The GTMC, the UK’s leading professional industry body representing travel management companies, is stronger than ever and moving forward will be investing more in lobbying, research, industry relationships and communication, announced new GTMC chairman Ajaya Sodha. Key Travel’s co-founder and chairman Sodha was speaking at a lunch following the organisation’s AGM today, where Sodha officially took over the role as chairman from Portman Travel’s Michael Hare.
Sodha warned that there are still challenges ahead for the business travel industry. He highlighted the lack of air capacity in the South East of England and excessive aviation taxes and said they were constraining the ability of UK PLC to win business and limited the country’s ability to act as a global player.
Sodha said: ”Unless the government acts quickly we will be relegated into also-rans when compared with the air capacity of Germany and France. In addition saddling our business travellers with excessive taxes makes us less competitive as a nation. The risk is that corporates will soon bypass the UK through their travel policies, or even through their investment decisions, as we become less economically attractive.”
In his speech Sodha paid tribute to outgoing chairman Michael Hare and chief executive Anne Godfrey for turning the GTMC from a loss making organisation in 2009 to be fine tuned, lean and strong, bringing maximum ROI for it’s members and partners moving into 2012.
Referring to the insatiable demand for data Sodha announced that the GTMC would build on the success of its quarterly transaction survey and other data produced in house from members’ statistics and would invest in an external company to produce more detailed reports. More extensive data would be collected and analysed to deliver trends to assist GTMC members and partners and also to reinforce key messages to politicians and civil servants in the GTMC lobbying campaign.
On the subject of lobbying activities Sodha said that these would be increased, not just with the UK government but also EU institutions. In addition to APD, air capacity and visa charges, issues such as VAT, high-speed rail and infrastructure for transport into the next decades would be on the agenda.
Sodha said: “Many pieces of legislation that affect the business travel community emanate from the EU. It is therefore vital for us to lobby those EU institutions to ensure they understand how their decisions impact the business traveller.”
Sodha divulged plans to increase communication with members, partners and other GTMC stakeholders. An online community will be established enabling members to debate topical issues as soon as they happen, rather than waiting for the next meeting. Initially commencing with one of the working parties – there are air, hotel, surface transportation, HR, industry affairs and technology - and once the programme is up and running the debates will be opened up to a wider group, allowing partners and even trade bodies and media to join in.
GTMC partners, of which there are currently twenty eight including eight airlines and five hotel groups, will for the first time in the organisation’s history be invited to the quarterly Members sessions, providing the opportunity for partners to be privy to previously confidential members’ discussions and also to share their own strategies in a confidential environment.
Finally, on the subject of communication Sodha confirmed that he would continue the increased collaboration with other trade bodies, stepped up by chief executive Anne Godfrey in 2011 and continue the regular media briefings introduced by Mike Hare.
Three new GTMC members – Altour, Expotel and Omega were welcomed to their first AGM, as were new partners Accelya, Red Spotted Hanky, Business Taxis, First Great Western and Hong Kong Airlines.