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machine is the enduring stereotype of a business traveller. Yet despite the apparent ubiquitous


T


presence of cards in business travel, the economic slowdown has prompted even keener interest. Tom Edgerton, EVP global corporate


products, Diners Club International, says, “In the last couple of years the global economic situation has been a driver for the implementation of corporate card programmes – the more that companies have to worry about expenses, the more you need to control them.”


he vision of George Clooney in Up in the Air strutting through airports and hotels, waving a piece of plastic at man and


American Express’s vice president and


head of UK sales for global corporate payments, Alan Gilles, believes the current market conditions have rekindled interest in cards for another reason. He says, “Smaller companies are having difficulty in accessing funding from banks so credit has become a more important issue – they can use cards to create working capital. “Larger companies have easier access to capital and at lower rates. Working capital is now high on the agenda for every small company,” adds Gilles. Different companies seek different things


from cards but compliance to company policy and cost control is central to many companies’ objectives. As Tony Pilcher, now a consultant to the travel industry but


previously global head of travel at HSBC, says, “Controlling costs is essential and a strategic requirement to ensure the profitability and therefore the success of any company no matter what part of the world they operate in and no matter what size they are. A travel and expenses corporate card is a must-have tool to help a company achieve its objective.” The most commonly used cards for business travel are lodge and corporate cards (see panel p.78). But the decision as to which a company should have – or both – is affected by many factors from size and culture of the business to what the corporate wants to achieve. “Consultation is very important,” says Yael Klein, managing director of AirPlus


CARDS HOUSE OF


The current market conditions are driving more corporates to implement corporate


card programmes and benefit from greater control of expenses, says Betty Low


26 THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE


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