Event re­port: Ad­van­tage Con­fer­ence

The Business Travel Magazine - - Arrivals Contents -

The travel con­sor­tium's an­nual con­fer­ence took place in Mi­ami last month. Andy Hoskins re­ports

Con­sol­i­da­tion, re­la­tion­ships and tech­nol­ogy were among the key themes con­sid­ered at the Ad­van­tage Con­fer­ence, where the con­sor­tium’s man­age­ment also an­nounced sig­nif­i­cant growth in busi­ness travel sales.

In the open­ing ses­sion of the event, held at the Na­tional Do­ral Ho­tel in Mi­ami, Florida, Ad­van­tage Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Julia Lo Bue-said high­lighted in­creas­ing con­sol­i­da­tion among sup­pli­ers and TMCS.

“Con­sol­i­da­tion will cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for smaller TMCS,” she said, re­fer­ring to Amer­i­can Ex­press GBT’S up­com­ing takeover of HRG – two of the world’s largest TMCS. Many are fore­cast­ing fall­out from the merger and, with the po­ten­tial for job losses, a wealth of talent avail­able to re­cruit.

“We’ve also seen ac­qui­si­tions at the small to medium level and many TMCS mak­ing the en­quiries are Ad­van­tage mem­bers,” she said.

Neil Ar­morgie, Global Prod­uct Di­rec­tor for Ad­van­tage, used a series of Star Wars metaphors to de­scribe the progress of WIN (the World­wide In­de­pen­dent Travel Network), con­clud­ing that the com­bined Amex GBT and HRG op­er­a­tion will be­come “the new Death Star”.

Ron Dileo, founder and CEO of con­sul­tancy In the Black, named sev­eral ar­eas he ex­pects to evolve in the years ahead, in­clud­ing blockchain, ma­chine learn­ing, NDC and in­dus­try con­sol­i­da­tion.

He also stressed “ser­vice will con­tinue to rule the day” in an in­creas­ingly cus­tomer­centric en­vi­ron­ment and that “pro­cure­ment will have a di­min­ish­ing role”.

In an­other ses­sion, three travel man­agers dis­cussed their re­la­tion­ships with their TMCS, with the con­sen­sus that cul­tural fit was more im­por­tant than size or cost.

“We’re draft­ing RFP doc­u­ments on the ba­sis of what key stake­hold­ers want. Our part­ners must re­ally un­der­stand us,” said the travel man­ager of a char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion.

Alice Linley-munro, Global Travel An­a­lyst at Oil Spill Re­sponse, added: “We may be a small fish in a big pond but our TMC lis­tens to us and they are proac­tive – not just re­ac­tive. They re­ally ‘get’ our busi­ness.”

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