Jade, can you do a little introduction to FCM Travel Solutions.
FCM Travel Solutions (a subsidiary of Flight Centre Travel Group) is one of the world’s leading global corporate travel management company! We have networks in more than 95 countries and employ over 6,000 people. We are different due to the combination of our people’s expertise, supplier relations, unrivalled negotiating strength and innovative technology solutions. All of this has positioned FCM as a leading business travel partner for large national, multinational and global corporations.
You are the Strategic Head of Marketing, in charge of Asia for FCM. What are your core responsibilities?
As well as the day to day of managing our marketing team across Asia, I am responsible for our marketing strategy in all of our equity markets; Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. I also work very closely with our global marketing teams in other regions and our partners across Asia to ensure brand consistency and communications.
A seasoned travel management executive, has been in the industry for as long as you have, it will be interesting to know what keeps you in.
Honestly, it is the people and the passion at FCM. Across all the FCM regions I meet diverse personalities that are experts in their field, who throw so much drive and dedication into what they do. I learn from the people around me and I enjoy working with them. I feel genuinely passionate about what I am doing and supporting the business succeed in their goals.
No doubt, in this age of digitalization, travel and travel management has evolved through and through. What has been the biggest change and challenge?
I think it is the adaption of having a B2C marketing mindset within a B2B offering. Travel is very personal to a lot of people and as such the needs and expectations of business travellers has taken a huge shift. As a business, our technology and innovation have to keep up and adapt to meet the varying needs within travel management, from taking into account the convenience that the traveller wants, to the data and reporting that procurement leaders want and the savings ROI that the c-level suite needs.
Tell our readers a little about your bespoke technology solutions, Jade.
Our mobile app Sam has had a big impact on our offering and was a real game-changer in the industry. Powered by artificial intelligence Sam is simple and intuitive to use thanks to its chatbot-based interface making it just like using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. I myself use it not just on my business trips but my personal ones too!
Our mobile app is just one of several products that sit in our technology suite, FCM Connect. FCM Connect features an intuitive and easy to use customisable dashboard that our clients love. The additional products cover reporting and analytics, expense management, approval processes, a duty of care and more. Every one of our corporate clients has a different focus, and our bespoke products are further customised to the clients’ needs. This is how flexible and dedicated we are, in wanting to solve as many of our clients’ challenges, as possible.
Product knowledge is an essential sales skill. How do you ensure your Consultants are fully equipped with that?
With the right amount of training and communication. We make sure these are covered through a range of channels as everyone absorbs information in a different way, either through in-person events, online video sessions or digital and printed collateral.
FCM is said to be the leader in developing proprietary technology in the travel management space. Can you expand this point, Jade?
FCM LAB is a special part of our company which focuses on innovation and developing technology solutions that can solve real business travel problems. It is probably the only one of its kind in the TMC space. The team constantly identifies gaps where technology can help the business traveller, booker or travel manager before immersing themselves in experiments to tweak it to perfections, and ultimately rolling them out to be offered globally.
How important is branding to you and why?
As a marketer, it would be surprising if I said it wasn’t! Branding is hugely important to me, it takes our people, our culture, our offering, and everything we represent and tells a story. It is how we can set ourselves apart from our competitors and how we can connect with our people, our customers and our potential customers.
Your front-liners, Consultants are the face of FCM. What is done differently in FCM when it comes to Customer Service to make sure you stand out from the competitors?
We are constantly improving automation and adding enhancements to the booking process so that our consultants can focus on the most important element – our clients and their needs.
Every consultant has a minimum of five years of experience in corporate travel and we keep individual teams lean in order to ensure efficiency with fast turnaround for every client’s request. This small team model (of a maximum of seven per team) led by highly experienced leaders allows us to provide clients with personalised service.
We use a blended learning approach of online-offline-chat to engage our consultants. They are regularly assessed and upskilled in technology offerings through one-on-one tracking, monthly communication and training sessions through various channels. There is very low attrition (under 5%) across our consultants, due to leadership development, career progression opportunities and strong camaraderie across teams.