As many businesses continue to expand globally, reaching out to meet the new rising middle classes now with internet access, business travel can end up being a regular workout. Flying frequently limbers you up; you want to be simultaneously comfortable and effective, organise travel arrangements that suit your employer and yourself, fit to time and budget constraints, and make time for working when you find the space. Last week saw the Business Travel Conference event in London address current issues of buyers and arrangers of business travel and meetings.
We spoke to the intrepid headline sponsor, FCm Travel Solutions, who shone the spotlight back on business behaving in an eco-friendly manner and as an integral part of climate change solutions. FCm took the unprecedented step of offsetting the entire carbon footprint generated by delegates and exhibitors attending this year’s conference, making the event carbon-neutral for the first time. This was to highlight one of their new offerings for business travellers. For ethical investors it’s very important as PLC’s are legally required to report on their carbon emissions.
One of the topics discussed at the Business Travel Conference is how technology is creating a more seamless travel experience for the regular traveller. Priority Pass who offer airport lounge access, are on board having introduced a lounge finder app that has clocked up over one million downloads; it assists members in finding an airport lounge anytime by searching the database of over 700 lounges worldwide.
Technology is a big part of how FCm provide the kind of service that recently won them the Account Management Team of the Year accolade at the 2014 Business Travel People Awards. The People Awards’ panel of judges commented on FCm’s entry saying: “Data played an ever increasing role in the approach of the winners of this category. An innovative methodology to the presentation and use of data to drive behavioural change as well identifying areas for improvement across all areas of their client’s business travel programme was at the heart of a number of pro-active initiatives.”
FCm offer a mobile app which gives the user access to their entire itinerary, traffic warnings, flight status updates, and weather forecasts, but does not let you make bookings as that sits with a dedicated account manager who qualifies the best travel arrangements and deftly responds to any difficulties for you. Head of Sales at FCm, James Runnicles, is quick to point out that their travel programmes are not done on a ‘one size fits all’ approach; instead they provide tailored solutions focused on results. For example, clients that don’t have a huge hotel spend and can’t become part of a hotel program, can still get additional benefits with their Smart Stay app that lets you know which hotels are part of a hotel program grown by the FCm land product teams. The program gains you three additional benefits to your stay, such as room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, late check-out, free breakfast, or laundry services.
James discussed with us how they are empowering their clients with the FCm Portal, available 24/7, it provides a secure online location for all their company’s travel information. “Empowering our clients to have access to their own data, allowing clients to see all their company’s travel data while client services analyses it, makes recommendations and offers a monthly review ensures that while we embrace technology, we’re not an IT company, we’re a people company.”
So what’s the next big development in business travel? James suggests it’s to do with door to door bookings with one touch of a button. FCm are currently working with a partner company to develop this technology, and at the moment they’re still working through a few bugs. To be collected from your home in a car, assisted to your VIP airport lounge and then onto the plane, arrangements for transfers, check-in, upgrades, free meals and other benefits organised for you, you complete your business and are whisked back home in time to spend the weekend with the family.
A group recognised in 2013 by an independent panel of International Travel Insurance Journal readers as ‘delivering outstanding service and innovation’ is Columbus Direct Insurance. Greg Lawson, Head of Retail said, “Columbus Direct is thrilled to have won such a prestigious award, our second consecutive year which reflects our commitment to delivering an outstanding contribution to the global travel industry over the past two years.”
This commitment is shown it their business travel insurance which makes sure you can limit the inconvenience of disruptions and mitigate any negative impact on upon business. What happens if you fall ill and can’t make a meeting in Berlin? Your travel company can change your arrangements, but if you can’t change the date, Columbus can pay for additional travel and accommodation costs for a replacement employee to cover you. Columbus also offer protection for your portable office, your laptop and other business equipment, and cover you up to the age of 85. Sounds like the future of corporate travel can an entirely smooth journey.