2020: The Year in Review by Jamie Pherous
Dear customers and partners,
I sincerely hope this message finds you, your family and loved ones, and colleagues safe and well after what has been the most difficult year. COVID-19 has delivered challenges to us all, spanning geographies, industries and demographics. Yet, as we now close out the year I find myself encouraged by the progress achieved and the opportunities that lie ahead of us as we head into the new year; advancements in vaccine developments, tracing capabilities, quarantine options and rapid testing that will help support our communities and businesses to connect in a safer and more manageable environment in the year ahead.
The impacts of COVID-19 have not only been challenging for Corporate Travel Management (CTM) but for many of our industry peers and partners, as well as our valued customers. Global and regional travel restrictions have had a significant impact on our customers’ mobility, and we continue to see pent-up demand for business travel across our customer portfolio. New Zealand, for example, saw year-on-year growth in travel activity as domestic travel restrictions and community transmission reduced. Our customers continue to express the negative impacts that not being able to travel is having on their business, citing challenges to business performance and growth, and the ability to support and engage employees and customers.
For those of us who have had the opportunity to travel domestically and internationally in recent months, we understand that the travel experience has changed in some ways but many familiarities remain. Where there is change, it is often for the better; cleaner, more efficient airport and hotel processes, more accessible technology and smoother processing. All in all, there is a general feeling of positivity, even relief, at getting back on a plane to reconnect with colleagues and partners and to do business once again.
The significantly reduced travel activity from March 2020 unfortunately required us to resize our business whilst ensuring we could maintain the high level of customer service and support needed during an extended period of travel uncertainty and disruption. Despite the reduction in travel, our customers continued to lean on our teams’ expertise to effectively manage ticket cancellations and rebookings, ticket credit management, and more recently to provide extensive consultancy and advisory services relating to the new travel environment. We have been deeply saddened to lose so many talented and passionate members of our team in all corners of the world. On behalf of the CTM Board and senior leadership team, I thank them all for the important contribution they have made to the CTM business and hope we can bring many back as travel recovers.
During the year, our teams have worked tirelessly to facilitate the safe return home for our customers around the world as borders were locked down and travel bans put in place. We are very proud of the role that our employees played, and continue to play, in reconnecting people and businesses where possible to support their personal and professional needs.
Our teams continue to work closely with travel suppliers, governments and industry innovators around the world to adapt our services and technology to meet the needs of the new travel environment. Our proprietary, flexible technology framework has enabled our business to quickly adapt and integrate new data and intelligence into pre-trip planning and approval workflows, online and mobile travel booking tools, risk identification and communications platforms, and post-trip reporting tools. CTM was one of the first travel management companies in the world to integrate Universal Product Attributes (UPAs) into our proprietary online booking tool, Lightning, to provide users with real-time COVID-19 health and safety features direct from more than 100 airlines globally within their flight search. Similar integrations have been deployed for hotel cleanliness programs to give travellers maximum confidence in their choice of travel services. We have also deployed a new COVID-Hub to our customers globally which integrates up-to-date country and city level travel and health advice, border restrictions and quarantine requirements via an interactive global map and itinerary search to support highly efficient and responsible travel planning and trip management.
Duty of care and traveller wellbeing are now critical elements of a successful business travel program. Our post-trip reporting tools enable businesses to easily identify travellers who may have been to a COVID hotspot, and our Traveller Wellbeing dashboards provide insight into the potential triggers of traveller fatigue.
Enviable financial position
As a result of our swift response to COVID-19, CTM has maintained an enviable financial position during a difficult trading period. We continue to manage the business with an eye to the future and ensuring CTM is well-positioned to respond as the economy recovers. CTM has come through COVID-19 much better than most – we have a strong balance sheet, no debt, a very strong liquidity position, and did not have to rely on capital-raising to survive the crisis. This position gives our customers and partners maximum confidence in their travel management partner as we move into the COVID-recovery phase together.
The pandemic has also presented unique opportunities for CTM to position itself in the strongest possible position post-COVID-19. We are excited to welcome the Travel and Transport team (USA and Europe) to our business in late 2020. With this acquisition, we become a larger global TMC (#5 in the world) with additional resources and technology across both North America and the globe. Combining our organisations will extend our market presence and the breadth of services and technology solutions available to our clients, increase our supplier leverage for greater customer value, and enhance the quality of your experience and that of our collective customer base. In October, we also announced the acquisition of Australian-based travel technology company Tramada Holdings, and we welcome their team of technology professionals into the CTM family.
As we head into 2021, I wish to thank our employees, customers and industry partners for their ongoing commitment, resilience and adaptability during 2020. I remain confident that through collaboration, innovation and a commitment to achieving common goals, we will be well-positioned to support a safe, reliable and effective return to travel in 2021 and beyond.
I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy festive season and a prosperous new year.
Founder & Managing Director
Found the 2020 year in review insightful?
Contact CTM to discuss your travel needs today.