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Carlson Wagonlit: Business travel chief hails new way forward after year of crisis

The business travel industry has reached a turning point following a year of crisis, according to the…

The business travel industry has reached a turning point following a year of crisis, according to the President and CEO of Carlson<.> Wagonlit Travel, world-wide, Herve Gourio.

2001 was a year like no other in the history of business travel. All key players – corporations, travel suppliers, technology companies and Travel Management Companies – have been shaken from the end of 2000 and increasingly throughout 2001. The tragic events of September 11 can now be seen as a watershed.

As a result of all the change and upheaval in the marketplace, a new business model is emerging for travel purchasing. The combination of newly defined relationships between those involved in travel, and increased expectations from clients, is leading to a new way of doing business. It is one based on innovation, a win-win approach and the integration of technology at all critical stages within the travel process.

Gourio underlines the double shift of corporations moving from simply buying travel towards a true procurement approach, while Travel Management Companies go from handling travel towards e.bookings and consultancy.

In this new environment, it is Carlson Wagonlit Travel`s strategy to shape solutions enabling companies to truly reduce costs without compromising their security and quality standards. The company positions itself as the vital link, delivering expertise and service at every critical step of the way – resulting in cost reductions of up to 30 per cent.

Specifically in Europe, it is also Carlson Wagonlit Travel`s intention to expand its outsourcing offering in the region. The company sees a great potential for growth in this area due to the complexity of the travel market.

Despite a difficult year, marked by economic slowdown, cost-cutting world-wide and September 11, Carlson Wagonlit Travel reported a sales volume of $11 billion (USD) for 2001.

Commenting on the results, Herve Gourio said: We were able to withstand the negative impact of a turbulent year due mainly to our ability to adapt our organisation at levels of activity. Other positive factors include productivity gains, strong support from our shareholders, Accor and CCI, and a true global operation.

The company gained over $900 million of new business in 2001, including global accounts such as Unilever.

Other highlights for the company in 2001 include significant geographical expansion. The merger between Japan Travel Bureau and Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Japan took the company to the lead position in Asia. There was also a joint venture with a leading player in South Africa and the acquisition of AC Travel in Germany.

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