– Investment banking has particular characteristics that require a specific style of business travel management –
London prides itself on its robust financial services sector which represents a major slice of the city’s economy and it’s no surprise that Wings Global Travel takes care of a range of investment banking clients who are involved in capital raising, financial consultancy services, restructuring and mergers and acquisitions.
Investment banking is a complex, high-risk business so top executives want their business travel to be the opposite, seamless and frictionless. Moving in a dynamic and fast-paced world, travel usually involves last-minute changes to schedules which can involve major re-bookings and multiple itinerary changes.
Their needs must be met with efficient and effective travel management services. “We have to be able to quickly secure flights, hotels and other necessary travel arrangements at short notice,” explains Cleide Santos, Head of Client Services UK and Europe at Wings.
“They are doing multi-million-dollar deals every single time they travel,” adds Pedro Henrique, Manager, Business Development UK. He manages seven investment banking clients at Wings Global Travel based at the London HQ, including one of the top players in the world. “They might be pitching to win a new client, introducing the client to a potential investor or raising funds in Frankfurt; either way they need to be as comfortable as possible.”
Banking clients tend to have complex travel requirements so a high level of consultant knowledge is also required, as well as 100% accuracy. “It’s all about attention to detail,” says Santos. Frequency of travel, multiple stopovers and custom itineraries characterise the typical banker, flying to a destination at the last minute to sign contracts for example. Destinations tend to be other major financial centres, such as New York, Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Zurich and Geneva.
Travel bookings tend to be for single travellers and most commonly they fly first and business class with standard meet and greet services. They are seasoned business travellers and will often prefer certain airlines, carriers and hotels.
Unsurprisingly, online booking tools are not their preferred booking option; the banking sector prefers to work with travel consultants who can provide personalised service and expertise, by phone and email. Service needs to be white glove at its best. The booker, traveller, reservation team and account managers work seamlessly to define the client needs and make sure that it is delivered.
They are expertly served by these dedicated teams, which fosters a deep understanding of the clients’ travel preferences, habits and requirements. This level of knowledge and attention to detail is necessary to support the personal assistants (PAs) who are often the bookers, managing the travel arrangements of VIP travellers.
“By knowing the clients by simple first name terms, dedicated consultants are able to provide a high level of service that meets the unique needs of investment banking clients. They value the expertise and guidance of travel consultants who can provide tailored advice and support,” says Santos. “This can include assistance with itinerary planning, visa and passport requirements, and other travel-related logistics,” she says.
Alongside white glove service is 24-hour support. Although there are lots of long, single-day trips, banking clients also travel across different time zones and may need support outside of regular business hours. “Having access to a TMC that can provide round-the-clock assistance is important to ensure that any travel-related issues or emergencies can be addressed promptly and effectively,” says Santos.
Risk mitigation is also a key concern for these VIP travellers. Wings’ risk management involves ensuring the safety and security of travellers, including proactive measures to minimise the risk of disruptions or incidents during travel. Wings has robust risk management protocols in place to minimise potential travel risks and provide guidance and support in the event of an emergency.
It follows that most banking sector client wins involve precise SLAs. “Banking clients have high expectations for responsiveness and service level agreements,” says Santos. “They often require quick responses and turnarounds and we provide efficient and effective communication channels to meet these demands.” Henrique recalls one such demand from a frantic traveller trying to combine an essential business trip in Philadelphia with his daughter’s 18th birthday the very next day in Ibiza. “We had to work out a lot of logistics but he made it time for dinner with his daughter the following day and the whole trip took 48 hours.”
‘Banking clients tend to have complex travel requirements, so a high level of consultant knowledge is needed ‘
(This article was first published in the Wings in-house publication, Blue Magazine)