China urged to focus on hotel spend

More than 2,000 visitors attended the third annual American Express China Business Travel Forum in Shanghai and were cautioned to pay greater attention to the management of hotel spend, shifting focus beyond air.

Additionally companies should apply the power of their spend data for greater advantage during supplier negotiations.

Speaking at the conference Libby Roy, General Manager and Vice President of American Express Business Travel, Japan, Asia Pacific and Australia commented, “With hotel occupancy rates averaging 85 percent, severe capacity restraints and fragmented distribution systems across Asia Pacific, corporate travel managers need to place more focus on hotel management in order to drive savings to their organizations.

“In addition, spend on small to medium sized meetings hasn’t had the visibility of the procurement department and this needs to change. In our experience when a company increases its focus on this area savings of around 10 percent are being achieved.”

Benchmarking data and consolidating spend across air, hotel and car programs was another strong piece of advice that came out of the forum.

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Kurt Knackstedt, Vice President of Advisory Services and Field Effectiveness, American Express Business Travel JAPA said, “Meaningful data is a corporate travel manager’s most powerful tool in the current environment. Prices are going to continue to rise therefore it is critical a company demonstrates its spending power and scale with its suppliers.”

American Express Business Travel also announced four new Centres of Excellence with state of the art technology to support the end-to-end travel management process and create consistent servicing capability. These will be based in Australia, India, Hong Kong and Singapore and service customers across the region from 2008.

Andy Aitkenhead, Vice President Client Management and Operations, American Express Business Travel, Japan, Asia Pacific and Australia said, “Our regional centres of excellence will provide us with a world class office space for our growing business and room to expand as we plan for our future growth in the Asia Pacific business travel market. The technology upgrade will optimise call traffic, increase the speed of customer response and provide robust quality assurance and customer satisfaction monitoring platforms.”

The forum was held over two days on 4 and 5 December in Shanghai and attended by more than 2000 visitors including international and local customers, prospects, media and partners.
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