Fert allows you to take care of business
It is no secret that business travel can be hectic for everyone involved. From the travel agency to the enquiring company all the way down to the individuals involved in making the arrangements, managing business travel undoubtedly involves a superior finesse.
Olivier Dupont, CEO of Fert, an independent travel management company established in Geneva since 1871 counting around 100 employees, sat down with Swiss Style and discussed what one of the leading travel agencies in Switzerland is doing to help businessmen and women in keeping their travel headaches to a minimum.
In today’s economy, making sure business deals run smoothly is more crucial and complicated than ever, and that is exactly what Fert focuses on and accomplishes – from start to finish.
With their “Travel Management Collection”, Fert provides proactive, efficient, localized and specialized services aimed at optimizing work travel according to their clients’ specifications.
Go the easy way with tailor-made travel
As self-proclaimed tailors of travel, Fert considers their profession to be an art form that combines “know-how, creativity, precision and respect”. By paying close attention to budgetary considerations and arranging travel with respect to the importance placed upon timing and ease, Fert invests in experienced consultants who can make a difference.
Pleasing you as the traveller is of course high on Fert’s priority list; however, they never lose sight of the company behind the traveller who needs to maintain certain financial limitations as well as time constraints.
As just one example of how Fert operates, Mr Dupont described a recent request the agency had received from a Swiss bank. The bank had a business deal with an airline that provided a ticket for an employee to travel from A to B via C for 7,291 Swiss francs. With Fert’s intervention, the employee was booked on the same flight – only this time for CHF 4,936 – saving the com-pany a substantial amount of money.
“Whereas many agencies or Internet companies might provide good solutions for easy and point-to-point journeys, the best tariffs and travel programmes in case of multi-segment and complicated journeys can only be obtained through the involvement of experienced staff,” comments Dupont. “A comparison with medicine helps understand this very clearly: whereas one can easily find all sorts of medical information and easy reme-dies on the web, one would always run to consult with the best doctor to cure more complicated diseases. The same rule applies to travellers when it comes to managing difficult situations.”
Avoid the hassles
Dupont pointed out that while having your business collaborate with Fert’s Travel Management Collection may cost slightly more in initial fees than with other travel agencies, you may rapidly be saving as much as 20–30% in getting better tariffs and avoiding unforeseen expenses in case of flight cancellations or booking modifications.
As an influential member of specialist travel networks such as the Agences de Voyages Privées, “AVP”, (Switzerland) and International Travel Partnerships, “ITP”, (international), Fert benefits from state-of-the-art and innovative reporting and traveller locating technology as well as the support of consultants who possess advanced negotiation powers. Fert considers managing your business travel a responsibility that demands nothing short of pure dedication and personalization according to your needs.
If you have to fly, say, from Geneva to Mumbai through Frankfurt, Fert makes it their priority to ensure that you arrive in India with as few complications as possible. If an airline goes on strike or a flight is overbooked – situations often encountered by busi-ness travellers today – Fert promptly examines alternatives for you, thereby decreasing the hassle you might face standing at the ticket counter.
Taking the risks out of travelling
As with many things in the business world, business travel comes with certain risks. From the unpredictability of airline companies to minor details that can quickly turn into major problems (such as traffic to the airport), Fert has you covered.
Allowing Fert to manage not only the fine-tuning of your business travel but also the risk-taking involved in booking flights – which may or may not be cancelled and therefore potentially quite costly to your company – gives you the flexibility unavailable with most travel agencies. While you conduct your business deals after a cancelled flight that Fert managed to rebook you on the same day, you can remain worry-free about obtaining refunds and dealing with one-way conversations with outsourced employees who have no answers. Fert does all the dirty work for you.
As Dupont noted, in some cases, businesses have been refunded by Fert independently for cancelled flights or changes in bookings well before the refund has actually been administered to Fert by the airlines, due to the fact that some refunds can take up to a year to actually come through, and Fert believes in doing its best not to leave its clients waiting.
Yes, it is a risky business, but these are all risks that Fert is willing to take in order to maintain their standards in guaranteeing clients the highest levels of ethics, discretion and security.
Traveller’s interests at the forefront
In an “Ethical Charter” recently proposed by Fert and its AVP colleagues, major airlines are being asked to not only introduce some basic quality guidelines into their companies but to also maintain them throughout all travel bookings in order to optimize the ease of business travel for everyone.
While these guidelines include requests that may seem minimal to any experienced traveller, they are surprisingly being neglected by most airlines – and Fert is demanding a change. For example, one of the charter’s requests is that airlines uphold standard opening hours for call-in services so that customers and travel consultants are able to have access to a helpline during regular working hours, instead of waiting 2 days, for example, for an e-mail response from Poland to discuss a flight within Germany.
In addition, the AVP “Ethical Charter” demands that refunds should be given to customers without any query when the airline is at fault. Dupont emphasized that Fert always keeps the traveller foremost in mind when conducting travel management and that, after a long day of meetings and high-stake deal-making, he or she most likely does not want the added stress of negotiating what should be already-implemented basic require-ments of the airline industry.
“Few people realize that the travel industry has completely changed in recent years. Five years ago, travellers booked through ‘travel agents’ which were, in fact, agents of airlines receiving commissions for their work,” Dupont says. “Since the introduction of the zero-commission system in 2005, the massive service cuts implemented by most airlines in order to compete with low-cost carriers and more and more complicated pricing models, travel agents either could not cope with the dramatic change and disappeared or turned into real travel consultants who earn service and performance fees on the added value they create for their customers.”
Optimizing unparalleled work travel
Favouring direct personal contact with its clients, Fert strives to optimize work travel in unparalleled ways. Monitoring your trip from the moment you leave your home until your safe return, Fert’s established team assigned to your account will know personal preferences and constraints without asking twice.
At the end of the day, if you had a problem-free business trip and your company saved money, Fert is happy. And everybody “Wins, Wins, Wins”.
And in order to provide always better service to its customers, despite the uncertainty of the economic context, Fert hired seven new employees in Geneva this year!
For further information about Fert’s travel services, contact them at 2-4 rue Fendt, 1211 Geneva 2 (tel: +41-(0)22 730 47 03) or visit their website at http://www.fert.com.