News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: March 2014

  1. TAS Alliance Arrival

    A UK based Distribution, Sales and Marketing platform for independent serviced apartments was launched last month in London.

    Described as the next stage in the evolution of the serviced apartment sector, the TAS Alliance is designed to bring together the best independently-owned and operated serviced apartments into a global network under a single representation, distribution, sales and marketing solution all powered by a common technology platform.

    Launched by Charlie McCrow, CEO of Roomspace and The Apartment Service, the TAS Alliance will be headed by Jo Layton.

    As the buying community becomes even more interested in delivering the serviced apartment option as part of their programmes, customers are at the same time demanding total connectivity. The TAS Alliance will give buyers access to a fully-connected supply chain to meet their serviced apartment and corporate housing needs globally.

    In order to include serviced apartments into their RFPs, corporates need consistent products and processes, total connectivity and MI to capture their expenditure. They also want to be able to negotiate global rates centrally as part of this process. At the other end of the supply chain serviced apartment operators have to implement every aspect of travel policy, from traveller tracking to centralised booking and problem resolution. The TAS Alliance will make this possible by delivering a secure and well managed 'plug & play' solution.

    Source: Servicedapartmentnews - full report

  2. China Opens New High-speed Rail Link

    The trip from China's southern boom town of Shenzhen to Xiamen, an important seaport in the eastern province of Fujian, used to take 15 hours by train. Now the newly-opened 320-mile high-speed route has cut the travel time to just 3 and a half hours, travelling through 71 tunnels and crosses 159 bridges.

    The first train leaves Shenzhen at 7:00 AM and the last one departs for Xiamen at 7:20 PM. And although the flight time is only a little more than an hour, factoring in the time needed to travel to and waiting at the airport - not to mention China's notorious air traffic delays because of the restricted airspace - means taking the high-speed train on this route might be more efficient than flying.

    Moreover, there are about six flights a day between Shenzhen and Xiamen, but nearly 30 scheduled train departures.

    The new line is connected to the larger high-speed rail network throughout China and has enabled travelers to shave the travel time between Shenzhen and Shanghai from 18 down to 12 hours, a savings of six hours.

    Source: BusinessTravelExecutive digital & South China Morning Post - read this and other stories posted online - here & here

  3. Potential hope for the Southwest(?)

    The bad news is that the Southwest of England now has no rail links to London, and this situation could last for months. At the end of March Flybe was also due to stop its three times daily air service between Newquay-Cornwall Airport and Gatwick, selling its slots to easyJet.

    There is a very simple solution to the problem - open up RAF Northolt, with its runway which is 50% longer than London City, under the emergency conditions for civil scheduled commercial services. The airport is already used by large executive jets and also the Royal Flight with its BAe 146 aircraft. Clearly it is safe and technically possible.

    What this would do is show the potential of the airport and focus on it as a remedy to the slot problem at Heathrow and more importantly replace the vanished air links to London from the regions. We are down to seven from 20 a decade back, all lost to continental hubs. Terminal Five to Northolt is less than 15 minutes, environmentally and time wise making much more sense than Gatwick.

    Flybe have spare aircraft. Other carriers might be interested in coming in too.

    We now have a wonderful opportunity to try a different approach to the London hub problem, which will help alleviate the current crisis, greatly assist the regions and save the government money (passengers will pay for use of Northolt).

    Operations could be into Northolt virtually instantly. The civil base is there and can be operated in conjunction with the military operations as at present and as happens at Belfast International and RAF Aldergrove.

    Worsening and more fickle weather looks like becoming a permanent feature, which means we must have alternative modes of transport to ensure resilient connectivity from the whole country, not just for London!

    It will give Sir Howard something to think about too. And the Treasury will find it very attractive. Perhaps a local MP can raise the question to the Prime Minister in Question Time.

    Source: BusinessTravelNews - full article from Malcolm Ginsberg's excellent weekly publication

  4. Airline consolidation hits corporates

    Airlines are cancelling corporate contracts as early as 90 days into a deal if the booking volumes that were promised aren't delivered, as a new report reveals the extent to which airline consolidation is affecting company travel programmes.

    The Corporate Travel in Consolidated Skies report shows that the number of airlines has declined dramatically in the last two decades and typical load factors have climbed from 70 per cent in the early 1990s to almost 85 per cent today, meaning less choice for travellers and fewer opportunities for corporates to strike discounted deals.

    The report by Egencia shows that airlines are being more selective about signing or maintaining preferred-carrier contracts and that if companies fail to deliver the load share they promised, airlines are axing the deal within as little as 90 days.

    To maximize air contract discounts, it will be increasingly important for corporate travel managers to make travellers aware of their preferred carriers and to ensure these air partners appear at the top of their booking displays.

    Research shows that over two-thirds of travellers book their flights from choices found on the first page of their booking tool and therefore advises companies to ensure their preferred airlines appear towards the top of search results.

    Source: TheBusinessTravelMagazine online - full report

  5. The Buying Business Travel Forum

    The next Buying Business Travel Forum, the successor to the Corporate Travel & Expense Forums that were originally organised by ourselves (MS-UK), will take place at the superb City Grange Hotel on Tuesday 8th April so clear your diary pages now. The overall theme this time is "Worldly-Wise: Facing Global Challenges" and will examine how UK PLC continues to look abroad for trade - as the economy recovers.

    Whether you run an international corporate travel programme Globally, on a Pan European basis or simply within the UK, this forum will share insights to help you adapt your programme to manage the many and varied international challenges you face, both strategically and on a daily basis.

    As usual the day will be split into four sessions, each featuring its own topic - the Agenda so far decided looks like this:-
    1. The 3 C's - Compliance, Communication, Culture
    2. Travel - The Risk Factor
    3. Technology: Moving Money
    4. and finally the Open Session: The Day's Key Takeaways

  6. Low-Cost transatlantic plans

    Ryanair will sell €10 flights to the US when it finally manages to get the long-haul aircraft needed, reports the Irish Independent.

    Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the budget airline has a business plan ready for launching transatlantic flights.

    The paper reported that he told the Irish Hotels Federation conference in Meath that Ryanair would offer €10 flights to the US and $10 flights from the US to Europe, though passengers would pay extra for everything from meals to baggage.

    'The flights would operate from 12-14 major European cities to 12-14 major US destinations and a full service would begin within six months of Ryanair getting the aircraft to do so,' said the report.

    'However it would be four to five years before this happened as currently the Gulf state airlines are buying up all available aircraft.'

    The Irish Mirror also reported his comments, saying he told the conference: 'Not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats.'

    Meanwhile, the Irish Independent report also noted that O'Leary praised the Irish government for scrapping the travel tax to Ireland from 1 April as the 'single biggest step to boosting tourism to Ireland since it came into power'.

    Ryanair would deliver an extra 1m passengers to Ireland as a result, creating an extra €300m in tax revenue to the government through increased tourism spending.

    Source: e-Tid - further information and links

  7. Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of a new mobile platform.

    The digital platform was developed in partnership with global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi, and is the latest phase in the award-winning Virgin Atlantic 'Web Futures' programme.

    The new mobile site delivers a unified experience across all digital platforms, allowing customers to find the content they need wherever they are.

    DigitasLBI's blended team of strategy, user experience, creative, content and technology experts partnered with Virgin Atlantic to deliver a best-in-class mobile experience which follows the same design language as the brand's award-winning desktop digital presence. All modules have been built using fluid techniques to ensure that they work across any future mobile platforms.

    Key features of the platform include a new Flight Status function which allows customers to search arrivals or departures by route or flight number on the go, a clean and easy to navigate new home page which gives customers everything they need in one place, and lots of inspiring content about destinations and other essential information such as airports and baggage.

    The launch is part of Virgin Atlantic and DigitasLBi's ongoing 'Web Futures' programme.

    The strategic partnership aims to develop VAAs digital presence, bringing the brand's concept of 'Everyday Pioneers' to life across a variety of digital channels, and helping to convert these experiences into customer acquisition and customer service.

    Source: BusinessTravelNews - full report

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