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THE PARTICIPANTS The Debate


THE TMC Graeme Milne, general manager, Corporate Traveller Corporate Traveller has carved a niche for itself in the business travel market over the last two years by providing clients spending £50,000 to £2million per annum with a localised, high-touch personal service. We grew turnover in 2011 by 35 per cent to


reach £150million and we are on track to boost turnover by another 30 per cent by the end of our financial year in June. We have also increased staff by one third, making a total of 240 operating from 17 locations nationwide. Those figures tell me that we must be doing something right for the SME market. Indeed, I believe that clients with smaller travel spends have been getting a raw deal elsewhere, either with rival TMCs or by booking travel online. Few SMEs felt that they had a voice when it


came to business travel as their spending threshold was too low to qualify for air route deals or preferred hotel programmes. Hence Corporate Traveller’s business model has proved to be so successful. It’s about the personal touch. Expert, highly trained, consultants work in small teams of no more than six based in a location close to the client. All our clients have one local, dedicated account manager who looks after their travel requirements on a day-to- day basis by phone and email. The account manager really gets


to know the client, builds a rapport with them, and understands their travel needs. Most other TMCs do not give SME clients a dedicated point of contact as servicing is handled by a call centre. Our clients tell us that they switched to Corporate Traveller because they felt that their previous agent was a faceless entity who did not value their business and never tried to build a rapport with them. Our average customer travel spend is £120,000


per annum. Most conventional TMCs would find it difficult to prove value on a client of that size. They also try to push SME clients into using online booking tools, but clients with smaller spends are not necessarily suited to online options as they do not always fly point-to-point regularly on a particular route. We steer clear of online tools and concentrate


on offering a bespoke personal service. We have also focused on additional benefits that a client would not get from another TMC. For example, we provide all clients with MI reporting, no matter what their size of travel spend; round- the-clock emergency assist service; travel alerts and traveller tracking in times of crisis; and membership of our rewards scheme, CT Loyalty. We are definitely winning business by providing


a much-needed service to SMEs who felt insig- nificant and undervalued by their previous travel management company.


THE TMC BODY Michael Hare, chairman, GTMC Referring to a ‘raw deal’ for any sector within a TMCs’ client base is an ill-informed statement. In my 33 years experience in this industry, I know that nothing is that simple. Let’s look at the facts. Today the Guild of


Travel Management Companies enjoys a membership of more travel management companies than ever before and this is despite all the speculation of mass consolidation, mergers and closures. This simply did not happen even in the depths of the recession. Our members range from global companies


to owner managed businesses, with turnovers ranging from the billions to the low millions. The travel management companies have teams that can go from a handful of employees to many thousands, with branch networks ranging from one to many hundreds. Within this group there are specialist agencies


" Our average customer travel spend is £120,000 per annum. Most conventional TMCs would find it difficult to prove value on a client of that size"


and together each has their own differentiation, style, culture and value proposition. This provides their customers, regardless of size, a wide range of options in what is a highly competitive environment. In addition, most of our larger TMC members have specialist SME divisions within their organisations to ensure the travel management of companies with smaller travel requirements do not get ‘lost’ within their business and that they receive a personalised service, just like other clients. So what could be perceived as a ‘raw deal’ for the UK’s SMEs? Might it be the fares that travel


management companies make available to their clients? This is simply not the case. If a client’s spend or policy does not warrant or justify a specific volume-related rebate from a supplier then GTMC members have access to special fares, many of which are only available to this market sector and rarely available on web sites or other distribution channels. Many travel management companies offer


live support 24 hours a day, year-round, regardless of account size – an invaluable service in our 24-hour society and when disruption causes complexity to travel plans. Equally, account management, management information and business intelligence, coupled with duty of care advice, corporate social responsibility, various payment methods and endless product and service options, all create a bespoke package that suits every sector in the market and is available to all. Unlike so many other industries that have experienced so much consolidation, clients of travel management companies still enjoy choice, value and professionalism. And long may it continue!


AMANDA WORTHINGTON BUSINESS TRAVEL MANAGER, MAMAS & PAPAS


Amanda has over 20 years experience within the industry, gained in both independent and multiple travel agencies and within in-house travel departments. She joined Mamas and Papas in 2008 to set up and manage the in-house travel department. She appointed a TMC, set up booking processes, and launched the new department to the main stakeholders in order to raise its profile within the business. She wrote the travel policy and implemented it worldwide.


GRAEME MILNE GENERAL MANAGER, CORPORATE TRAVELLER


Graeme Milne has held key positions within Flight Centre Limited’s business travel divisions, Corporate Traveller and FCm Travel Solutions, for almost ten years. As sales director for Corporate Traveller he launched the specialist SME brand in 2010 and was promoted to general manager in 2011. Prior to that he was head of sales at FCm Travel Solutions for five years. His career in the travel industry also includes four years with South African Airways.


MICHAEL HARE CHAIRMAN, GTMC, AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PORTMAN TRAVEL


With over 32 years of experience in corporate travel, Michael Hare, chief executive officer of Portman Travel, was appointed Chairman of the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) in January 2010. In 2011 he joined the board of directors at RADIUS; the leading global travel management network that spans over 80 countries worldwide. Michael began his career at 16 and by 19 had started his own business travel company, which grew to be a Top 12 TMC before its sale to Portman Travel in 2008. He joined the Portman Travel board as COO responsible for operations and technology in 2008 and, in October 2009, was appointed CEO of Portman Travel.


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