Interview: Debbie Carling, CEO, CTM Europe

CTM Europe won Best TMC at the Business Travel Awards 2019. Buying Business Travel quizzed chief executive Debbie Carling on where the firm is going next

Tell us about your career pathway
I have worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years, starting at Britannic Travel, which was later acquired by Flight Centre. I was instrumental in the set-up of FCM Travel Solutions in Europe. I then joined Chambers Travel in 2011, working up to chief operating officer, a position I retained when it was acquired by CTM in 2014 until taking on the chief executive Europe role in mid-2016. I feel as passionate about the travel industry today as I did 30 years ago – it’s fast moving and dynamic.

What kinds of sectors do you serve?
We’ve got a diverse customer portfolio, from large enterprise and global customers to small regional businesses, and across industries, including government, finance, legal, construction, technology, retail, and everything in between.

We’ve been celebrating around the world with staff parties and special events

Why did CTM acquire Redfern?
Redfern Travel was a highly respected UK travel management company with a very sophisticated online solution. This model delivered exceptional productivity to the business and its customers. In combination with CTM’s renowned “white-glove” customer service and evolving technology suite, the acquisition has enabled CTM to deliver a broader range of solutions to a wider set of clients in the UK and European market, providing greater choice for customers.

You won best TMC (more than £200 million annual UK sales) at the Business Travel Awards 2019. What was behind that?
We are extremely proud to have been recognised as the best TMC. That was the award we wanted! Our technology sets us apart in this market and enables us to deliver a heightened level of online booking experiences, but equally we’re known for great customer service. Taking part in the awards lets us benchmark our performance in a highly competitive industry, and challenge ourselves to grow.

What are your views of NDC?
We are excited about how NDC is transforming the travel industry, specifically by bringing greater personalisation. CTM is a content aggregator, and we’re committed to providing our customers with greater, more relevant choice at the best prices. NDC will enable this. In Europe and other parts of the world, we are system-ready and working with suppliers to bring NDC solutions to market. It’s the transformation the industry has been waiting for!

We are excited about how NDC is transforming the travel industry

How are you marking CTM Europe’s 25th anniversary this year?
We’ve been celebrating around the world with staff parties and special events. In Europe, we just celebrated with a silver-themed party at our All Stars conference in Alicante. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on achievements of our first 25 years, and we’re excited about what lies ahead.

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