Advantage Travel Partnership

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Advantage Travel Partnership's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Advantage Travel Partnership is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said
Members of the Advantage
team on their stand at the
2019 Business Travel Show
Advantage Travel Partnership is a global membership
organisation for independent leisure and corporate
travel businesses, with its HQ based in Old Street,
London. Founded in 1978, Advantage has been a pioneer in
the travel sector, supporting its members by providing a range
of vital services and advice around key business areas including
operations, industry regulations, marketing, commercial
interests and finance, with the aim of helping its members grow
and succeed in a rapidly evolving and competitive marketplace.
CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said tells
The Parliamentary Review
about the revival of the SME independent travel agency sector.
Everyone’s a travel expert these days, with information at their fingertips, and
many predicated the death of the travel agent with the advent of the web. Clearly,
a lot has changed in the sector and there has been rationalisation in the industry,
but we have helped our members adapt, evolve and thrive in the exciting world
of travel by ensuring they have access to a wide range of travel-related products.
I joined the organisation in 1995 and, having worked my way up through the
corporate ladder, I have witnessed a period of substantial change throughout the
travel sector. We continue to innovate and develop our range of offerings to suit
the changing needs and demands of the end customer by investing in solutions
for our members to demonstrate where they can add value both in leisure and
business travel.
We have 350 member organisations across 650 locations throughout the UK, with
the collective turnover of our members accounting for over £4.5 billion. On a wider
»CEO: Julia Lo Bue-Said
»Founded in 1978
»Based in central London
»Services: Global network of
travel management companies
in 6,000 locations across 75
»No. of employees: 80
»Revenue: £4.5 billion (UK
membership) or $15 billion
(global membership)
»UK members: 350
»UK member branches: 650
Advantage Travel
Highlighting best practice
scale, through our global arm we are
represented in 75 countries worldwide
and in over 6,000 locations. In order
to serve the needs of our membership
community, we employ 80 members
of staff from our London head office,
as well as a flexible team of nationwide
remote and home workers.
Engagement and interaction
As an organisation whose primary
function is to further the interests of
its membership, engagement with
members is central to our success. We
must keep our finger on the pulse of
the travel industry. A key part of this
process is maintaining continuous and
face-to-face interaction with members
while ensuring we understand the
unique geographical circumstances
they face. Our members want to
see clear evidence that we are
knowledgeable, act as the voice
of their sector and that we care
about the challenges they face. By
maintaining close partnerships with
industry bodies and regulators we
continue to influence the direction
of change for the industry, as
well as being a sounding board to
discuss both industry and macro
Engagement with our members
is facilitated through organised
networking opportunities, which
include dinners, meetings and training
days, conferences and workshops,
which enables us to remain close to
the needs of our members, educating
them on the latest developments, and
strengthening our members’ sense
Vision and investment
In 2015 we launched Vision 2020,
a strategic plan that focused on
investment and growth for the
business in an ambitious and forward-
thinking manner. Investments focused
on technological innovation as well as
investment in our people talent, the
two key drivers in the modern leisure
and business travel agent industry.
With the travel industry operating on
very low margins, our role is clear:
to support our members in margin
improvement by introducing the latest
technology platforms and commercial
partnerships with relevant suppliers,
thus ensuring our members have
access to the best rates for products
and services on a global scale, as
well as through the introduction of
improved marketing programmes.
Jerry Springer speaking
at The Advantage
We continue
to innovate
and develop
our range of
offerings to
suit the
needs and
demands of
the end
An evolving and growing
The past 18 months has seen substantial
legislative and regulatory changes,
which has resulted in significant
workload, cost and in some cases
further margin erosion. We operate
in a very uneven and fragmented
field and the voice of the SME sector,
the heartbeat of UK industry, can
sometimes beoverlooked.
Any challenge that impacts upon the
retail sector places a pressure upon our
members and presents an issue that
we have to respond to. Thankfully,
we are helping our members adapt
to the pressures that traditional
high street retailers are facing, and
this involves working closely with
the local community, investing in
their online presence and, for some,
more drastically, moving off the high
street. We are also consulting with
our members as to how they can
meet changing consumer purchasing
behaviour and how they can add more
value by repositioning their business
in response. The result of this has
enabled many of our members to
operate tailored searches, concierge
services and even personal consultation
appointments for their customers.
For many customers, the online
booking process and airport
experience can be daunting and
there remains a place for customer-
friendly organisations that make this
a less stressful process. Our members
help create an end-to-end booking
and holiday process that works for
clients, and this is a key part of the
For business travel management
companies, the opportunity also lies in
total travel management. The days of
just providing a ticket are long gone;
corporate travellers now receive a
menu of services that includes: pre-
trip management information, access
to preferred rates with airlines, hotels
and car rental companies, self-booking
platforms, expense management tools,
round-the-clock support and duty of
care, plus post-trip data, in addition
to other gadgets and apps to enhance
the booking and travel experience for
busy executives.
As employers, our members are, where
possible, embracing homeworking
and flexible work days, which in turn
provides a more adaptable and flexible
service for customers; however, for
many SMEs who operate with skeleton
staff, the practicalities of operating
such models are a challenge. Yet
despite the challenges in our sector,
our membership continues to grow
and we will always look at ways to
invest further in our services and
people, to ensure we remain relevant
and drive long-term sustainable growth
for our membership.
We are developing our vision for
the future – the next phase of
our evolution. We will continually
challenge the status quo, as well as
build our investment plan, which we
are committed to delivering on behalf
of our members, enabling them to
evolve and remain relevant while
being at the forefront of the travel
Despite the
challenges in
our sector, our
continues to
Winners from the
2018 Advantage Big
Celebration Lunch,
the companies annual
awards event

This article was sponsored by Advantage Travel Partnership. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster