In For The Long HaulIt may be stating the obvious but as an island nation we cannot rely on domestic growth alone, which is why businesses continue to look to emerging markets around the globe as intrinsic to their development.

Of course I’m writing this ahead of the outcome of the EU referendum but whichever way the vote falls, the UK will seek to ensure its economic sustainability within a global economy which will involve increased business travel and, significantly, will require travelling to destinations that demand long haul flights.

To many financial directors the answer to balancing a budget in the face of increased long haul is simply to downgrade the travel and accommodation comfort afforded to their employees. However, this usually results in poorer performance in meetings and pitches that in the long run means the company loses out.

It therefore follows that the answer is simply to source the best value on cost. In almost every case when it’s down to a lone company employee to achieve this, whether it’s the person who’s doing the travelling or an overstretched office coordinator, they will never be able to compete with the rate that a travel management company can get.

I know that due to my work as Chair of the technology panel for Focus Partnership, a consortium of almost 70 TMCs across the UK, and because I created and developed FareFinder. It’s a programme that was awarded Amadeus Business Innovation 2015 and in the interests of protecting the small to medium sized TMC industry, I’ve shared with my peers.

FareFinder came out of the work that we have always been obliged to do when searching for best rate travel and involves remembering a vast number of codes to include. At one time it might have taken an agent over 30 minutes to go through all the data to find the right match. It wasn’t a sustainable situation in a competitive business.

It’s a system that has achieved savings opportunities totalling £2,363,537.72 over eight months within the Focus membership. It also has the added advantage of automatically inputting all the required data in about 15 seconds. Not surprisingly FareFinder is keenly sought by non-member TMCs as well. In addition, I have formed a partnership with TMCs around the world to give us access to lower rates that might be quoted to agents abroad.

So yes, that makes it difficult for a layman to compete. However, even if a company isn’t committing to long haul travel it is wise to develop a travel and entertainment policy. Not least this will help an accounts team with billing and expenses receipts.

Some companies have asked us to help them set up bespoke travel websites as part of that policy and certainly that can help to coordinate travel, and often the simplest systems are the easiest to ensure 100% buy-in by all personnel.

We’ve found that self-booking tools are well used by companies who have simple travel needs, for example they may have employees who only need to fly twice a month from Heathrow to Manchester or make a one-off trip for an event in Tokyo.

It has to be said that cities such as Tokyo are more frequently on the agenda, popular as a conference or event destination, however, it’s not unusual for a business traveller to add additional stops on to his Tokyo trip – as a cost saving measure.

That might involve a meeting and stopover in Hong Kong, an event in Tokyo followed by meetings in Singapore and Bangkok. At that point many business travellers find their itineraries too complicated to cope with on self booking tools.

Even with all the tools there to activate the required bookings on a bespoke website, people find their most economical option, with regard to time and money, is to contact an experienced TMC with contacts and knowledge in all the relevant destinations.

The future does include long haul business travel so take a tip from someone who knows, invest in experience to keep your business ahead of the game with teams that are at their best no matter what corner of the globe you send them to.

Global Travel Management
Kingsway House, 123-125 Goldsworth Road, Woking,
Surrey GU21 6LR T: 01483 747321

Click here to read the complete article in the Sussex magazine

Click here to read the complete article in the Surrey magazine