The world of work is changing. People are doing it for themselves. New technology is fuelling a boom in entrepreneurialism, and everyone is looking to travel smarter.
In particular, the number of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is growing, and as they need to travel as much as anyone, more and more are signing up to Business Plus, Cathay Pacific’s rewards programme.
Calvin Chao, director of Luxe Real Estate, is a prime example. ‘We are a regional real estate company with a presence in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and Thailand, and travelling is a big part of our business,’ he says.
‘Cathay Pacific’s user-friendly Business Plus portal saves us time when we need to book a flight urgently, we get rewarded for using something that’s easy to use, and it enables us to generate reports of our team’s past travels.’
So what exactly is Business Plus – and how does it work? In simple terms, it is a rewards programme like the Marco Polo Club. The more employees fly for the company, the more it progresses through the programme’s tiers – and the higher the tier, the more rewards accrued. These benefits include lounge passes, upgrades and priority baggage.
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Companies earn Business Plus points every time they fly with Cathay Pacific. The number of points is based on the fare, the cabin class and distance flown in every booking. Individual Marco Polo Club members can collect their club points and Asia Miles in the normal way.
‘The SME sector is a growing market segment,’ says Paul Johannes, Head of Global Sales, who is based in Hong Kong where there are more than 330,000 SMEs employing around 1.3 million people. ‘There are a lot of companies starting up and there are a variety of businesses that support them, such as start-up incubators and science parks.
‘As these businesses develop they will have travel needs. Business Plus is perfect for start-ups doing supplier, investor or sales trips overseas.
‘Points can be accrued throughout the year and there is no annual or quarterly minimum spend, so it provides a lot of flexibility for SME customers.’
Importantly, it’s free to join for companies of all sizes and there’s no qualifying period. That means instant access from registration to benefits that be enjoyed after the first booking. That can, in many territories, include up to five Green memberships to the Marco Polo Club for employees to use.
Like Marco Polo Club, this is a global scheme, but the difference is that the tier requirements and rewards do vary between territories.
But one thing they have in common: today’s start-up could be tomorrow’s multinational.
‘It’s an important and growing segment and we had to have a better means to reach them and work with them in a more efficient way,’ says Johannes. ‘Business Plus is a great way to establish a relationship with corporate customers from the outset. We recognise that any small corporate could grow in the future, and we want to be with them as they evolve. We have other products for larger corporates based on travel spend that they can migrate to should they wish, but many companies are very happy to stick with the convenience of this self-managed platform.’
So far, feedback from the SMEs has been positive. Sean Kennedy is the chief executive of Coastlines International, a New Zealand-based surfboard and surf-clothing brand. ‘Travel is a key driver of our positive business relationships and growth,’ he says. ‘In New Zealand, we have a Maori saying, “He tangata, he tangata, he tangata”, that emphasises the most important thing in the world: “it is people, it is people, it is people”. I believe face-to-face meetings are vital to great business. Business Plus is a great tool as it provides clarity and visibility into our team’s travel and it’s a great innovation to support internationally minded SMEs.’
That reflects the programme’s ‘have laptop, will travel’ ethos. Johannes says: ‘Business Plus is designed with SMEs in mind and their characteristics and behaviours when it comes to travel – it offers control in terms of tracking bookings, rewards, and it’s accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world – you just need an internet connection.’
For details, visit cathaypacific.com/businessplus
Value: Giving more back for your collective business travel spend
Convenience and choice: A one-stop shop for flight booking and travel management
Simplicity: It’s easy to enrol, and simple to manage online
Control: Assign travel administrators to manage employee travel
Accessibility: Book directly on the website 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Hero image: Getty Images