Same World, Different Problems

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by: Chad Palucka, 2018 Around the World Intern 

As one would expect, the corporate travel industry includes a vast array of cultures, personalities, and ideas. Obviously there are similarities involved, but today I learned that a “quick” 10 hour flight can land you in a place which will bring new insights to what other countries must deal with when talking about both corporate and leisure travel.

Currently, in Brazil there is a fuel shortage due to demonstrations being made by the truck drivers. Because of this not only are the gas stations, some restaurants and even one airport shut down, but the effect it has on the surrounding countries as well was explained to us in great detail by Dr. Elizabeth Kyoko Wada, a professor at the University Anhembi Morumbi, which is the most highly regarded university here in Brazil. She taught us so much about how the country of Brazil has adapted in the years since it was first colonized by the Portuguese so long ago. One of the quotes from her which really spoke to me was “Give your back to the ocean.” What this means is that you can not learn about a country based on the vacations you take to the beaches on the coastline. You must enter the interior of the country to truly understand what the people and culture are like.

Prior to this detailed and informative presentation we were fortunate enough to meet with ARGO IT, which is a company who focuses primarily on the expense side of business travel. The company is similar to Concur which we use in the US, however they are not as focused on booking the trip, yet they still do offer that service should their clients wish to use it. We met with Mr. Wagner Amarelo, who spoke to us about the various solutions they offer to their customers. One thing that has been consistent in all of our meetings, both in New York, and here in Sao Paulo is the idea of Duty of Care. This means that it is not only the employer who is responsible for the traveler’s safety, but also the TMCs (Travel Management Companies) and the companies like ARGO and Concur who offer the online tools for itineraries and expense reports. To do this, they must work with their client’s corporate travel policy, to ensure the employees not only book within their policy, but also use the correct forms of payment (company credit cards) to book their trips and pay for things like food and ground transport along the way. This leaves a digital footprint so that in the case of an emergency the company can ensure their employee has made it to their destination safely and have an idea of where they are throughout their trip. It may seem a little like stalking, however it is highly vital to ensure that the traveler is always safe.

Our final meeting of the day was with two members of Melia Hotels, who spoke to us about the importance of having multiple brands beneath one umbrella. Melia for example is responsible for 7 other brands of hotels. These include; TRYP, Melia, Innside, ME (Melia Experience), SOL, Paradisus, and Gran Melia. All of these different brands are designed to fit a specific traveler profile as to ensure they are able to capture as much of the market as possible. Whether you are traveling for business, or leisure, and whether you are young and mobile, or older with a family, Melia strives to have a brand which can cater to your precise needs and wants.

Today was very eye-opening as it allowed us to see two different world views on corporate mobility, which involves not just the travel, but all aspects in between.

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