The Flight Centre Travel Group recently appointed Andy Hegley as general manager of its specialist SME travel management division, Corporate Traveller. We learn about his plans as part of his new role.
1. What will be your main priorities in your new role?
Firstly, to ensure that our operations staff at Corporate Traveller’s 20 offices around the country continue to maintain strong relationships with their existing clients locally and deliver the personal travel services that have made Corporate Traveller so successful over the last 13 years.
Supporting our people so that they can work as efficiently as possible is key, so for that reason I will also be looking to streamline processes and introduce appropriate technology tools in order to make our customers’ experience even better. In addition, my priority will be to support our business development team in communicating Corporate Traveller’s offering to new clients.
2. What skills and experiences have you gained from your previous role that will help you in this new role?
I can relate to and support each aspect of Corporate Traveller’s business, whether operations, client relationship management or business development as my career has encompassed experience in these areas either at Flight Centre Business Travel, or within Corporate Traveller.
Both these divisions of Flight Centre are solely focussed on SME customers and I have held various client-facing roles, so I have a great understanding of the needs of this type of customer. My focus has always been on listening to the customer, not just pitching to them.
3. What trends are you noticing right now?
Our clients are increasingly looking for more in-depth MI and analytics. They are looking to us as their travel partner to be proactive in terms of recommending strategies to reduce their business travel spend.
Our CRM team now undertakes a strategic business evaluation to gain visibility of a client’s travel spend and prepare detailed quarterly Client Review documents showing booking volumes, missed & realised savings and making recommendations for the next quarter.
In terms of travel trends, we are seeing more low cost carriers offering the option of non-baggage fares on short haul routes. And on long haul routes, we are seeing travellers extend a business travel trip with additional leisure time.
4. What changes in technology are you utilising in your business?
We are enhancing our online booking tool and integrating this with Corporate Travellers’ mobile apps to support our customers throughout their trip. However, our technology will always be backed up by an experienced Corporate Traveller consultant, overseeing the booking process.
While Corporate Traveller’s business model is based around personal service, we recognise that technology can also drive efficiencies for our client base. But that technology needs to be tailored to SMEs specifically in order to benefit the booker and traveller.
5. Please add anything else you would like to convey.
Corporate Traveller has carved a niche in the business travel sector by providing travel management services to companies locally spending £50k to £2m per annum on travel. Our business model has been hugely successful and we are now the leading boutique travel management company with 360 staff at 20 offices across the country looking after travel needs of local SME businesses.
We are currently winning new business each month worth around £6m. But we can never be complacent. Our business is built around our customer and will only continue to be successful if we focus on the delivery of a customer service experience that customers will not receive anywhere else. That’s why we will continue focussing on products and services that are tailored to our clients in order to retain existing customers as well as reach new clients.