To learn, discuss, win: final ABT-ACTE Russia session

Participants of the end-of-the-year ABT-ACTE Russia educational session that was held on December 8 in Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya had an opportunity to share their achievements, speak about difficulties frankly, look into the future and even play a business trip game.

The corporate buyer`s view of the expiring year was presented by Maria Sergeeva, head of business travel division of corporate support department of Otkritie Holding. According to the expert, in 2015 the company managed to realize the full potential of its travel policy. The document was compiled as early as in 2013, the next year was spent on getting started and only now «it became clear where we all were going and whether we were doing everything right». «Optimization focus» was on airline and railway tickets: these cost items account for 64% of the travel budget and 62% of transactions. Conclusion of direct agreements and clear preferences of certain carriers stipulated in the travel policy allowed the company to direct 77% of its purchase budget to preferred providers, thus reaching a 4% economy.

«In absolute figures 4% is a considerable sum you can go to top managers with», Maria noted. Nevertheless a really unprecedented economy was reached due to the introduction of the hotel program. «It is our strong point that has beaten all the records from the point of view of my work in the travel department», the speaker said. In her words, agreements were signed with hotels located in the main business areas of the corporation. The final statistics has shown that contracted hotels accounted for 78% of bookings in 2015, due to this fact budget economy equaled as much as 30% of the total accommodation budget! At the same time Ms Sergeeva noted that a direct agreement with a hotel was not only a guarantee of low rates, but also an advantageous transparent cooperation scheme, due to which, for example, in case of no show even on the day of check-in the company was not fined.

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«How do we calculate optimization results? Manually. It is a complicated and a diligent process. We find the lowest hotel accommodation rate for a certain city and compare it with what we really have under our corporate rate», the expert said.

In Ms Sergeeva`s opinion, construction of efficient business processes in the travel industry is also impossible without partner relations with the main service provider — the business travel agency. «Two years ago we held a tender and chose a company that offered us not only high quality service, but also a clear transaction scheme without an agent commission. At the same time TMC`s fee does not exceed 5% of the total travel cost», Maria shared her experience with the session participants.


Summing up the results of the expiring year for the industry in general, Ms Sergeeva was grieved to say that the trend of the gradual switch of the Russian business travel market to white schemes that emerged after Aeroflot cut agent commission was balked. «The market is changing from „grey“ to „black“ again, the commission scheme, dumping and work with a zero result are winning their strong positions. I do not understand how you can buy a pig in a poke. Because when we buy something for free, we deceive ourselves, in fact. I call my colleagues and partners to switch to the „white“ market, clear understanding of profitability. In western countries the „net“ scheme was adopted long ago and such a transaction-based cooperation form with a TMC has proved to be very efficient», Ms Sergeeva summed up.

As for the positive results of the expiring year, the expert noted the legal abolishment of the business trip permit, which has simplified the document flow considerably, and consequently, the work of travel experts«.

The Russian aviation industry however, sprang a number of unpleasant surprises in 2015 — and we are speaking not only about Transaero leaving the market. In Ms Sergeeva`s opinion, air carriers still do not have a single approach to tariff scale formation, and instead of discounts that are so necessary for the corporate segment, in most cases accumulation of points or miles is offered.

The topic of the aviation market was continued by Natalia Poroshina, director of online technology department of Zelenski Corporate Travel Solutions. She noted that in the expiring year Russian travelers lost not only the most important market players: Transaero, Estonian air, Delta, Niki, Sas, Wizz, Easy Jet, Thai, Catay Pacific, airberlin, but even entire destinations — Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt. However, Pobeda airline launched flights to its foreign destinations at the beginning of November.

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Natalia named among important results of the expiring year the changes in the price policy of Russian air carriers, in particular, introduction of Basic and Flex rates by S7 airline, Promo and Light by the Ural Airlines and Light by UTair. Introduction of such «luggage free» rates means a distinct trend of charging extra fees for extra services that nowadays become one of the main sources of income of air carriers. They may include such services as choice of seats, meals on board, extra room for legs, priority flight registration, call centre services, fines for ticket change/ return/no-show etc.

At the same time travelers still have a lot of opportunities to save on airline tickets. Ms Poroshina recommended corporate buyers to book tickets in advance, compare prices of several air carriers and choose the lowest rate, trust their partner agency, controlling its service fee at the same time, check travel policy compliance, analyze the percentage of returned tickets and not to disdain low cost airlines. Natalia also advised session participants to take part in loyalty programs, in particular, in those offered by business travel agencies. She said that it was an absolutely new phenomenon for Russia at the moment, although one of such products had been launched successfully — Zelenski Loyalty Pass, the first loyalty program for private persons and legal bodies, its discount for business travel and MICE services may amount to 100%.

Head of protocol of Sibur LLC Polina Izumova shared her experience of a successful corporate event with the guests of the educational session. This year she and her colleagues had a difficult task: to arrange a large-scale event devoted to the 20th anniversary of the company for the guests and three thousand employees from the centre and the regions. This event had to highlight the main development stages and achievements of Sibur, as well as to strengthen the team spirit and to make every employee sure that it was him and his colleagues who were the strength and the power of the company.

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In the expert`s words, at the stage of project preparation it was extremely difficult to work out a balanced scenario: not to make the program too intensive, but at the same time to realize all the ideas, and keep the intrigue during the whole event. It was hard to put together all the segments of information that changed all the time, work with such a large number of guests — and it was also necessary to find a suitable venue for them! As the result an open campus park of Moscow Management School Skolkovo was chosen.

As the result of Polina Izumova`s and providers` team work the event was a success, which was proved by photos and a video of the event demonstrated by the speaker.

And due to administrative manager of Leroy Merlin Aleksandra Perekalskaya the word «gamification» that had become fashionable nowadays was filled with a certain meaning. The guests of the educational session learned from their own experience how you could use the game to clearly explain the company`s travel policy rules to business travellers, to control its compliance and even increase loyalty of the staff, who will definitely appreciate such a creative approach of the travel department to business trip arrangement.


All the participants of ABT-ACTE Russia event were divided into teams — three per table — and got plane-shaped dibs that could move across the playing field. And it is worth saying that this field was quite interesting! Thus, if a player got into the sector with a picture of a train, he went on a business trip, moving several sectors forward till the next train, and the picture of a sick leave or a financial report on the contrary held the participants who were forced to skip their turn.

The questions invented by Aleksandra, were also unusual: the participants not only checked their professional knowledge, but also had a good laugh. And how would you, for example, answer the question of the presenter if he asked your team whether an employee had to go to work if he returned from his business trip at 10 o`clock in the morning? Answer variants were the following:

— yes, because it is my working day

— yes, because my boss misses me very much

— yes, someone may remember me there

— yes, I forgot my purse there, and I can work as well.

Nevertheless, the players did not have to worry seriously, because all the answers were correct!

The ABT-ACTE educational session ended with a traditional lottery, prizes were provided by Association partners. The future events were also announced: in 2016 a lot of new interesting events await corporate buyers and other industry participants.