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Travel Agency versus Self booking

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global bankingElisa Yarkony, Divisional Manager, Statesman Travel Limited

Clients who come to a travel agency for their corporate travel do so because they truly understand the value of their time, and want to ensure that they get the best possible fares and services.

I can talk from personal experience having been in the industry for 30 years of which for the last 9 l have been working as a Joint Venture and deal with my own client base.

My objective is to offer a comprehensive quality driven “one stop shop” service featuring the best available booking solutions which allows my customers to choose the extent they wish to be involved with the reservation process. By coming through an agency such as myself my clients are guaranteed a single point of contact, which enables me to manage the relationship between our two organisations, as well as allowing them access to a service that ranges from the traditional to the technically advanced, where my clients are able to choose the configuration that best suits them.

Any Travel Agency worth its salt will give its clients this kind of flexibility. By coming through an agent you are not actually losing control but you are empowering yourself to better understand your company’s travel needs and adhere to travel policies.

An agency such as myself will offer a comprehensive travel management service which includes some of the following benefits:

core services
This is something that by going online to book you will not get. Travel Agencies such as mine offer our clients a 24 hour point of contact, so no matter where the client is or in what time zone he is able to contact his agent and ensure that he/she receives the service required.

This is never more apparent than when a disaster happens such as the eruption of the Volcano in Iceland.

The benefits of going with an agency is that in addition to a “traditional “ personal service where you will be able to talk to a real person with a wealth of knowledge and experience, most agencies now offer a “technical “ online service as well, this can be tailored to the individual’s clients requirements.

The concept that it is more expensive to book through an agency is really extremely short sighted and misguided. True when you book through an agency there are some fees involved. But go onto any online booking reservation system on the worldwide web and you will see that they too charge a booking fee and on top of that a credit card fee. The difference being that they will sell you a simple point to point ticket – for example – London / Paris / London. There will be no human interaction, if there is a problem you need to call expensive 0800 numbers where you are charged at anything from 50p per minute – and are kept on hold for a very long time. To be told by someone with little or no travel experience that nothing can be done. So at then of the experience you have:

  1. Wasted your time and your money as you are not paid to be trawling through the internet
  2. Not really offered the best solution, after by combining trips you may have got that trip cheaper but lack of human interaction and knowledge resulted in a straight there a back ticket.
  3. You were charged a fee in any event added to the time you spent doing the research the maths speaks for itself.
  4. When you needed to change you were again charged and kept holding for long periods of time.

By booking through an agent, this could all have been prevented, a knowledgeable agent would have taken your call or email, and they would have asked relevant questions and then gone off and booked what you needed. Advising you of the best fare options, and any special promotions they airlines have in place, which a machine will not do. If you had to change someone is there to take your call or email and advise you of the changes quickly and efficiently 24/7.

Agents also have the benefit of having access to many specially negotiated fares which you cannot find online, as well as being able to negotiate corporate deals with hotels / car hire companies etc. for their clients.

A travel agency is a tool, and like any tool if you use it correctly it will bring untold rewards, the internet is great, there is no denying it, but do you really pay your staff a salary so they can spend the best part of 2 to 3 hours a day looking at websites trying to find the best possible fares, or do you put in one call or one email to an experienced knowledgeable and highly trained agent, who can do that for you, thus freeing your member of staff to do the job they are actually employed to do.

My clients know for sure which they would rather do, and that is call me and free themselves to do what they do best.

 

 

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Neglecting women to tackle COVID-19 is a losing business plan, firms told

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Neglecting women to tackle COVID-19 is a losing business plan, firms told 1

By Sonia Elks

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Companies need female employees to help them bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic and must not let gender equality slip off their agenda due to the tough business climate, a virtual meeting of global figures heard on Monday.

Women have been hit hard by the pandemic’s economic impact, with the International Labour Organization warning last year that COVID-19 threatened to wipe out “modest progress” on workplace in equality in recent decades.

Business leaders, campaigners and politicians told Monday’s online meeting organised by the World Economic Forum that women risk losing hard-won gains at work.

“I have heard many organisations are saying ‘Well, we have so many important issues that diversity really isn’t something we can focus on right now’,” said Laura Liswood, secretary-general at the Council of Women World Leaders.

“That’s just the opposite of the truth, because in a crisis time you need the most creative ideas and the most differing experiences and perspective, which is what diversity provides.”

The disparity is partly because women are more likely to have insecure jobs, while many have also struggled to balance employment with extra caring responsibilities and home-schooling.

Too often their needs are being put last in pandemic response strategies, women leaders told the meeting.

“In crisis, the gender perspective is unfortunately often the first thing to be disregarded,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

There is “lots of willingness” among businesses to tackle gender inequalities but not always enough attention to setting and tracking targets on hiring, promotions and fair pay, said Martine Ferland, chief executive at consulting fund Mercer.

Meanwhile, Liswood said she had come to back the idea of quotas for women in politics and business alike, to ensure that women have a “seat at the table” to influence decisions.

Panel members said governments, business and civil society groups must work together to promote equity in the recovery, with stimulus measures offering a chance to rebalance the scales.

“We will pay great attention on the respect of gender parity in the implementation of our national recovery plan,” said Elisabeth Moreno, French minister for gender equality.

“It is extremely important that women are not left behind in these times of pandemic – there is no better time to involve women in the labour market.”

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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China’s Xi calls for greater role for G20 in economic governance

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China's Xi calls for greater role for G20 in economic governance 2

(Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday called on the world to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and bolster the role of the G20 in global economic governance as he pointed to a “rather shaky” recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum – a gathering usually held in a Swiss ski resort – Xi said the global economic outlook remained uncertain and public health emergencies “may very well recur” in future.

Xi, making his first appearance at the forum since his vigorous defence of free trade and globalisation in an address in Davos in 2017, struck a similar tone this time around, advocating multilateralism as the way out of current challenges in a roughly 25-minute speech. [https://tinyurl.com/y3akbv4l]

“We should build an open world economy … discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges,” he said.

The G20 – an international forum grouping 19 of the biggest developed and emerging economies, plus the European Union – should be strengthened as the “main forum for global economic governance” and the world should “engage in closer macro-economic policy coordination”, Xi added.

China itself would more actively participate in global economic governance, he said.

China’s GDP grew by 2.3% in 2020, according to official data released last week. That was its lowest annual growth rate in more than four decades but still made China the only major economy to avoid a contraction last year as many nations struggled to contain the pandemic.

International governance should be based on rules and consensus, instead of on orders given by one or the few, Xi added, without naming any countries.

“The world is undergoing changes unseen in a century, and now is the time for major development and major transformation,” he said.

Xi’s speech came just five days after Joe Biden was sworn in as U.S. president.

Under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, tensions simmered between the United States and China, the world’s top two economies, on issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Meg Shen and Tom Daly; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson)

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ECB focuses on bank credit, bonds in gauging financing conditions – Lane

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ECB focuses on bank credit, bonds in gauging financing conditions - Lane 3

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank primarily focuses on bank credit conditions and bond yields when assessing if financing conditions are favourable, ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane said on Monday, fleshing out key conditions for setting stimulus.

ECB President Christine Lagarde renewed a commitment to maintaining “favourable” financing conditions last week but did not detail how these conditions would be measured and sources close to the discussion said policymakers could not agree on which gauges to focus on.

“Naturally, the focus on credit conditions in the banking system on the one side and the bond markets on the other is consistent with the main methods used by central banks in steering financing conditions,” Lane said.

Policymakers will revisit the issue at their March meeting in a potentially critical seminar that could determine how the ECB spends its 1 trillion euros of remaining firepower in its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Scheme (PEPP).

But some policymakers are critical of putting too much emphasis on government bond spreads as that could reduce the incentive for good fiscal policy and may be seen as exceeding the bank’s inflation-fighting mandate.

“The ECB routinely looks at a wide range of measures … with a prominent focus on the conditions facing customers who depend on bank-intermediated credit, as well as the conditions facing sectors which seek to obtain funding in bond markets,” he added.

Lane added that any premature steepening of the yield curve would work against the ECB’s efforts to counter the shock of the pandemic.

In a speech consistent with Lagarde’s policy statement, Lane repeated that the ECB will not necessarily spend all of its remaining bond purchase firepower while reserving the right to increase spending, if market conditions worsen.

“If favourable financing conditions can be maintained with asset purchase flows that do not exhaust the envelope over the net purchase horizon of the PEPP, the envelope need not be used in full,” Lane said.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Catherine Evans)

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