FCM’s chief for Asia Bertrand Saillet speaks to Yeoh Siew Hoon on how it is blending best of online and offline in Asia by investing in new tech to enhance the traveller experience and taking lessons from its parent company’s retail model.
There was a time in corporate travel that when you asked key executives what their competitive edge was, most would say service first, followed by compliance and safety, but the times, they have changed.
Right: Saillet - Showing off Sam which he says was a game changer for FCM.
When I asked Bertrand Saillet, managing director of FCM Travel Solutions, Asia what the key competitive edge is today, the former Amadeus executive said unequivocally, “Technology.” Of course, he followed up with “service” right after that. “The one who can blend the best of technology and the best of service,” he added.
Saillet, who joined FCM four years ago as general manager for Singapore and has since risen up the ranks to look after the region, said the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has been investing heavily in tech through its Labs initiative whose aim is to incubate and bring to market emerging travel technologies to its corporate brands.
“The consumerisation of corporate travel is definitely happening. Travellers are telling us, when I travel for leisure, I have amazing tools but when it comes to company trips, I have nothing. FCM is investing in traveller-centric solutions to change the perception of corporate travel and make it exciting again.”
He introduces me to Sam, which he said was the game changer for FCM. Sam, the personal travel assistant launched in 2017, is now in use by FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller in over 40 markets. It’s an impressive mobile app that allows you to book, chat, send feedback, report expenses, share your location, book rides (it’s integrated with Uber and Lyft), get notifications on flights, traffic and security alerts, tell you restaurants around you, gives you city guides, etc.
It has gamification built in – it will tell you that you’ve flown enough miles to reach the moon or you’ve spent “940 hours flying”,which is equivalent to watching 403.49 Harry Potter films or 46.63 Star Wars sagas – that’s Saillet’s profile by the way.
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