How to build an inclusive travel programme, upcoming visa regulations and sustainable travel best practice were among the topics explored at Reed & Mackay’s bi-annual ‘&Beyond Summit: Where ideas take flight’ conference last week.
More than 60 Reed & Mackay clients and prospects from the legal, insurance and professional services sectors, among others, gathered in London to hear inspiring insights, from both peers and industry experts, on those crucial areas affecting corporate travel.
Reed & Mackay Group COO and CEO Europe Julie Oliver opened the educational and networking event, reflecting on the growth of business travel and meetings and events over the last year. Oliver reiterated how Reed & Mackay’s client-centric philosophy – driving user experience and cost savings, sustainability and travel risk mitigation, underpinned by smart travel technology – are the foundations from which Reed & Mackay aims to support clients and their corporate travel programmes into 2024.
The economy and travel
The event welcomed global financial commentator, former BBC Business anchor and Hargreaves Lansdown Head of Money and Markets Susannah Streeter, who gave the keynote speech.
Speaking from personal experience, Streeter revealed why people are the heart and soul behind the need to continue travelling and why trust is such a crucial component of travel in the face of adversity.
“We’re facing challenges such as geopolitical conflict; there are concerns about the global economy; hybrid working has become the norm. So people want that intimate feeling of meeting face to face, exchanging ideas in person,” Streeter said. “There’s nothing like going to a real-life travel consultant, concierge or receptionist for trusted advice and guidelines and you can’t replicate lively in-person debates virtually.
“AI may be increasingly seen as a solution to ever-more personalised travel. But while it might provide the nuts and bolts it won’t provide the personal experience and human interaction people are craving even more during uncertain times.”
Following Streeter’s spotlight on the current economic climate and how it effects travel, Reed & Mackay Director of Transformation Ian Ferguson and Global Customer Success Manager Mat Browne led an interactive session on how combining corporate travel and event programme spend can increase an organisation’s return on investment (ROI).
“We have our own methodology for building ROI into events,” Ferguson explained. “Dedicated end-to-end service; achieving better negotiations with suppliers from demonstrating the value you’ll bring them by combining business travel and events spend; and clarity around process, compliance and reporting.”
Building an effective, inclusive travel programme
Every community of business travellers should expect and receive the best travel experience possible. We invited an expert panel – Global Business Travel Association Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee Chair and About Partners Luxury Brands Collection CEO Linda Bekoe, Simmons & Simmons Diversity & Inclusion Manager Eliz Arkut and Virgin Atlantic Director of Global Sales Tom Maynard – to speak on how to support and deliver duty of care to diverse travel communities.
“DEI shouldn’t be a tick box; we need to ask, how can we do better as an industry? Ask questions from the heart; people want to be seen and once you get diverse individuals together you get more ideas on how to deliver the best travel experience,” Bekoe said.
The delegates also broke into an interactive session to discuss how to support travellers from diverse communities, sharing ideas such as modernising traveller profile management to reflect an individual’s needs in more depth, staff education and networking events with different communities – including LGBTQ+, solo female travellers, travellers with visible and hidden disabilities and ethnic and religious minorities.
A sustainable travel programme in action
A sustainable travel programme can be a tangible reality, and key component of your business’ futureproof plans, when made attainable and achievable.
Reed & Mackay clients – DLA Piper Director of Responsible Business Ian Hagg and Pinsent Masons Head of Sustainability and Facilities Compliance Allan Clark – joined Reed & Mackay Global Sustainability Director Chris Truss to discuss their organisations’ sustainability journey.
A poll of delegates during the session showed half had made changes to travel policy in the past year to drive behaviour around sustainability, while 47% had set or started to think about setting either carbon budgets or an internal carbon tax.
With this in mind, the panel discussed how to collaboratively reach ESG targets, implement sustainable choices into travel policies and educate workforces on how to choose the most planet-friendly way to travel.
The key takeaways? Equipping travellers with information on the impact of their travel choices on the firm’s carbon target is a robust way to encourage behavioural change, as well as setting carbon budgets on a country-by-country basis.
Tomorrow’s world: travel regulations in 2024
Change in travel is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if armed with the right information. As visa applications become increasingly digitalised, it’s crucial to have the right visas in place before travelling.
Home Office Delivery Director for Border Vision Nick Dawes spoke to delegates about the UK’s new Electronic Visa Authorisation (ETA), how and where travellers should apply and the roll-out timeline. Joining him on the panel was Reed & Mackay partner Sherpa Team Lead, Partner Success Janet Kwok, who spoke about how it’s essential to have rapid access to data around visas and travel regulations. And International SOS Regional Security Director James Wood explained how the increased use of e-visas will help organisations take away the stress of travelling and the potential failure of a business trip if a visa hasn’t been received in time.