FCM, one of the world’s largest travel management companies, expects a significant rebound in its global corporate travel business. The business, which operates in more than 95 countries, is targeting 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels by the end of the year.
The positive forecast comes as a result of a significant increase in activity in the market and signs of growing consumer confidence . FCM is also starting to see strong returns on the multi-million-dollar investments the business has made in its offerings during the pandemic.
At the end of April, Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate business, of which FCM is the flagship multinational focussed division, was trading at 29 per cent of prior year levels globally. However, the company had developed a strong organic growth profile, fuelled by a combination of high customer retention rates and record new account wins during the pandemic. Recent wins have included large and high-profile accounts, such as Procter & Gamble and Atos.
Bonnie Smith, FCM General Manager South Africa, said: “Based on early signs that vaccines are effective in preventing symptomatic infection, and with healthy vaccine rollout rates in key markets such as Australia, New Zealand, the US and UK, we expect health risks to reduce. This should lead to an easing of government-imposed restrictions on domestic and international travel, and a partial rebound of the global business travel market by year-end. Based on our experiences, travel immediately rises by 20-30 per cent when restrictions are relaxed. A healthier rebound will occur if international borders remain open.”
The mining, construction, pharma, energy and resources, and FMCG manufacturing industries and their associated supply chains, together with governments and other growth companies were responsible for most business travel activity during 2020. They will also drive early growth in travel activity this year, as their C-suite, customer-facing and sales executives recommence their traditional customer and team engagement.
Smith said: “To continue to drive business travel recovery, it is essential for the corporate travel industry to be highly adaptable to rapid change. It must also offer a greater number of services in health, safety and customer communication, and expedite their delivery, to remain relevant in this environment. These are the areas we have focussed on and invested heavily in for the benefit of our customers during the pandemic and during the recovery phase.”
“Our investment ensures we can boost the confidence of businesses resuming travel, thereby servicing a greater volume of customers and increasing market share. In this fast-changing, unpredictable world, health and safety will remain the single biggest priority. Our FCM team is monitoring the changing risk and regulatory environments daily and providing solutions within 24 hours. Now helped by our new AI capabilities, we can offer 24/7 travel monitoring, live information updates and instant communication with travel managers and travellers.”