As FCM’s inaugural Th!nk event concluded this week, industry leaders emerged in bullish mood, optimistic about the future of corporate travel. At a time when TMCs such as FCM are returning to profit and closing in on pre-covid trading levels, collective attention has turned to maintaining this positive trajectory while responding to an ever-evolving travel landscape to deliver strong client support and satisfaction.
Speaking live to the audience from Athens, FCM Global Managing Director Marcus Eklund reiterated the need to encourage open conversation and positive action across the wider travel business was long overdue.
“Having navigated through the upheaval of last two years, our industry faces renewed disruption in the years ahead. Th!nk was conceived to bring difficult, but essential conversations to the fore. Together with some of the brightest brains and industry heavyweights, we have provided a new global platform to shine a light on the big topics shaping the future of business travel, while sharing FCM’s own deep insights and solutions,” said Eklund.
He added that this approach was especially timely as business travel continues to ramp up at pace while new challenges and priorities for travellers emerge. “Whether it’s becoming more sustainability-focussed, utilising data to identify emerging trends or integrating the latest technologies in our offerings, it is how we all respond now that will be the measure of our success in the years ahead.”
FCM Managing Director Middle East and Africa, Ciarán Kelly commented, “Meeting suppliers, fellow colleagues, existing and new customers in Athens has been priceless. Coupled with the excellent content from Th!nk and the buzz of seeing familiar faces again re-enforces the power of being in the same room rather than on a conference call – is much more fun and productive!”
Anchored by live components hosted by FCM’s leadership team and top-notch guests, almost 1,500 audience members tuned into Th!nk from around the globe to experience live and on-demand sessions delving into diverse topics resonating now. Positioned as the antidote to the typical conference, the event featured a rich agenda of thought-provoking topics and carefully curated content through lively debate, interactive discussion, and audience polls, with industry colleagues and corporate heavy hitters revealing their views on what lies ahead for travel and the industry.
Leading Futurist, Shivvy Jervis, provided a fascinating perspective on the innovations likely to shape the business travel experience and identified digital breakthrough areas such as augmented reality and how this might benefit business travellers, particularly at the pre-booking stage. She also recognised that FCM’s human-centred approach to tech showed it is already embracing intuitive technology through the range of digital tools it offers through FCM platform.
Jervis turned moderator to grill panellists such as Sabre’s Salman Syed and FCM’s Chief Experience Officer, John Morhous, on how they are responding to and harnessing the benefits of digital transformation now and in the future. Morhous stepped inside the Metaverse for a fireside chat with Dan Nieves from Meta’s Reality Labs who provided a tantalising peek into how a fully immersive 3D digital environment could be integrated into and change the way people work, collaborate and connect.
Unsurprisingly, sustainability was a recurring theme throughout Th!nk as many corporate clients reshape existing programmes and adapt RFPs to reflect a growing commitment to purposeful travel. In an unapologetic presentation, climate change expert (and self-confessed global traveller) Dr Gabrielle Walker outlined the harsh realities of travel without action – and what must be done by companies, suppliers, and travellers to move the needle and lessen impact.
Representatives from AMC Networks, ThrustCarbon and Amadeus were also quizzed on the steps the industry needs to take to incorporate solutions that contribute to employee wellness and sustainability goals, while balancing cost in corporate travel. Interestingly, in a corresponding snap poll, the results were evenly split between all three options – sustainability, savings/cost, wellness – as being significant in a travel programme, with sustainability edging ahead at 39% compared to savings/cost at 32%.
Alongside the keynote talks, debates and interaction sessions, Th!nk also unpacked a wealth of data-backed insight and learnings. This included event partner GBTA, who provided a preview of their latest research findings on how tech is changing the role of travel managers, highlighting needs, benefits, and pain points. 38% of travel buyers listening into the session indicated sustainability as the key technology feature in their OBT that would help them most. Next month, FCM will be releasing an accompanying white paper sharing further insights on this topic.
Travel experts Festive Road lifted the curtain on the ‘Secret Goldmine’ of data and how this can be better utilised by clients to provide real learnings to understand behaviours to push programmes further and inform decisions. They revealed that a recent research session with FCM clients and prospects identified a need for better data, not more, and for it to be available in real time. Interestingly, when viewers were asked to pinpoint the word that they associated most with data, the top choices split evenly at 19% respectively between ‘decision making’ and ‘complex’. This recognised its importance to a business, though perhaps for some, equally highlighted that not everyone fully understands the how and why. To address this key area and help clients act upon and build their own narrative around key data findings, an FCM Data Playbook on this fascinating topic will be launched soon.
In addition to the highlighted live global sessions, a 24-hour programme of region-specific segments from across EMEA, the Americas, Asia, Australia and New Zealand also shared valuable insights while covering numerous topics resonating in these markets too.
Those attending Th!nk praised the openness and resonance of the discussions, alongside the overall quality and range of global and regional content available at the first-of-its-kind hybrid forum. Testimonials include:
“We’ve heard some interesting dialogue during the sessions. As an industry there are a lot of complexities we need to address, for example sustainability, cost, travel wellness. We need to focus on all three fronts and make that experience count for our customers – that’s an amazing proposition to build.” – Salman Syed, vice president EMEA, Sabre Travel Solutions
“I’ve really appreciated the diversity of session content at Th!nk. FCM really pushed the boundaries across a range of different content areas and were also able to add real value to the conversation around these key themes.” – Glenn Thorson, head of partnerships, ThrustCarbon
“Th!nk has been an incredibly thought-provoking event. One of the most interesting insights to me was that sustainability has overtaken cost savings for the first time as the top priority for travel managers.” – Melanie Garrett, senior vice president, supplier strategies, GBTA
“For me, the best part about Th!nk has been the candour and openness of the senior FCM leaders about their strategies, and their willingness to share personal views and opinions. Very different to other events.” – Ben Park, senior director procurement & travel, Parexel
“The content throughout has been incredibly varied, thought provoking and engaging. Speakers also provided of a level of insight that I found particularly valuable.” – Bryan Rusciano, associate director global travel, Vertex
For a limited time, videos of the key sessions plus 24 hours of global content will be available to view On Demand via following LINK
FCM is one of the world’s largest travel management companies with a 24/7 reach in over 100 countries. As a trusted travel partner for thousands of national and multi-national organisations, including many household brands, Fortune and FTSE 100 companies, FCM’s agile and flexible technology platform anticipates and solves client needs supported by expert teams who provide in-depth local knowledge and duty of care as part of the ultimate personalised business travel experience. While as the flagship business travel division of the ASX-listed Flight Centre Travel Group, FCM is able to negotiate and deliver access to the widest network of airfares, hotels, and ground transport for unique and best-value solutions. The company recently debuted its new omni-channel platform featuring a ‘first of its kind’ customised end-to-end user experience that will be available to new clients from 2022. Discover the alternative at www.fcmtravel.com