July 30, 2007: American Express Business Travel has reported a strong year in Asia Pacific with wins up 50% and sales up 10% year-on-year across the region for first six months of 2007.
Libby Roy, General Manager and Vice President for American Express Business Travel, Japan, Asia Pacific and Australia said:“The buoyant Asia Pacific economy is obviously a factor in our growth – as economic growth is the key driver of passenger growth in developing countries. We have seen the most rapid growth in the emerging markets where first half sales increased by 42% in India and 32% in Thailand compared to the same period in 2006. The sales growth is a result of a number of significant new business wins across a wide range of industries – from finance and manufacturing to mining and technology.
“However, our tremendous momentum in the region is not just a reflection of the strong local economies. The key has been that we have actively drawn on our 90 year history in Asia Pacific to develop innovative corporate travel solutions and services – from online tools to consulting services - that are designed to be appropriate and relevant to the specific markets that use them, rather than a cookie cutter ‘one size fits all’ approach. American Express pioneered corporate online travel 10 years ago and today we continue to develop innovative online solutions – not just for booking, but also for management information reporting and data integration,” Ms Roy explained.
American Express has made strategic headcount investments in the region including more than 100 new roles in India since June 2006 and several new senior regional executive roles to lead the Client Management, Field Effectiveness and Advisory Services functions.
In China, the fourth biggest business travel market in the world2, American Express Business Travel and the Shanghai International Conference Management Organization, have hosted the China Business Travel Forum since 2005 - a business-to-business educational conference, designed to showcase the business travel industry, foster business relationships and further business travel in China, both internally and externally.
American Express’ Self Managed Reservation Tool (SMART) is China’s first and only online travel booking tool designed specifically for corporate travellers. Built in-house using the Travel Sky API, the Chinese GDS, SMART allows travellers to easily book domestic flights online and provides companies with greater savings, efficiency and control over their travel bookings.
In Australia, American Express Online (AXO) is a holistic approach to online travel expense management launched in November 2006 and now used by more than 200 businesses to gain better visibility and control over their travel expenditure on flights, hotel accommodation and car hire via a one-stop interactive shop. Today 35% of all American Express Business Travel bookings in Australia are online with several best in class clients reaching 90% online penetration. More than 70% of these online transactions are processed without manual intervention.
“Advisory Services has already been engaged by six clients in Australia and Asia to assess their program optimisation, supplier strategies and day-to-day management. We identified more than US$500,000 in potential savings for those clients alone through benchmarking analysis and negotiation strategy development. We have had a strong response to our business process outsourcing offer as for many companies it makes sense to outsource the travel management function in such a fragmented geography – this factor alone is likely to drive uptake in Asia Pacific ahead of the U.S.,” said Ms Roy.
New Leadership Structure
In July 2007 American Express Business Travel introduced a general management structure across the region by creating five sub-regions within Asia Pacific to cover all proprietary, joint venture and partnership markets and operations. Day-to-day client management control lies with the General Managers and they will focus on ensuring that the sub-regions operate with maximum efficiency and complete client focus.
The five new General Manager positions reporting to Libby Roy are:
- Irene See - Vice President & General Manager, ASEAN covering Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.
- Justin Morgan – Vice President & General Manager for Australia and New Zealand.
- Gregor Lochtie - Vice President & General Manager, Greater China, covering mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
- Andi Budd - has extended his responsibilities to include Korea and becomes the Vice President & General Manager, Japan and Korea.
- The newly created position of Vice President & General Manager, India is to be announced shortly. Andy Aitkenhead has assumed leadership responsibility for India in the interim.
- In conjunction with the sub-region General Managers, Anthony Drury and Andy Aitkenhead, are responsible regionally for ensuring world-class sales, operations and client management.
Hong Kong Acquisition
This week, American Express Business Travel acquired the remaining 63% of shares in its joint venture Farrington American Express Travel Services Limited in Hong Kong, to form a wholly-owned travel management venture within the fast growth market.
“The acquisition is a natural step in our growth plan. We use a multi-pronged approach to our globalisation strategy via a combination of organic growth, acquisition, joint ventures and partnerships. Joint ventures allow us to quickly grow our business as they combine the strength of our global reach with local knowledge to service high growth markets. We have successfully worked with Farrington Travel for the past seven years and the staff and management team will remain with the proprietary business,” Ms Roy explained.