BBT Hotlist 2014: Managed travel

We look at who will be the leading the debate about the future and direction of managed travel over the next few years

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Mike Tangney
Global Travel Manager, Google

It’s hard to underestimate Google’s impact on the world of technology in recent years – and now it has moved into travel distribution, with its flight searches.

The search engine has also been leading the field in the way it manages its own travel, first allowing its employees freedom to choose with who, and how, they booked in 2008.

Dublin-based Mike Tangney was the driver behind this free-wheeling travel policy, and he has been nominated for the Hotlist by GBTA Europe’s Paul Tilstone, who said: “The Google programme continues to be unique – because of its culture, in travel distribution and technology focus, it is making us all think about where we are headed.”

How many buyers will be willing to embrace this kind of laissez-faire approach to travel management over the next few years?

As for Tangney, it will be interesting to watch how the mobile and social media revolution affects Google’s own travel programme.

Benson Tang
Regional director, Asia, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

Hong Kong-based Tang has been given the considerable task of bringing the concept of managed corporate travel to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, including China, India and central Asian energy nations such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

While major multinational companies based in these countries tend to have local travel managers, the vast majority of locally-owned firms do not have dedicated managers, and they are just starting to get to grips with the principles and potential benefits for their businesses.

“The concept is quite new – and we need to introduce that concept,” says Tang.

Covering such a vast part of the planet means that Tang is frequently on the move – he clocked up more than 20 events during 2013. His mission is to explain to companies the “foundations of travel management and also how we can help them get property trained”.

Tang is likely to be just as busy in 2014 and beyond, as relationship-building is crucial to gaining any traction in Asia.

“We really have to go into it from different angles – you have to appreciate the cultural differences and establish relationships in parallel with education,” he says.


The power of Egencia’s parent company, Expedia, should never be under-estimated, and the TMC has been growing impressively in the last few years – up by 30 per cent in travel sales to US$3.43 billion for the first nine months of 2013.

Expedia has had its eyes on the business travel market for some years, and Egencia is still seen as being one of the online travel behemoth’s ‘earlier-stage businesses’, which makes its growth intentions clear.

Egencia expects to make further progress in 2014 with the roll-out of its new Trip Navigator itinerary app – which Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi describes as “dynamite” – as well as continued global expansion (the TMC added seven new markets in November 2013 alone).

The current ‘big four’ global TMCs are probably already looking over their shoulders as Egencia continues its charge.

Having Expedia’s technological expertise behind the brand, and the fact it is still more interested in grabbing market share than maximizing profit, are both things buyers can surely leverage to their financial advantage.

James Parkhouse
Executive director, Capita workplace services division

Parkhouse has been one of the leading drivers behind Capita Travel and Events’ recent expansion, which has included the purchase of BSI and Expotel, and has moved the company up to fourth place in BBT’s 2013 list of the UK’s 50 leading TMCs.

His work in spearheading this growth has won the respect of Scott Davies, Virgin Atlantic’s general manager of sales, who has nominated him for the Hotlist.

Capita has been busy bringing together its acquisitions and brands under the umbrella of Capita Travel and Events, as well as looking to organise more international travel for its clients by joining global TMC network GSM Travel Management.

Parkhouse has plenty of experience of mergers and acquisitions, having headed up Capita’s acquisition of Lonsdale Travel in 2005. He also spent two years as managing director of Capita’s operations in India.

Will his deal-making prowess lead to more consolidation within the TMC industry over the next few years?

As for innovation on the product side, Capita has long been known as a rail specialist, and has secured a deal with East Coast trains to allow corporate passengers booking through the TMC to earn loyalty points.

Scott Gillespie
Managing partner, T Clara

Gillespie is a regular speaker on the business travel conference circuit, particularly in the US, where he also holds one-day workshops on airline sourcing for the GBTA Academy.

Giving buyers the edge in negotiations with suppliers – particularly airlines – has been the impetus of his work over the last few years, and he penned an article on airline sourcing for the last edition of BBT.

Gillespie is a leading expert in the fields of travel data analysis, travel sourcing and travel management. Early in his career, Scott spent eight years at management consultancy firm AT Kearney, where he was the firm’s global expert on strategic sourcing of travel suppliers.

Tom Ruesink, from the Ruesink Consulting Group, which specialises in travel behaviour and gamification, nominated Gillespie for his place in this year’s Hotlist, based on the work he is doing on “measuring and benchmarking trip friction” (the wear and tear that travellers endure on their trips).

“I have had a sneak peek into the types of outputs that they are creating, and it will be both practical and insightful to the corporate travel buyer and stakeholders up the line,” said Ruesink.

Trip friction – will this be one of the hot topics at this year’s round of global and domestic conferences?

Sarah Makings
Global travel category manager, KPMG, and vice-chair of ITM

Makings is set for a big year in 2014 as she takes over as the chairman of the Institute of Travel & Meetings (ITM), alongside her day job of managing a US$1.2 billion global travel budget for business adviser and auditor KPMG.

As one of the UK’s most high-profile travel buyers, Makings is certainly used to responsibility, as she manages a global programme that includes using 57 TMCs around the world, and spends a jaw-dropping US$600 million on flights and US$250 million on hotels per year. And that’s not to mention the onerous task of being one of the judges for the Business Travel Awards in London this month.

She will take over the chair of the ITM from current holder Nicola Lomas during the institute’s annual conference at Celtic Manor in Wales in May.

Makings says she has “relied heavily” on the services and support of the ITM during her career as a buyer, which has included eight years at KPMG and, before that, ive years with insurer Axa as UK travel manager.

“That’s why I love being so involved with the ITM – it gives me the opportunity to provide support for other buyers,” she says. “I am really looking forward to the challenge of taking the ‘top job’.”


The London-based TMC has been endorsed by ITM’s chief executive Simone Buckley, who said: “Seeing the way they have connected their technology uniquely on a global basis, and the product they have developed that delivers tangible savings to their customers, makes me think they are ones to watch.”

The company, which was ranked as the UK’s 8th biggest TMC in 2013, has been expanding rapidly across the globe over the last year, with new offices and partnerships in destinations such as Murmansk, within Russia’s Arctic Circle, as well as Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, Finland, Dubai and Ireland.

This growth has been fuelled by a management buyout, led by CEO Graham Ramsey, in December 2012, funded by private equity firm Intermediate Capital Group.

Buckley added: “They have grown significantly globally through acquisition over the last few years, and have a wholly-owned sizeable presence in many markets. However, they are not really seen by the ‘big four’ global TMCs as a competitor.”

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