12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
ABTN talks to Diane Laschet, who is ACTE’s country champion for Italy, about the trends in the Italian corporate travel market this year
Which company do you work for and how long have been involved in travel buying?
I am Airplus Italy’s country manager. I joined Airplus in 2001 and I’ve been involved in business travel in the last 25 years on both sides of the fence: as a travel manager handling Finmeccanica, one of Italy’s largest companies, and in business travel operations at American Express before joining Airplus.
Explain your ACTE role and how long you have been doing it?
I became ACTE’s country champion for Italy in 2007.Over the past five years, I have been very active in creating networking opportunities for Italian travel managers, mostly through the organisation of events and conferences. I also share my knowledge and views at the European level with other ACTE country champions.
What are the three biggest travel buying challenges in your market?
First: travel managers are struggling to maintain business travel volumes in the face of a deteriorating economic climate and the increase in travel costs. These factors are placing severe pressures on their budgets.
Second: the management of ancillary fees is becoming an increasing problem. Once only applicable to air travel, these costs are quickly spreading to hotels and railways and have a significant impact on budgets.
Third: as travel budgets come under pressure - in an effort to save money - travel managers are forced to address hidden costs which are generally associated with administrative tasks and the back office. There is therefore a systematic need to analyse processes and identify ways to automate them to make them more efficient and less time consuming.
What business travel trends have you noted in your market to date in 2012?
Travel managers are trying their best to maintain travel budgets and volumes despite the very uncertain economic environment. However a few trends appear clear:
Are your travellers’ expectations changing? For example, do they expect business class flights and a certain category or star rating of hotel?
Travellers’ expectations are in line with the current economic climate and individual companies’ performances. Hence - generally speaking - travel policies are being more widely accepted,
How easy is it to get travellers to follow travel policy – particularly with the growth in mobile technology?
According to the Airplus Travel Management Study 2012, a growing number of Italian companies (86 per cent) have introduced travel policies for their employees, with 81 per cent of travel managers tightly controlling compliance. Nevertheless the widespread use of mobile technologies is posing new challenges to travel managers as corporate travellers become more autonomous in managing their travel arrangements. It is therefore likely that some form of flexibility will have to be introduced in the future in corporate travel policies to accommodate this emerging trend.
What one thing would make travel managers’ jobs easier and explain why it would make such a difference?
Travel managers usually lack the time to manage processes and often they themselves are not fully dedicated to travel management. There is clearly a need to automate processes as much as possible to increase back-office efficiency and limit time wasted in collecting travel expense vouchers and in sorting out the administrative processes associated with business travel.