Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Egencia has just celebrated its first decade as a TMC. Paul Revel catches up with the company's president Rob Greyber to look at the latest trends in travel management
What’s changed in travel management in the 10 years since Egencia’s inception?It’s extraordinary what’s been accomplished and what’s changed; the growth of tech in enterprises, and how internet-enabled technology has changed the way business gets done. In 2002 it was still coming into its own and hadn’t been broadly adopted, and aspects of technology were still coming into maturity – this has helped the development of companies like ours.
What do you see as the significant trends in business travel?Firstly, the word consumerisation is bantered about a lot, but the concept is quite simple. It reflects when the flow of technology reversed 10-15 years ago – instead of from office to home, it began to flow the other way – from the consumer space to enterprise, the greatest examples being the iPad and smartphones. That dynamic has been very profound and is at the heart of where Egencia started. It’s better for travellers but also for travel managers and CFOs – You don’t have to be schoolmaster, telling employees what to adopt; you give them the tools they want to use. I think that trend is going to continue, people will not accept a bad technology just because it’s what their office delivers. Their expectations are set more and more in consumer space.The other trend I see is the continuation of globalization. I had a professor at graduate school who said looking back at the 20th century, the two great conventions of 20th century looking back are semiconductor and the B747 – the ability to move information and things – bits and bytes – anywhere in the world quickly and affordably. We think these two trends will shape the industry over the next 10 years, it’s exciting.
Talking of globalisation, how do you compete with the biggest TMCs on a global level?The Egencia Global Alliance network allows us to extend our footprint, it’s been very effective. As we’ve grown to have a presence in 55 countries, it’s no secret we are client led. We’re thoughtful about relationships with clients and where they want to expand and the partnerships needed. We have to be very selective, we don’t have a desire to plant 125 flags – this has been our deliberate approach in the last five years. We’re in all of the key markets around world today.
Do you see the travel buyer’s role changing?It’s already changed remarkably, we’ve seen a shift from buyers articulating policy to driving initiatives, it’s more action-oriented. It’s an expanded role but also the quality of role has changed. I talk to travel managers today and they say want results, not just clever policy. When I joined Egencia [from Expedia] five years ago, a travel manager told me she was called into the CFO’s office, who was very critical about her work. She said: ‘I went back to my desk and called up Egencia reports, did the analysis, and walked back into his office and told him what for – you’re wrong and here’s why.’ That level of accountability and insight she could provide to the CFO – in real time – was pretty compelling, and enabled by our technology. This is not a passive role; it’s a dynamic role that’s data driven, analytically driven.