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Interview: Rashid Al Noori, BTI SVP
by:
Mourad Teyeb 

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Business Travel International (BTI) is the world’s leading travel management company operating in nearly 100 key commercial countries. With global capabilities and specialist local expertise, BTI are the acknowledged
experts in the delivery of corporate travel solutions worldwide.

Founded in 1990, BTI has firmly established itself as market leader. The organization now operates some 3,000 offices throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

BTI has unrivalled knowledge in shaping the standards in global business travel service, delivery and client care, and prides itself on being able to respond to corporate customers’ needs, irrespective of size, through its
cutting-edge technological capabilities.  BTI’s international clients include many of the major multi-national corporations.  The company is equally recognized, however, for its ability to respond to the unique needs
of smaller, national organizations.
                       ______________________

Travel-Watch.Com:
How do you assess today's situation of Business Travel, its present trends and implications?

*Al Noori:
As competition in the global marketplace intensifies and companies become increasingly cost-conscious, the corporate travel industry has shifted from being a producer’s market to a buyers’ market.

Pricing is key, as our customers respond to tougher economic times by trading down - which means fewer business and first class travel bookings, traveling for business only when absolutely necessary, and, looking for
alternative means to conduct business through video conferencing and e-mails for example.

These trends affect accommodation and air transport in the following ways:

1) Business Travel Agencies are pressuring Airlines for better fares due to the “pricing is the key factor” mindset of corporations.

2) Corporations and Travel Agents both are pressing Hoteliers for lower room rates as the competition to provide the best package at the best price heightens worldwide.

3) Low-cost carriers have increasingly more influence on corporate travel as companies become more cost-conscious, and look to either travel more on low cost carriers or downgrade their first and business class travel to economy. All these trends have made the travel manager a more central cog in the travel strategies of corporations. This results in the travel manager demanding more transparency from all parties – which in many cases lead to a more open-book travel policy (e.g. the agency revealing their profit margin from selling airline tickets), and increased one-to-one contact with suppliers such as hotels, airlines and car rental firms.

Other factors such as IT infrastructure can also impact and affect the choice of service providers for business travel too.  The provision of services such as MIS and Personal Profiling, have often swayed the business
in an Agency’s favor.

In short, the future of Business Travel is reliant upon an Agency’s ability to deliver “more for less” - a superior, quality product in a timely fashion, at a competitive and affordable price.

This is where we at BTI have the advantage over our competitors.  We offer our clients a mix of quality corporate travel at an affordable price, supported by an excellent and sound IT infrastructure.  This is also why we are now considered to possess the largest network of corporate travel agents worldwide.

Travel-Watch.Com:
What is, according to you, the potential for corporate travel in the North African Region ?

*Al Noori:
The trend in recent years among North African countries towards trade liberalization is a positive development for corporate travel. The future looks bright for business in North Africa.  The presence of BTI in North
Africa is testimony to that change. It is the nature of our business as a corporate travel agency that we go where the multi-nationals invest.

The BTI MEWA region has in fact been an area of substantial development in recent months for us and will continue to be so.  This year, we signed new BTI partners in Yemen, Kuwait (BTI Kuwait), and Morocco (BTI Atlas Voyages), bringing the total number of BTI operations in the region to sixteen.

Travel-Watch.Com:
In general, what are the travel opportunities that now exist between Tunisia and the different Gulf countries?

*Al Noori:
As you may know, Tunisia has begun a campaign to attract tourists from Saudi Arabia and other GCC states.

A recent meeting of travel, tourism and hotel professionals was held in Jeddah and attended by top Tunisian government officials.

Tunisia has recently spent $5 billion on tourism infrastructure projects including 800 hotels with a total of 220,000 beds, 400 restaurants and a number of recreation centers across the country.

Currently more than five million tourists visit Tunisia every year, spending some 30 million nights in the country.

This figure has all the potential to rise to higher levels.  Saudi nationals, for instance, already spend approximately US$20 billion a year on travel.   Tunisia has 1200 kilometers of coastline, and Ancient Roman ruins which makes for an exciting tourism offering for a broad range of travelers from the Gulf countries.

For those seeking water sports or archaeology and history, Tunisia is a great short-middle term holiday destination.

Travel-Watch.Com:
What about BTI Middle East & West Asia (MEWA) Office and Dnata’s Role

*Al Noori:
The Regional Head Office for BTI Middle East & West Asia (BTI MEWA) was established by Dnata Agencies (part of the Emirates Group), United Arab Emirates in 1992.  Today BTI’s operations spans from Egypt to Iran, and from Yemen to Sri Lanka.

Of the 28 countries that come under the BTI MEWA region, 16 have BTI partners which look to BTI Dubai as their Regional Managing Partner. The BTI MEWA network consists of: UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sharjah), Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria & Sri Lanka and Yemen.

Additional regional partners currently being evaluated to join the MEWA network include Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia.  Some CIS countries are also being gauged for potential new partner recruitment.

With the able support of BTI Central Office (UK) and a whole host of software and leading-edge infrastructure, BTI is a unique Corporate Travel Management Company in the Region.

In addition to Regional Expansion, the BTI MEWA Office is also responsible for consolidating service delivery through out the Region - ensuring that a BTI client in this Region is served just as he or she would be in London or Chicago or Sydney.

The BTI MEWA Office also has the added role of reviewing existing partners to ensure that quality levels are maintained.  The Office also assists with local Sales and Account Management efforts wherever required, and
continually develops Regional Products which would be useful to corporate travellers - for instance the BTI CIP Programme which offers travel benefits to both partners and clients.

Under the Dnata and Emirates Group umbrella, the BTI MEWA Office has access to many resources within the Group, including Training, Marketing and IT, and are able to use these resources for the collective benefit of the Region.

APPENDIX 1

BTI Background
Positioning: The world’s leading business Travel Company and acknowledged experts of the delivery of corporate travel solutions worldwide Joint venture founded: 5 March 1990 Geographic spread: Key commercial markets in nearly 100 countries across five continents Locations: Over 3,000 worldwide

APPENDIX 2
BTI Corporate Travel Services
Worldwide Travel Reservations
Scheduled Air Reservations
Executive Aircraft and Helicopter Charter
Rail Tickets and Journey Planning
24-Hour Reservation Service
Worldwide Hotel Reservations
Self-drive and Chauffeur-drive Car Rental
Car Ferry Reservations
Technology Solutions
BTI Intellect
- Traveller Tools
- Process Management
- Strategic Management
Value Added Products
BTI Traveller Assist
BTI Global Hotel Programme
BTI Corporate Card
BTI Consulting
Plus:
Travel Insurance
Airport Chauffeur Parking Service
Mobile Phone Hire
Domestic Corporate Hotel Service
Passport and Visa Service
Meet and Greet Service
VAT Reclaim
Destination Management Services
Group Travel Services
Conference and Incentive Travel
Leisure Services
Leisure Travel Services
Theatre and Special Event Tickets

Comments? 

Email: Mourad Teyeb 

Mourad Teyeb Mourad Teyeb holds degrees in English and Literature, Educational Psychology, and Computer Science.  Fluent in English, French, Arabic, German, and Italian. Mourad's, Mourad trained with the African Center for the Training and with Recycling of  Journalists, Tunisian Papers and Magazines.  In additional to journalism, Mourad has also had travel agent tour operating training. (More about Mourad Teyeb.)

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