Wings Travel Management is urging travel managers to start reviewing their travel programmes early in 2018 and focus on the direction their company’s business may have to move towards in terms of trading post-Brexit.
“Brexit will have a big impact on travel programmes and travel managers really need to start thinking about how their travel programme will look at the end of 2018,” warned Paul East, chief operating officer, UK/Europe & Americas, Wings Travel Management.
“They need to be asking questions about which markets their company will be able to sell in, should they be opening up new markets, can we sell in existing markets?”
However, according to East, after a slow start to the year, once major decisions concerning borders and ‘passporting’ have been confirmed, Brexit will have a positive effect on global business travel as companies consider new markets, or seek to bolster existing contracts.
UK domestic travel also has potential to increase off the back of the government’s plans to establish technology, research and development projects post-Brexit.
“Many UK manufacturers are looking at potentially expanding their exports in the USA and China, or they will need to meet face to face with current clients to ensure business continuity,” said East.
“Corporates need to cover all bases which potentially means more business travel. As decisions are made by the government and plans become clearer, we could see business travel growth in the second half of 2018.”
Wings Travel Management is also forecasting an even greater focus on traveller safety, not only due to the ongoing threat of terrorism, but also geopolitical instability which will add to the complexities of business travel in 2018, making personal safety and duty of care a top priority for companies.
“The recent laptop ban on certain flights to the US, for example, and increased border controls, all make business travel more challenging for the traveller and could make companies think twice about whether an employee really needs to make a trip” says Paul East. “Personal safety will also be an increased priority for corporates if they are having to travel to new markets in order to generate new business deals post-Brexit. We are therefore encouraging our clients to make use of tools such as our goSecure risk management solution and VIMA mobile app.”
As a specialist travel provider for the energy sector, Wings forecasts that oil prices will continue to climb steadily in 2018, barring any major disruptive geopolitical influences. This would reignite investment in oil and gas exploration, which energy clients put on hold at the start of the energy sector downturn in 2014. As a result, the company anticipates travel spend by oil and gas clients to increase by 2019.
“President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement could also impact on refineries in the US. With less of a priority on greener energy, production by refineries could increase, impacting on supply and demand. In addition, Trump has controversially signed executive orders to allow the construction of new pipelines, creating more jobs in the oil sector. Whilst these are unpopular in terms of their impact on the environment and climate change, ultimately they could create more jobs in the oil sector, and generate more business travel.”
In terms of key destinations for 2018, the company predicts expansion in Asia Pacific due to increased travel by banking and hedge fund corporates as well as manufacturing clients, combined with growth of the region’s own economy.