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WORDS MOLLY DYSON


BBT HOTLIST 2019


INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS


BREXIT SINCE THE UK PUBLIC VOTED in favour of leaving the European Union in June 2016, the travel industry has cried out for clarity as to how the move will affect businesses sending employees to EU countries. As of the end of 2018, the answer was not as clear as they’d hoped. Travel buyers, in particular, felt the pressure mounting on their own roles; a survey conducted for the upcoming Business Travel Show revealed Brexit had topped the list of the biggest challenges buyers expect to face in 2019, knocking cost-cutting from the number one slot for the first time in four years. Respondents even went as far as to say it would remain an obstacle until at least 2022 – well


beyond the proposed end of the transition period in December 2020. At time of publication, the only thing that’s clear is that nothing is clear and may not be for some time.


CHRIS GRAYLING, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT YES, CHRIS GRAYLING APPEARED on the Hotlist in 2017 and 2018, but we believe the simple fact he’s still in charge of the UK’s transport decisions is impressive given the rocky year that was 2018. He could’ve handled the chaos that resulted from the rail timetable changes better (such as not putting his hands up and claiming it wasn’t his job to run the railways), but his choice to crack down on operators in the form of a massive inquiry is commendable. He has even gone one step further by saying he could strip the companies of their franchises as punishment for the severe disruption seen by passengers across the country. And lest we forget his part in pushing through other major infrastructure projects –


Heathrow’s third runway, HS2 is still on the radar, and regional airports are looking at ways to maximise their capacity in the coming years. All of these plans could improve transport in a post-Brexit UK.


NEW DISTRIBUTION CAPABILITY (NDC) IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME coming, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction for IATA’s NDC standard. Last year’s headlines told of companies across the industry becoming certified by IATA, as well as the first NDC booking made via a GDS thanks to the work of Travelport. Amadeus has its NDC-X programme headed up by vice-president Gianni Pisanello, while


Sabre’s Beyond NDC initiative comes under the guidance of Kathy Morgan, vice-president of NDC. Both have added partners, including Carlson Wagonlit Travel, American Airlines and others, with the aim of testing solutions to eventually roll out the technology to scale. Sabre made another move with the acquisition of Farelogix, a start-up pioneering in the field of NDC. With airlines and TMCs starting to actively engage travel buyers in the development of NDC,


it will be interesting to see what happens in the lead-up to 2020 – the year IATA said it wants at least 20 airlines to have 20 per cent of their indirect bookings to be made using NDC.


HRS HRS HAD A FANTASTIC 2018, winning huge contracts with Siemens, the Crown Commercial Service and Airbus, to name a few. The news of such major clients made the rest of the industry sit up, as it showed that even large businesses are seeing value in outsourcing their hotel programmes. When asked to explain why HRS had been so successful in recent months, CEO Tobias Ragge said the simple answer was that companies were facing an increasing challenge in preventing leakage, as the vast majority of properties were not available via the GDSs and, therefore, travellers were booking elsewhere. HRS is attempting to bridge the gap, helping independent hotels reach big-name clients that might otherwise never book with them. It’s also doing a lot of work to digitise the accommodation industry. In fact, a stipulation of the Airbus contract is that hotels must accept virtual payment in order to be included in its programme. If Ragge is right, we are at the beginning of a new era for the hotel world.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


2019


JANUARY/FEBRUARY


75


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