Companies and corporate travellers are set to benefit from a new wave of innovation in the business travel sector.
Andrew Flannery, head of the Flight Centre Travel Group’s Australian corporate travel division, said customer offerings were rapidly evolving as travel management companies looked to add greater value to client interactions.
“The days of a travel consultant being solely relied upon to make and manage bookings for corporate travellers are long gone,” Mr Flannery said.
“Today, the offering is built around:
– State-of-the-art technology offerings, including time-saving online booking tools like FCM’s Mobile product
– Cutting-edge reporting and analytics, which ultimately helps customers save money
– Security, particularly traveller tracking; and
– Integrated expense management solutions.
“Of course, personal service from an expert travel manager remains a key part of our offering, but we are also looking to integrate technology, tools and innovations that are geared towards making life simpler for the traveller and his or her company.
“For example, we are about to introduce a multi-vendor, collaborative solution that will simplify the expense reconciliation process.
“In Australia, we are also enhancing our FCM technology suite. The suite, called FCM Connect, is a single gateway of technology solutions that connects travellers, bookers and program managers alike and is being launched in Sydney this week.
“In other parts of our business globally we are now proactively using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to enhance customer-consultant interactions.
“Products include SAM, an AI tool that has been deployed in our USA business, and Claire, which the company has invested in through its Brisbane-based business acceleration and investment unit, Little Argas.”
Through its network of specialist corporate travel brands, the Flight Centre Travel Group is Australia’s largest corporate travel management company.
The company’s brands include:
- The multi award-winning FCM Travel Solutions, which specialises in complex enterprise and multi-national travel management programs
- SME specialist Corporate Traveller
- Stage & Screen – a specialist in the entertainment, sporting, music and media sectors
- Campus Travel, which targets the academic sector; and cievents – a global strategic events management agency.
During the 2016 financial year, these brands turned over around $2.3billion in Australia.
Mr Flannery predicted that the next wave of innovation would see the Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate offerings become “channel agnostic”.
“We believe we can save customers time and, therefore, money by delivering new ways for travellers to transact,” he said. “They will, of course, still have the benefits of 24/7 access to personal travel managers and online booking tools, but they will also be able to tap into better mobile tools, apps and other new emerging channels, just as they are able to do when they book their leisure travel.
“And it’s not just geared towards large companies. We are proactively working with third party suppliers to develop lower cost offerings for lower frequency travellers. We also believe that corporate travellers will become more experiential during their business trips, as we have seen in the leisure travel sector.
“Customers don’t necessarily want to spend their business trips in meetings and in hotels – they often want to pack more into the visit. As a result, we are now working with companies like Airbnb to deliver new product choices to our diverse customer base.”