For the past several years, middle market companies in the United States have been experiencing an economic explosion, growing exponentially compared to their large and small counterparts. According to the 2017 Middle Market Power Index from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, the number of middle market companies — and their revenues — nearly have doubled between 2011 and 2017. Midsize firms also are responsible for more than half (51.7 percent) of total U.S. job growth since 2011.
As a December 2016 report from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) indicates, coinciding with this middle market expansion are increasing budgets for business travel. Nearly two-thirds of middle market survey respondents said that their business travel spend increased in 2016 from the year prior and 65 percent were expecting further business travel growth. And as revealed by research carried out by the Business Travel Show in London, nearly half (49 percent) of small-to-medium enterprises (SME) say they will spend more on air travel and accommodation in 2018.
According to Business Travel News’ (BTN) 2017 “Small & Midsize Enterprise Travel Management Report,” more SMEs also seem to be embracing managed travel programs than they had in the past. There are a number of conjectures on why that is, but as BTN reports one idea is tied to another growing area of the industry: travel risk management.
“In our increasingly interconnected lives, personal face-to-face contact remains the gold standard in business. The need for managed travel programs will continue to increase as the stakes get higher. A great TMC will take the lead on issues such as GDPR and data compliance so SMEs can focus on their core business,” said Lee Shufro, vice president and general manager of the middle market program at American Express GBT.
Delivering on midsize organizations’ needs
So what does all this growth mean? That the travel industry must be doing more to meet the rising demands and needs of its middle market clients — and several certainly are.
Delta, for example, has developed a midmarket program for companies that spend at least $300,000 each year. These clients can receive upfront discounts between 2 and 19 percent, depending on their travel volume. Through this program, Delta also extends its Operational Performance Commitment in which the carrier compensates companies should it fall behind its primary competitors in terms of delays, cancellations and mishandled baggage for a full calendar year.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts launched its Best Western Business Advantage program aimed at SMEs all the way back in 2012. The program is set up to award a company a 10 percent bonus of all points earned on corporate travel, while individual travelers still earn points for their stays.
American Express GBT has its own hotel discounts for midsize clients. Via a special Preferred Extras™ program tailored to middle market clients, travelers can secure up to 25 percent off the best available rate at more than 16,000 (and growing!) participating hotel properties worldwide. And complimentary breakfast, in-room Wi-Fi service and last room availability are included for every single one of these Preferred Extras properties.
We also offer to all our middle market clients in the United States Proactive Traveler Care™, which offers 24/7 personalized support, proactive messaging and rebooking assistance during a travel delay, cancellation or misconnection.
And then there’s also Business Travel Made Simple, a relatively new program that we’ve launched in the United Kingdom (and soon in France, Germany and the Nordics). While Business Travel Made Simple is available to new clients of any size, it can be especially useful to midsize companies with fewer resources since it’s designed to make deploying a managed program as quick and straightforward as possible for travel managers (TM) and travelers.
After the implementation process (which itself comes with a visual guide and a clear step-by-step checklist for TMs), additional onboarding information will be made available, including ready-made emails that TMs can personalize and send to their travelers that walk them through all the steps they need to get started, from logging into the online booking tool to downloading the Amex GBT Mobile app.
For more information about our offerings geared to our middle market clients, click here.