The annual event of AirPlus, a global provider of payment solutions dedicated to businesses, linked the health crisis and business travel around three themes, duty of care, CSR and digitalization. With quality interventions. Report.
Univ’AirPlus is one of the major back-to-school events in the professional mobility industry in France, and has been for 15 years now! This year, the AirPlus “summer school” was held in digital format, this Thursday, September 10. “(Re)load business travel – travel better! was the theme of the 2021 edition organized by the French team of one of the international leaders in corporate payment solutions, a partner of 48,000 corporate clients around the world.
In this period of still uncertain recovery of business travel, Julie Troussicot, France director of the German company, first recalled that this event was an opportunity to come back to ” fundamental trends that have accelerated during this period of health crisis”. And to add: “To travel better is not only a need but an obligation today“.
Olivier Wagner, the big boss of AirPlus International, spoke for his part of the recent survey carried out by his company among 743 executives and managers, which notes that 80% of them (81% of French people) consider face-to-face contacts between customers and suppliers essential to achieving business objectives”i.e. as much as before the start of the pandemic: “ So yes, business travel will continue, but differently. Thus, in France, 75% of the companies we questioned say they have already changed their travel policy (…). But it’s not just travel managers who need to move. Accounting and purchasing must also adapt“.
Amélie Berruex, Managing Director at Axys Odyssey, added by recalling that “Business travel remained essential for the company’s growth. We are not going to conclude contracts worth several million by video. But on the other hand, we clearly see an acceleration in the reduction of internal travel, and a modification of travel policies on these aspects.“.
On the upheavals affecting all business travel players, Amélie Berruex also notes that TMCs are the most affected ” because we are coming to the end of an economic model already in place before the start of the crisis (…). The travel ecosystem is undergoing a revolution. It’s complicated for the buyer to sort out and know if today’s choices are relevant in the long term”. She also pointed out that the travel manager had been “very shaken” during the crisis: “We had to manage a lot of things operationally. Their role was highlighted, particularly on elements of crisis management, CSR and mobility in the broad sense. There is a real opportunity for the TM to demonstrate its ability to address strategic issues“.
“CSR and business travel” was the theme of one of the three round tables in the afternoon. Awareness of these issues is indeed much stronger among employees – and increasingly among top management – and adds additional pressure on the company. Which ” must also put pressure on its suppliers”, as Laurent La Rocca, the founder of The Treep, reminded us. Travelers themselves must agree to change certain habits. On these questions of sustainability, the policy of small steps is rather recommended, with achievable and measurable objectives.
Another round table focused on the duty of care. ” The duty of care is a notion that has already been firmly rooted in the company for a good decade. What has changed is the level of expectations and requirements of employees who travel noted Nicolas Bourgeois, Director of Safety at Renault. Cécile Caplin, Security Manager France at International SOS, noted for her part the explosion of requests for information from TMs since the start of the crisis, while insisting both on the necessary reliability of information and on daily monitoring. . Which supposes knowing where to find the information in the company, which is not always the case…
Better protecting travelers also involves greater involvement and work to co-construct safety processes between HR, TM and occupational medicine, as well as better risk mapping and improved common standards. Ziad Minkara, managing director at CDS group, recalled that the duty of care is a legal obligation and that the constraints it induces ” do not necessarily improve the well-being of the traveller. We hear today that we will travel less but better. But we must also take into account the financial constraints of companies“.
On the following round table Digitization at the service of “better travel”, we also talked a lot about savings and cost reductions. For Hélène Billon, Director Business Travel at Orange, “ video will stay. Part of business travel will disappear, also because the financial management wanted to make big savings”. And to add: “With the Covid period, employees are asking for more and more digital tools to be put in place. And they want these tools to be as powerful as those dedicated to the general public.“. And it is precisely in response to this need that TravelPerk would experience strong expansion, according to Raphaël Daverio, its Senior Product Manager, who recalls that ” digitalization arrived later on BtoB”, from where ” the disappointment of the user experience among young people who are used to recent BtoC tools”.