Thursday 19 December 2013


You must have read the recent brouhaha between Travelport and British Airways. It’s been all over the web. The companies are at loggerheads in negotiating a new partnership agreement. The latest move – from BA – was a threat to pull certain fares from Travelport’s GDS and stamp a surcharge on some short-haul tickets. Travelport reacted by calling British Airways “disruptive and unhelpful” and I believe the two are still in a stalemate. 

Now, on paper, it’s easy to assume the wrangling and wrestling is all about money. But I’m not so sure. I’ve been quietly wondering whether BA is testing the water ahead of the introduction of NDC in three to four years’ time. Is BA working out – based on its market position and power – how much muscle it can flex and deals it can leverage knowing what’s down the line?

Is this a sign of things to come from some airlines? It couldn’t be truer that, these days, content is certainly king and the GDSs must be worried about being pushed down the path of partial content. That’s not good for them, their customers or the corporate travel buyer. I’m just raising a glass of Christmas cheer in the hope they’ll work this one out, and the quicker the better.

This post was written by David Chapple, event director of Business Travel Show –

GUEST BLOG: Chasing status

I write this fresh from my North American Neo roadshow, where I met some great people and collaborated on some amazing ideas that could shape the future of T&E. But that's a different story... This story is about a personal experience - of the very impersonal kind - that has come to crystallise the modern problems facing travellers of all ages.

I was staring at my Priority AAcess boarding pass in Minneapolis airport bound for Chicago. 
"Ladies and gentlemen this is an announcement we have 155 mega premium platinum status travellers and so anyone in grades 1 through 5 will now need to check in their hand luggage. We do not have a valet so your bags will probably get crushed in the hold and you'll need to wait 45 minutes at baggage claim - even though you spent the whole week living out of a small bag to avoid this very situation... Have a nice day".

Luckily my good friend Phil was at hand to calm me down with those immortal words 'Man, we're going to have to get you status!'

So where else, other than travel, does 'priority' actually mean 'second last' and where else does chasing status affect so many?

The creation of seemingly endless grades of traveller means that Road warriors (and yes that includes Millenials) are being covertly downgraded in order to keep up the chase for this ever elusive ‘status’. Open booking is simply allowing this crazy parallel universe to spiral out of control. Without proactive policy controls how can we resist the urge to spend just a little bit more to get those points?

But most importantly how we make this situation better?

Well, Neo is a good start. Neo treats everyone with the ultimate CEO status, at least at the booking stage. You just tell Neo where you need to be and when, and then Neo does the rest, just as an executive assistant would.

What it could also do is provide status hungry road warriors with the ability to control their own destinies.

Imagine if corporates started setting trip level policy.

Neo could provide the door-to-door baseline cost for each trip (think reference fare in old school language), including automatically calculated 'on trip' expenses. As long as the business value meets that expected cost, the traveller gets the green light.

That green light could also be accompanied by a vPayment limit that is aligned with that trip budget, so there's no need for individually settled costs and the dreaded wait for cash reimbursement. The traveller can then work within their own budget and trade off flight status for hotel points, empowering travellers to be their own walking P&L and to drive both company and personal success.

Best of all - when they got back from their successful trip, they wouldn't need to complete an expense report at all...

Trust goes both ways and empowerment makes us grow.
Now get back to chasing status.
This post was written by Oliver Quayle, KDS senior vice president, products and partners. KDS is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show, 4-5 February 2014 on stand B920. Register now for free at

Tuesday 17 December 2013


We have been overwhelmed with the support the industry has shown to the Business Travel Show during our 20 year history and this year it seems to be even stronger than ever, so I wanted to say thank you to our partners. 

THANK YOU, to our headline sponsor Amadeus, conference sponsors Travelodge, Egencia, Amadeus and Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Omega - the official TMC for the show’s hosted buyer programme; CIPS - our procurement partner; GBTA and ITM - our association partners and GBTA Europe, Deplacement Pro, Smart Mobility Management, and Zakenreis who are all playing a key role in bringing more European buyers to the event. Star Alliance is sponsoring the International Media Lounge and BBT, Travel Daily, Executive PA and Supply Management are our key media partners.Gatwick Airport, Sabre, redspottedhanky, Concur, GTMC and London Chamber of Commerce are also valuable partners of the show.

I hope you'll also join us at the show in February - registration is open now at  

Thanks again

David Chapple. 

GUEST BLOG: Keeping standards high in the serviced apartment sector

As the years pass, the serviced apartment sector is becoming better understood in, and appreciated by, the travel industry and in the last couple of years in particular its popularity has soared among businesses and leisure travellers.

Susan Cully, managing director, Marlin Apartments

In Europe, London is the most mature serviced apartment market. However, with just 8,000 units in total, equating to 1.2 per thousand travellers (New York has 5.2) it is small in comparison globally. The good news is that demand is growing and new openings are more frequent. This is thanks in part to the Olympic Games, which led to a surge of building launches in 2012. The even better news is that expansion continued throughout 2013 and is not expected to dip any time soon. According to a recent report by Jones LangLasalle, further growth of 4 per cent is forecast by the end of 2015.

As the market matures, occupancy rates continue to rise and demand from bookers and travellers grows, it’s not surprising the sector has found itself under scrutiny to be accountable and transparent to its customers and in my opinion this can only be a good thing. As managing director of Marlin Apartments, I was very happy to be in the room when ASAP announced (at its recent AGM) that it will be launching a quality assurance programme early next year to provide a set of guidelines for the sector against which providers can benchmark themselves and ensure that standards for customers remain high.

I personally believe this is a really positive step forward for the serviced apartment sector in the UK and Ireland and, once established, will be a very valuable tool in securing even more confidence in this growing and much in demand industry.

This blog post was written by Susan Cully who is managing director of Marlin Apartments, London’s leading owner occupier of serviced apartments. Marlin Apartments is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show on stand B1400 and appointments can be made through For more information, please visit       

Thursday 12 December 2013

GUEST BLOG: HRG’s Three Cs : Consolidation, Compliance and Control

Challenges facings business today are numerous and well-documented. They include, but are not limited to, the impact of the global financial crisis, a demand for cost savings, corporate data security, traveller safety and satisfaction.

At the same time, at HRG, we see that businesses are growing in confidence and are looking to travel more – often to developing and emerging markets. As such, they are seeking to mitigate the risks while magnifying the rewards of business travel. HRG’s three Cs for implementing an effective, viable and successful travel programme are:
1 Consolidation:
First and foremost companies are looking to consolidate their travel programme with a single provider - this is essential for benchmarking and supplier negotiations, data management, tracking and controlling costs. The visibility of a company’s entire operation is crucial, especially as businesses become more connected and more mobile. The best results are achieved by addressing the entire spectrum of the traveller experience from booking right through to reimbursement.
2 Compliance:
Compliance has traditionally been about tightening travel polices – however this is another area where HRG is seeing significant change as a result of mobile technology and the unbundling of fares. Companies need to balance the desire to support travellers’ needs and preferences with the goals of the travel programme. A lack of compliance can lead to significant missed savings and an unsuccessful programme. It is important for businesses to look at improving traveller behaviour around the approval process, use of advance bookings and preferred suppliers, the hotel programme and the booking channel.
By consolidating their travel programme, businesses will see improved compliance, resulting in greater control and visibility over their travel related data. At the touch of a button, travel managers can see all of their travel related data in one place – making it significantly easier to fine-tune policies so that they better encourage traveller behaviour. At HRG we are seeing businesses increasingly working with us at a strategic level, calling on our expertise to initiate, shape and develop – rather than merely implement – best business travel policies.
 This post was written by Ian Windsor, Managing Director – Europe North, HRG, who are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show on 4-5 February 2014. For more information please visit and 

Tuesday 10 December 2013

GUEST BLOG: Making compliance beautiful

Business travel management aims to provide a delightful, productive, safe travel experience to employees while driving company best practices and policies, and controlling costs. Reconciling employee satisfaction and company requirements is not a new challenge, but it is becoming more relevant as travellers are inundated with new solutions and choices for planning their trips. Travellers can access these not only from their own computers but increasingly from their mobile devices as well.
Egencia and its sister company, Expedia, recently conducted a study on the Future of Travel. 

Polling showed that:
  • 75% of all interviewed use a mobile device for personal or business reasons,
  • 77% of business travellers use their smartphones or tablets to book travel or monitor travel itineraries. In the UK this figure rises to 79%.
Thousands of mobile travel apps are now available, and new ones are being launched every day. In this context, the winning business travel app for the future needs to both support company goals, and instantly appeal to end users in order to maximise adoption. Although features and functions may vary, there are two essential things that successful mobile business travel solutions will do:
  • Integrate with the entire TMC ecosystem
    As mobile booking expands, the app will promote the company’s preferred suppliers and policy, in a way that is consistent with its online and offline booking solutions. Centrally designed rules will be instantly reflected across channels. Data on trips booked from mobile will flow into the central reporting and monitoring solutions, providing Travel Managers and CFO’s with the insight they need to drive travel programmes and ensure that duty of care requirements are met.
  • Delight end-users
    UX and UI design is key, and the app will leverage the most recent insight on what makes consumer apps appealing and successful. It will provide useful, relevant and timely information, based on a deep understanding of the overall travel experience. It will be simple and alluring, acknowledging that the first visual impression heavily influences which app will be downloaded (starting from the app store catalogues) and ultimately adopted as the essential travel companion.
Today, over 80% of mobile apps are used only once after download and eventually deleted by users, because of design or functionality that fail to immediately meet their expectations. The winning business travel app will seamlessly integrate with the overall TMC solution to provide companies with the control they need, and offer the most engaging experience to end-users. Compliance can be and should be beautiful!

This blog post was written by Vinh Giang Vovan, Director of Product for Egencia Europe. With a consumer-grade interface, Egencia TripNavigator incorporates technology from the Expedia brand’s acquisition of Mobiata®, a creator of best-selling mobile travel apps, with a design that has been optimised for the more complex world of business travel.  The app provides travellers with step-by-step navigation, much like a GPS device offers driving directions, and features, among other things, access to Egencia’s robust global hotel inventory. For more insights, visit the Egencia website, or watch the Future of Travel video.

Egencia is exhibiting at The Business Travel Show - 4-5 February 2014, 

Thursday 5 December 2013

GUEST BLOG: Mobiles on flights: good or bad for business travel?

Have you noticed how, these days, we are glued to our phones 24/7? It’s like we are scared to be apart from them. Without them, we feel out of the loop - disconnected. Some people even suffer separation anxiety when they have to turn their phones off and, until very recently, that included on flights. But now Europe is relaxing rules about the use of electronics during flights, paving the way for devices to be used during take-off and landing. The good news is the increased productivity time it offers for business travellers, particularly on long haul flights. But is it good to sacrifice well-earned downtime? Will it have cost implications? And are travellers happy about this prospect?

Currently smartphones, tablets and other devices can be used only while a plane is airborne. But now the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published guidelines saying use of such devices should now be allowed during take-off and landing. It follows the US bringing in similar rules last month. The EASA stipulates that devices must be used in ‘airplane mode’, however, meaning passengers cannot use voice or text services due to the possibility of radio interference with flight equipment. The changes will apply to aircraft operated by European airlines and are likely to be introduced at the end of the month.

At RoamingExpert we are finding that businesses are using more and more mobile data and their costs concerned with roaming charges are spiralling. It is great that we have all this technology at our fingertips and a mobile workforce, which is efficient and productive, but with extended use of technology there is a cost implication to consider. Businesses that travel and their travel managers are continually looking at ways to streamline the travel process with new apps and processes being implemented. I would urge all companies that travel and their travel managers to look at the implications these changes have on their data and roaming costs because experience shows us that it is significant.

I’d be interested to know how business travellers, travel managers and small businesses feel about this change and I’d urge you to contact me @roamingexpert with the hashtag #bts14

This blog post was written by Mark Pattman, managing director of Business Travel Show exhibitor RoamingExpert – for more information, please visit and  

Monday 2 December 2013


The conference programme is SO close to being finalised and we have some fantastic names for 2014, including senior directors of four of the world’s leading TMCs - Carlson Wagonlit Travel, HRG, BCD Travel and Radius Travel - who are going to take part in a panel debate called ‘View From the Top – TMC Leaders Speak’.

The panel will feature TMC luminaries Doug Anderson, President & CEO, Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director, HRG; John Snyder, President and COO, BCD Travel and Shannon Hyland, President & CEO, Radius Travel. They will reveal their visions for the future of the industry and the future of TMCs; discuss the changing needs of their clients and the hottest topics facing the industry today, from NDC to travel management 2.0.

Don't miss this session - it's a rare opportunity to be able to hear their opinions and visions and to learn from their vast experience and knowledge. It takes place at 1015 on Wednesday 5 February. 

It's free to attend the conference sessions - just make sure you register for a visitor pass at You can also keep an eye on the conference programme on our website too.

Monday 25 November 2013

GUEST BLOG: Being prepared: the best form of protection for employees abroad

Events abroad such as the Algerian hostage crisis, the Kenyan shopping mall attacks and most recently Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have shocked us all. Alongside the human impact and devastation, these events serve as a reminder of the need to ensure plans are in place to protect the welfare of employees working overseas.

UK employers have a legal requirement to protect their employees due to Health and Safety legislation and, more recently, the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, but still many companies are falling short when it comes to implementing a robust Duty of Care strategy. On a moral level, it should be top of the agenda for all businesses, but it is also significant from a legal point of view; senior management is viewed as liable for any negligence in process, in respect of an organisation’s Duty of Care towards their employees.
Growing markets throughout the world present exciting business opportunities as well as increasing health and security risks, and forward-thinking organisations will consider and plan for all eventualities – no matter how extreme. Natural disasters, civil unrest, terrorist attacks; these are all events that can occur with little or no prior warning, whatever the country. No corner of the globe is free from risk. The recent Cyclone Cleopatra that ravaged the relatively ‘safe’ shores of Sardinia is a case in point.  
So how do employers equip their staff with the tools to protect themselves when faced with a crisis abroad?
Ensuring that they have real-time information and intelligence at their disposal, before and during their journeys, is a start. In this ever-connected world, there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the expertise available. Smartphone technology has transformed the travel risk management landscape. It gives employees instant access to up-to-the-minute data that will help them make informed choices about their movements and, if necessary, instantly request for the assistance of security personnel or medical teams.
Implementing a robust travel risk management strategy has the potential to save lives. That fact alone should encourage those in charge of protecting the welfare of employees, to consider using assistance and intelligence services. Of course, no strategy is capable of preventing disasters from occurring, but there’s no excuse for not allowing employees to be prepared if disaster does strike.
This blog post was written for the Business Travel Show blog by Tim Edwards at AXA Assistance UK. Tim is Business Development Manager for the Corporate Mobility and Travel Risk Management product that AXA Assistance offers. For more information:

Thursday 7 November 2013

GUEST BLOG: How smartphones are transforming the traveller’s behaviour

The year 2013 has been so far the most important year in the history of mobile phone sales as 50 per cent of handsets sold have been smartphones. Having constant internet access from a phone has changed consumers’ habits and it is the travel industry that has experienced this transformation most directly.

According to a recent study from BI Intelligence, there are several factors that are influencing customers’ behaviour, which should be taken into account by all tourism industry suppliers: 

  • 32 per cent of smartphone users make travel arrangements using their device, supporting the theory that, in the near future, the number of online sales made via mobile phones could exceed the sales made by traditional means.
  • Mobile devices have changed the overall travel experience of consumers. Starting with the moment they book a flight or hotel using the phone, tourists become fully immersed into the variety of networks, which allow them to share their travel experience sociallly, such as Instagram or Pinterest. Finally, they are able to publish their comments and ratings on review sites such as Tripadvisor or Holidaycheck.
  • All tourism suppliers are already preparing to meet this growing demand for online purchases through smartphones and consequently are developing specific applications for these devices. Thus, the large online travel agencies such as Booking, Expedia, Orbitz and HRS have designed their own mobile applications. There are also some recently created apps, which content is only available to smartphone operating systems such as Blink, Verylastroom or Hotel Tonight.
  • In relation to these newly created applications, the most successful ones are those that offer users the possibility of making last-minute hotel reservations. Some recent studies made by Orbitz and Expedia reveal that about 70 per cent of bookings that come through smartphones were made within 24hs prior to hotel arrival.

In conclusion, all statistics indicate that travel industry is experiencing tremendous changes due to new technologies appearing on the market. They are being frequently used by potential clients and therefore the industry should be aware of any changes in their costumers’ behaviour.

This blog post has been written by Elisenda Molina, e-commerce manager at Abba Hotels. For more information, please visit 

Tuesday 29 October 2013

GUEST BLOG: Failure rebranded as innovation?

You may have seen Amon Cohen’s recent interview with Dean Forbes in which Dean discussed Managed Travel 2.0 and went on to describe this concept as “failure dressed up as innovation”.

When the idea of Managed Travel 2.0 burst onto the scene it was a fresh approach to a long standing problem: how can we stop maverick travellers booking outside of process and prevent leakage from T&E programmes? Scott Gillespie led the charge promoting the travel innovations he'd like to see and in early 2013 KDS launched Flex T&E as a point of sale solution to this problem. At that time I said it would probably be an 80:20 solution with 20 per cent of corporates going down that route, however, the results have actually been more 95:5 and I believe this is because many people have taken their eyes off the real problem.
Initially we had thought that the emergence of ‘millennials’ onto the scene had driven the urgency to find a new type of solution, as these digital natives are far less forgiving of bad technology. However, the last year has shown us that this is not a generational thing - it's a ‘bad user experience’ thing!

People of all ages leave the corporate process when they can't find what they want. This may be because of poor content (the right content poorly displayed or the right content at the wrong price) or if they have to spend an unreasonable amount of time/effort using the tool (performance and usability).

Put another way - the whole leakage/maverick/millennial problem stems from a failure of tools and processes. When tools, policy and process are at odds with traveller experience, the result will inevitably be leakage and maverick behaviour. Tools and policy driven too aggressively by cost savings sometimes contradicted themselves (we've all flown a cheap flight but ended up spending more on ground transport or seen a cheaper flight than the one listed in our corporate tool) which further 'justifies' the maverick's stance.
Some providers jumped on this as an opportunity to 'not' address their core issue, which was a terrible user experience and lousy content. However, not even millions in marketing budgets can convince the industry that ‘open booking’ is anything more than a rebranding exercise (failure = innovation). Sceptics might even say it's an opportunistic way of bypassing both the TMC and GDS. At KDS we recognise the importance of the ecosystem and believe we all have a role to play both now and in the future.

Allowing people to effectively bypass process and tools using only an 'open booking' solution simply pushes the problem back to the user. They have to spend more time on many different sites for the search and book process. They then have to spend even longer manually entering this into expense systems - two steps backwards!

The simple answer to the problem is a great user experience with complete content. Sound familiar? It should do - because that's what we've attempted to solve with KDS NeoWe have found that Neo is delivering the right results by addressing the core issue and solving the root cause of the problem - fast and simple door-to-door bookings with the best choice of content. Users of all ages are responding to this in the way we hoped – by booking online with the right tool and embedded policy and process. Indeed both hotel attachment and user adoption are up in the customers who have deployed Neo so far.

There is still a place for 'open booking', specifically where there is no TMC in place or if the customer is not using truly innovative solutions like KDS Neo - but it remains on the peripheries rather than on centre stage.

This post was written by Oliver Quayle, KDS Senior VP Products and Partners. For further information on KDS please visit

Tuesday 22 October 2013


There’s no doubt the industry has seen a significant increase in awareness  – and understanding – of the serviced apartment model in recent years, but what more could operators be doing to make themselves appealing to business travellers and to capture its share of the accommodation budget?

Marlin Apartments
 According to this year’s Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report from The Apartment Service, demand for serviced apartments is outstripping supply in many territories. This is due, in part, to the greater adoption of serviced apartments in travel policies, but also to more apartment operators taking short-stay (less than one week) business away from hotels.

But the report also claims that the serviced apartment sector still has a very long way to go and that its shortfalls are, in fact, self-inflicted. How?
  • Varying terminology between territories (serviced apartment in the UK, corporate housing in the US, etc)
  • Varying consistency of the product 
  • Lack of synergy between the product and the GDS distribution channels used by TMCs
  • Lack of recognised ratings system
Dolphin Square

So what’s the answer? According to TAS, the key to driving an even greater understanding of serviced apartments is through greater standardisation and the introduction and adoption of an industry-wide code of conduct for operators.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before these steps are taken and the serviced apartment sector can take another well-deserved leap forward in being accepted by corporate travellers and managers.

This post was written by David Chapple, who is event director of the Business Travel Show, which takes place 4-5 February 2013. Buyers can visit the ASAP (Association of Serviced Apartment Providers) Pavilion at the show, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014. 

Friday 11 October 2013

GUEST BLOG: The shortest business class trip ever

I distinctly remember the first time I visited the Business Travel Show – it opened up a whole world I never knew about as a starter in the industry and I still have friends today that I met on that first visit at the exhibition’s old home in Angel, Islington. 

But it is the first time I decided to invest in exhibiting which I recall the most. As Sales & Marketing Director at Statesman Travel it was a difficult job to persuade the MD to invest in a space, stand, time and resources to get the most out of the show. But it was worth every penny as we showcased our services for the first time publicly to the market.  

I recall one client who was considering our services visited our booth and, to this day, I think the sight of us at the event added weight to our bid as a credible company. We won the account, of course. But it was when all the hard work was over that I experienced my most memorable BT Show experience. 

We had neglected to book any transportation for our booth post event, so I bribed a team from another airline booth to throw our stuff in the back and give us a lift across London.  We sat buckled up in the back of a truck in a set of brand new transatlantic business class seats for the five mile trip across the capital. Mission complete, at a competitive price too, and surely I must hold the record for the shortest business class trip ever?

This post was written by Paul Tilstone, SVP Global OperationsGlobal Business Travel Association.

Monday 7 October 2013


It’s been a while since we blogged about NDC – five months in fact – and, in that time, this most controversial of business travel issues has continued to dominate headlines. It also came up again and again at the GBTA Europe Conference last week. And it was there that I had an idea.

There has been a lot of negative comment about NDC, but I think it’s safe to say the industry agrees that the price transparency NDC provides is a positive thing for everyone: the airlines, the buyer and the traveller. By displaying everything from the basic fare, to the extras such as baggage fees, extra legroom costs and taxes, buyers and consumers can compare like for like for the first time when booking flights and airlines can compete fairly. 

And this made me wonder. Does NDC have the potential to help travel managers drive and increase compliance while also keeping their travellers happy? Can it be both a carrot and a stick?

For example, if all airlines displayed a de-ancillaried price on NDC, TMCs could then negotiate any ancillary costs directly, and the choice of those ancillaries – up to the value of, say, five per cent of the air fare – could be left up to the traveller. So the traveller could decide if they prefer extra leg room, priority boarding or lounge access, for example, and this element of choice would help to make them feel like they were valued and had some element of control, while, in fact, they were being gently coerced into complying with policy. And a compliant traveller is every travel manager’s Holy Grail, right?.

By David Chapple

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show, which takes place 4-5 February 2014 in London. Find out more at Comment on this blog below, or contact David on Twitter @btshowlondon

Monday 16 September 2013


Much has been written recently about the business of travel management and, specifically, how managing suppliers may not be the best way to manage costs. When it comes to managing a mature travel programme, for example, the likelihood is that savings from squeezing suppliers have already been maximised. Instead, managers are being urged to manage travellers, and this point was also highlighted in Egencia’s report on ‘The Real Cost of Business Travel’.

Egencia’s report nudges managers to look at the intangible and hidden costs of business travel as well as the more classic expenses such as air travel and accommodation. By managing travellers and providing them with the right tools to plan, book and track their travel, productivity and other hidden costs can be reduced and thereby saving companies ‘the real costs of business travel’. How do you manage travellers? Well, by getting them to comply, obviously, albeit ‘gently’ suggests Egencia. In fact, they give us a very useful four-pronged approach to increase compliance:

1              Communicate – explain to travellers what the company stands to gain by adopting a new policy

2              Educate – educate travellers of the benefits to them of adhering to your travel programme and give them recognition when they do

3              Compete – encourage inter-departmental competition

4              Offer (or reward) – offer travellers incentives for the winning department in addition to bragging rights

In summary, you may have maxed out your supplier savings but there are still significant savings to be had by managing and reducing your hidden costs – your productivity costs, for example – and intangible costs, such as traveller/employee satisfaction. Do this, and you can still see a big impact on the company bottom line.

This post was written by David Chapple, event director of the Business Travel Show. Egencia is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show, which takes place 4-5 February 2014 in London.


Tuesday 27 August 2013


Freelance journalist and editor of Public Sector Travel Betty Low wrote a great feature for Buying Business Travel recently called ‘The Art of Persuasion’.  She argued that it’s time for travel managers to start managing travellers rather than suppliers.

Why? Because it’s travellers who are responsible for racking up a multitude of hidden expenses and, by controlling those, you may end up making bigger cost savings than constantly trying to squeeze already-squeezed suppliers.

Hidden, or unmanaged, spend is also the subject of a recent report by BCD Travel, which revealed that it accounts for a massive 26% of all travel budgets, supporting Betty Low’s opinion that it is this that holds the key to cost savings.

The BCD report claims hidden spend can be broken down into three areas:
  •           Dining and entertaining – accounting for 16%
  •           Ground transportation – accounting for 6%
  •           Mobile – accounting for 4%

If we look at ground transportation first, it quickly becomes obvious how managing the traveller can make a massive difference. This area of hidden spend may account for just 6% now, but if taxi fares continue to rise as they have been over the last five years, it’s about to hijack an even larger share of the pot and become an even bigger problem.

Thanks to rising fuel prices, the cost of London black cabs, for example, have risen on average 18% in the last five years and by 42% over a four-mile journey. The fixed rate fare from Heathrow to London is now £65, up £10 from 2008. Buying Business Travel recently highlighted the world’s most expensive airport transfers. Travelling into Tokyo from Narita is close to £200. 

And faced with indisputable facts like this it’s hard to question the importance of traveller management and the only question to remain is how do we manage the traveller once they have left the office and are out of the travel manager’s reach?

According to the BCD Travel report, this can be partially tackled psychologically as many travellers choose options based on ‘the bandwagon effect’.

“Social norms are massively powerful because we ultimately seek the approval of others. In fact, travellers, like everyone else, are often quick to abandon their own best judgment if they feel out of step with others. Use this lever to steer travellers toward public transportation, by, for example, sending out an email: From: Travel Manager Subject: Get on the Bandwagon 80% of your co-workers have switched to using public transportation in New York City. When are you going to join them?”
And of course, increasingly the answer to traveller management is through mobile technology and the introduction of apps that are designed to encourage travellers to make cost-efficient and compliant choices once they arrive at a destination and not just during the booking process and before they leave.

Whichever method travel managers opt for, it’s clear that, if cost savings are ever to be maximised, then the end of rogue travellers must be nigh.

David Chapple is event director for the Business Travel Show.  

Wednesday 21 August 2013


Many business travellers believe that free hotel Wi-Fi is a divine right - traveller Dean Barrett blogs about it here. And many corporate travel managers would agree with them, investing valuable resources in negotiating free Wi-Fi during the RFP season, of which we are still in the midst.

But according to a Databank league table in Buying Business Travel magazine, it would be an understatement to say that all hotels are on their side. And what’s even more interesting is the huge discrepancies between countries throughout Europe when it comes to giving away the Holy Grail of business travel as part of the rack rate.

The following table shows the percentages of hotels offering free Wi-Fi in the best-served 20 countries in Europe. You’ll see that the UK comes in at a disappointing 14th place. Turkey, however, excels in its complimentary internet provision. The Mediterranean countries fare worst.
Why such discrepancies exist it’s hard to say. It could be telecoms costs, hotel rates or just the cultural norm. But what is useful about this league is the power it gives corporate travel managers when it comes to negotiating those add-ons during the RFP process. Such vital information about travel patterns can help them direct their resources more effectively when planning a global programme. This league shows, for example, that there is very little point demanding free Wi-Fi for travellers to Turkey, when nearly 85 per cent of hotels include it for free anyway. It may be wiser to ask, instead, for free parking, late checkout and early check in, free breakfast, gym passes or airport transfers? 

So is free hotel Wi-Fi the divine right of all business travellers? Well Turkey seems to think so. And with a little strategic strong-arming from travel managers across Europe, hopefully it won’t be too long before the rest of the continent follows suit.

David Chapple is event director for the Business Travel Show, which is the leading conference and exhibition in Europe for the corporate travel market. 

Tuesday 6 August 2013


On Buying Business Travel, freelance travel journalist Nick Easen has written a really interesting comment piece on 'bleisure travel', or 'bizcations' as they are also known. We have posted it here in full - you can also read it here

There’s business travel, and then there’s travel. Nick Easen reports on the trend that provides the overworked road warrior with the best of both worlds
YOU MAY OR MAY NOT like the concept – and probably don’t like the word – but ‘bleisure’ is here to stay.

Both word and concept are a blurring of ‘business’ and ‘leisure’ (some call it ‘bizcation’). In our time-pressed existences it is not unusual for work lives to summarily bleed into social ones, and vice versa – helped along by being constantly connected via smart devices. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see bleisure travel on the rise – though perhaps tempered by financial and policy constraints.

This is how it works: if you’re sent on a two-day business trip, you take time off at the end and tag on a few days of rest and relaxation. You might invite your partner to come along, too – if you’ve been booked in to a double room, why not make the most of it and pay extra only for the air fare, or for extending the hotel stay? Given the current state of the British economy, executives are being asked to do more and take less time off. This phase in the economic cycle could be ripe for bizcations.
Yet there is little research in this area, as it is neither business travel nor leisure. It’s hard to define, and there’s no formal sector in the UK. Some in the industry claim it is static or even declining, while others say it is in rude health. “Although expenditure was initially reined in during the downturn, we have seen year-on-year growth since 2010,” says Julian Munsey, head of strategic business development at Hillgate Travel. “Although demand is not great, where it’s permitted by the corporation we have seen a small increase in the number of extended stays.”
In the post-recession era, higher flight and holiday costs would imply that it makes sense to extend a business trip. “It’s a great way to minimise your personal short break budget,” says LeRoy Sheppard, UK sales director at Maritim Hotels. “This is about ensuring the effective use of your time and maximising your personal ROI [return on investment].”
A survey of 1,000 business travellers last year by Jurys Inn showed 35 per cent see an overnight business trip as a break from the office routine, with 19 per cent looking forward to exploring a new city – which implies taking time out to have a bizcation-type experience.
In the US, where the working population gets fewer holidays compared to the Brits – a week or two versus our four weeks – it’s not surprising that Americans are keen to tag on a few days holiday. For instance, 72 per cent of business travellers surveyed in the US said that they take extended executive trips that have a leisure component, according to an Orbitz trend report last year, which polled over 600 business travellers, and that 81 per cent planned to. In addition, 43 per cent had a significant other accompany them on a business trip.
MIXING IT UP Adding a few days at the end of a European city business trip is popular. In some cases executives will head off from their city of business to a more leisure-focused destination – for example, business in Frankfurt, then take time off in Wurzburg; a weekend in Salzburg after work in Vienna; Bruges after Brussels; or Cannes after Marseilles.
This is where frequent flyer and hotel point schemes come into their own. If a traveller’s company is aligned to a brand then the executive will do all that is possible to stay at, for example, a Hilton hotel or fly British Airways so they can get personal points. “Guests who have been staying for a long time or are regulars will generally be offered favourable rates,” says Joanna Fisher, marketing director at serviced apartment operator Ascott.
Points do mean prizes. Executives can easily fly significant others on air miles or have an extended hotel stay. “We also see people decide to have a bleisure break relatively near to the date of travel – it is not planned a long time in advance in many cases,” says Maritim’s Sheppard.
Bizcations are not positively encouraged as a formal policy. Years of ratcheting up compliance, talking up travel policies and scrutinising budgets means that there is little scope for a few sly days on a beach using a corporate credit card.
There are challenges for TMCs as they have to justify all arrangements within agreed guidelines and ensure all reservations are policy compliant. Few TMCs wanted to contribute to this article for that reason – the fact is there is little room for the bizcation in the vocabulary of managed travel these days. “This is an informal or discretionary thing that companies do not want written into formal policy,” explains Adam Knights, group sales director at ATPI.
For many buyers, business is business and they are keen to show that the leisure part of any stay is separate to the corporate trip, and funded separately, too. Larger corporations are also sensitive to the implications of being involved in bleisure. “The potential for a taxable benefit to be incurred, and for other staff to believe personal travel was being undertaken at the company’s expense, has made this an unnecessary challenge many want to avoid,” explains Paul Gardner, owner/director of Amity Travel. Amity is ranked 45th in Buying Business Travel’s annual 50 Leading TMCs, and lists leisure travel among its services offered.
“Things are different if they are travelling as part of an incentive reward for hitting a performance target,” adds De Vere Hotels commercial marketing director Calum Russell. “Also, rates can sometimes be higher for leisure stays as business trips are usually based on a bulk negotiated rates.”
However, there are occasions when extending a trip can be beneficial to the company.
For example, many economy class fares to the US have restrictions if booked at the last minute. “But by extending to Saturday night, the fare can often be reduced by 50 per cent – this far outweighs the additional hotel costs,” says Gardner.
There are also informal incentives. One travel buyer says: “There is sometimes the scenario where the company says: ‘We know you have worked extremely hard for the last week – why doesn’t your wife fly out at the end of your trip and we will pick up the hotel bill?’ But these situations are always discretionary.”
It’s certainly a difficult market to nail down – each customer’s needs are different and are in many ways opportunistic, based on how leisure time can be fitted around business meetings. “Bizcations are unique for each customer, so it can be a challenge to offer the right package,” explains Maritim’s Sheppard.
Many deals for partners and family are purchased at arm’s length to the corporate buying, so are beyond analysis. Yet some travel management companies have VIP services that cater for all the needs of their business clients, blurring business and leisure, whether it be chartering a yacht in Monaco or organising tickets to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while others have specific leisure departments that deal with this type of travel, albeit passed on from their business travel division.
For example, Travel without Boundaries is a programme created for Advantage TMCs to manage the holiday market for clients alongside corporate travel bookings. Advantage is a founder member of the Worldwide Independent Travel Network (WIN), a global travel agency partnership with more than 6,000 outlets around the world. WIN head of supplier relations Julie Janzen says: “We’ve negotiated leisure benefits for executives wanting to extend their stay across key cities and it is all bookable through the GDS on a unique rate code.”
Certainly, booking a bleisure break seamlessly alongside that conference in Munich or a client meeting in Hong Kong is symptomatic of the modern age, and Travel without Boundaries reflects this model.
If everything else is integrated in a road warrior’s life, from their smartphone and work diaries to their Skype chats with clients, it makes sense for their bizcation to be part of this arrangement, too.
As long as everyone’s aware that there’s a clear divide between work and pleasure in terms of who pays, who arranges it and how time is accounted for, then the committed business traveller should be able to take that well-earned break – and why not?
Adam Knights, group sales director for ATPI
What’s happening with bizcations?
Many companies rely on employees to be available 24/7, therefore there is a growing trend towards informal time in lieu, or family support. This often results in us being asked to change a hotel in, say, Dubai, to one of the beach properties for the weekend if a partner or family are joining.
Who takes them and when?
Increasingly, people are working around half-term holidays with the family, so that an executive can do a week overseas while the family fly in at the beginning or end. The key thing customers have in common is that they are all frequent travellers and tend to be older.
What challenges do you face? 
Some senior travellers ask our teams to book bleisure, but normally this goes through our separate leisure group. Clients don’t want agents distracted and business services to falter. However, there are always exceptions and, if the PA to the chief executive asks one of our agents to book extra flights for the family, we would normally do this. There are rarely compliance issues as a client’s personal card is used; however, we always take the lead from our client and discreetly check with our main contact whether this is acceptable.
A leading global consumer goods company senior manager
Do you see bizcations as a benefit? 
It is a huge benefit, but it is harder to take longer breaks because of work pressures these days. I’ve taken a bizcation a number of times, and it’s allowed me to visit the Taj Mahal and extend to a weekend safari in Kenya.
What kind of trips do you mix up?
It’s actually about grabbing opportunities and the destination – I’ve done a week-long training course in Budapest and had my partner join me on the Friday for a long weekend; similarly I’ve had my partner join an Indian business trip for a week extension.
Are you doing more of it now?
I want to try and spend as little time as possible in airports and in transit, so it makes sense to add a break on to an executive trip.
Are there compliance or other issues? 
It is critical to separate all costs of a personal nature. I think it’s also important to let line management know in advance any intention to add a personal side trip to a business trip. I tend to take these few days at the beginning of a trip so the company benefits as well – I get over the jetlag in my own time and am ready to perform 100 per cent.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission from Buying Business Travel. Thank you to Panacea Publishing for allowing us to share it. You can find the original - and a lot more fantastic business travel articles - here.