Monday, 20 February 2017

In conversation with… Mel Gargagliano, Bank of America Merrill Lynch


In conversation with… Mel Gargagliano, head of EMEA Commercial Cards, Global Transaction Services, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

1.     Why is the Business Travel Show an important event for travel buyers and managers?
Over recent years, the travel manager’s role has evolved and become more complex. Challenged by the fast-evolving nature of business travel, today’s travel manager has to ensure that his or her organisation adapts to changing employee needs whilst simultaneously reducing expenses and creating efficiencies. The Business Travel Show provides a useful networking opportunity to learn from leading industry players.  

2.     What is one key factor that will impact the business travel industry this year?
Disruptive technology is having a huge impact on the industry. For example, many web-based firms or ‘platforms’ which enable the exchange of a service not directly owned by the platform – such as taxis and accommodation – are establishing a strong foothold in the business travel space; and many companies are seeking ways to include them in their travel policies.

3.     Is allowing employees to add leisure travel to a business trip a cost benefit or a burden?
Research1 shows that eight out of 10 business travellers add personal leisure time exploring their destinations – or what we like to call, ‘bleisure’ travel. This is smart as it means that companies can save money by taking advantage of leisure over business fares. It also improves employee satisfaction. A variety of payment solutions that cover end-to-end travel costs can support bleisure travel, including individual corporate travel & entertainment and virtual cards.

4.     What is the advantage of using virtual cards?
Virtual cards allow companies to capture more detailed financial data. This makes centralising travel spend much easier, helps firms to drive cost savings, and improves reconciliation. Additionally, centralisation means travellers do not need to spend time manually reconciling their individual travel expenses.

5.     How can travel managers and buyers cope with the increased pressure of reduced costs, without compromising the business travel experience?
A growing number of finance and travel managers are finding ways to turn the VAT expense associated with foreign spend into an opportunity. This is because VAT – unlike other tax types – can entitle businesses to reclaims. According to a recent survey2, a staggering $20 billion per annum in potentially reclaimable spend is left unclaimed by organisations. This is an efficient way to offset increasing business travel expenses.
6.     Time for a personal question – you travel a lot – what’s your favourite business travel destination?
Dubai. I had the pleasure of visiting the city in 2015 and was blown away by the investment in infrastructure which makes it such a liveable location.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next week - you can register for a free visitor pass now at www.businesstravelshow.com.  

1 – Bridgestreet Global Hospitality survey, 2014
2 – VAT IT, a leading VAT reclaim specialist


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