60 Seconds with AirPlus
60 Seconds with... AirPlus
Recently we talked about what BSP changes mean for business travel bookers, so this month we caught up with Linda Durighello, Partner Relationship Manager at AirPlus who fills us in on the advantage their range of lodge cards and other services offer business travellers.
Who are AirPlus and how do you help Business Travellers?
AirPlus is a specialist in business travel payment. We provide payment and credit facilities which have been designed entirely with the travel sector in mind. We have an array of products, the main one being our Company Account (a lodge card account) which is used to pay for pre-trip travel expenses, mainly flights and hotels.
We also offer an award winning corporate card programme, which travellers can use to pay for ‘on the road expenses’ such as taxis, food and fuel.
Virtual cards are becoming an increasingly popular payments solution thanks to their ability to empower travellers while ensuring businesses maintain overall control; AirPlus’ solution is called A.I.D.A. Virtual Payment.
Then we have a reporting tool called AirPlus Info Manager, which brings all of the information on travel spend together.
What headaches and problems do your products solve for business travellers?
Typical problems for corporate travel managers or finance teams include not being able to get a clear overview of total spend, staff failing to comply with their travel policy and travellers not having the right means to pay for their business trips.
There are often problems with reconciliation, with receipts going astray, data not getting passed on and finance departments not having enough information about specific bookings. One of the benefits of having a payment solution such as AirPlus in place is that they can see at a glance exactly what has been spent with each provider. This can help with supplier negotiations. This information helps corporate bookers also, because they can track individual or departmental spend and really drill down into specifics.
Acceptance is key too – AirPlus corporate cards and virtual payment cards are issued on the MasterCard network, which means they are accepted by over 32 million merchants worldwide.
What makes your products better than other solutions out there?
The AirPlus Company Account is part of the UATP network, a payment network that’s owned by the world’s airlines. We’re the largest of a select few providers who use it. It provides a higher level of flight data than other systems, such as route, class, ticket number etc. Also, with AirPlus, bookers can add on up to nine additional data fields at the time of booking, such as department, cost centre or project number to aid reconciliation. The data can also be used analyse total spend and for supplier negotiation.
Because we only focus on travel payments, we are the leading specialists in this area. We’re not a huge company so we can take a personalised, consultative approach to serving our clients.
Our UK-based call centre is at our UK HQ in Chiswick, meaning we never pass customers ‘from pillar to post’ and can resolve any issues quickly.
We know our clients like AirPlus because we offer a complete solution, and we’re dedicated to continuous improvement. One example of this is the market-leading level of control we offer administrators over their corporate card programme, no-one else offers such control at the click of a button. All this is why we’ve won the best corporate card provider award at the Business Travel Awards for five of the past six years.
What does your partnership with CTM Travel mean?
We’ve worked with CTM for nine years now, I have been managing the relationship in my role as Channel Partner Relationship Manager for over three years. It’s been very interesting to work alongside CTM, especially since we have many clients in common and we have similar views in dealing with them.
The lines of communication are always open, we’ve built a great relationship and we’re now working to integrate our products into their booking tool, using CTM’s Vibe technology customers will be able to use AirPlus to pay for all travel categories.
We’re looking forward to working together and to serving our mutual clients even better in the years to come.
What does the future hold for corporate travel bookers?
I think in the future we’re going to see increased expectations to be able to track all spend instantly.
People are going to want more freedom to choose how they make their travel bookings (online, on the phone, or what have you) and more integrated payment solutions. Agility is key, so we need to be as flexible as possible.
Finally, what else can business travel bookers do to get the best value?
To get the best value from a payment (or any!) supplier, feedback and communication is vital at all stages. Asking questions, letting us know what is and isn’t working and just giving general feedback allows us to act on it and improve our products and services accordingly. After all, the more we know about their views, the more we can do for our customers.
You can learn more about AirPlus on their website: AirPlus