NEWS 22.02.18

Amex GBT considers further acquisitions

Matthew Parsons

AMERICAN EXPRESS Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is not ruling out further acquisitions as it prepares to launch a new booking concept, designed to attract smaller corporate customers. The company announced its intention to acquire Hogg Robinson Group on February 9, with the two companies currently organising “transition teams”. The acquisition, subject to antitrust and other regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018. During a media briefing this week,

Jason Geall, Amex GBT’s vice-president/ regional general manager for northern Europe, said: “There is positive, organic growth in the UK market. We decided to invest in content, technology and people three years ago… we will continue to look at acquisitions. We are proactive in all three areas, so TMCs are very possible.” The company also unveiled a new concept called “Business Travel Made Simple”, which was officially launched at the Business Travel Show and Travel Technology Europe at London’s Olympia on Wednesday. Amex GBT’s solutions are being packaged up in a more streamlined

manner for those customers that do not have “complex requirements”. The move is a bid to position Amex GBT as more of a competitor to “local” TMCs. Kate Roe, head of marketing for

Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, said: “As a global TMC, we’ve got all these great products, but how can we package this up for those who don’t have complex requirements? For example, it’s for the office PA, if travel management isn’t their main job. This makes it simple – it’s in a box, ready to go.” She added new customers could be activated within “three to four


Inquiry into staff response

LILLIPUT LAND: Walt Disney World Resort’s new Toy Story Land will open on June 30. The 11-acre park, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, has been inspired by the Disney Pixar films. Guests will “feel like they have shrunk to the size of a toy”, as characters Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Slinky Dog, the Aliens, Green Army Men and others come to life in Andy’s backyard, featuring giant building blocks and game board pieces. Attractions will include a family-friendly Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster and Alien Swirling Saucers. Crayons, Rubik’s Cubes, Green Army Men and other toys and games will also feature.

08 22.02.2018

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE has launched an investigation into how its own staff behaved during a series of brawls on one of its ships. Security personnel and crew members onboard Carnival Legend attempted to break up a number of fights during a South Pacific voyage last week. Footage from the ship, bound for its homeport of Melbourne, showed large groups fighting with other passengers. Staff were called to break up several brawls over a number of days. One clip showed a man wearing a jacket with a “security” logo, and a crew member appear to kick a guest on the floor in one of the vessel’s public areas, as a uniformed woman attempts to stop the filming. A Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson

said: “The actions seen on the video by our security team are not in line with our Carnival values and policies. We are conducting a full investigation

Footage of one of the fights onboard

and will take appropriate corrective action as necessary.”

Nine members of the same family

were ordered to leave the ship, while another 14 relatives left voluntarily when the vessel made an unscheduled stop in Eden, New South Wales. All were taken ashore on a police launch. Carnival Cruise Line said its security team had responded “in several instances” to “extremely unruly behaviour” by the guests. The cruise line said it recognised the incident “may have prevented other guests from fully enjoying their cruise” and has offered all passengers a 25% credit against future bookings.

weeks” and that the package would “appeal to firms that had a local TMC”. It is also designed for companies with employees who travel around the world from one main country. “We give travel managers the tools

– physical and digital – that they can show to the leadership team, so they know what they’re signing up for. “How do you equip travel managers with the right tools to make it an ongoing success? We wanted to go a notch further down, and make it self- loading. We spent a long time talking to travel managers and buyers.” “Welcome pack” boxes were sent out last week to initial pilot customers, containing posters, templates and other marketing material that can be white-labelled, and Roe said existing clients had also been invited to join.

“Sometimes we come across as too big, complex, expensive and not nimble,” Roe added.

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