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SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZE ENTERPRISES


CLUBBING TOGETHER


them all the airlines we have negotiated rates with. You might book a £100 fare on BA but we would negotiate it to £80 and pass it on to you with a £10 fee – you pay £90 where you would have paid £100.” Steve Banks of Capita Travel and Events,


around half of whose clients spend less than £1 million on travel, says that often the trans- action fee barrier is jumped by showing small companies how they can get commissions back on hotel and rail transactions. Capita’s free of charge CTE Navigator


offers a predominantly online service with offline support and telephone account management as well as management in- formation and duty-of-care. Companies that require more sophisticated offline service are passed over to teams dedicated to SMEs.


WHAT DO SMEs WANT? A survey by TMC Egencia of its SME clients in December 2017 showed that “increased cost savings” was one of the three most im- portant areas for the year ahead. Of those, 60 per cent believed it was the most important. The other top two areas were both closely linked to efficiency, with “increased produc- tivity for the traveller” at 50 per cent, and “improved transparency on travel expenses” at 40 per cent. Savings are uppermost in SME minds


then? Perhaps not. “They say they want cost savings because they feel they should,” says Clarity’s Sarah Smith. “But if we can reduce the number of people booking last minute or show them a cheaper option first and ask them to give a reason if they take a more expensive flight, it might slowly start to change buyer behaviour.” Roe says SMEs are looking for “savings on


air and hotels, good choice in the market, a booking engine, an approval workflow and basic reporting”. She says: “That is the ABC of managed business travel so we have put all of that together and worked out a price based on a transaction model, with two different options depending on whether the company wants a heavy offline or an online model.” Amex GBT launched its Business Travel Made Simple proposition at the 2018 Busi-


54 BBT July/August 2018


SMEs ARE RECOGNISING that they do not necessarily need permanent office and meeting space, and are turning to flexible working spaces and business clubs.


The Clubhouse in London was founded in 2012 by Adam Blaskey and now has four locations across the capital: Mayfair, St James’s, Bank and Holborn. It offers members everything they need to run their business in central London without the costs typically associated with prime office locations: flexible meeting areas, hot desks, dedicated desks and a range of meeting rooms, boardrooms and presentation suites as well as the usual range of business services including couriers, printing and copying. The Clubhouse works with TMCs and hotel booking agencies such as American Express GBT, Banks Sadler and Grass Roots and has many SMEs who like the “space as a service” concept that it offers. Hudson Walker International is a small executive search business focusing on the luxury sector and uses three of the club’s locations. Co-founder


Pauline Hudson- Evans (pictured)


ness Travel Show to allow “someone with simple requirements to benefit from buying power, best practices and the savings we can offer large customers”, says Roe. “We don’t want to crush a small company with an im- plementation that takes ten months. They are looking for something off-the-shelf.” Roe says the company can offer SMEs


discounts of up to 35 per cent at some hotels, for example, but can also negotiate free breakfast, wifi or last-room availability. Capita, however, sees savings as an im-


portant offering. “SMEs also have access to a programme called Collection which


Events space at The Clubhouse in London’s Mayfair


The Clubhouse roof terrace, Bank, London


says: “We were in a leased office in Dover Street for 20 years but in a changing business landscape we no longer needed a dedicated space with all the associated costs and frustrations. I saw the benefits of on-demand office space: flexibility, freedom from having to deal with landlords, cleaners, utilities, etc. “These benefits, combined with much lower running costs, have improved our cash flow and mean that more of my time can now be spent focusing on our core business.”


comprises independent hotels with negoti- ated rates that tend to lend themselves well to the SME market,” says Steve Banks. “We have also negotiated fares with 40 airlines; if the company doesn’t have any volume to negotiate with, they can piggyback off us.” It is not just about savings. Capita’s


Traveller First service offers travellers dis- counts and other benefits irrespective of the SME’s spend. On Great Western Trains, for example, the company can offer free tea or coffee, or free car parking. “Assistance in the creation and effec- tive dissemination of an effective travel


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


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