Finding The Silver Lining

Some Insights From FCM On 2020

While 2020 presented some extraordinary challenges for the travel industry, FCM Travel Solutions has responded by innovating and adapting, allowing the company to close the year with several significant improvements.

From new business wins to technology innovations, from more flexible cancellation policies to an increased focus on Duty of Care, FCM has taken numerous actions to improve the future for its travellers.

As the world moved into ‘pandemic reset mode,’ FCM made the most of its time by making technological and operational enhancements that elevated the customer experience, and secured an impressive amount of new business globally.

The company launched a new benchmarking tool, enabling companies to compare the efficiency and success of their travel management programs against others around the globe and guiding them on how to take the proper steps toward improvement.

Along the way, FCM acquired WhereTo — an enterprise travel platform and technology company that simplifies and improves business travel planning for corporations.

WhereTo pulls in content from dozens of sources and uses artificial intelligence-based algorithms to quickly guide users to the optimal trip options within policy, factoring in criteria like traffic conditions, travel deals, and personal preferences.

FCM also introduced an AI Reporting Tool that offers a unique way to visualize data simply by posing a question using natural language.

Similar to a search engine for travel data, this cutting-edge tech gives the user the ability to easily turn their data into actionable insights.

The innovations provide FCM’s corporate customers with best-in-class technology tools to help them stay ahead of the rapidly evolving corporate travel landscape.

Charlene Leiss, president of Flight Centre Travel Group, The Americas, observed that: “2020 saw a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, protests and a tumultuous U.S. election, making this year’s positive moments especially hard to identify. From a business standpoint, it’s no secret that the travel industry was among the hardest hit.”

Leiss continued: “There were still some silver linings during this period and we’re proud of what we were able to achieve, along with the decisions we made that leave us well positioned to emerge from this very difficult time. We’re staying focused on the lessons we’ve learned, and how we can improve and modify our business based on the current climate and challenges the world is facing.”

The travel industry has responded to the pandemic and made numerous improvements. Among them are:

Working Remotely

Whether in destination, on the road or at home, the new model of working remotely gives road warriors and in-office teams the chance to be more flexible. Moreover, it creates the ability for business travellers to stay in destination longer, providing more opportunity for bleisure experiences, which benefits travellers and suppliers alike.

Enhanced Safety and Cleaning Protocols

Never again will we have to be wary of the cleanliness of planes or hotel room due to heavy turnover. Enhanced cleaning and safety protocols have become the priority for airlines and hotels as customer demand will ensure they are deemed essential requirements to win business moving forward.

Renewed Focus on Duty of Care

If COVID taught us anything, it’s the importance of knowing where travellers are and getting them much needed assistance when they’re on the road. In fact, 44% of respondents of a recent FCM study agreed that duty of care obligations ranked as the second most dominant area for change within travel policies.

As a result of these findings, FCM ramped up its Duty of Care support for customers significantly, starting with the launch of Traveller Hub, an interactive resource providing extensive up to date COVID-19 travel information.

Users can search by supplier category, country or region for the latest news on border changes and restrictions; airline routes and safety procedures for travelers; hotel re-openings and hygiene measures; as well as rail travel and car rental announcements.

Offering innovative an AI conversation-based messaging tool, the Traveller Hub is fully integrated within FCM Hub, the gateway to the TMC’s suite of technology solutions. It can also be accessed via Sam, the AI-based mobile app used by FCM clients’ business travellers.

Better deals and more flexibility around refunds and cancellations from travel providers

Moving forward, the need to change a flight or cancel a trip won’t be quite as expensive or restrictive. Further, due to exceptionally low bookings, hotels and airlines are reducing prices and offering many great deals to various destinations. Travellers can now stay at some of the most desirable properties that under normal circumstances would be cost-prohibitive to both the business and the consumer traveller.

A shift towards a hybrid model and personalization

Perhaps the most critical thing the industry has gained from COVID-19, is the knowledge that now, more than ever before, travellers will seek a blended service model that offers the very best of technology and human assistance.

No two travellers are alike, and the customized service they can receive through mobile apps, pocket virtual assistants, live customer service and real-time information will be the key to any successful corporate travel policy in a post-COVID-19 world.

There is a significant need to shift focus and procedure in the way organizations serve their clients and their industries. The world of travel has changed forever, but FCM is prepared for it, and looking forward to a brighter year ahead.

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Posted in COVID-19, News, Technology, Tourism Organizations, Travel Agents, Trends & Research, Women in travel