BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
ExCeL London - 22-23 June 2021
BRITISH AIRWAYS' DECISION to launch 12 weekly services between Heathrow and Paris Orly from January will not impact the growth and evolution of high-speed cross-Channel rail services, says a senior travel industry figure.
Ian Wheeler, Amadeus' vice-president of marketing and distribution, said BA was serving a distinct catchment area and that it would give consumers an extra option
Some industry figures had suggested that BA's Orly service would put "extra pressure" on Eurostar.
But Wheeler said he wasn't surprised to hear BA had chosen to return to the Paris market, saying it would have carefully studied the potential demand.
"Like all good airlines BA would have analysed the route and the opportunities," he said.
"Perhaps it sees an opportunity for traffic between the catchment areas close to Heathrow in the west of London and Orly in the south of Paris, which are both at least an hour's travel away from the cross-Channel railway termini [Paris Gare du Nord and St Pancras International].
"I'd have thought Eurostar would have grown the market [in recent years] and I don't think they'll be particularly worried".
However, Wheeler said booking tickets on the continental rail operators was still a challenge for UK corporates and TMCs, though he said work was being done behind the scenes to harmonise booking processes.
RAILWAY OPERATORS in Europe are missing out on "premium revenue" from the business travel trade because of their inability to work together, according to leading travel management companies (TMCs).
Senior directors from American Express Business Travel and Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) said operators, including Eurostar, SNCF in France, Renfe in Spain and Germany's Deutsche Bahn would have to find a way to harmonise fares and timetables if the sector was to continue to grow.
Tony Berry, HRG's director of industry and fare distribution, called for distribution barriers to be "broken down" and appealed to rail companies to move quickly.
"There is a huge requirement to connect all stakeholders [in the rail sector] together if there is to be continued growth," he said. "There needs to be a simplified structure, including timetable, product description and fare display.
"Twenty years ago 98 per cent of our transactions were air and hotels. But rail has grown significantly in recent years, reaching a 15 per cent increase in every financial quarter for the last two years. "And most of those ticket sales are premium revenue for the rail companies."
But Berry said the majority of HRG's front-line consultants would "be scratching their heads" if asked to book a trans-European rail ticket.
Alongside Christophe Etchegaray, American Express Business Travel's director of global distribution strategy and solutions, Berry said until agents could access fares on one distribution platform, book and ticket multi-sector journeys on one passenger name record (PNR), and be able to report management information (MI) to the corporate client, millions of euros in revenue would be lost.
Etchegaray said: "We need better coordination between the rail companies, and all fares on a local basis. The GDSs [global distribution systems] need to work with them to improve access to the relevant services."
Both TMC bosses said they supported the Telematic Applications for Passenger Services - Technical Specification for Interoperability (TAP TSI) legislation being introduced in April next year by the European Railways Agency - part of the European Commission.
The complex new laws - which many rail sector experts believe are almost impossible to fully understand - will oblige European rail operators to adhere to a set of "minimum standards" in terms of products and services, and compel them to share timetable and fare data.
THE GLOBAL VOLUME of business travel will continue to grow in 2011, according to a travel technology expert.
Ian Wheeler, vice president of marketing and distribution for Amadeus, said the travel industry was pulling away from the "dark times" of 2009. He said businesses were sending employees back on the road, but that yields had still not returned to 2007 levels.
"In 2010 we have seen a return of volume across all regions of the world, and we expect that uplift to continue well into 2011," he said.
"However, travellers are still taking shorter and cheaper trips, and yields are still down."
The recent Amadeus Travel Goldrush 2020 report predicted that global travel spend - in both the leisure and corporate sectors - would double over the next decade.