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SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZE ENTERPRISES


policy is often of interest to SMEs as are ancillary services, such as VAT reclaim and staff welfare benefits, including access to our leisure travel service expertise,” says Norad’s Bob Govan.


What many SMEs are looking for from


TMCs is 24-hour support, meaning that the PA/travel booker no longer has to be constantly available and at the beck and call of the company’s travellers.


“Quite often, an SME won’t have a policy so we take responsibility designing that with them”


“Quite often, an SME won’t have a policy


so we take responsibility designing that with them,” points out Corporate Traveller’s Andy Hegley.


“Our 24-hour service comes into play in


the level of support we give to the traveller,” says Capita’s Banks. “It is there to ensure the traveller doesn’t feel isolated. ”


Clarity’s Sarah Smith says 24/7 service is


one of the big three requirements of SMEs, along with data and cost savings. Hegley agrees: “If someone is stuck overseas at two in the morning, we can change things for them very quickly on the phone. Giving smaller businesses peace of mind is very valuable to them,” he says. Roe adds: “If there is anything we can


learn from the small business market it is, keep it simple. Business travel can get complicated, so we need to simplify it to be successful in that segment of the market.”


Gauging the gig economy


A RECENT REPORT for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy estimated that 4.4 per cent of the UK population – some 2.8 million people – had worked in the so- called “gig economy” in the last 12 months. It defined the gig economy as “involving the exchange of labour for money between individuals or companies via digital platforms that actively facilitate matching between providers and customers, on a short-term and payment-by-task basis”.


The gig economy is perhaps best characterised by companies such as Uber and Deliveroo whose drivers are paid for each job they do and are flexible about when they work, although on the understanding that they get no employee safety net that a traditional company would provide. Most of the companies in the gig economy are involved in “last- mile” operations, delivering food from restaurants or parcels from businesses, within local areas. While the majority of these workers will never travel on business,


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


collectively they may represent an opportunity for TMCs as their rights become more recognised and their “employee” status enhanced. Uber, for example, has more than 40,000 drivers in the UK. In May it announced it would provide a range of insurance coverage for its European drivers, including sickness, following its defeat last November at an Employment Appeal Tribunal, which found drivers are not self-employed. Jill Palmer, chief executive,


Click Travel, says because these types of organisations are “forward-thinking companies that use cutting- edge technology to disrupt the status quo”, they would be more likely to embrace “app-driven applications that offer an innovative, ultra-efficient, cost-saving solution”. Palmer adds that Click’s own “travel.cloud” tool is designed for the individual business user: “It sits neatly within the gig economy bracket,” she says.


BBT July/August 2018 57


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