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      Interview: Fello’s Simone Buckley on the changing world of business travel

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      Having worked with PAs for over 23 years, travel management company Fello knows how to make booking business travel simple and effective. Simone Buckley, group CEO of Fello shares some helpful tips and tricks for assistants to make the most of and why technology is having such an impact on travel.

      Can you tell us a bit about Fello and what services the company can offer?
      Fello is a travel management company (TMC); we exist to make booking travel as easy and hassle free as possible. We recognise travellers are the most valuable asset of any business trip and if the traveller is happy, everyone is happy, meaning the trip is successful.

      We offer a single point of service for anything relating to a business trip (or private travel) including booking flights, hotels, private transfers etc as well as arranging visas, airport support and help with arranging restaurants, theatre tickets and general business entertainment reservations.

      Our service goes well beyond getting the best value for money and making a booking. Our experienced travel consultants get to know the travellers and their PAs really well. They monitor every journey, managing itinerary changes, finding better fares, handling delays and cancellations, until the traveller arrives home.

      How has business travel changed over the years?
      Technology has made a huge impact on travel and in particular business travel. The way we research, book and manage our travel has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The traveller or booker now has instant access to a vast range of content, products and ways of booking, leaving many wondering where to start.

      There can be a false sense of getting a better deal when booking direct though, especially when it comes to business travel. Something that looks the cheapest isn’t always the best value, and a PA could spend a long time trying to compare differences. The systems that we use behind the scenes give us easy access to all the rates and products in the market, so we can quickly give all the options and point out the pros and cons of each one. Our travel consultants are experts and no matter how much technology evolves, you can never replace that personal knowledge and experience.

      What tips and tricks would you offer assistants booking business travel?
      Tip – Share everything you know about the traveller and his business travel habits with your travel consultant, including all loyalty scheme memberships, preferences and most importantly upcoming trips.

      Trick – Sometimes combining two business trips can get a better fare or a more flexible booking class for the same price, and points gained from one hotel stay can upgrade the next stay.

      “We offer an online booking tool so if you are a PA who likes to do your own research, this can be a really easy and simple way of accessing everything in one place.”

      What can Fello offer PAs?
      An easier life! We know our customers use us because they are very busy and need to have a travel consultant who they can completely trust. They just want to hand us the booking and know we will get it right the first time, every time. They know we will treat their traveller’s business trip in the same way they take care of everything else for that person. We are an extension of them, a PA’s expert assistant in travel.

      Are there any quick wins PAs should look out for?
      Booking directly can sometimes feel like a quick win, but when that flight gets cancelled or is severely delayed there’s nothing quick about a PA having to hold on for the airline’s call centre to re-book. That’s why we have our own travel consultants working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so no matter what time of the day or night travel plans are disrupted, we have it covered for the traveller and the assistant.

      We can book loyalty points products too, which can often be a painful process for PAs but can offer significant savings for travellers.

      We offer an online booking tool so if you are a PA who likes to do your own research, this can be a really easy and simple way of accessing everything in one place. You can then either get us to book it for you, or you can book it through the system yourself, safe in the knowledge that your travel consultant will pick it up behind the scenes and still provide all the added value we do with every booking. This includes making sure you’ve selected the best fare, haven’t missed a loyalty programme upgrade and that your trip is monitored until your traveller is back home.

      You work with several industry partners – how do you select these? What do you look out for in a partner?
      In terms of suppliers (airlines, hotels, car hire etc) we work with everyone and have access to sell all fares and rates to our customers. Our industry partners are those who provide technology and services that ensure we can offer the broadest choice of products, and the best value prices to our customers.

      We look for partners who share the same traveller focus, who are innovative and have a proven track record in their area. We try and deliver business travel you can look forward to, so our partners need to demonstrate they can live up to that promise. Most importantly we believe there is always a way – and a true partner is the one who will work with us to find a way, no matter what.travel

      Fello is hosting a PA Life Club event next month in conjunction with Sixt and Chanel – what can guests expect from this?
      Fun! We hope our guests will enjoy an entertaining and educational evening sampling the beautiful Chanel products, while enjoying prosecco, canapés and networking. Each guest will get the opportunity to enjoy a make-over or manicure from one of Chanel’s leading consultants, and leave with a Chanel goodie bag at the end of the evening. We’ve also got a prize draw with some fabulous prizes from our partner Sixt and of course Fello!

      Why are you looking to work with more PAs and enter this market?
      We have been working with PAs for 23 years under our previous company name. Our business has grown over time through referral from PAs moving to new companies and recommending us, and from travellers recommending us to their new assistants and colleagues.

      We are here to help. We know PAs have had it hard over the last few years, some being forced to use booking services that don’t meet their needs. We just want PAs to know we are here and when they need us, they can call us up and we will help in whatever way we can.

      Want to know more? You could meet with the team from Fello at the upcoming PA Life Club event, held in conjunction with Chanel and Sixt. If you’re a Club member find out more and how you can attend here.

      If you’re not a PA Life Club member and would like to join to take part in these events, contact Freddi Jackson now.

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      Jade Burke

      Jade Burke, Editor for PA Life

      All stories by: Jade Burke