“Absolutely, categorically, not.”
Not the answer we expected when we asked Scott Pawley, managing director of Global Travel Management (GTM), if he would recommend Travelport Smartpoint to another agency.
“But only because I wouldn’t want to give up my competitive advantage” he quickly adds.
Strength from experience
GTM is a family.
It was founded in 1997 by husband and wife team, Scott and Natalie Pawley, along with Scott’s father, Frank. Based in Surrey, GTM is now one of the UK’s top 50 travel management companies with revenue of £20 million from corporate clients.
“The initial drive in setting up the business all those years ago was to make my parents proud,” says Scott, “and that’s still as important now as it was 23 years ago.”
Both Scott and Natalie had experience in travel management but wanted to plot their own course.
GTM’s ethos is to put great staff at the heart of everything they do.
“Employees of GTM have an average of 21 years’ experience in the industry and are used to managing clients’ travel needs through the most trying of circumstances,” says Scott.
So when the pandemic hit last year, GTM was ready to face it.
“We have become used to external influences impacting the business travel sector,” he says. “From the global credit crunch to 9/11and from the ash cloud crisis to the 2020 pandemic — we’re used to the business travel industry having to realign.”
From the smallest of small, to the bluest of blue
Most of GTM’s clients are UK-based, from small businesses to “the bluest of blue-chip companies” and come from a wide range of industry sectors, including brewing, medical, finance, oil and gas, and entertainment.
GTM look to forge long-term, profitable, and mutually beneficial relationships with their clients, and while they have cultivated expertise with these industries, “we don’t specialize,” says Scott.
“We have two questions before we take on a new client,” he says. “First, to ensure that we’re always doing a great job for every client, we ask ourselves, ‘can we provide a good, value–for–money service for this client?’
Second, because diversity is important to us, we ask another question. We want to ensure we’re working with clients who share many of our own aspirations on opportunity, so we ask, ‘does this client look like us?'”
23 years and counting
Scott says GTM has been working with Travelport since day one — he was already familiar with our GDS, “and there was no reason for me to make any other decision,” he says. “And it’s a decision I have been happy to stick with.”
We asked how GTM and the way they use technology has changed and evolved over the last 23 years.
“Initially, everything we did was completely hands-on,” says Scott. “But every year we look to develop our processes and technology so the business is more streamlined. This has the effect of empowering our employees to use their skills and experience, instead of being hampered and hamstrung by poorly developed workflows.”
Scott told us that, before the pandemic, their most useful product was Hotel Retail because of its comprehensive set of hotel content — but since the start of the pandemic, they’ve found the COVID-19 Smartpoint Plugin “invaluable”, as well as Smartpoint Assisted Ticketing.
“Smartpoint is fast – which is critical,” says Scott. “It has a full range of functionality, which means that travel consultants can spend their time managing travel, instead of searching for functionality. And it’s easy to work with – saving time and training resource.”
Using Smartpoint means GTM can closely follow every element of their workflow, making the most of each cross-sell and upsell opportunity — plus, “it’s extremely easy to set up and use remotely, saving IT resource time and cost,” says Scott. “Despite clients now having a significantly higher demand of information from each booking, every request can be met immediately, simply by using Smartpoint.”
The most important feature of Hotel Retail for GTM is the display of corporate rates, which gives their consultants the opportunity to explain the rate, demonstrate cost savings, and offer alternatives when and where possible.
“Having access to this content has given us the opportunity to increase attachment rates this year,” says Scott.
The changing world of corporate travel
“Travelport has been a crucial partner for GTM,” says Scott. “Our partnership is based on openness and trust.”
Scott tells us that at the start of the pandemic, the numbers of GTM’s bookings diminished significantly and very rapidly — an experience many agencies can probably relate to. “But,” he adds, “Travelport remained a reliable, trusted source of information throughout.”
Scott believes the business travel sector has changed permanently in the last year, and so GTM has had to change as well. Scott says that in addition to being a manager of travel, GTM has also become a trusted, authoritative source of business travel information.
“We’re using a combination of our expert knowledge and the Travelport products to instil confidence in every client, every time they want help determining when, where, and whether to travel.”