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SME SECTOR


by many bigger companies. This is because SME business interests and ties are diverse. “Fundamentally, business travel is one of the greatest enablers to growth whether it’s travelling to Buenos Aires, or from Middlesbrough to Carlisle,” says Steve Rogers, vice-president of sales, UK SMB at SAP Concur. “In a post-Brexit Britain, travel is going to be fundamental to creating new partnerships in new regions.” Earlier this year, British Airways revealed its fastest-growing business travel routes for this segment included non-traditional destinations across South America, Africa and Europe. Destinations Chile, Iceland, Poland and Nigeria topped the list. “SMEs tend to be the first


entrants and specialists into a new sector or market and therefore


travel is vital. We’re seeing an increase in demand for trips, specifically beyond Europe, and this indicates that customers are already looking to the future,” explains Neil Armorgie, global product director at Advantage Travel Partnership and chief executive of Win Global Travel Network. Start-ups and millennial-driven companies are also beginning to think about whether there are better ways to manage business travel and expenses. “We find companies that are searching for solutions that don’t follow the typical TMC norm. It’s why so many travel tech start-ups have raised such large figures in investment, including Lolo Travel, TripActions and ourselves at TapTrip. There’s still a significant market that needs problem- solving,” explains TapTrip’s Ruth. ■ Guest columnist Steve Byrne champions the SME sector, p93


WHAT’S NEW IN THE SME SPACE?


■ Millennium Hotels is focusing on smaller businesses with the revamp of its loyalty programme. This involves a new corporate booking tool. It has reporting functionality and allows members to earn rewards and book team travel. This comes after Inter- Continental Hotel Group and Hyatt launched programmes specifically to target SMEs in mid to late 2018, offer- ing data, content and “best rates”.


■ Earlier this year Qatar Airways launched a rewards programme, too, aimed at the SME sector. It allows smaller corporate bookers to earn so-called Qrewards, which accrue to the company and can be spent on flights and other perks.


■ Oman Air is looking to focus on the SME market in the UK with the appointment of Darren McCormick,


a former head of aviation at Travel Counsellors, to the new position of corporate account manager.


■ Amber Road has launched mobile app TRAQ, which allows bookers to drill down to the best available prices. It also offers travel compensation via Railguard, a Disrupt Award finalist at this year’s Business Travel Show.


The Bailey’s Hotel London, a Millennium hotel 62 JULY/AUGUST 2019


■ Air France KLM has relaunched its corporate loyalty programme, Bluebiz. It is used by Air France, KLM and airline partners Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, China Eastern, China South- ern and Kenya Airways. Members earn more blue credits the higher the value of their ticket, with ancillaries, such as seats and luggage, available to purchase online.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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