Breaking Travel News interview: Elyes Mrad, MD, EMEA, American Express Global Business Travel

With business travellers able to book flights in moments on mobile devices, it seems the end could be in sight for travel management companies.

No so, argues Elyes Mrad, managing director, EMEA, American Express Global Business Travel.

Business is set to boom as an ever more interconnect global economy see travellers come to rely on the partners they trust to get them to their destinations safely.

Here Breaking Travel News takes a look at what the future might hold.

“There is so much potential for change in this industry,” explains Elyes Mrad, the recently appointed managing director, EMEA, of American Express Global Business Travel.

“Personally, I am very excited about how we can develop.

“I am excited by what American Express Global Business Travel is able to do; to see how we can change travelling for business in the future.”

So far, very much on message for the leader of one of the largest travel management companies in the global market.

The difference with Mrad, and the organisation he leads, however, is that one gets the impression they may actually be able to do it. Things may change.

Spun off from American Express-proper in 2014, the company combines the best elements of a start-up, with the funds and heritage of its multinational parent, offering the best of both worlds. 

“We are a start-up with 14,000 people and $900 million to invest – this is quite exciting,” Mrad explains, with considerable understatement.

“When you are a department in a company with nearly £35 billion in revenue – the attention of the management cannot be the same as on a standalone organisation.

“This venture allows us to be nimble, to focus exclusively on travel.”

He continues: “American Express had confidence and vision in this venture.

“They really believed with our focus we could bring something very different to this industry.”

So what might this change be? What can American Express Global Business Travel bring to an already competitive market?

Technology

Technology will obviously be key.

Following its launch, American Express Global Business Travel revealed it would embark on a cloud-based strategy, designed to ensure its corporate systems would create the greatest flexibility in meeting the growing needs of travellers.

The company sought to position itself at the forefront of the industry with its ability to provide its customers with best-in-class technology tools and solutions to ensure seamless end-to-end travel experiences.

“We are building a platform – allowing us to combine online, offline and mobile for our customers,” Mrad explains.

“We can serve people across this platform – recording to their trips in real time.

But, as Mrad continues, technology is merely a facilitator.

It is service which will define the company.

“We seek to use technology as an enabler,” he continues.

“We integrate technology into our services, but at heart we are a service company. This is what gives us an advantage.”

“Our customers select us because they know they can count on American Express.”

“We have built the trust, relationships with our customers over years.

“We are celebrating a century in the travel industry this year.”

This gets to the heart of what American Express Global Business Travel is seeking to do; tie the strength of the global American Express brand to the latest technologies to offer a level of service not previously possible on a global scale. 

“This is what gives me confidence against our competition.

“Anybody can come with a new piece of technology, but they do not have that trust,” he explains.

“We need to make sure we can serve them constantly.”

Timing

Mrad is also confident American Express Global Business Travel is launching at just the right time, as global macroeconomic forces move in the company’s favour.

He explains: “If you created a company a generation ago, you would grow from a local destination, and look overseas maybe a decade, two, later.

“Now, when you launch a company, your market is straight away global. There is ever more need to travel for business.”

American Express Global Business Travel is there to meet this demand, he argues.

Larger companies also have resources spread globally, he argues, with different parts of the supply chain, or different processes in different locations.

This again boosts the need for travel.

“We are the only company that is able to commit – to invest on this scale to take advantage of this.

With business travellers also ever more productive on the road, Mrad is also keen to point out the company will be in a position to meet rising expectations.

“We are here to meet the demands of our customers today, but also what we expect will happen in the future – we are the only ones able to do this.

“We are the only ones with the will, and the means, to bring this change to this industry.”

Only time will tell, but American Express Global Business Travel is sure to be heavily involved in whatever change is coming.

More Information

American Express Global Business Travel enables corporations and empowers business travellers with insights, connections and exceptional customer service on a global scale.

Through technology and information, American Express Global Business Travel provides leading travel solutions, integrated consulting services, proprietary research, and end-to-end meetings and events capabilities.

Take a look at the official website for more information.