Thursday, 26 January 2017

GUEST BLOG: IN CONVERSATION WITH PAUL EAST, WINGS TRAVEL MANAGEMENT


What will be the top three priorities for business travel in 2017?
  • Safety: traveller security will remain a key focus for corporates as random, indiscriminate attacks seem to have become the latest terrorism tactic.
  • Cost control:  whilst some companies are experiencing growth, business confidence could fade quickly given the general air of economic and trade uncertainty concerning Brexit, US political changes, and other global factors.
  • Legislation: we are all waiting to hear if and when Article 50 will be triggered, and what it will mean for trade. Companies may need to keep a close eye on how new legislation will impact on their business


What effect has terrorism had on business travellers?
A recent business travel survey revealed 49% of travellers feel less safe on business trips than they did 12 months ago. 94% would opt for GPS tracking if travelling to a high-risk market. 

How can TMCs help companies fulfil their duty of care? Can technology help?
It’s important that your TMC takes a holistic approach to supporting clients with traveller safety, risk management and traveller tracking in times of emergency. It’s not just about providing travellers with a mobile app. It’s also about your TMC’s staff having the knowledge and expertise to make the best use of traveller tracking tools so that they provide accurate, timely and relevant support. Many of our clients are travelling to high risk destinations, so traveller safety is at the core of our operations. Our new GoSecure™ technology is a sophisticated risk and alert portal that allows Wings’ consultants to locate travellers and send high level, personal notifications to travellers and bookers – for example telling a traveller to stay in his or her hotel due to a terrorist threat outside. However it’s also important that all parties involved in traveller safety work closely together: TMC, client’s travel manager/buyer, the corporate’s insurance provider and security firm, so that we are all aligned in terms of the crisis management process.

What can make a difference in a crisis?
  • Work with a TMC that has wholly owned and managed global offices in key high risk markets, and doesn’t just have partnership agreements with local agents, to ensure you get consistency of service
  • Also check that your TMC operates off a single global technology platform in each market where you are sending your travellers. This means the TMC can access a client’s travel records instantly worldwide which is crucial for tracking and re-routing travellers


Can most corporates reduce their travel budget?
Absolutely. Around 60% of our clients are in the energy sector. When the price of oil fell dramatically last year, many of these clients were forced to reduce costs across-the-board, including travel and asked us to generate savings of as much as 20 per cent. We were able to identify, communicate and implement vital savings for them during this difficult time, by reviewing travel authorisation, setting up new airline deals, consolidating hotel spend and changing rail travel policy, all without comprising on traveller safety.

What do you think will be the big trend for 2017?
Rollercoasters!  We will see months where UK PLC shows positive numbers and growth followed by months where business confidence will diminish and the economy could stall.

Wings Travel Management (www.wings.travel) will be demonstrating GoSecure, its new risk management portal, on stand B144 at the Business Travel Show. You can hear more from Paul East on the conference panel discussing how to build a crisis management plan.
Register for a free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com

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