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TRAVEL LATEST SECTOR TO EMBRACE THE BENEFITS OF ALTERNATIVE LENDING

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Enrico di San Marzano

Globally the alternative lending market has soared. Capitalising on banks’ deleveraging of their balance sheets alternative lenders have rapidly expanded, with companies and consumers embracing various forms of alternative finance such as crowd funding and peer to peer lending. The trend is also sweeping across market sectors, with travel and tourism the latest to embrace alternative lending and a wider array of options to pay for travel.

Enrico di San Marzano is a former senior figure at the UK’s TUI Travel Plc with thirty years’ experience in the travel industry, and is now Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Travelfund, the innovative first-to-market virtual storecard for travel. Below he explains how introducing alternative lending and payment methods to travel bookings is benefitting consumers but also has the potential to increase revenues in the travel sector and boost economic growth.

Enrico di San Marzano

Enrico di San Marzano

Travel is a major contributor to the GDP of most countries. For example, in the UK, the overall travel market is worth some £36 billion annually, forecasted to grow to £40+ billion within the next three years. As the UK economy continues to recover the holiday market is set to expand rapidly. The number of holidays taken by UK consumers is expected to increase by over 10% to an estimated 100 million holidays by 2017, compared to the market’s low point in 2010.

However, recently holiday expenditure has come under pressure. For instance, in the 12 months since June 2013, UK residents’ trips abroad increased in number by 5%, but the expenditure on these trips actually decreased by 3% in the same period. The statistics are particularly bad for the summer months, which should be peak holiday season: in the months April to June the number of trips abroad decreased by 1% compared with the previous year, but expenditure decreased by 23%.

Since the recession, consumers have struggled fund their holidays. Disposable income is still tight: the disposable income of a middle-earning, working-age household in the UK was £31,100 in 2007 but now stands at £29,900. It is hardly surprising, then, that while holidaymakers may be as keen as ever to go abroad, they are less willing to spend extra money to do so.

The travel industry has responded by allowing customers to pay for holidays in instalments, instead of paying up front. Major Holiday providers such as Loveholidays.com, British Airways and Jet2holidays allow customers to pay an initial deposit up front and complete the remainder of their payment in instalments before their holiday.

However there is an increasing demand for a service which would allow holidaymakers to pay after, rather than before, their holiday. A YouGov consumer survey found that 35% of all holidaymakers, and 48% of 25-34 year olds, would prefer to spread the cost of their annual holiday over 12 months.

Paying for holidays by instalment has been popularised in the US by PayPal’s Bill Me Later, which earlier this summer was rebranded as PayPal Credit. Bill Me Later was founded in 2000 and acquired by Ebay in 2008. The company allows customers six months interest-free to pay for bookings made via major agencies including BookIt.com, US Airways and Delta.

At Travelfund, our new service allows customers to open an instant credit account of up to £2,000 to fund their holiday with travel brands that consumers know and trust. They can use their credit account to pay for individual holiday elements, such as flights or hotels or a combination, or a tailored holiday package. The APR rate depends upon the individuals’ credit score and risk profile with 19.9% being the indicative rate.

For consumers, the service allows them to fly before they pay in full and spread the cost of their holiday over a period of up to 12 months from the time of booking, with no hidden costs and no redemption penalties for early repayments and overpayments.

Travelfund is partnering with leading tailor-made-holiday specialists TravelPack and Advance Payment Solutions LTD (APS), one of Europe’s foremost payment solutions companies, to launch this service. Customers will initially need to make their holiday bookings through TravelPack, and the loan funding will be provided by APS, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a consumer lender.

A platform such as ours has the potential to boost all-round revenue from holiday spending. It is user-friendly for consumer and helpful to businesses, by allowing various holiday services to be included in bookings, such as hotels, airlines and tours. It also encourages customers to pay for extras as part of payment deals, such as extending their holiday, upgrading their hotel room or booking extra excursions.

This payment method also offers the potential to increase conversion rates by tapping into existing consumer habits of making last minute purchases online. Our current data for the past three months since we launched, show that 58% of the departure dates for holidays were under 45 days from booking. So as well as adding capacity to the market we are also putting some much-needed spontaneity back into the travel market too. Anyone free for a trip to Marrakech this weekend….?

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Northern Irish Brexit issue is two-way street, says EU’s Sefcovic

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Northern Irish Brexit issue is two-way street, says EU's Sefcovic 1

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain must show it is fully using the avenues available under the Brexit divorce deal to minimise trade disruption in Northern Ireland before seeking concessions, a senior EU official said on Tuesday.

Britain’s exit from the EU’s trading orbit in January has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland – which remains in the EU’s single market for goods – and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Maros Sefcovic, a vice president of the European Commission, said he hoped to learn of British efforts during an online meeting on Wednesday .

“I was also reminding my British partners that this must be a two-way street,” he told a news conference.

Sefcovic said real-time access to the IT systems of customs could smooth customs processes and a trusted trader scheme could ensure Northern Irish supermarkets were properly supplied.

“I hope that tomorrow… we will get feedback from our UK partners on how all these flexibilities and grace periods are being used because it’s clearly a pre-requisite for the EU, the Commission and the member states to assess any further requests,” Sefcovic said.

The EU’s insistence on Britain honouring its withdrawal treaty has left the British province of Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market and put a customs border in the Irish Sea dividing the province from mainland Britain.

Sefcovic said that there were inevitable consequences of Brexit so not everything could be resolved.

Members of Northern Ireland’s two largest pro-British parties have said they are set take part in legal action challenging part of Britain’s divorce deal.

However, Sefcovic said companies there might over time see the divorce arrangements as an advantage.

“Being in the single market and at the same time the internal market of the UK is actually a great business opportunity. And I hope that our joint work will amplify this possibility,” he said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Mark Potter)

 

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Calabrio charts record year-on-year UK growth as demand for cloud technology soars during lockdown

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How cloud technology can help you keep on top of your business finances

Digital transformation acceleration drives cloud contact centre adoption of Calabrio workforce engagement management technology

Calabrio, the workforce engagement management (WEM) company, has seen a strong growth trajectory in the UK during the last 12 months, despite the global pandemic. Achieving 30% year-on-year sales growth, Calabrio International has welcomed more than 150 new customers, with the UK adding a third of those from a wide range of industries including many online challenger businesses. In addition, Calabrio has made strategic new appointments to build its customer support network.

Calabrio charts record year-on-year UK growth as demand for cloud technology soars during lockdown 2

Kris Mckenzie

Kris McKenzie, SVP, Sales, International at Calabrio commented, “Our focus on cloud-first solutions has resonated well with our customers’ need to accelerate their digital transformation and move their contact centres to the cloud in order to maintain business continuity. At a time of uncertainty when consumers need robust support more than ever before, we are witnessing first-hand the cloud transformation of customer services by organisations looking to deliver the next level in customer experience. Modern businesses and contact centres using Calabrio are able to provide exceptional service to their customers through disrupted times.

“Coupled with businesses operating solely online, we have also seen strong demand across the board from more traditional sectors such as finance, insurance, retail, consumer goods, local and central government departments. These organisations require an innovative yet reliable solution to help them manage unprecedented levels in demand.”

When Calabrio surveyed its customers recently[i] 72% of organisations stated they are either moving to the cloud, are already there or plan to increase their investment in cloud technology in 2021. In order to support forward-thinking organisations looking to optimise their investment in cloud contact centre solutions, Calabrio has made two significant appointments.

Niall Gallacher has joined Calabrio as Business Intelligence (BI) strategic consultant and will be instrumental in the design of services that drive value from data and analytics, helping Calabrio customers to solve complex business problems. Before joining Calabrio, Niall spent 6 years with Qlik as Industry Solutions Director. He has 25 years of experience in data, analytics and BI, 15 of which have been with contact centres for leading companies in telecommunications, energy and high-tech industries.

Graeme Gabriel joins as a presales engineer, supporting Calabrio’s workforce engagement suite. He will work with customers to ensure that they achieve maximum benefit from their use of Calabrio solutions, no matter the remote, on-site or hybrid environment. Graeme has international experience encompassing telephony, contact centre, WFM, analytics and customer experience (CX) across a range of sectors, and has held consultancy, advocacy and planning positions at companies including Injixo, Vluent, QPC and AVIOS.

McKenzie concluded, “We welcome both Niall and Graeme to Calabrio, during what has been an incredible year of growth for Calabrio as we supported our customers through these challenging times. This is an exciting and dynamic time for Calabrio as we continue to deliver the value of our all-in-one cloud contact centre suite, including call recording, quality management (QM), WFM, speech analytics and business intelligence suitable for organisations of all shapes and sizes.”

[i] TechValidate survey of 192 users of Calabrio.  Published 29 December 2020.

 

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise 3

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp reported higher fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday and said it would start a two-year program that will change it from a holding company to an operating company.

The news and information company, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment, a gain from an amendment to pension plan and lower costs.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit.

It was not immediately clear if adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were directly comparable to the 46 cents expected.

Thomson Reuters’ markets are healthy and evolving, making this a good time to transition the company from a content provider to a “content-driven technology company,” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.

Workplaces have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and artificial intelligence has a larger role in professional markets, he said.

(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

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