Travelogix Presents…Guy Snelgar
Kicking off our 2023 series of Travelogix Presents, we sat down with Global Business Travel Director for The Advantage Travel Partnership, Guy Snelgar.
Seen it, Done it…
Truly understanding a subject, or in this case, an entire industry usually comes from a position of experience. Experience is something that Guy Snelgar has in spades. Oh, a side note, he’s also a keen drummer who also supports Tottenham Hotspur. Fun Facts.
Falling into travel in the late 80s, Guy has held senior roles at Galileo, Portman Travel, Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport. In 2019, he launched his own business travel consultancy, Barndello Consulting.
He is now the Global Business Travel Director for The Advantage Travel Partnership – the UK’s largest independent travel agent partnership, with over 400 agency members globally generating over £12bn of business and leisure travel sales each year.
Guy said, “With Advantage being entirely member-owned, everything we do is aimed at supporting those members to succeed and grow their businesses. This includes providing access to preferential travel content, technology, marketing and support services, and a platform for peer discussion and networking.”
A hugely respected name in the business travel space, The Advantage Travel Partnership is the second-largest business travel network in Europe. Of their 120 members in the UK, 36 of those TMCs have been featured in the Business Travel News Top 50 TMCs list.
When looking ahead to the strategy for Advantage over the next 12 months, Guy tells me, “Our key goal remains to deliver support to the members wherever we can, by strengthening an even wider range of commercial partnerships and making them easier for members to access and consume.
“Alongside that will come further growth and new members, both in the UK and globally, making sure our voice as the champion of the independent agent is even louder within the industry and within government.
The Advantage Travel Partnership is an organisation we know well. We’re long-time industry partners, and of late, co-curators of the well-received ‘Global Business Travel Review’ series which we launched at the beginning of 2022.
2023: A Year of Peaks and Valleys?
Heading into 2023, there are clearly some opportunities out there for TMCs and suppliers alike throughout the business travel space.
Corporates are opening the doors to more business travel than since the pandemic began, albeit with a few speed bumps in the form of economic woes and geopolitical unrest. Travellers are going away for longer thus creating more room for traveller personalisation (and TMC revenue for that matter!).
Booking horizons are now falling in line with pre-pandemic levels due to the rise in booker/traveller confidence, while stringent traveller restrictions have all but disappeared…for now.
The trip duration metric is a very interesting one to analyse. Reducing the net amount of business trips, but that includes more activity in one longer trip, may very well be a trend we can expect to stick around.
In 2019, the average trip duration was 4.57 days. At the tail end of 2022, we were sitting at an average of 7.12 days – up by 18.46%.
Guy comments, “Many businesses are looking at how their travellers can travel less, but travel better, and in a more purposeful way. One of the most visible examples of this would be fewer trips, but trips that last longer, with more meetings or engagements.
“As well as reducing the financial and environmental impact, this also addresses traveller wellbeing initiatives and sits comfortably alongside the increased use of video conferencing for more routine or regular internal meetings.”
What other trends should we expect to see in 2023? Guy said, “It is too obvious to say that sustainability will take a front seat. The interesting bit will be to see how this, along with a focus on travel risk (ISO31030), translates into meaningful coherent policies that travellers can follow, rather than just an expressed desire, or participation in offsetting programmes.
“I believe many organisations are now re-thinking what they want from their TMC, which is leading to a bit of a divergence between different servicing models.
“While there will certainly be those companies who are looking for a highly automated, low cost per transaction, ‘low touch’ model, we are also seeing a rise in those who see an increased value in the human expertise, attention and care they get from their TMC.”
Does this negatively impact the adoption rate for online bookings and the use of OBT technologies? Guy doesn’t think so, he states, “this doesn’t necessarily mean a drive away from online booking and use of technology, but that business travellers expect that to be backed up by a level of service and support that recognises who they are and what they need.”
There are some positive boundary-stretching points above, that if played out further in 2023, I suspect we’ll get to witness the rebirth of a highly evolved business travel industry.
Understanding more about the hurdles that face our industry over the next 12 months presents an interesting juxtaposition. We know that airline capacity will prove to be a key indicator of the pace of recovery, not only this year but for years to come.
Guy said, “As far as recovery from the pandemic goes, the return of capacity, particularly from airlines, is going to be a key factor in how business travel might find its ‘new normal’ transaction levels.
“Currently, there seems to be a very cautious approach to capacity growth, with higher prices as a result, and that is bound to have an impact at a time of economic uncertainty.
“Operationally, the number of different content sources and booking channels that TMCs need to use is, if anything, going to increase. And with all the different rules, processes and servicing options attached to each of those channels, agents (and their systems) must jump through even more hoops to deliver a consistent service.
“And I think we are all anticipating more disruption, whether down to some fragile post-pandemic infrastructure, industrial action, extreme weather, or the next thing that we’re really not expecting!
“But then I guess that’s why the world needs travel agents!”
The Global Business Travel Review: In Review…
The co-curated Global Business Travel Review provides us with an interesting window into the world of business travel, and the associated channels that sit within, not to mention the important tracking of the recovery metrics that are so crucial to works of this nature.
Since joining Advantage in June 2022, Guy has been involved in the previous two Global Business Travel Reviews. He said, “I find them hugely useful in trying to get a handle on where business travel is in this strange cycle of recovery.
“Anecdotal evidence from members and partners across the industry, in various global markets, can create quite a mixed picture, so it’s important to have such comprehensive data and analysis, alongside these key perspectives and lived experiences.”
“Amongst other things, I think that is why the collaboration between Travelogix and Advantage works so well”.
With collaboration sitting at the heart of how we operate here at Travelogix, it’s something we know the team at Advantage also deeply values.
Guy said, “For me, it is everything. Maybe my background in GDS and travel technology means I am used to sitting in the middle of the supply chain and working with all sides, but thinking about it, the whole business of travel management involves such a myriad of different suppliers and intermediaries that it would be impossible for it to function without huge collaboration and co-operation between all the players.
2023 will again prove to be yet another highly collaborative year, with yet more industry reviews expected down the track. Charting a course for our recovering industry is one thing, but being able to connect and engage with so many contributors will once again provide us with the in-market experiences needed to document a truly global review of business travel.