.”

Technology is allowing

car rental providers

to supply more detailed

management information to

both buyers and TMCs”

Car hire may no longer be the straightforward

proposition it once was, but

increased flexibility and choice should help

buyers to tackle key priorities such as

improving duty of care and making their

programmes more sustainable.

A case in point

Gloucestershire County Council is one

organisation that has tackled its sustainable

responsibilities head on, cutting its CO2

emissions from vehicles by around two

tonnes per month since setting up a car club.

The council introduced the club for staff

through Enterprise Car Club in mid-2018

with a fleet of eight vehicles based at its

Gloucester headquarters – the aim being to

reduce the amount employees use their own

cars (the grey fleet) for business journeys.

So far, more than 450 of the council’s

2,000 employees have signed up to use the

vehicles, which include two Nissan LEAF

electric cars, three Toyota Prius hybrid cars

and three Hyundai i20s. Club members can

book the cars by using a mobile app.

The council had already been working with

Enterprise on a long-term programme which

saw it using rental cars as a way of reducing

business mileage and emissions, as well as to

improve air quality in the county.

Will Spendlove, the council’s Commissioning

Officer, says: “The on-site car club is not only

helping us to reduce our risk, but it also

encourages our employees to use more

sustainable hybrid and electric vehicles.

These are most useful for shorter business

trips, which are often the ones where

employees would use their own cars. We also

have flexibility to add or remove vehicles

based on our utilisation.”

44 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


TALKING TRAVEL

Living cheek by jowl with nature

Kate Humble

The BBC TV presenter has ventured to some of the world’s most remote and hostile

places to feed her passion for the great outdoors, writes Angela Sara West

Ithink I was born with the travel bug,”

says Kate Humble. “I was given a

wheelbarrow for my third birthday and

was found a mile away from home with it. I

told mum we were having an adventure!”

At just 19, an intrepid Humble travelled

alone around Africa. “It was a seminal

journey; my first time travelling solo and out

of Europe. I learnt more in that year than I

would ever have at university.” Her African

adventure saw some scary arachnid action.

“On my first trip, I came home with a sore

toe which swelled up. A spider had laid eggs

in it, which were on the point of hatching!”

She went on to experience numerous

small-screen expeditions, both in Blighty and

abroad, as a presenter on BBC shows such

as Holiday, Tomorrow’s World and Springwatch.

“Some of my most memorable filming

experiences abroad were in Siberia in the

depths of winter for Living with Nomads.

Some days, it was -50C, the coldest I’ve ever

been. I have also filmed a very rarely seen

sixgill shark from a submarine in the Cayman

Islands, which is right up there with my most

exciting wildlife encounters.”

Numerous places stand out. “I love the

Gobi desert in Mongolia because of the

family I lived with there, and the bamboo

forest of Kahuzi Biega National Park in the

DRC, where I sat with a troop of 19 eastern

lowland gorillas. I love the reefs around West

Papua and Papua New Guinea. And I love

Wales – it is beautiful and it is home.”

Living on a working farm, Humble’s passion

for animals and the big outdoors hugely

influences her travel choices. “Seeing wildlife

or being able to head out into the wilderness

are very much my reason for travelling.”

Frequently on the road for work, the latter

part of last year saw her travelling prolifically,

mainly in the UK, while this year will feature

India, Mexico, the Arctic and Colombia.

She says Mali and the Sahara made for her

most memorable trips. She’s also enjoyed

cycling in Cuba. “I went with my husband in

the early noughties. We thought the best

way to get under the skin of the island would

be to travel the way the locals do – by bike.

We stayed in local houses, ate with families,

and cycled around for a month.”

There’s rarely

anything enjoyable

about being in an airport.

Can someone please make the

Harry Potter mode of travel

possible for Muggles, too?”

She had never pedalled with panniers, or

any great distance, before. “At first, it was

hard – Cuba is staggeringly hilly – but by the

end we were covering 100 miles a day. It was

a great way of seeing and experiencing the

country, particularly the out-of-the-way

places. The south coast was spectacular…

some of the best diving I’ve ever done.”

There were numerous mouth-watering

moments on her tasty Spice Trail journey

across the Middle East. “I loved Yemen; the

buildings, the people, the food… It breaks my

heart to see what is happening there now.

Petra is always breathtaking, but so is

Mada’in Saleh, in Saudi Arabia, also built by

the Nabateans, but rarely visited and

somewhat ignored.”

She describes her month living with the

Afar people in Ethiopia’s hostile Danakil

Depression for The Hottest Place on Earth as

“Tough. Dusty. Eye-opening. Humbling. Hot!”.

Meanwhile, the Wakhi people in the northeastern

region of Afghanistan are “amongst

the most hospitable, warm and genuine.”

Her top travel tips? “Go with an open mind

and don’t follow the herd.” And her big travel

bugbear? “There’s rarely anything enjoyable

about being in an airport. Can someone

please make the Harry Potter mode of travel

possible for Muggles, too?”

As for airlines, “I choose flights on routing,

price and time,” she says. “With all the

competition airlines should offer customers

safe, comfortable travel, and not all do.”

For a much-needed break, Humble heads

to her poacher’s cabin home in the Dordogne,

France. “I speak no foreign languages well

enough to say I speak a foreign language,

but I do try,” she says.

Humble’s a speaker at Stanfords’ Travel

Writers’ Festival this February, having

recently released her new book Thinking on

My Feet, highlighting the benefits of walking.

“Having time outside in the fresh air and

being part of nature is an essential part of

my day. So many people have contacted me

with uplifting stories of how walking has

helped them deal with depression, grief or

anxiety. The simple act of putting one foot in

front of the other can work miracles!”

The best thing about travelling? “It is the

best way to learn. Life is too short to sit still!”

46 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


TALKING TRAVEL

KATE HUMBLE

Kate Humble‘s new book Thinking on my Feet: The Small

Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another, is out now,

priced £20 from stanfords.co.uk It has just been

shortlisted in the Travel Memoir of the Year category

at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2019,

which recognise the world‘s best travel writing.

For further information, visit katehumble.com

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

47


A different view

on business travel

New hotel, new approach. Bankside Hotel has everything a business traveller wants,

bedrooms & suites, the latest technology, meeting spaces… but most importantly it has

personality. A personality that comes from its design and location on the culturally vibrant

South Bank. Our neighbourhood, close to The City and Blackfriars station, is home to

London’s creative scene with many local artists having made original pieces for us.

Blurring the lines between work and play, public spaces are filled with handpicked furniture

creating a residential atmosphere, while Art|Yard Bar & Kitchen serves up seasonal food

all day in relaxed surroundings.

Bankside Hotel, 2 Blackfriars Road, Upper Ground, London SE1 9JU T: +44 (0)203 319 5988 www.banksidehotel.com


THE REVIEW

the

Review

THE NEWS & VIEWS

THAT REALLY MATTER

[ the lowdown ]

Brexit tops the list of travel

managers' concerns

p50

[ in the air ]

British Airways upgrades

World Traveller Plus

p52

[ on the ground ]

Rail passenger satisfaction

at ten-year low

p56

[ meeting place ]

Amex GBT launches

small meetings platform

p57

[ the room report ]

NH nhow heads to London

p55

O N T H E M O V E I

The latest industry appointments p58

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

49


THE REVIEW

T H E L O W D O W N

Distribution and data

set to dominate 2019

Brexit tops list of

managers' concerns

The biggest factors influencing

business travel this year will be

distribution, data and duty of care

according to FCM Travel Solutions.

Changes in distribution as the

industry moves towards New

Distribution Capability (NDC)

along with hotel suppliers driving

direct booking could pose a

challenge for travel managers and

TMCs this year, it says.

Duty of care will also be high

on corporate agendas due to the

ongoing risk of terrorism, natural

disasters and geo-political

volatility. FCM warns that travel

data will be more critical and

TMCs will need to evolve as

aggregators of information from

multiple booking sources to

support clients effectively.

“It will no longer be sufficient for

TMCs to say that they can only

track travellers if all bookings

have been made via their

reservations systems,” says Jo

Greenfield, UK General Manager,

FCM Travel Solutions.

“We need to be able to pull in

data and bookings from other

channels, even if the client has

booked externally, so that we can

truly support corporates with

their duty of care obligations”. The

TMC says corporates will continue

to focus on cost and ROI in 2019.

Brexit is now the biggest challenge facing travel managers,

knocking cost-cutting off the top in an annual survey

conducted by Business Travel Show. Trimming travel spend

whilst maintaining quality has topped the poll for the last

three years but the proximity and uncertainty of Brexit has

seen it leap from fourth place to first, with 65% of travel

managers admitting they don’t have post-Brexit plans.

Concerns around travel budget was third, airline pricing was

fourth and availability was fifth in the survey.

Globalisation, hotel pricing, appointing a new TMC, the

weakness of sterling/strength of the euro, and meeting

senior management requirements completed the top ten.

Buyers were also asked to predict the biggest challenges

they’ll face in three years’ time, with Brexit again topping the

poll. Rising costs was second, NDC third, traveller safety

fourth and travel alternatives fifth.

Machine learning boosts

compliance, says bcd report

Machine learning, blockchain and chatbots can

provide corporate travel managers powerful

communication tools for driving travel programme

compliance, according to an Inform series report

published by BCD Travel.

Called Communications, Emerging technology and

Travel Management, the report explores how emerging

technologies can utilise automated and targeted

messages to travellers, engaging them at exactly the

right moment to encourage compliance with corporate

travel policies.


THE REVIEW

T H E L O W D O W N

IN BRIEF

Cresta partnership

Cresta Business has

partnered with online

event technology platform

Asemblr. The deal allows

Cresta to extend its

specialist corporate travel

solution to include

booking meetings, events

and incentives globally.

Travel risk deal

Travel assistance

specialists Collinson has

teamed up with Drum

Cussac, a global risk and

security consultancy. The

two organisations will

launch a 24/7, 365-days-ayear

integrated travel risk

management solution to

help organisations fulfil

their duty of care

obligations.

Radius adds two

Radius Travel is welcoming

two new partners into

its global agency network:

the UK’s Travel and

Transport Statesman and

Switzerland’s Kuoni

Business Travel.

Travelport takeover

Travelport Worldwide

Limited has announced

an agreement that would

see it acquired by two

private equity funds in an

all-cash transaction

valued at approximately

$4.4billion. Travelport

signed the deal with

affiliates of Siris Capital

Group, LLC and Evergreen

Coast Capital Corp.

maiden advantage

The Advantage Travel

Partnership has partnered

with Maiden Voyage to

offer its members training

and expertise in supporting

and safeguarding

female and LGBTQ

travellers.

Blue Cube tackles

traveller wellbeing

BLUe Cube has introduced a complimentary wellbeing

package for its top 100 frequent travellers. Perks of the new

programme include VIP meet and greet services at London

Heathrow and health food supplements to help mitigate the

impact of jetlag.

Blue Cube has appointed Diamond Air International to

provide agents to meet clients as they disembark flights and

speed them through customs and security. Agents will also

assist with luggage and guide them to their waiting taxi or

chauffeur service.

A ‘Travel Without Fatigue’ wallet containing a range of

vitamin, mineral and food supplements will be supplied by

travel wellbeing specialist 15th Degree. The TMC will analyse

feedback on the initial scheme before introducing a wider

range of wellness packages for its clients in the year ahead.

one third oF bUyers Will see an

increase in corporate traVel bUdgets

in 2019 according to neW research.

a bts report sUggests bUyers Will

haVe More trips to Manage, althoUgh

there Was a drop in the nUMber oF

bUyers reporting groWing costs

ITM UPDATE

scott Davies

Chief Executive, ITM

The travel industry is like any

social network. To progress

and have success, you need

to be authentically well

connected. This doesn’t just

mean you’ve exchanged

emails or business cards.

Meaningful business

relationships have a human

warmth and relatability.

Buyers tell us they prefer to

establish a rapport and get to

know the company and

people before they consider

being open to buying. This is

key for suppliers to understand

and many will concur

that a sale rarely occurs

during the first contact. At

industry events we see suppliers

go for the hard sell early

on in their relationship.

This almost always has the

effect of repelling the very

opportunities they are trying

to close in on. When a

business relationship is

embryonic, buyers tend to

be more receptive to an

approach demonstrating

trustworthiness, commitment

and sharing information.

These qualities show the

buyer that a partner would be

good to work with and sellers

who do this tend to find the

buyers come to them. Building

your network by initially

establishing a rapport and

discussing shared challenges

is so natural and fun that it

doesn’t even feel like work.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

51


THE REVIEW

I N T H E A I R

MARGINAL RISE IN AIR FARES

FORECAST FOR 2019

BA upgrades

premium economy

BRITISH Airways is rolling out enhancements to its World

Traveller Plus premium economy product as part of its wider

£6.5billion investment programme.

Changes will be introduced over the coming months and

include new furnishings, enhanced service and, from

February 1, an improved dining experience. It will feature a

third main meal option and a more substantial hot second

meal later in the flight. The airline will also be adding

amenity kits, quilts and pillows.

“This latest tranche of our £6.5billion investment is set to

improve World Traveller Plus and customers will see a real

change to the cabin,” says Carolina Martinoli, Director of

Brand and Customer Experience.

THE cost of flights within the UK

and Europe are expected to rise by

2% in the year ahead but could

drop to some global destinations,

according to a new report from

American Express Global Business

Travel (GBT).

GBT’s Air Monitor 2019 forecasts

a 2% rise across both economy

and business class cabins, as well

as similar rises in both cabins for

fares to Asian and North American

destinations. Economy fares to

Central and South America are set

to fall 1% while business class

fares show no change. Business

FLYBE TO BE BOUGHT OUT BY

VIRGIN-LED CONSORTIUM

class fares to the Middle East,

meanwhile, will drop 1% and

remain unchanged in economy.

Demand for flights are outpacing

capacity, says the report, while

airlines are renewing aircraft to

improve efficiency rather than to

expand volume.

As a result, it continues, flights

from the UK and Europe are set to

generally increase across the

board. GBT examined five years’

worth of flight transaction data

and factored in variables such as

oil prices, economic projections

and airline strategies.

FLYBE is to be acquired by Connect Airways, a

consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group

and Cyrus Capital. The three organisations have

committed a £20million bridge loan to support Flybe

until completion of the acquisition. Up to £80million of

funding will be provided after the deal goes through.

Flybe will continue operating across the UK and Ireland

and is likely to be rebranded under the Virgin name.

[ TAKING OFF ]

>> FINNAIR will increase capacity on its schedule between

London Heathrow and Helsinki this summer by over 20% with the

addition of another daily departure and a change of aircraft on

some services >> NORWEGIAN will launch new flights from

London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro, Miami and San Francisco as part

of its summer 2019 schedule >> ROYAL BRUNEI AIRLINES has

announced a non-stop flight between Brunei and Brisbane. The

route will open up the Australia market for UK travellers flying the

daily non-stop service from Heathrow to Brunei >> ETHIOPIAN

AIRLINES is now operating flights from Machester, its second UK

destinations, with a four-times-a-week service to Addis Ababa.

£10M

Cost to easyJet of the Gatwick

Airport drone incident

EasyJet suffered a

£10million cost impact

because of the drones

incident at Gatwick

Airport in December.

The disruption affected

around 82,000

customers and led to

over 400 flights being

cancelled. The figure

was revealed in its Q4

2018 financial report.

52 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


THE REVIEW

I N T H E A I R

IN BRIEF

GTMC UPDATE

Flybmi route

A daily service between

Leeds Bradford Airport

and Munich has been

announced by flybmi. The

service will commence on

April 8, with one-way fares

available to book online

from £99. Passengers will

be able to connect at

Munich with services from

airline partner Lufthansa.

BA resumes Pakistan

British Airways will

become the first Western

carrier to restart flights to

Pakistan after a 10-year

hiatus. It will fly from

London Heathrow to

Islamabad, the capital of

Pakistan, from June 2, with

tickets now on sale.

Pakistan’s PIA is the only

airline currently operating

direct flights from

Pakistan to Britain.

New regional service

Flybe franchise partner

Eastern Airways will

introduce a double-daily

service between London

City and Newcastle

airports. The new

business-focused flights

have two morning

departures and two

evening departures

Monday to Saturday and a

single service on Sundays.

Air Transat business

Air Transat is offering a

programme of fares for

business travellers on its

routes between the UK

and Canada. They are

available on daily flights

from Gatwick to Toronto,

and on direct and

connecting services from

Gatwick, Manchester and

Glasgow to Toronto,

Vancouver, Calgary,

Montreal, Edmonton and

Quebec City.

TURKISH AIRLINES HAS COMMENCED A

NEW TWICE-WEEKLY SERVICE FROM

LONDON GATWICK TO ANKARA. IT HAS

BECOME THE UK'S ONLY DIRECT SERVICE

TO THE TURKISH CAPITAL

Suite success for

Malaysia Airlines

MALAYSIA Airlines has rebranded its First Class cabin to

Business Suites as it targets further growth in corporate

business. The Business Suites are now available on all the

airline’s A380-800 and A350-900 aircraft, including services

between London and Kuala Lumpur.

It says the conversion is a response “to the high traffic of

business travellers,” with the product offering “an enhanced

business class service at an attractive price point”. On A380s,

Business Suites are located on the main deck in a 1-2-1

configuration. Seats convert to fully flat beds measuring 87

inches long and 40 inches wide. A smaller seat features on

A350-900s – at 83 inches long and 23 inches wide – but the

IFE screen is marginally larger at 24 inches, compared to

23-inch screens on the A380.

Adrian Parkes

Chief Executive, GTMC

So the New Year arrives and

with it new aspirations for the

aviation sector.

Early 2019 should see

government clarify the UK’s

position around Brexit.

Regardless of what the next

three months have in store

concerning the wider debate,

it's critical that the post-Brexit

aviation strategy is solid.

The big issue grabbing our

attention at the moment is

the government’s grandlytitled

Green Paper ‘Aviation

2050 – the future of UK

aviation’, which is inviting

responses until April 11.

It’s a pretty ambitious

document, which seeks to

shape a globally connected

Britain in a sustainable and

environmentally conscious

way. Everything is covered,

from the development of a

‘Passenger Charter’ setting

out the rights of travellers,

to managing border delays,

boosting economic development

of the regions and

ensuring we have a workforce

that is able to meet the industry’s

various challenges.

The GTMC is working hard

to address the issues most

important to corporate

travellers and we are keen to

include as many viewpoints

as possible from members. It

is work like this that gives us

a great opportunity to shape

future policy and legislation.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

53


THE REVIEW

R O O M R E P O R T

IHG PROMISES GLOBAL GROWTH

FOR KIMPTON HOTELS BRAND

Marriott unites loyalty

under ‘Bonvoy’ name

MARRIOTT Hotels has unveiled Marriott Bonvoy, its new

loyalty programme that unifies its current schemes under

one name. The new programme brings together Marriott

Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred

Guests, and launches on February 13.

Additionally, Marriott Bonvoy will offers experiential

events for members, taking advantage of Marriott’s

marketing partnerships with brands including FIA Formula

One, FC Bayern Munich and the NCAA.

Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite will replace Platinum

Premier Elite for members who surpass 75 nights and

Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite will replace Platinum

Premier Elite with Ambassador.

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels

Group (IHG) will open more than

25 Kimpton hotels in 20 new global

destinations including Edinburgh,

Mexico City, Paris, Barcelona and

Shanghai over the next three to

five years. Since IHG acquired

Kimpton in 2015, the group has

been a driving force behind the

brand’s growth.

New openings include Kimpton

Da An Hotel in Taipei and Kimpton

Charlotte Square Hotel in Edinburgh,

both opening this spring.

“With IHG’s scale and network of

owner relationships, we’ve

unlocked the global growth of

Kimpton Hotels & Resorts,” says

Elie Maalouf, Chief Executive

Officer, Americas, IHG.

“We have flagship hotels now

open in London and Amsterdam, a

series of fantastic hotels slated to

open this year – including our first

in Asia – and a growing pipeline of

projects in key markets around the

world,” adds Maalouf.

Together with Hotel Indigo,

IHG’s boutique portfolio totals

almost 170 hotels globally, with

almost 120 more hotels in the

development pipeline.

AIRBNB'S BUSINESS TRAVELLERS

ARE GETTING ADVENTUROUS

AIRBNB has identified Argentina, Brazil, Mexico,

South Korea and South Africa as its fastest-growing

destinations for business users of its sharing economy

accommodation. London, Paris, New York and Sydney

remain among its top-selling cities for business

travellers. It also notes that business travellers book, on

average, 20 days in advance. When factoring in leisure

travellers, the average trip is booked 35 days ahead.

[ OPEN FOR BUSINESS ]

>> The latest UK Hotel Market Tracker produced by HVS, ALIX

PARTNERS and STR has found that average room rates in Q4 of

last year rose by 5% in London’s hotels, boosting RevPAR by 10%

>> DOMINVS GROUP has acquired Arbor City Hotel in Central

London. The group will partner with Hilton Worldwide to rebrand

the property as a Hampton by Hilton. The hotel currently

comprises 115 rooms and suites. However, the group is exploring

the possibility of adding more than 150 rooms >> HILTON has

opened the Lincoln Plaza London, the newest addition to its Curio

Collection portfolio of more than 60 upscale and unique hotels.

The new hotel is located in Canary Wharf.

30%

Buyers using more serviced

apartments in 2018

Almost one third of

corporate travel buyers

increased their use of

serviced apartment

suppliers for longstay

bookings in 2018,

according to a survey

carried out by the

Business Travel Show.

The figure marks a 20%

leap on the numbers

recorded in 2017.

54 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


THE REVIEW

R O O M R E P O R T

IN BRIEF

Adagio expansion

Aparthotels Adagio has

announced the opening

and signing of several

properties in London,

Brussels, Stuttgart,

Casablanca, Glasgow and

Bucharest, strengthening

its presence

internationally.

100 not out

IHG has opened its 100th

Hotel Indigo property. The

Berlin East Side Gallery

has 118 rooms and marks a

milestone for the global

boutique brand. Owner

IHG is promising to double

the size of the portfolio

within five years.

Staycity in Paddington

A 620-room hotel and

aparthotel complex is due

to open in London’s

Paddington. The tenants of

the scheme will be

Premier Inn and Staycity

Group and it is expected to

open by 2021.

Marriott Inverness

Work has started on a

multimillion pound

Courtyard by Marriot

property in Inverness. The

130-room hotel will be

located within Inverness

Airport Business Park. The

property will offer

convenient airport access

and feature fitness and

meetings facilities along

with a bar and bistro.

SilverDoor expansion

SilverDoor Apartments

has opened its US

headquarters in Denver,

Colorado. The opening

follows the company's

growing international

expansion, which has

driven requests from

customers to have

local support.

Hampton by Hilton

at Edinburgh Airport

EDINBURGH'S first Hampton by Hilton property is now open

on the doorstep of the city's airport terminal. The hotel joins

an existing 28 Hampton by Hilton properties in the UK.

The property is located within walking distance of the

airport terminal. "Edinburgh International Airport serves

more than 12.4 million passengers every year and we are

delighted to be opening the hotel at the doorstep of the

airport terminal," says Craig Webster, General Manager of

the Hampton by Hilton Edinburgh Airport.

The six-storey property features 240 bedrooms, an

Edinburgh Fringe Festival-themed lobby, state-of-the-art

fitness centre, business hub and 24-hour food service.

Edinburgh Airport has seen an 11% passenger increase

year on year.

LONDON HIPSTERS GET A CHANCE

TO SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING NHOW

THE NH Hotel Group will open

its first nhow property in London

– and its second in the UK – this

summer. Located between the

City, Islington and Shoreditch, the

190-room property is part of the

NH Group’s design and lifestyle

brand and will open under the

theme ‘London Reloaded’,

featuring a Big Ben rocket

sculpture, pixelated carpets and

an art installation.

The hotel will feature a bar, gym,

networking spaces, meeting rooms

and The Bell – a restaurant that

developers say will be an avantgarde

version of a traditional

British pub. "Visitors will find

themselves immersed in a world

of art and design that tells a story

and engages the senses; a

dynamic melting pot created to

surprise and inspire the guests,”

says architect James Soane.

ACTE UPDATE

Greeley Koch

Executive Director, ACTE

Rarely do we take time to

reflect but, this March, I’ll

leave ACTE, so I find myself

thinking what’s changed in

the six years since I became

executive director.

Not long ago, success in

business travel was measured

in financial savings. Now it’s

about traveller satisfaction

and productivity.

There was a time when

companies had one preferred

car service and one or two

preferred hotels. Today, with

myriad ground transport

options and boutique hotels

within preferred hotel chains,

travel buyers are making

decisions better suited to

themselves and their

employers. Some things, of

course, are evergreen – like

concern about duty of care.

Another – the understanding

that uncertainty reigns. That

seems like a bad thing, but

without uncertainty, there is

little innovation.

I’ve learned so much in

travelling the world, sitting

with buyers and suppliers

and hearing your issues and

concerns. At ACTE, we try to

be a conduit for ideas,

advocacy, sharing and

plugging away. I know that

will continue after I’m gone.

I’ll still be in business travel

and look forward to seeing

you soon. Thank you for your

support over the years.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

55


THE REVIEW

O N T H E G R O U N D

[ On track ]

>> Crosscountry

trains is now providing

Rail user

satisfaction

sinks again

free wifi for all passengers

travelling on its UK network.

So far 92 trains have been

fitted with wifi systems

following a year-long

project to implement it

>> Eurostar will add a

third daily service from

London St Pancras to

Rotterdam and Amsterdam

this summer "in direct

response to customer

demand". The new service,

for which tickets are now on

sale, will commence on June

11 with fares starting from

£35 one way.

Passenger satisfaction

with rail services has fallen

to a ten-year low in findings

from the latest National Rail

Passenger Survey.

Overall satisfaction was

79%, the lowest level since

2008. Poor punctuality,

timetable chaos last summer

and a series of strikes

appear to be to blame for

deteriorating satisfaction.

Operators with the lowest

ratings were Great Northern

(68%) and Northern (72%).

South Western, TransPennine

and Greater Anglia were

also in the bottom five, each

scoring 73%, with Southern

ranked sixth-worst with a

74% satisfaction score.

Topping the rankings was

Heathrow Express on 96%,

followed by Grand Central

(94%), Chiltern Railways

(92%), Merseyrail (90%) and

Virgin Trains (90%).

Going places?

56 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


THE REVIEW

M e e t i n g p l a c e

American Express GBT launches

small Meetings Platform

American Express Meetings & Events, a division of

Amex GBT, has introduced a meetings and events

management platform providing a single interface for

sourcing small, simple and recurring meetings.

The platform, called Meetings Express, sources

relevant local content from Groupize in North America,

MettingsBooker.com in the UK and Nordics, Bizmeeting

in France, meetago in Germany and iVvy in Australia.

Each provider has been vetted to ensure they combine

the right hotels, venues and meetings spaces. The M&E

team aims to help arrangers align small and simple

meetings strategies with existing programmes.

Meetings Express connects to AMEX M&E’s central

data platform, Meetings Insights, and integrates with

AMEX M&E’s reporting and management tools.

Connaught

Rooms

makeover

De Vere Grand Connaught

Rooms has unveiled the

results of a £700,000

refurbishment of its meetings and events spaces. The venue,

located in London's Covent Garden, underwent changes to

bring its spaces in line with De Vere's Smart Space Concept.

The meeting rooms – 13 of which were refurbished as

part of the project – are now equipped with the latest AV

technology, free super-fast wifi and there is also an on-site

Burr & Co coffee shop. Each of the meeting rooms can

accommodate events of various sizes from 12 to 80

delegates. The refurbished Grand Hall can accommodate up

to 750 delegates for large events with its grand chandeliers,

staging and AV technology.

You could be

if you work on the train.

Free on-board WiFi *

Connect to more

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

57


THE REVIEW

O N T H E M O V E

EVENTS

FEBRUARY 20-21

BUSINESS TRAVEL SHOW

Olympia London

businesstravelshow.com

MARCH 25

KATIE SKITTERALL KEN MOORE LINA MARGOLIN

PROMOTED AT: ATPI Group

TO: Director of UK Sales & Operations

FROM: Head of UK Operations & Events

JOINS: Oakwood

AS: Managing Director EMEA

FROM: Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

JOINS: Gett UK

AS: VP of Business Solutions

FROM: eBay

ITM BUSINESS TRAVEL SHOWCASE

Hotel Cafe Royal

itm.org.uk

ATPI Group's Katie Skitterall, a

former Rising Star winner at

this magazine's People Awards,

Hospitality veteran Ken Moore

will lead Oakwood’s efforts to

scale up its presence across

E-commerce expert Lina

Margolin has been tasked with

building partnerships and

APRIL 7-9

continues her rise within the

EMEA using his experience of

adding top-tier users in her

ACTE GLOBAL SUMMIT

Chicago

business having joined the

TMC back in 2001.

strategic planning and property

acquisition.

new role at the growing taxi

hailing company.

acte.org

APRIL 30 - MAY 1

ITM CONFERENCE

Hilton Metropole, Brighton

itm.org.uk

MAY 14-15

PROCURECON TRAVEL

Henderson, Las Vegas

procurecontravel.wbresearch.com

MAY 17-20

ADVANTAGE CONFERENCE

Cadiz, Spain

advantageconference.co.uk

MAY 21

TBTM DINNER CLUB

The Dorchester, London

thebusinesstravelmag.com

REBECCA CREASEY KIRSTIE VAN OERLE RICHARD ADDEY

JOINS: Maritim Hotels

AS: Account Manager, C&IT

FROM: Sun Resorts

Rebecca Creasey has returned

to Maritim Hotels where she

previously spent six years as

account manager. She will be

responsible for growing MICE

business in the UK and Ireland.

JOINS: Evolvi Rail Systems

AS: Managing Director

FROM: Capita PLC

Kirstie van Oerle switches from

Evolvi’s owner Capita as the rail

booking site looks to develop

its relationships with TMCs.

She has held senior roles at a

number of tech businesses.

PROMOTED AT: Sabre Corporation

TO: Managing Director UK, Irl & Benelux

FROM: Managing Director South Africa

Richard Addey has made the

move from South Africa to head

up Sabre’s UK operations. With

extensive knowledge of travel

agencies, he will oversee sales

strategy and key accounts.

MAY 24

THE BUSINESS TRAVEL PEOPLE AWARDS

London

thebusinesstravelpeopleawards.com

JUNE 27

TBTM GOLF MASTERS

Mannings Heath, Sussex

thebusinesstravelmag.com

ALSO ON THE MOVE... Darren McCormick has been appointed as Corporate Account Manager

at Oman Air, based in Manchester >> Astrid Masle-Boer has become Director of Relationship

Management, EMEA at WEX Corporate Payments >> Stefan Ropers has been appointed to

lead Strategic Growth Businesses at Amadeus >> Maria Baty (Managing Director, Altour UK),

John O’Sullivan (Managing Director UK & Europe, Key Travel) and Steve Barrass (Chief Executive,

TAG) have joined the GTMC’s Executive Board >> Alexandra Brunner has joined Native as its new

Chief Operating Officer >> Greeley Koch will relinquish his role as ACTE Executive Director in March

AUGUST 3-7

GBTA CONVENTION

Chicago

gbta.org

SEPTEMBER 17-18

THE BUSINESS TRAVEL CONFERENCE

Hilton Bankside, London

thebusinesstravelconference.com

58 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Business & leisure

in equal measure

Business stays like

sterminshotel

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

+44 (0) 207 222 7888 www.sterminshotel.co.uk

Take a virtual show round visit www.sterminshotel.co.uk/tour


Introduction / Travel tech

today's travel industry is

driven forward by cutting-edge

technology. Find out more about

the latest functionality and

trends –- from booking tools to

bots -- in our guide to

travel tech

Introduction, 62-64 / Booking tools, 66-68

TMCs & tech, 70-72 / Five Reasons, 74

Distribution, 76-77 / Speaking Out, 78 / Data, 79


Travel tech / Introduction

sPeed

merchants

With travel technology evolving so rapidly, TMCs and

suppliers are scrambling to lead the way – or even keep

up – says Gillian Upton, who rounds-up the big issues

No one doubts the massive

dependence that travel

management companies and their

corporate clients have on technology, but

their needs differ greatly.

Automation has already made TMCs more

efficient and cost effective in both back

office and front office processes, enabling

them to focus on offline. But the huge and

constant capital investment needed to keep

abreast of technological change has forced

some to consolidate, merge, acquire or exit

the game altogether.

Corporates, meanwhile, have to juggle the

needs of those managing their travel

programmes and of the business travellers

themselves.

“Managers want control and compliance,

and travellers want ease and choice.

Sometimes it’s hard to have a travel

management system that’s one fit for all,”

says Katie Skitterall, Director of Sales ad

Operations UK at travel management

company ATPI. “It’s important that

businesses have an adequate technology

management roadmap in place and ensure

it benefits everyone in the organisation.”

Harnessing technology is part of the DNA

of any good TMC today and many are ahead

of the curve but this has split the TMC

market into those that both develop and

integrate/white label third-party tools, ie.

the Big Three – American Express GBT, BCD

and CWT – and those smaller TMCs who rely

on third-party providers almost exclusively.

Mid-market TMCs with venture capitalists’

backing can also compete with the big boys;

others work with third-party providers.

The lower you go down the food chain

the less likely that in-house development

will take place,” says Tom Stone, partner

with Nina & Pinta.

Any tender for a TMC will ask what

technological armoury they can muster – an

intuitive booking tool, mobile apps and a

data management tool are the basics. But

corporates also want travel and expense

management integration, a robust duty of

care platform, interactive business

intelligence reporting (as opposed to static

reporting), rate auditing tools and

62 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Introduction / Travel tech

benchmarking software. And you can add

chatbots, artificial intelligence and

blockchain to the list, as these buzzword

topics increasingly gain traction.

“With AI, travellers can benefit from

personalisation just like features in their

everyday life such as Netflix or YouTube

recommendations,” says ATPI’s Skitterall.

Business travel technology needs to be

able to make clever recommendations to

travellers on the go and include a great user

interface to make the personal experience

smooth, streamlined and concise.”

Innovation in these areas include FCM’s

much-talked-about AI-enabled chatbot SAM,

while Business Travel Direct’s SMARTInsight

predictive tool answers the ‘what if…’

questions. If a client wants to change the

business class threshold from six to eight

hours, for example, the tool will come up

with how much the client will save.

Horses for courses

Of course, travel technology needs differ

hugely by customer type. A multinational

corporate would have an online booking

tool and a relationship with a third-party

provider such as Concur, whereas an SME

might hook up with a TMC to provide the

booking engine.

Corporate Traveller, for example, is a TMC

predominantly serving companies with

small to medium travel spend requirements,

but nevertheless offers a comprehensive

suite of tools via its YOUR.CT platform.

“No one size fits all,” says Ace Travel

Management CEO Sarah Wilson. “One may

want tracking to see all their travellers in

one place and mitigate risk while, for others,

global tie-ups and merged MI are required.”

ACE buys third-party technology because

“We’re not experts and it’s changing so

quickly so it enables us to be nimble,” says

Wilson. She’s waiting patiently on the launch

of a mobile app that will allow travellers to

check in on any airline. “I believe it’s

coming,” she adds, hopefully.

CWT’s Chief Data Scientist Dr Eric Tyree

explains that they stay ahead of the curve

by funding start-ups as, “it’s better, faster

and easier to go to them.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

63


Travel tech / Introduction

“We guide them and

help them get to market. It’s

a big TMC thing to do and

it’s a well-trodden path. The

key is not to stop peddling,

as there’s no resting on

your laurels.”

Regardless of size and

every corporate wants to

provide the best possible

travel experience for their

travellers. “It’s all about

moving to a consumerised

experience,” says GTMC Chief

Executive Adrian Parkes. And that

means that there is one essential

provision for 2019: content.

“With NDC, GDS surcharging and

airlines removing content from the GDS,

it’s imperative that a TMC offers full

content,” says Andrew Burroughes, Product

and Implementation Director at Business

Travel Direct.

Out in the open

Content is so fragmented that it is a

challenge; TMCs capture data from multiple

sources via APIs in order to achieve it. The

APIs allow TMCs to aggregate omni-channel

content, create products and partnerships,

and provide tools and services to support

what is otherwise an out-of-policy booking.

“We’re trying to make our technology as

much open source and connectable with

other technologies as new disruptors come

in,” explains Burroughes.

The fact that travellers are using channels

outside their company’s mandated channels

to book travel means that TMCs must try

and replicate the leisure booking experience

as much as possible to improve compliance.

The cost of innovation

is coming down in

terms of computing power

so this will only accelerate

over time”

Apps can offer many of these lures, such as

keeping users abreast of gate changes,

flight delays and the like and in so doing,

helping them run their business lives just as

seamlessly as their personal lives. The

buzzword is to reduce trip friction and

enable self-service across multiple devices.

According to a joint GBTA and Concur

report, travellers want three things:

personalised booking, pre-trip approvals/

travel personalisation and intelligent

expense reports.

Are TMCs delivering what their clients

want? According to Carol Neil, Global Travel

Manager at Fidelity International, some are.

“A good TMC should be able to support you

with the right data that’s global and clean;

provide an online booking tool that’s

seamless and global; and provide apps to

enhance the user experience.

“Outside that, I need a TMC to come up

with a solution for the NDC piece, to join it

all up – and none are doing that at the

moment,” she says.

A workable solution to NDC remains

challenging. TMCs are price checking all the

time but often clients prefer to pay the

extra and stay within a TMCs workflow

rather than risk booking through an NDC

portal in case something goes wrong (see

pages 76-77 for more on NDC).

Progress is being made and IATA is

already pushing ahead beyond NDC with

One Order which will eradicate the PNR in

the long term.

The pace of change is very high,” says Ian

Davies, Head of Suppler Management EMEA

at Concur. “The cost of innovation is coming

down in terms of computing power so this

will only accelerate over time.” Concur’s

report looking to travel in 2030 reads like

science fiction but it’s all perfectly feasible.

GTMC’s Parkes predicts three big areas of

technological advancement in 2019: the

service capabilities of APIs; the ability of any

API to handle industrial-size scale; and the

development of the GDSs within NDC.

It's unlikely that technology will bring an

end to the uncertainty of Brexit, however,

but watch this space!

64 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Travel tech / Booking tools

TOOLS

of the trade

Booking travel should be smooth, swift and

easy. So how are suppliers incorporating

new content and functionality?

Catherine Chetwynd investigates

With growing use of AI and

chatbots, increased booking

sources and the much-vaunted

advent of NDC, booking tools are having

to become ever more flexible and

versatile, while still trying to keep

travellers within travel policy.

Part of this goal includes continuing to

emulate the ‘Amazon experience’, so

travellers can research, book and change

their itinerary with ease.

This includes taxis, arguably the last

bastion of unmanaged travel and a major

expense – so much so that, according to

research KDS undertook at last year’s GBTA

conference in Berlin, only a third (33%) of

respondents got sufficient insight into taxi

costs in their booking tool. To that end,

KDS has partnered with ground handling

aggregator Mozio, bringing to book content

for more than 300 cities.

In addition, integration of Route Happy

adds ancillaries information for airlines

worldwide, making onboard wifi, preferred

seat and meal bookable with KDS’s door-todoor

service, which allows travellers to

search a full itinerary, from departure point

to arrival doorstep. Synchronisation with

expense management tools (not just KDS)

completes the picture.

OK computer

Click Travel, meanwhile, is working on AI

and voice technology, and 5% of customer

enquiries in November 2018 were answered

by AI rather than an agent. “It is embedded

into the tool and does not feel as though

you are being answered by a robot,” insists

product engineer Robin Smith. “People are

happy they are getting the information they

want more quickly. It is going to be very

important over the next few years.”

Also aiming for a consumer shopping

experience is SAP Concur, which has

included the confetti of branded fares that

embraces every requirement from hand

baggage-only to two bags checked in. As

NDC evolves, this will extend to lounge

passes and more.

“This is interesting because we will be able

to have conversations with companies who

want to cluster employees, from infrequent

travellers where lowest logical fare would

AI is embedded into

the tool and it does

not feel as though you are

being answered by a robot.

People are happy they are

getting information quickly”

66 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


Booking tools / Travel tech

be more appropriate, to VIP travellers, who

are revenue generating, where organisations

want to have the right value of service

provided,” says Senior Alliance Manager for

EMEA, Darren Foster. “If NDC does deliver

on its promises, we will be able to do that,

although it will take some work.”

Deconstructing technology will follow,

removing the need for users to log on and

spend time searching. Instead, the booking

tool, search engine and travel policy engine

can be wrapped around the way the

traveller works, interacting with emails

between travellers or traveller and travel

manager to learn date, time and location,

and “leaving the traveller to do nothing but

travel – that’s our vision”, says Foster.

Last year, Concur launched a travel bot

which does that and it sees bots as the way

forward, given that 75% of workers will be

using digital assistants in 2019.

Also, the recent

extension of TripLink direct

to British Airways and American Airlines

(Lufthansa follows this year) takes the

travel policy engine direct to

partners, ensures that travellers

pay the right corporate fare

when booking direct and brings

the information back into the

booking tool, providing MI and

duty of care.

Whether TMCs develop

booking tools in house or go for a

tried-and-tested third party depends

on size and financial clout. “The levels

of security, uptime and globalisation

needed for strong travel technology

requires the TMC to have a

certain critical mass,” says Global

Innovation Director at Reed &

Mackay, Antoine Boatwright.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

67


Travel tech / Booking tools

“Developing

technology inhouse

means we

have the flexibility

to integrate

systems and roll

out functionality in

anticipation of client need. In addition, the

turnaround is more agile and we can

develop to unique requirements,” he says.

Conversely, “The complexity in integrating

booking tools with travel industry technology,

especially as suppliers are creating new

business models, is a nightmare. That is

why there are fewer than six OBTs on the

market that can compete globally,” says VP

of Product for KDS, Bertrand Blais.

“It is important to outsource and to be

able to integrate third parties

into booking tools; and with

NDC, there is greater

complexity still.”

Small is beautiful

Mobile apps progress

apace and providers are

perfecting the art of

replicating desktop

functionality through a

responsive site but with more

tailored information. This is

particularly important in

areas such as Asia-Pacific,

where most business

travellers use only a

mobile, but in the western

world, desktop use is still prevalent and

those in finance and HR want access to

travellers’ booking information, as well as

travel arrangers.

Personalisation is in increasing demand

and ties into consumerisation. KDS’s doorto-door

service makes every part of the

journey personalised, including time taken

from home or office to the airport. In

addition, “An effortless trip also requires

that cancellations are immediately met with

rescheduled options, refunds are

automatically submitted and any impact on

productivity is anticipated and resolved with

little or no need for traveller intervention,”

says Reed & Mackay’s Boatwright.

However, although the simple processes

inherent in consumer models mean users

do not have to fight with copious constructs

to purchase one product, it can be in direct

conflict with corporate requirements such

as policy compliance, business intelligence

and project billing, and this can stand in the

way of the much-desired seamlessness.

Making it easy

Event organisation company Imagination

deployed Reed & Mackay’s self-booking tool

for domestic and European bookings in

January 2018. “We have seen an adoption

rate of 75%-85%,” says Head of Logistics

and travel, Nicola Mahon. “The system

consolidates all bookings on one platform,

irrespective of whether they were made on

or offline, which has been incredibly useful

for traveller tracking and duty of care

responsibilities.” Before this, travellers

booked via an offline team, who generated

monthly MI updates.

“One of the advantages of R&M Book is

how user-friendly it is and full integration

with other proprietary travel software

means you’re always looking at the most

up-to-date information,” adds Mahon.

Self-booking tools continue to evolve,

including their capacity for providing a

smooth, consumer grade experience,

while juggling the complexities of corporate

travel. And artificial intelligence and

chatbots will only enhance the services they

provide, simultaneously keeping an eye on

travel policy compliance and gathering in

errant bookings.

68 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


Travel tech / TMCs

TRAVEL

into the future

Catherine Chetwynd discovers how TMCs

are utilising new technology to provide

customers with better, smarter services

Leading edge technology is now at the

heart of a TMC’s operation. It makes

service delivery more efficient,

allows them to be more creative and

flexible, and provide simpler processes

that mirror consumer trends – something

clients today take for granted.

Technology facilitates communication,

whether that is via mobile, web or VOIP,

according to travellers’ and travel managers’

preferences; it ensures travellers can change

their itinerary while on the move and lets

travel providers learn more about clients in

order to personalise their services.

“In the past it was all about collecting data,

but now people are thinking about what they

can do with tech; we want to translate that

into action,” says FCM Chief Technology Officer

Michel Rouse. This requires platforms that

can automate the processing of data, analyse

it, draw out trends and present the results in

a way that is meaningful and easy to read.

“Good data scientists are crucial,” he says.

Innovation is allowing TMCs to compare

corporate spend on a particular route or in a

certain hotel to the market average, pulling in

data from a number of entities such as midoffice

and back-office systems, GDS, OTAs,

payment and expense management

providers, and traveller tracking systems.

Modern tech has also moved data use away

from just giving a historical view. If someone

normally travels to Los Angeles in February, a

TMC can see they would benefit from

booking six weeks before departure, instead

of eight weeks, because fares drop at that

point. “That is where we increase value, using

data predictively rather than historically,” says

Global Product Director of Advantage Travel

Partnership, Neil Amorgie.

CWT also uses predictive algorithms to

discern what a traveller has done, is doing

and the likelihood of its occurring again. AI

data visualisation tool CWT AnswerIQ lets

In the past it was all

about collecting data,

but now people are thinking

about what they can do with

tech; we want to translate

that into action”

users interrogate the TMC’s travel data in a

similar way to shopping online and it learns

over time, making suggestions to give clients

faster answers.

This leads to greater personalisation. “We

believe we can drive more intelligent search

results, based on what you’re doing, have

done in the past, and what your colleagues

are doing,” says VP, chief data scientist Dr Eric

Tyree. It allows CWT to present options for a

flight based on the passenger’s loyalty,

corporate policy and preferences.

Data also highlights traveller behaviour.

“We are collecting open booking data; we pull

it from our own systems but more and more

travellers are booking outside travel

programmes and we are able to bring that

into managed travel programmes and report

on it, and that covers duty of care,” says BTD

Product and Implementation Director,

Andrew Burroughes. Similarly, ATPI Analytics

provides measurable, real-time data in a

single platform, allowing clients to see what

they want, when they want in one place.

Technology is also helping harness

information about the bugbear of many

travel managers – ancillaries. Since the

70 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


TMCs / Travel tech

launch of low-cost carriers, who

refined the art of charging for

everything beyond the aircraft seat, and the

realisation by legacy carriers that they could

only compete – especially on short-haul

routes – if they did the same, ancillaries have

been a common but unwelcome part of

corporate life. Now hotels are following suit.

Making extras add up

Wifi, speedy boarding, inflight meals,

additional bags, hotel breakfast, parking…

the list is long and varied and if there were

any doubt as to the value of these niggly

intruders into the cost of travel, airline

ancillary revenue alone is forecast to hit

$93billion in 2018, according to a report by

IdeaWorksCompany and CarTrawler.

Rouse adds ground transport to that

equation. “One travel manager was saying

that someone can purchase a £75 flight but

will tack on a £50 transfer at each end of the

journey and on a return trip. That is £200 on

transfers and £75 on air,” he says. “We are

able to feed multiple sources of data into our

reporting and when people book outside the

travel programme, we can feed all that back

in to give a more complete

picture to the travel manager

of what the spend is on and

outside their programme.” It is

increasingly common for TMCs to

be able to gather up this off-channel

spend and bring it to book.

And NDC just adds to the problem.

“NDC presents airlines with the

opportunity to break out ancillaries

and present them to the consumer,

who can pick and choose what they

want,” says Head of Innovation for

Advantage Travel Partnership, Fraser Nicol.

“But unless agents have developed systems

to gather that information, I don’t think many

will be able to serve it up in any detail; that

will take off at the back end of next year.”

However, NDC might also lead to discrimination,

with two people on the same flight

travelling at different fares.


THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

71


Travel tech / TMCs

This level of personalisation chimes with

the consumerisation of business travel. It

may not yet have reached the stellar levels

provided by Amazon but TMCs’ technology

combined with that of suppliers ensures

traveller can feel recognised as an individual.

Traditionally, OBTs were functional while

retail tools put user experience first, which

made travellers less willing to use the

corporate option. Now, however, corporate

technology is changing the way it looks and

feels, and in addition, “We have brought in

some of the suppliers that people use outside

work, such as booking.com,” says Burroughes.

“Keeping track of the numerous new leisure

providers is difficult. We support open

booking, which allows people to book outside

the traditional TMC environment and means

we can pull data back in,” he says.

Zeno by ATPI is another personalised tool.

“It was developed to look like a consumer site

to engage travellers,” says Group Head of

E-commerce, Jenny Thornton. “It provides

itinerary recommendations and uses AI to

enhance the booking experience by recalling

preferences such as favourite departure

airport, hotels and even

streamlines loyalty

programmes.”

Bright young things

Newcomers are only viewed as disruptors if

they are doing something you are not, and on

that basis TMCs are now partnering with

start-ups to benefit from their free thinking

and creativity. FCM has integrated AI chatbot

Claire from booking platform 30 Seconds to

Fly into its chatbot SAM, so that travellers can

chat and book flights.

FCM is also running pilots in a number of

markets. “Rather than develop a large-scale

programme to look at all the ways we interact

with travellers in a vacuum, we are

attempting different approaches in a number

of markets; like gamification to drive

behaviour and multi-channel approval flows,”

says Rouse. “We are testing what we think will

be popular in those markets and we are

backing up those tests with research.”

Advantage has partnered with language app

Whym, which connects members’ clients with

a human interpreter in seconds; and Win

Hotel Hub pulls together 1.5 million hotels,

allowing members to offer clients the best

rates with attendant reporting.

BTD claims to have been first to market in

Europe with hotel benchmarking provider

TRIPBAM, which analyses hotel bookings in

the TMC’s system, and if any of the rates for

those bookings decrease before travel it

automatically rebooks. The tool has been

widely deployed by corporates and some

TMCs have mimicked the concept with their

own technology. TRIPBAM claims to achieve

savings of 32.5% on average and has

recently introduced Strategic Shift

Share (S3) to help travel managers

identify opportunities to move

share to its preferred hotels.

BTD also uses automated

TMCs are now

partnering with

start-ups to benefit from

their free thinking,

innovation and creativity”

rail delay repay system RAILGUARD.

Meanwhile, CWT works with accelerator Plug

and Play in Silicon Valley, which connects

organisations to the world’s start-ups.

However, all this activity raises a major

problem for TMCs: how to integrate modern

technology into legacy systems, a headache

that would once have been fixed with Band

Aid and prayers. No longer, however, and this

is partly thanks to the increasingly widespread

use of open technology such as APIs, which

make businesses less reliant on GDS, allowing

them to build their own platform and choose

with whom they plug and play.

Legacy tech providers are also girding up for

the 2020s. “We are working with Amadeus to

make a more open platform. GDS used to be

about locking people into their system and

they are now looking at being more open and

allowing you to integrate, giving access to

their technology and content,” says Rouse.

BTD’s in-house development team designs

proprietary technology, providing easier

integration with modern systems through an

open-sourced booking system; and ATPI’s

TravelHub dashboard is built with an open

API platform, too.

The final word goes to Advantage’s Nicol:

The fourth industrial revolution is digital and

APIs are at the heart of that; it is an API

economy and anyone not working with an

open platform could be left behind.”

72 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


HERE’S TO THE COOL,

CALM AND CONNECTED.

To a travel management platform

that lets your business glide through.

One that drills down deep to find you the best value.

A savvy system that always keeps your staff up to date.

So they stay connected.

And never miss a connection.

A platform where you can see everything clearly

with complete business transparency.

Here’s to working smarter.

To travelling the world.

Effortlessly.

reedmackay.com


,

Travel tech / Five reasons

[ FIVE REASONS TO... ]

AUTOMATE EXPENSES

Catherine Chetwynd identifies the gains to be made by

automating your business travel expenses

1 3

EFFICIENCY

& SAVINGS

Automating expenses can

reduce the cost of processing

every transaction

by 55% or more. Receipts

can be photographed on

mobiles, uploaded and

the data automatically

read and transformed

into an expense line. They

can be filed one day and

paid the next. There are

also benefits from working

with one provider for the

entire booking, expense

and traveller care chain:

one point of contact

increases efficiency and

reduces costs, says KDS/

American Express GBT.

2ACCURACY

Replacing the human

factor and the manual

keying in of data with

an automated system

considerably reduces

errors not only from

travellers but by accounts

departments as well,

leading to wrong

reimbursements and

inaccurate books. By

automating expenses

through one digital

platform that includes

travel data, travel

managers, finance and

accounting can together

build an accurate picture

of spend.

CLARITY

With systems

automatically catching

transaction data such

as expense type and

merchant, it is much

easier to analyse the

figures than pouring over

a huge spreadsheet. This

level of visibility can help

drive huge cost savings,

from identifying patterns

of wasteful spend to

tracking spend volumes

with airlines or hotel

chains to help secure

volume discounts, says

Chrome River. And

functionality continues

to develop, with offline

working via a mobile

app and time sheet

capabilities available

from Infor XM.

Systems can be set up with

company policy embedded,

including types of allowable

expense and category limits”

POLICY &

INNOVATION

Systems can be set up

with company policy

embedded, including

types of allowable

expense and category

limits, which reduces the

likelihood of out of policy

claims. Insight into travel

patterns can spark ideas

for new policies because

managers can see when

employees are booking

flights at the last minute

and therefore losing out

on potential deals or can

analyse mileage claims to

ensure their validity, says

SAP Concur.

5MITIGATING

RISK

Expense fraud – whether

inflation of legitimate

expenses or completely

fabricated transactions –

is still a big issue and can

be hard to spot and

prevent with manual

expense processes.

Expense automation

systems can help prevent

falsified expenses from

being submitted with

tools such as duplicate

receipt detection and

automatic credit card

matching, says Chrome

River. They can also use

analytics and data

visualisation tools to

detect fraudulent spend

patterns which could

otherwise go unnoticed.

74 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Benefits

Flight booking

Weather & traffic alerts

Check-in reminder

Travel alerts

City guides

Chat

Delivered by


Travel tech / Distribution

CHANGING

channels

NDC dominated 2018 but is this the year that new

distribution models really take off, asks Linda Fox

New year, new distribution

confusion? Or perhaps it can

finally be collaboration? These are

serious questions if you stop and think of

the machinations IATA’s New Distribution

Capability has been through since it was

first announced more than six years ago,

and where it goes from here.

While much of the mistrust of the early days

has dissipated and there is generally more of

a desire to work together, some of the

confusion still reigns.

Research carried out by American Express

Global Business Travel and ACTE last October

revealed 58% of travel managers were

“somewhat” confident in their understanding

of NDC while 23% were “not at all confident”

in their understanding of it.

Feedback from travel buyers saw NDC

described as being “as confusing as

blockchain.” Other buyers acknowledge there

is still confusion around what NDC is and

how it affects them.

However, one travel manager recently

commented that NDC should be seen as an

opportunity for corporate buyers to engage

with airline suppliers about the offers most

relevant to them and their travellers. She

added that it could mean a much more

seamless experience for travellers.

For the most part, the research and

comments hardly inspire confidence, but

that’s not surprising for a number of reasons.

It’s only recently that travel management

companies and technology providers have

had something a little more tangible to

demonstrate to travel buyers. The technology

standard that NDC sets out to be needs to be

implemented across the entire workflow to

demonstrate how it will work, and its latest

version is said to be the one that, if finally

robust and stable enough, can do that.

Previous versions worked for simple

elements but fell short when it came to more

complex routes and other tasks, says Click

Travel’s Chief Product Engineer, Robin Smith.

But the technical aspects of NDC aside,

travel buyers should not need to be

concerned about NDC – they just need to

know that it continues to give them access to

all the content they need in a way that is just

as efficient as current processes, if not more

so. Many TMCs see it as their role to explain

how NDC will work as well as ensure the

content is there.

Smith agrees that buyers are still not

completely aware of what NDC is and says a

lot of it is down to much of the effort until

recently that has been devoted to getting

airlines, IT providers and TMCs on board.

“It has all been very theoretical but now

we’re seeing movement in the commercials,

pricing and advertising of what the benefits

are to buyers,” says Smith.

Channel discrimination

Moves from airlines such as Lufthansa and

British Airways to change commercial terms

as well as further steps from the Germanybased

carrier to only provide certain fares in

NDC channels have contributed to bringing

NDC more sharply into focus.

Smith says: “Lufthansa and its approach to

restricting fares or other airlines charging

fees means we’re starting to get questions

from buyers. They’re asking if they can’t get

the cheapest fares, is their TMC still able to

get them those fares? It’s becoming more

public that NDC is changing the way you get

those fares and we’re thinking about how we

can explain it and gain confidence that we

have access without complicating things.“

As a means to drive up adoption of its NDC

channels, Lufthansa is making its “best offer

fares” available only through those channels.

The airline says it has a pipeline of about 70

agencies wanting to connect to these.

In late November, Andreas Koester, Senior

Director of Sales for the UK & Ireland, said it

was seeing about 1,000 bookings a month in

the UK coming via NDC channels. He said

that the figure compared with a few hundred

per month in the first few months of 2017.

Koester added that from August 2018, the

airline saw a 300% spike in bookings across

those same NDC channels which was down

to already connected agencies such as Click

76 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


Distribution / Travel tech

Travel and Clarity – early TMCs to establish

direct connects to Lufthansa – as well as

more recently connected agencies.

The bookings don’t currently add up to more

than a percent or two but ongoing initiatives

from Lufthansa also see cheaper fares only

accessible via NDC-driven booking methods.

The latest example is the airline’s “light” fare

which is being removed from GDS channels.

One additional element worth keeping an

eye on is a challenge to Lufthansa’s developments

from the European Travel and Technology

Services Association.

The organisation filed an antitrust

complaint with the European Commission

against the airline in December. ETTSA,

alongside VIR, which represents the digital

travel industry in Germany, believes the

airline is using its dominant position in its

home market as well as “discriminatory and

exclusionary practices against independent

distributors of airline tickets.”

Gaining momentum

Also in late November, BCD Travel announced

its partnership to pilot NDC with the

Lufthansa Group. Thane Jackson, BCD’s Vice

President of Global Distribution and Channel

Strategy, says its own presence and strength

in Germany pushed it to look more closely at

what Lufthansa is doing.

“We have to respect their strategy so rather

than sit on the outside, we saw an opportunity

to pilot with them to learn about NDC and

their objectives. It’s a case of recognising

where the industry needs to go and being

involved from the inside,” he says.

He adds that BCD continues to put time and

effort into educating its own staff as well as

its travel manager customers and airlines.

Thane says it’s important to “demystify” NDC

so that the whole industry moves away from

a world where no one collaborates.

While all these developments around NDC

are positive, there is still a long way to go.

Initiatives such as IATA’s airline leaderboard

– with 21 airlines committing to have 20% of

indirect transactions via an NDC-driven API

by the end of 2020 – act as a good target and

will help drive adoption.

Even after that deadline has come and

gone, however, it’s likely that NDC will still

only be for simple bookings and more

complex itineraries with interlining will

require further development.

Jackson says: “There will be much more talk,

activity and ideas in 2019 and 2020 but we’ll

only get critical mass, in my opinion, when

the GDSs develop full-blown, fully interlineable,

fully functioning NDC solutions and

most are still talking about that from midyear

onwards this year that their first

iterations are going to come to market.”

The future is bright

Sabre’s recent acquisition of Farelogix is

being seen as further positive step in NDC’s

journey. The distribution giant believes the

deal gives its own NDC strategy a significant

boost across retailing, distribution and

fulfilment as well as seeing benefits for

airlines, TMCs and corporate buyers. Others

see the deal as solid evidence that the

industry is no longer ignoring NDC.

GDS rivals Amadeus and Travelport are

also far along in their own developments.

Travelport recently laid claim to be the first

GDS to manage live bookings of flights made

via the NDC technology standard.

Meanwhile, Amadeus has been signing up

large TMCs including Amex GBT and Carlson

Wagonlit to help pilot is NDC solution.

With more robust versions of NDC coming

out, the buy-in of large IT providers and

significant partnerships emerging between

TMCs and airlines, the distribution future

looks brighter. There is no silver bullet,

however, that will magic away the complexity

in travel booking and management so

progress will continue to be measured.

There will be much

more talk and activity

in 2019 and 2020 but we’ll

only get critical mass when

the GDSs develop full-blown,

fully interlineable, fully

functioning NDC solutions”

[ ONE ORDER ]

IATA’s One Order initiative is meant to

complement NDC and aims to combine the

information from Passenger Name Records,

etickets and Electronic Messaging Documents

into a single electronic record. The idea is

that it will simplify processes, increase

efficiency, reduce cost and improve the

passenger experience, especially around

changes and disruption. Examples where it

could help in corporate travel include better

visibility around out of policy ancillary spend

on airline websites.

According to IATA it also makes duty of care

easier for travel managers because it means

access to information on flight and non-flight

services from one place. An additional

benefit being highlighted is its potential to

also simplify back office processes by

providing combined information on the

complete journey. Over the course of 2018,

IATA was communicating its strategy for One

Order. It hopes that from 2021, NDC will

have reached a critical mass for adoption

and the One Order standard will have been

tested by several airlines.

While TMCs are keeping an eye on what’s

happening with One Order, it’s not a huge

focus for them currently. Most see it as

something the airlines and IT providers need

to work on first before bringing it into the

travel management world.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

77


Travel tech / Speaking out

[ NEW DISTRIBUTION CAPABILITY ]

SOMETHING ODD IS GOING ON

Let’s cut through the jargon, the complexities and the mechanics, and focus

instead on greater choice and ease of booking, writes David Chappell

Now, I’m a tech person through and

through. Cut me and I don’t bleed – I

report a percentage change in my skin

integrity (then document it in Excel). But

techie though I am, I fear that with NDC,

TMCs may be missing the point.

There are seismic shifts occurring in travel

distribution. Of this, TMCs are acutely aware.

For many reliant on GDS revenue NDC is a

four letter word. The change of the role of

the GDS from a distributor of aggregated

content via ATPCo to an aggregator of distributed

content via API means a revolution in

what TMCs can sell and in how they earn.

And yet, that is the point. As an industry,

the terror of this inevitable change to the

distribution landscape has been so allconsuming

that it’s all we’ve talked about for

nigh on two years. I say this not to belittle

the change. It is driven by the market and

therefore essential. Changes to GDS

earnings will be a point of survival for some

not appropriately diversified in their profit

models – and this is of course a big deal –

but it simply shouldn’t be the headline.

Do you remember SIPS? Invented by Volvo

in 1991, it was all they advertised for years.

Slow-mos of test dummies being saved from

obliteration by some clever engineering and,

of course, that catchy acronym. Don’t get

me wrong, SIPS was a clever piece of safety

tech, but ultimately it was a mechanic of the

machine. No one would care about SIPS if

the car didn’t start.

But here’s the thing. You don’t hear about

it much anymore and do you know why?

Because the buying public doesn’t care

about catchy acronyms, that’s why. What

they care about is the experience.

The car industry figured this out years ago.

So now when you watch an advert what do

you see? Technical breakdowns regarding

We need to change

the dialogue in our

industry. We are currently

obsessed by the mechanics

and not by the experience”

the throttle configuration of the EMS? No!

You see cars in forests or on roads filled by

dancers, or the computer reading aloud a

funny text message – it’s all about the

experience and not the mechanics.

We need to change the dialogue in our

industry, both to each other and to our

customers. We are currently obsessed by

the mechanics and not the experience. We

should be talking about what these changes

enable. Retail architecture in corporate

travel – think of that! The Amazon-style,

dataset-driven booking where we cannot

only offer X, but also Y because your

colleague booked Z. Making content relevant

and easy to book should be our mantra.

This is where the conversation should be,

not about the data transmission standard

between an airline and the intermediary

distribution platforms. The retail revolution

has happened already out there in the real

world – we’re playing catching up. Here in

2019, NDC uses XML, a language created five

years after SIPS, in 1996. And just like SIPS,

we would do well to remember that NDC is

just the mechanic of the machine.

DAVID CHAPPELL

David is Technology Director at

travel management company

Fello Travel, having joined from

Gray Dawes Group in October

2018 where he was Head of

Technology.

78 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Data / Travel tech

DISTRIBUTION CONFUSION

“We could be closing in on drastic change,” states Greeley Koch, Executive

Director of ACTE, in the organisation’s white paper on the evolution of air

distribution. And if the findings of the survey are anything to go by, there

are certainly mixed views and varying levels of engagement with IATA’s

New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard.

“For decades, the corporate travel booking process has operated in basically the same way.

While the system worked in simpler times, it’s needed to be updated for quite some time,”

continues Koch. “Six years ago, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) started talking

about New Distribution Capability (NDC). The idea: offers could be personalised for specific

travellers, helping them to be more efficient while companies would benefit from cleaner

reporting on their total airline spend, and airlines would have greater flexibility with pricing

options.” Discover the findings of its survey, in association with American Express Global

Business Travel, below, and read more about distribution developments on pages 76-77.

NDC MISGIVINGS PERCENTAGE OF TRAVEL

MANAGERS WHO HAD CONCERNS ABOUT...

£

REDUCED FUNCTIONALITY

HIGHER COSTS

44 %

REDUCED FARE TRANSPARENCY

AVAILABILITY OF DATA

POLICY COMPLIANCE

Significantly concerned

90 %

46 %

89 %

51 %

88 %

45 %

88 %

42 % 87 %

Concerned

THE NDC KNOWLEDGE GAP

81%

OF TRAVEL MANAGERS ARE

NOT FULLY CONFIDENT ABOUT

THEIR NDC KNOWLEDGE

64%

TOP 5 TRAVELLER ADD-ONS

THE PERCENTAGE OF TRAVEL

MANAGERS REPORTING

TRAVELLER USE OF ANCILLARIES

BAGGAGE FEES

OF TRAVEL MANAGERS

83 %

BELIEVE NDC WILL IMPROVE

THE TRAVELLER EXPERIENCE

SEAT SELECTION

67 %

56%

INFLIGHT WIFI

45 %

INFLIGHT MEALS

45 %

OF TRAVEL MANAGERS BELIEVE

UPGRADES

35 % NDC WILL SUPPORT THEIR

AIRLINE NEGOTIATIONS

PAYING THE PRICE

WHO TRAVEL MANAGERS THINK SHOULD PAY FOR NDC IMPLEMENTATION:

AIRLINES – 41%

ALL STAKEHOLDERS – 28%

DON’T KNOW /OTHER – 12%

TMCs – 4%

CORPORATE PROGRAMMES – 1%

FEW TRAVEL MANAGERS ARE LOOKING

BEYOND BOOKING TOOLS AT

ALTERNATIVE BOOKING CHANNELS

NOT LOOKING AT OTHER TOOLS OR PLATFORMS – 63%

AIRLINE DIRECT CONNECTS – 26%

METASEARCH ENGINES, OTAs – 12%

AIRLINE WEBSITES – 9%

OTHER – 7%

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

79


DEPARTURES

The best new... Gadgets & gear

CRASH PROOF

DuPont Kevlar has launched an eight-piece

Kevlar luggage collection. Built using Kevlar

fibre, the luggage is light but tough. The

collection has been designed with business

travellers in mind and includes an easy

access laptop pocket to a backpack with an

open flip lid. The large eight-wheel trolley

luggage is priced at £599 and the medium

trolley is £499. The kevlar duffle bag is £360

and the backpack is £299. All can be bought

from caseluggage.com

LIGHTS, CAMERA

ACTION!

BULLET-PROOF

BAGGAGE

LIVE ACTION

The GoPro Hero7 Black is

the latest offering from

GoPro and ups the ante

with professional looking

shots, enhanced

stabilisation, improved

audio recording, a new

'TimeWarp' function to

create timelapse videos

and the ability to

livestream to Facebook.

The device is no bigger

than its predecessor and

is waterproof.

gopro.com

FAB FOUR: TRAVEL ACCESSORIES

MOPHIE CHARGE STREAM GLOBAL

TRAVEL KIT This kit is a one-stop shop

for every charger, lead or adapter you’ll

need on the road and it all comes in a

handy carry case. The kit includes a

charge stream pad, car charger and a

micro USB adapter. eu.mophie.com

LEAKPROOF WATER BOTTLE The new

Ion8 Leakproof bottle lives up to its

name of being totally leakproof but it is

also highly durable and has a double

walled vacuum to help keep liquids hot

or cold all day. leakproof.co.uk

CORI CUSTOMISABLE TRAVEL PILLOW

Funded via Kickstarter, this travel pillow

has a modular design which offers head

and neck support. It also features

memory foam and soft fabrics. It even

looks cool too! coritraveller.com

SMART BUDS

These tiny Earin M-2 wireless earphones do

more than provide quality sound. They can filter

out unwanted noise around you, and feature

four built-in microphones to give intelligent

noise reduction. The clever buds can also tell

which of your ears they are in. earin.com

CLEAR AND

CLEVER AUDIO

GOTENNA MESH Stay connected

wherever you are with this

smart Bluetooth device that

provides text and GPS

service to your phone in

remote locations

where there is no

signal. Download the

app, pair the device

and away you go.

gotenna.com

TRAVEL IN

COMFORT AND

STYLE

80 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


DEPARTURES

New kid on the block

Lincoln Plaza London

THE LOWDOWN This addition to

Hilton’s Curio Collection opened for

business at the turn of the year in a

prime position in Canary Wharf.

There are 129 rooms across

seven categories, plus an Indian

restaurant, cocktail bar, fitness

room, 465m 2 of event space and

seven meeting rooms, plus, from

April, a pool, sauna and steam

room. The hotel is part of a new

30-storey residential development

on London’s Isle of Dogs, close to

South Quay DLR station and five

kilometres from City Airport. The

Curio Collection by Hilton is an

'upper upscale' portfolio of more

than 60 individual hotels.

that's a FACT The new Lincoln

Plaza development – of which the

hotel is one element – earned the

unfortunate title of ‘Worst new

Building’ in Building Design’s 2016

Carbuncle Cup competition.

However the organisers also

conceded that “architectural design

is… a matter of personal tastes” and

that “the scheme sold out, so clearly

the project is liked”.

they said it “The hotel echoes

the sleek architectural cues of

Canary Wharf, drawing inspiration

from the area’s rich industrial

heritage. In the lobby, guests are

welcomed by polished concrete

floors, a steel feature wall and steelframed

windows, allowing daylight

to flood into the space.”

room rates Rates start from

£103 per night.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

81


20-21 February 2019

Olympia, London

REVITALISE

BUSINESS

TRAVEL

Europe’s largest

specialised event

for business travel

professionals.

9,000

attendees

400+

hosted

buyers

3,500

pre-scheduled

hosted buyer

appointments

Countless

networking

opportunities

Register for free at www.businesstravelshow.com

Using code TBTM19

Untitled-1 1 20/11/2018 09:03


DEPARTURES

On business in... Cape Town

Sitting beneath Table

Mountain, the port city

of Cape Town is the

legislative capital of

South Africa. The

thriving city port was

developed by the

Dutch East India

Company and today is

still an economic

powerhouse, boasting

a varied economy.

Amazing

views

from Table

Mountain

Getting there

British Airways operates

direct flights from Gatwick to

Cape Town three times a week

and a daily service from London

Heathrow. Alternatively, South

African Airways operates daily

services from London Heathrow

via its hub in Johannesburg.

Further information

For details on meetings and

events and visiting Cape Town,

see goto.capetown/conventions

or email conventionbureau@

wesgro.co.za

SLEEPING

The Silo Hotel on the V&A

Waterfront has been open for just

over a year and offers five-star

luxury in a converted grain elevator.

Major brands are also represented

including Taj, Hilton and Westin. In

Camps Bay, The Bay Hotel is a

popular luxury option with sea views

and beach access.

EATING

Carnivores will like the Hussar Grill,

with the original branch in

Rondebosch. One of the best

seafood restaurants in Cape Town is

the Codfather, located in Camp’s

Bay. The Pot Luck Club offers

seasonal fine dining, and for fine

French bistro food visit La Tête.

the airport and South Africa drives

on the left. Avoid unauthorised taxis

or minibus ‘Quantum’ taxis which

can be risky for visitors to use.

Further out in the historical seaside

town of Hout Bay, Snoekies is the

place for great fish and chips.

MUST-SEE SIGHTS

If the weather is clear take the cable

AFTER HOURS

The popular V&A Waterfront

car to the top of Table Mountain –

or tackle the steep hike to the top.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

is filled with bars,

restaurants and shops.

Watering holes here

include Mitchell’s Ale House

and Ferrymans Tavern.

Drinks

on the

waterfront

is considered one of the best

gardens in the world and

wine fans should visit Groot

Constantia, the oldest vineyard

in the region. Further afield, drive

Beerhouse on Long Street stands

out with plenty of beers and is

to Simon’s Town, home to a large

colony of rare African penguins.

popular with locals. Victoria Road in

Camp’s Bay is home to hangouts

including Dizzy’s and Café Caprice.

GETTING DOWNTOwN

Transfers can be arranged to and

from the airport via reputable taxi

services. Alternatively, most major

car hire brands are represented at

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

83


DEPARTURES

Focus on... Latin America

Comprising 20 diverse

nations, Latin America

covers a vast area of

South and Central

America. Countries within

the region represent

some of the world’s

largest economies, writes

Benjamin coren

Latin America loves Great Britain.

In 2016, countries in the region

imported £12.5billion of UK goods

and services, with total trade both

ways hitting £22.1billion.

With its exit from the European

Union imminent, Britain needs to

adapt as a global trader and

rapidly-developing nations with

populations keen to consume are

key to the UK's future success.

And Latin America's young

population, diverse economy and

bountiful natural resources put it in

a strong position as a trading

partner. Speaking last year in Leeds

at the Northern Powerhouse and

Latin America Trade Corridor

Report, Minister for Investment

Graham Stuart MP said: “The IMF

is predicting that 90% of global

growth in the next 10 to 15 years

will come from outside the EU.”

He added that the Department for

International Trade is making the

region a high priority.

“UK export finance has doubled

government support for firms

looking to export into countries

across the region, including up to

£5billion for Mexico, £4.5billion for

Chile and £3billion for Brazil.”

Brazil is the seventh biggest

economy in the world with a GDP of

$2.3trillion and companies such as

Rolls Royce, Shell, BP and Experian

operating there. It is Latin America’s

largest economy and acts as a

gateway for businesses in

neighbouring countries. Top

exports from the UK to Brazil

include machinery, vehicles,

times zones: GMT -3hrs

in Argentina and Chile;

GMT -5hrs in Colombia and

Peru; GMT -2hrs in Brazil.

currency:

Argentine Peso: £1= $47.53

Brazil Real: £1= R4.75

Chilean Peso: £1= CLP865.99

Colombian Peso: £1= COP4048

Peru Sol: £1= PEN4.30

dialling codes: Argentina: +54;

Brazil: +55; Chile: +56;

Colombia: +57; Peru: +51

visas: UK passport holders do

not need a visa to visit Latin

American countries as a tourist.

Ensure passports have six

months validity on entry date

84 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


DEPARTURES

pharmaceuticals, electrical

appliances and chemical products.

Chile is the fifth-largest economy

in South America. Despite language

difference and a long travel time,

international business is on the rise

to this part of the world.

British Airways revealed in its On

Business programme data that its

route to Santiago (pictured) posted

yearly growth of 18% in 2018 from

SMEs. The figures were backed up

by James Ashton-Bell, CBI Head of

International Trade, who said: “2018

was a great year for UK exports,

with new records set for innovative

British goods and services reaching

overseas destinations. Small and

scale-up firms are powering this

drive, breaking into new markets

and discovering that demand for

British expertise is ever-growing.”

Chile also benefits from free trade

agreements with the majority of

goods from the UK entering the

country with zero tariffs.

In Peru and Colombia, the

Department for International

Trade names beverages, vehicles,

machinery and pharmaceuticals as

export opportunities.

Meanwhile, in Argentina top

exports from the UK include

plastics, chemicals, medical

equipment, professional and

scientific instruments, machinery

and mechanical appliances.

More businesses in the UK than

ever are seeking expansion

overseas and in Latin America

in particular.

“With exports now reaching

£626billion we look forward to

2019. Overseas trade will continue

to play a crucial part in economic

growth and my international

economic department will do all it

can to support UK businesses to

expand their operations overseas”,

says International Trade Secretary,

Dr Liam Fox MP.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

85


DEPARTURES

Factfile: Latin America

FLIGHTS

British Airways: Flies to

Santiago five times a week

from London Heathrow.

The carrier also operates direct

flights to Lima three times a

week between April and

October, and for the rest

of the year it operates a

one-stop service from

Heathrow. There are

additional daily services from

Heathrow to Rio, Sao Paulo and

Buenos Aires, as well as a five

times a week service to Mexico

City from London Heathrow.

There is also a three-timesweekly

service from Gatwick

to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Latam: Operates a daily

service to Sao Paulo from

London Heathrow.

Norwegian: Flies daily from

London Gatwick to Buenos

Aires and, from March 31, will

all also offer four weekly flights

to Rio de Janeiro.

Regular

services

with BA

South America including

Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima,

Sao Paulo. British Airways

partner Iberia flies to Buenos

Aires, Lima, Rio, Sao Paulo

and Bogota via Madrid.

Air France KLM flies to

various destinations in the

region via its Paris hub

and there are flights via US

hubs with United, Delta and

American Airlines.

american

options

abound

miraflores

laps up the

sun in Lima

Avianca: Operates a daily

service from London Heathrow

to Bogota, Colombia.

Aeromexico: Flies daily from

London Heathrow to Mexico

City. There is also a new

seasonal flight from the UK to

Belize via Mexico City offering

convenient same-day

connections for UK travellers.

One-stop options:

TAp operates routes to Rio and

Sao Paulo via its Lisbon hub.

Air Europa flies from Gatwick

via Madrid to 18 destinations in

HOTELS

Melia Hotels: Has a strong

presence in Latin America with

properties in Brazil, Argentina,

Colombia and Peru.

NH Hotels: The group is well

represented in these countries

with hotels located in the

country capitals and

additional hotels in Chile.

Accor Hotels: Has

amongst the largest

coverage in Latin America

with over 200 properties in

Brazil, and a solid presence in

Argentina, Chile, Colombia

and Peru.

Intercontinental Hotels

Group: Has properties in

Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo,

Santiago, Medellin and Caracas.

Marriott: Has an abundance

of hotels in the region with

most of its hotels in Colombia,

Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. It

also has locations in Central

America in Costa Rica, Panama

and Honduras.

Find the

colour of

La Boca

OFF DUTY

Bogota: Visit the city’s

cobblestoned centre, La

Candelaria, which features

colonial-era landmarks. Also

check out Plaza Bolivar and the

Gold Museum and art on

display at Museo Botero.

Buenos Aires: See the

city’s colourful houses at

La Boca. In the central

Plaza de Mayo visit the

cathedral and the

presidential palace or see the

tombs at Recoleta cemetery.

Lima: From Lima’s central

square visitors can see the

government palace, cathedral,

and the archbishop’s palace.

Discover Peru's history at the

Larco Museum and find the

ruins of Huaca Pullana. The

beaches of Miraflores are a

great place to escape.

Rio De Janeiro: Climb up

Corcovado Mountain for

stunning views and the iconic

Christ the Redeemer statue.

Take the cable car up Sugarloaf

Mountain or relax on

Copacabana beach.

Sao Paulo: Discover green

fields at Ibirapuera Park.

Paulista Avenue is the location

of numerous museums,

restaurants and bars. The

Museum of Art has a vast and

impressive collection.

Santiago: Climb San Cristobal

Hill for views of the city with a

backdrop of the Andes. The

central Plaza de Armas is filled

with statues and is a central

focal point of the city.

86 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com


New route Medellin

Fly on board our Boeing 787

Dreamliner for an unforgettable

flying experience.

Three weekly frequencies from

London Gatwick.

All flights are via Madrid.


DEPARTURES

Reality check

SERVICED APARTMENTS: CHEVAL THREE QUAYS, LONDON

THE PROPERTY

Cheval has eight

Bridge in one direction and HMS

locations in London but this is its

Belfast and the Shard in the other. And

flagship property. It has 159 units and

the novelty didn't wear off throughout

is well located in the City of London

my stay. The furnishings and facilities

and adjacent to the Tower of London,

were befitting of Three Quays' excellent

Tower Bridge and Tower Pier for

location, with this two-bedroom unit

riverboat services along the Thames.

featuring a large living, dining and

THE CHECK-IN

The lobby was more

kitchen area and three – yes three –

akin to a luxury hotel than a serviced

small balconies. The kitchen had a

apartment reception, with two murals

dishwasher, hobs, fridge-freezer,

depicting medieval life when the site

microwave, coffee machine, oven and

was once a working dock hanging

a welcome box of basic essentials.

above a water feature, plus stone

Elsewhere, there was a washing machine

mosaics on the floor and leather

and tumble dryer, a safe and spacious

seating populated by well-heeled

bathroom (and an additional ensuite

guests. I was soon checked in and

bathroom off the master bedroom).

overseas – it should be noted that this

enjoyed studying the fascinating black

THE FACILITIES

There's a 24-hour

property comfortably fulfils its 'luxury

and white photographs of historic

reception and concierge, fitness suite,

residence' billing with well-equipped

London that adorn corridor walls as I

headed to my apartment.

THE APARTMENT I'm not sure I've

witnessed such impressive views from

daily housekeeping and, at ground

level, several river and street-side

coffee shops and restaurants.

THE VERDICT While it's easy to dwell

IT'S EASY TO DWELL

ON THE STUPENDOUS

RIVER VIEWS

and tastefully decorated apartments

and good service too.

THE DETAILS 40 Lower Thames

Street, London, EC3R 6AG. One

any London accommodation before,

on the views that Three Quays' River

bedroom apartments start from £275

with the apartment's floor-to-ceiling

View apartments command – which

per night. There is no minimum stay.

windows offering magical twilight views

make this a top choice for those

See: chevalresidences.com

across the Tower of London and Tower

looking to wow executives visiting from

Andy Hoskins

SERVICED APARTMENTS: OAKS ON MARKET, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

THE PROPERTY

Oaks on Market is a

THE BUSINESS

On-site business

serviced apartment property located in

facilities include three function rooms

the heart of Melbourne CBD, close to

designed to provide flexible meeting

the iconic Flinders Street Station and

arrangements for 10-200 delegates in a

the useful tram network. The 4.5 star

range of configurations, with specially

tower block houses 280 studios, one

designed meetings menus when

and two-bedroom apartments.

required. Guests can use 30 minutes

THE CHECK-IN

First impressions are

of free wifi each day with longer access

welcoming. I am greeted by smiling

available at an extra cost – the concept

staff and check-in is quick and efficient.

of free wifi access as standard (typical

This means prompt access to the

in Europe and the US) still hasn’t

apartment, despite my early morning

reached Australia!

arrival – a great benefit after my long

THE FACILITIES

The reception

journey from the UK.

adjoins a contemporary public area

THE ROOM

My one-bedroom

which serves as a buzzing meeting

apartment was located on the 17th

point and social hub complete with

South Bank, many good restaurants

floor with floor-to-ceiling windows

contemporary furnishings. It adjoins an

and the city’s transport system, the

overlooking the Melbourne skyline.

informal restaurant. There is a small

property provides a fuss-free home-

Smart and minimalist in style, the

apartment was spacious with an open

plan living area with huge TV and table/

desk area, well-equipped kitchenette,

large bedroom and large ensuite. An

but well set up gym and lovely pool

and sauna. Room service is also

available, while the property offers

free newspapers, a laundry with 24hr

turnaround and undercover car park

A FUSS-FREE

HOME-FROM-HOME

WITH A RELAXED

VIBE

from-home with a relaxed vibe and

facilities well suited to combining

business and leisure.

THE DETAILS Oaks on Market, 60

Market Street Melbourne, Victoria.

‘opt to go green’ option (no room

as part of its offer.

Rooms start at around £100 per night.

cleaning) earns guests a A$5 a day

THE VERDICT

Conveniently located

Tel +61 038631111. oakshotels.com

credit in the restaurant.

for business and the attractions of the

Julie Baxter

88 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


DEPARTURES

FLIGHT: BRITISH AIRWAYS, WORLD TRAVELLER PLUS

THE FLIGHT

Flight BA015 from

per the menu but there was another

London Heathrow Terminal 5 to

chicken option, beef stroganoff or a

Singapore, departing on time at 9.45pm

Christmas dinner option. I went for the

on Christmas Day and operated by a

turkey. It was good – plenty of thick

B777. I was flying in British Airways’

slices of meat, roast potatoes, parsnips,

World Traveller Plus cabin.

plenty of gravy, a couple of sprouts and

PRE-BOARDING

While the chaos caused

chestnut stuffing, followed by mince pie

by drones at Gatwick pre-occupied the

and cream. The red cabbage salad and

media, Heathrow T5 was full of festive

cheese and biscuits completed the offer.

spirit, decorations and cheery staff.

Two hours prior to landing a full English

Check-in was quick and easy.

breakfast or omlette along with pastries

THE SERVICE

Crew were warm and

and juice was served.

welcoming and were all entering into the

THE SEAT

Seat 24E was an aisle

spirit of the day with reindeer antlers or

seat in a row of four with rows of two on

Santa hats and tinsel. Sparkling wine was

each window side. The seat recline was

offered promptly as a welcome, and

stiff and hard to operate but the recline

THE VERDICT

The premium economy

festive food choices were advised on a

was good and the leg space ample. I

seat was comfortable and my meal was

special menu card. Drinks and pretzels

was given an excellent noise-cancelling

good but the stand out feature was the

were served within the hour with

generous ‘well as it’s Christmas’ double

G&Ts and two mini wine bottles with

dinner. Dinner was served within two

hours with our ebullient stewardess

headset and there was a good selection

of inflight entertainment. The in-arm

tables mean the arm can’t be lifted

which made it hard for middle seat

passengers to get out. A small amenity

GREAT SERVICE

FROM A CREW

THAT WERE FULL OF

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

staff. Great service from a crew that

were upbeat and full of Christmas spirit.

THE DETAILS British Airways operates

two direct flights a day from London

Heathrow to Singapore. Return prices

admitting her trolley was a bit like

kit included socks, toothbrush and eye

start at £1,144 including all taxes. See:

Santa’s sack – full of surprises. There

mask. There was a good fleece blanket

britishairways.com

didn’t seem to be any chicken stir-fry as

and pillow provided.

Julie Baxter

APARTHOTEL: STAYBRIDGE SUITES LONDON - STRATFORD CITY

THE APARTHOTEL

This aparthotel is

THE FACILITIES

All guests can take

one half of a dual development from

advantage of the complimentary hot

Cycas Hospitality which sees it reside

and cold breakfast buffet, while evening

alongside a fellow IHG brand, a Holiday

social receptions for guests to meet

Inn, at Westfield Stratford City. The

and mingle and enjoy complimentary

Staybridge aparthotel has 162 studio

drinks and nibbles are held three times

and one-bedroom suites.

a week. There's also a fitness room,

THE CHECK-IN

The aparthotel was

laundry facilities, 24-hour reception

reasonably well signposted as I made

and a Pantry, Lounge, Den and roof

my way through the crowds of shoppers

terrace – with fine city views – which

to the elevators that whisk guests up

all appeared well used by guests as

to the reception floor. I was checked in

social and relaxation spaces. Guests

by a friendly member of staff – there's

can also make use of the neighbouring

an almost informal atmosphere about

Holiday Inn's restaurant, bar and

this aparthotel – after a short wait

meeting room facilities, and can also

behind a couple of overseas visitors.

order room service from the sister

equipped for longer stays, with the

THE SUITE

A kitchenette and small

property. Wifi access if free.

compact kitchens containing all that a

lounge area (with sofa, desk and TV)

THE VERDICT

Its location within

self-caterer needs, while there's a good

gave way to the bedroom and bathroom

– all tastefully decorated and enhanced

with mirrors, lamps and photographs

of London. The kitchenette was cleverly

Westfield Stratford City means it

welcomes plenty of shoppers, but its

strategic position between Stratford

and Stratford International stations

THE SUITES ARE

PERFECTLY EQUIPPED

FOR LONGER STAYS

range of facilities here too.

THE DETAILS 10b Chestnut Plaza,

Westfield Stratford City, Montfichet

Road, London, E20 1GL. Rooms start

laid out and contained a fridge, hob,

and proximity to Canary Wharf and

from £95 per night (plus VAT). Nightly

oven, dishwasher, coffee machine,

London City Airport appears to ensure

rates drop for stays of seven nights or

plenty of crockery and utensils, and a

there's a steady stream of business

more. See: staybridgesuites.com

couple of recipe cards.

guests too. The suites are perfectly

Andy Hoskins

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

89


DEPARTURES

The final word

Remember your WC graces

Don’t let it be said that

The Final Word isn’t

prepared to get its

hands dirty in search of cheap

gags. So here's a little story

about toilets.

Or, to be more precise, the

lavs aboard Virgin Trains. You

see, it appears the reason the

facilities are often closed is that

people are simply flushing

inappropriate items.

Keen to remind us that you

should restrict the pan to ‘the

three Ps’ – a euphemism that is

difficult to shake from your

mind, since it actually stands for

pee, poo and paper – we learn

that all sorts of rubbish has been

disposed of into Virgin’s toilets.

Since we are scraping the

bottom of the barrel (or should

that be bowl?), you are no doubt

keen to learn that baby wipes

are the top culprit when it

comes to blocking up pipes,

accounting for 90% of incidents.

In total, says Virgin Trains,

blockages cause 18,000 lost

toilet hours every year, and

cost more than £182,000 to fix.

More concerning is the list of

items also found to have been

caught up in and around the

U-bends of it pendolinos. Pity

the unfortunate customers who

lost a bra, a wedding ring and

glasses, but how a Manchester

United scarf came to be on the

list is understandable given the

team’s form under Jose.

GONE, BUT NOT

FORGOTTEN...

The annual Travelodge ‘items

left behind’ list is always fun.

But this year it appears some

business travellers have faced

a difficult conversation with

bosses over what’s been lost

1 A set of company accounts

(Aberdeen Central)

2 A Louis Vuitton 'man bag'

containing designs for a

new product launch

(Glasgow Central)

3 A Coutts cheque book

and Silk account card

(London Farringdon)

4 Tax returns for the year

(Inverness City Centre)

5 Business plan for a pop-up

shop (Portsmouth)

Meet, and all veg

Vegans, it seems, are

everywhere. And now

they are coming to a

hotel near you too.

Never ones to let a PR

opportunity slip, the Hilton

London Bankside has taken

an eco-friendly plunge with a

dedicated vegan suite. Yes,

this is really a thing!

To be fair, the property has

done it right, consulting

experts from the Vegan

Society to create a room that

is completely ethical yet still

swanky. Highlights include

pillows without feathers, faux

leather made of pineapple

fibres, plus menus and

toiletries that have never

been near an animal.

It is some time since British Airways could be

considered a bellweather for all that was right

about the UK. But at least you can rely on its

customers for a pretty accurate picture of what we

like as a nation. Research into onboard viewing

habits reveals that Blue Planet II was its most-

watched TV show at 36,000ft last year (who

doesn't love Sir David?), followed by Peppa Pig

and a documentary about Prince Harry

and Meghan. Meanwhile,

Red Sparrow

- starring

ever popular

Jennifer

Lawrence

– was perhaps

predictably

the top movie

90 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


Advertorial Feature

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New NDC Smart Offer effective 01 December 2018

The goal of Lufthansa Group airlines is to

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Travellers are used to individualised offers

from airlines own channels and New

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offers also available for sales partners and

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With the NDC Partner Program, Lufthansa

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A new NDC Smart Offer for Austrian Airlines,

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lowest fares on point to point routes* from

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As from this date, the Economy Light (LGT)

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• NDC Partner Program website for

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• Access to the attractive Lufthansa

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Disruptive

technology?

W h a te v e r

next.

Travel technology moves fast.

We keep ahead by embracing

the very latest developments.

So whether the future brings

disruptive new tech, new data

or new thinking, we’ll plug it

straight in and continue to

evolve, Bring it on.

Happy to help manage your business travel.

+44 (0)20 7650 3100 | fello.co.uk

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