Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Business Travel

U.S. Companies Trailing Rest of World in International Corporate Travel Recovery

1 year ago

Just half of companies located in North America are seeing international bookings recover to their pre-pandemic levels, according to a new poll.

This latest data from the Global Business Travel Association delivers a dose of reality for the travel industry. Most travel agencies are predicting an eventual 70 percent recovery.

The picture is a little better in Europe, where six in 10 companies report a return to 2019 booking levels. Asia Pacific and Latin America are ahead with 65 percent and 77 percent respectively.

The survey polled 217 travel manager members, and they tend to represent bigger corporations. In some ways the association’s State of Global Business Travel report, published Tuesday, backs up reports that it’s the smaller enterprises driving the recovery (explaining why the world’s biggest corporate travel agency, American Express Global Business Travel, has restructured to hone in further on the segment.)

The report also follows bullish airline outlooks, including Delta Air Lines which said corporate travel business was now flatlining at around 80 percent of 2019 levels. There’s a clear discrepancy with the association poll here, but again this could be linked to smaller firms that do not have a managed corporate travel program that are among the carrier’s top international bookers.

However, Southwest Airlines said its managed corporate travel was expected to hit 2019 levels by March. That full recovery is still far off association’s poll results for domestic U.S travel: it found 69 percent of corporations had recovered to pre-pandemic domestic booking numbers, leading both Europe and Asia Pacific by three percentage points. Again this suggests it’s perhaps those smaller companies racing ahead to meet clients face-to-face or attend conferences.

The Global Business Travel Association poll was conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 23.

Business Travel

Amex GBT Restructures to Focus on Smaller Companies

1 year ago

American Express Global Business Travel is restructuring to focus on small and medium-sized companies, with layoffs expected in the first half of the year.

Job losses are expected to be less than 2 percent.

Amex GBT announced the overhaul internally on Tuesday, and expects to incur restructuring and related charges of $20 million to $25 million, which represent future cash expenditures for the payment of severance and related benefits costs, it said in a filing with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The overhaul comes as layoffs start to ripple through the travel industry. Vacasa on Tuesday said it was slashing 17 percent of its workforce, while Inspirato is reducing its number of staff by 12 percent as it struggles with lower-than-expected occupancy and disappointing sales.

Technology companies have also announced redundancies, including Google which last week said it was axing 12,000 roles.

Now Amex GBT, the world’s biggest corporate travel agency, will set up a new operating model to “intensify our entire organizational focus around meeting customers’ needs in our global and multinational, and small and medium-sized enterprises portfolios,” it said in the filing.

“We are taking our strategy to the next level,” said Martin Ferguson, the agency’s vice president of public affairs. “We are in a $1.4 trillion global industry and have a significant opportunity to grow our business and deliver unrivalled value to customers. Having market-leading solutions for each of the segments we serve has put us in a very strong position. To accelerate growth, drive consistency and deliver unrivalled value to customers, we are moving to a global, segment-driven model.”

The company has made several acquisitions of smaller agencies over the years, including Egencia and Ovation Travel, while in 2021 it launched a new booking and expense tool, Neo1, to target smaller companies.

During an investor day presentation in 2022, Amex GBT repeated its intent to pursue the small and medium-sized enterprise market, including companies without an official company travel program. That market is worth $675 billion in annual global travel spend, and at the time Amex GBT said it had just 6 percent of that particular slice.

The restructure, which will see Jason Geall become executive vice president, small and medium-sized enterprises, and David Reimer move to executive vice president of global, multinational, is due to be completed by the end of the second quarter this year.

Business Travel

TripActions Secures One of Its Biggest Clients Yet With Unilever Win

2 years ago

There’s a reshuffle taking place, as corporate travel agencies battle it out against each other for business coming out of the pandemic. Now TripActions claims it has secured one of its biggest enterprise customers to date, poaching the consumer goods giant from a major rival.

The startup said it has been selected by London-headquartered Unilever, which has nearly 150,000 employees in 77 countries, to “modernize and optimize” its travel program.

Rival American Express Global Business Travel recently revealed it had secured JP Morgan as a new client, while the CEO of Australia’s CTM claimed it had returned to profit thanks in part to winning customers from its rivals.

TripActions said its selection was linked to Unilever’s “future-fit” program, which is designed to help its employees “adapt to the impact of evolving technologies and ways of working.”

Unilelver, which has 400 brands, also wanted to make its employees more aware of their carbon emissions when traveling, TripActions claimed.

“Unilever is committed to ensuring that our employees are empowered with the right technology and lean processes that help them to thrive in this highly digital future of work,” said Mithlesh Singh, Unilever’s global travel process, employee experience and transformation manager.