The Business Travel Magazine Dec/Jan 2019/20

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ARRIVALS

EVENT REPORT

Advantage’s 2019

Business Travel Symposium

Gillian Upton reports from the 4th

Advantage Business Travel Symposium

in November, where delegates debated

the future of the industry

The Game Changers-themed symposium

brought together a clutch of straight-talking

buyers who shared strident views on how

TMCs could do better.

Travel managers shared best practice in The

Buyer Bootcamp part one: Changing Games.

Sandra Dvorak of Refinitiv advised TMCs to

spend the first six months after implementation

assessing what type of organisation the

new client is. “Find out what their values are,

where the decision-making sits, what the

strategy is and whether it’s been effective and

understand the main suppliers,” she said.

Duncan Edwards of Inchcape stressed that

understanding the culture of a company was

critical to the success of a programme. “We

see TMCs as out outsourced experts. They

know what good looks like,” he said.

A larger group of buyers answered

questions at each table in The Buyer

Bootcamp part two: The Human Game.

Favourite among them was ‘What makes a

good account manager?’, and conversely,

major failings. Inchcape’s Edwards summed

up the latter: “To not actively listen and

attempt to move ahead on their own agenda,”

and voiced his opinion on the most transformative

thing that an account manager can

do. ”To understand the context in which the

client is operating in, and the challenges faced,

and in turn identify the right solution and

importantly the steps required to be taken.”

A plea from Nikki Rogan of Synamedia was

for TMCs to be honest when they can’t deliver.

Buyers were in unison about rarely getting

asked how a TMC can identify the key

stakeholders and having to drive the agenda

and spoon feed the TMC, a major turn-off for

many. A lack of senior people in the account

manager role is at the root of it, they believe.

Johnny Thorsen (pictured), VP of MEZI,

added a more positive note, predicting that

smaller TMCs can beat their larger

counterparts on speed if they become travel

programme architects, partner with relevant

start-ups, become knowledge brokers,

eliminate manual repetitive work processes

and focus on high-value services.

GREEN IS THE COLOUR

“Sustainability used to be

‘nice to have’; now it’s

mandatory and I’m working

on it but it’s about money”

Nikki Rogan, Synamedia

THE ORACLE HAS SPOKEN

THE LAST WORD HAS TO GO TO

KEN MCLEOD, DIRECTOR

INDUSTRY AFFAIRS AT

ADVANTAGE, WHEN HE SAID ON

CAMERA: “DON’T GO INTO

TRAVEL – OPEN A COFFEE SHOP!”

STAKING OUT THE

STAKEHOLDERS

“Who shapes the travel

policy? It’s not just one

person or one department.

The answer will

explain how many

stakeholders

there are”

Ana Gibson, Hilti

14 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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