Media release: 10 April 2019
cievents has enhanced its group travel management offering significantly with the launch of new technology solutions to streamline booking flights for groups of all sizes and give organisers cloud-based real-time visibility of data and spend.
The move comes following exceptional growth in cievents’ group travel business over the last 12 months, since the agency established a specialist group travel team at its UK head office. Turnover from group travel in 2018 totalled some £2.1m – up from only £300k the previous year – and is expected to rise to £3.8m in 2019.
cievents, a division of Flight Centre Travel Group, is spearheading the integration of an online booking tool with its event registration technology, which is accessed by delegates via a bespoke travel portal. This means group travel delegates register for the trip or event via the portal, then click through to self-book their own flights. They can either specify dates and departures individually or select from flight options pre-agreed with the client’s group organiser. The online tool also offers variable payment options as bookings can be billed-back via cievents, or the delegate can pay at the time of booking on a credit card.
Once flights have been booked, the details are populated within the delegate’s profile in the travel portal. Group organisers can log in easily and have clear visibility online of travel data and bookings at any stage of the process, enabling them to manage reporting and track costs more effectively.
George Turner, Business Leader Group Travel cievents says: “Use of technology and online tools for booking business travel has evolved exponentially over the last ten years. Corporate group travel has also clearly evolved significantly in terms of multi-faceted reasons for travelling, type and size of group and destinations both near and far. Yet most TMCs and event management agencies have been slow to tap into the same technology when it comes to arranging group travel. Most of them are still managing group travel bookings via labour-intensive Excel spreadsheets and emails to individual delegates. And TMCs are still in the mindset that online booking tools are for individual business travel bookings.
“We are leading the way when it comes to integrating online booking tools with delegate registration platforms for group travel purposes,” continues Turner. “Our online option is a slick easy solution as delegates feel that they have more choice and control over their booking, while event organisers can log in and get an immediate overview of which delegates have booked which flights at any time.”
Alternatively, instead of cievents complete online booking option, clients can choose from two other service levels to meet their group travel needs: ‘Concierge’ whereby delegates register online for the event via the travel portal, but cievents group travel team liaise with individual delegates offline to arrange flights as the client requires a personal approach to booking travel for each individual; and ‘Agent Assist’ whereby delegates still register via their dedicated travel portal, but cievents allocates flights based on options pre-agreed with the client’s group organiser.
“On the face of it, group travel sounds simple – but in fact there is a great deal of complexity to organising it, as it can involve 50 delegates all travelling on the same flight from the same departure airport to the same destination, or it could be 50 people all travelling from different locations to one event,” explains Turner. “Likewise, the group size can vary from 10 people up to 10,000, depending on the type of event, or reason for travel. Group travel also can’t be pigeon-holed when it comes to visibility of spend and reporting as it straddles a company’s business travel programme as well as their meetings programme.
“Our aim with these new online and offline servicing options, or a hybrid of any of them, is to demonstrate our versatility and understanding that each client’s requirements for group travel are different. Ultimately, we want to make the complexities of group travel as simple and streamlined as possible for our client’s organisers and their delegates,” sums up Turner.
Lucy Francis, UK General Manager cievents, adds: “Event management still accounts for the largest part of our business at around 60 per cent, but we have seen significant growth in our group travel business over the last 12 months, thanks to the bespoke approach the group travel team takes with each client.
“Our groups offering is also not typical of a traditional event management company,” continues Francis. “Because we are part of Flight Centre Travel Group, our clients also benefit from our ability to negotiate competitive airfares thanks to the global resources of our parent company. And because our sister division is FCM Travel Solutions, one the world’s leading travel management companies, we can consolidate and leverage a client’s business travel and group travel spend to maximum effect.”