BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
ExCeL London - 24-25 February 2021
Yves Galimidi, owner of Brussels-based Business Travel,
Meetings & Mobility Solutions, former travel buyer for IKEA and current ACTE board member, offered BTN editor-in-chief a view inside the
minds of travel managers in the region and beyond.
BTN: What's the
feeling among travel managers you have been speaking with in the region?
is a feeling of sadness and compassion. We are talking about people right now,
not about savings or process. There are victims and people are hurt. Also there is a feeling of disgust and anger.
People are saying, "How is this possible?" [and] wondering how the
world is becoming a crazy place.
BTN: Is there worry
of further threat?
but maybe not as you think. They obviously feel a threat to their travelers,
and they feel a duty toward their travelers because of that. But travel
managers are feeling a threat to their business environment. They have a role
in this new normal, and they are not used it. They are wondering how to handle
this professional challenge. They are also concerned about the threat to their
suppliers because there could clearly be a financial impact generated by this.
As corporates, we don't want to see our suppliers not doing well. Supplier
health is important to our work. But I have also clearly seen and heard that
there is no fear. People have been fearless. It's an opportunity to show we are
standing together and moving toward collaboration among travel managers, and I
have already seen that.
When these things happen, you forget that you are Belgian, French, Indian or whatever. And I saw travel managers reach out across many borders to help each other."
BTN: Do you see
companies responding with stronger programs?
happened years ago. Particularly in large companies, they have great programs
in place and they work very well with great [security] suppliers. They are
tracking and integrating. I don't think there is a lot more here. What I see
unfortunately is the limitations. It's easy to track people at an airport or
hotel, but what about in the underground [train]? This is exactly what happened
in Brussels. How do we do that? This is the question and no one yet has the
answer, [but ] we do see development in more sophisticated tracking tools. I
also see the role of social networks as much more powerful than we currently
BTN: How are social
networks making an impact during this crisis?
Galimidi: In the
last few days, I've been in touch with dozens of travel managers via social
networks: LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp and even Facebook. I was a travel manager
during 9/11, and having access to social networks made the experience of this
situation very different. It really showed that even though this event was in
Belgium, it's not about Belgium. We are living in a global environment and
travel managers from all European countries but also India, China, Singapore,
United States and Canada [are affected]. The world is affected.
Globally, travel managers are showing support and
collaboration. Of course, we are receiving kind words and people are sending prayers
of support, but I also see people who are discussing their security programs,
asking for advice and identifying gaps. I personally spoke with someone from [a
large consulting firm] and asked if she was OK with her travelers. She said
there had been a couple of casualties but that it wasn't too bad. She told me
that she had to evacuate a couple of Swedish employees and that she spoke to
one of my former colleagues from IKEA to help. And they did that. Another
travel manager reached out from India to offer tips on handling bombing
situations because he had similar situations when India was experiencing
bombings a few years back.
When these things happen, you forget that you
are Belgian, French, Indian or whatever. And I saw travel managers reach out
across many borders to help each other.