December 21, 2010
American Express Global Business Travel President shares thoughts on 'The New Normal' and the Industry Rebounding
MARKHAM--American Express Global Business Travel has won through November 2010 more than $2.3 billion in new managed travel business1 with clients spanning from small and mid-sized companies to large market, multinational and global businesses worldwide. Transaction volumes are also on the rise and have seen double-digit growth globally. For client contracts up for re-signing, it was also reported that renewed client business accounted for $3.2 billion year-to-date.
New clients won by American Express Global Business Travel in 2010 include AMN Healthcare Inc. (U.S.), AXA Canada LTD (Canada), CareerBuilder LLC (U.S.), FIS (U.S.), Health Care Services Corp (U.S.), Logica (France), NCH Corporation (U.S.), NG (H.K.), Regus (EMEA), Societe Generale (H.K.), The University of Nottingham (UK), Triumph (H.K.).
Speaking to the state of the business at the recent VDR industry conference in Leipzig, Germany, Charles Petruccelli, President, Global Business Travel, American Express said, "Since the beginning of 2010, the industry has been seeing a rebound. We've seen our business travel transaction volumes increase double digits versus a depressed 2009, load factors and occupancy have improved substantially, and corporate travel spend has come back at varying levels around the world. This is good for our industry and good for the global economic recovery. As we know, business travel is linked to GDP and we've researched the link between business travel spend and company revenues. Business travel drives business growth and as a result should be on the radar like every investment watched as a C-level priority."
American Express Global Business Travel commissioned a study2 in 2009 that explored the link of business travel spending to a company's sales and profits. The survey confirmed that over the last 10 years for U.S. companies - which represent almost a third of all business travel spend worldwide - there has been a consistent link between travel growth and revenue growth across all industries. An increase of 1% in business travel corresponded to a 1.7% increase in sales, discounting inflation.
Nevertheless this recession fundamentally challenged traditional business paradigms, and as a result in 2010, American Express Global Business Travel focused on introducing new services and enhancing existing capabilities to further help clients manage and optimize their travel spend. Taking a more direct approach in encouraging traveller compliance, the company saw for example a 26% year-over-year increase in client enrolment of its automated Pre-Trip Auditor tool (PTA). New enhancements allows PTA to manage compliance beyond the travel reservation by providing a second, unique traveller notification, independent of travel out-of-policy message: Pre-Trip Auditor continues to lead the industry by also separately providing T&E instructions, information related to high-risk destinations, company incentives or programs, visa/passport information for international travel and even recommendations for using virtual meetings and using mobile applications while on trip.
With the proliferation of travel applications that serve consumer travellers, it became clear mobile servicing would quickly become the focus for business travel as well. American Express Global Business Travel has thus expanded its mobility offering solutions powered by proprietary technology which is now being used by clients in more than 56 markets worldwide.
"Mobility is a game changing paradigm, and while possibilities are immense and still emerging, the industry needs to adapt. Mobile has already impacted business travel through 24/7 connectivity; expectation for mobile access everywhere (airplane, trains, hotels, cars) and demand for sophisticated, relevant and intuitive mobile specific applications will soon become standard," said Petruccelli."
In addition to mobility, Petruccelli also commented that new categories of spend have emerged this year - notably meetings management and mid and small-sized companies which are seeking more business travel management support.
Petruccelli concluded, "The New Normal that follows this economic recession, is in fact here to stay. It goes beyond our industry and has accelerated profound changes, social changes, regulation changes, new economic powers have emerged and many business models across many industries are being reset. For us, a new way of operating will be the consequence - travellers, companies, industry players alike - for all of us today who use, own, operate and/or influence the entire travel value chain. As we see signs of recovery, we need to ensure that we emerge stronger and more relevant for the global and local economy, for our customers, for our employees, for our business partners."