We caught up with Steve Pittelli, Travel Manager with Flight Centre Business Travel, specializing in small business travel arrangements. Steve is based out of our Flight Centre Queen Street West in Toronto.
Steve, why is it important to have a business travel manager?
We look for the little things that make a big difference to a business traveller. I know what my client wants and I find a way to maximize that. I am constantly looking for ways to enhance a trip instead of building a “dream trip” like in leisure travel. It’s finding extras beyond flight schedules, like the type of aircraft. For example, I might suggest a flight that leaves an hour before or after the time my client requested because that particular aircraft offers a lie-flat seat.
Whether we love or hate the word ‘blesiure’, it’ appears to be a growing trend for business travellers. Do you find clients asking you to add a leisure component to their business travel?
Yes, I do. They’ll usually get approval, and the good thing is a couple of days extra doesn’t generally affect the cost. What’s great for the customer is I still have access to all the internal booking portals to create an extended trip (by the way, I personally prefer “extended trip” over “bleisure”!)
What are the benefits of flying Business Class?
- Access to premium lounges
- Priority boarding
- Comfort – I have clients who fly multiple times a week, first to Heathrow, then Air Canda back home, next it’s Amsterdam– you just want them to be comfortable.
- It’s better for doing work and preparation
- Sleep areas and a personal shower upon landing allow you to go straight to a meeting from the airport relaxed and refreshed.
- In-flight meals are better quality, more like ordering in a restaurant, and you can decide whenever you want to eat.
What would be common objections from clients about choosing Business Class?
The price point. As an agent, I have access and knowledge to find something in their budget. I look at airline points the client has accumulated and find value. Also, if the economy cabin seems overly-priced, the difference to upgrade to Business is well worth it.
Clearly, there are many advantages to flying Business Class. Are there circumstances when you suggest Economy to your business clients, and if so, why?
If they have a short-haul connecting flight, I can save them money by booking an Economy seat. Or if they are eligible for upgrades in Economy, which I’ll look at beforehand. Whether it’s Business or Economy I’m booking, it doesn’t matter–I’m just here to help.
Which of your clients typically choose Business Class?
The medical and pharmaceutical companies.
Which airline has your favourite Business Class cabin?
The Emirates Airbus – the upper deck with the bar is unnecessarily cool! Followed by the newly-refurbished Dreamliner. Even though all of Air Canada Business Class have lie-flat beds and share other features, the new aircraft has more room and seating space.
In your email signature, you cite Edinburgh as your favourite destination, could you tell us why?
Good vibes! When I moved to Ireland I visited Edinburgh, loved it, brought friends there and they loved it — I’ve been three times.
Being available to your clients 24/7 must make personal travel challenging at times. If you could choose anywhere in the world to fly to on Business Class, where would you go?
To Dubai! Its modernity is unbelievable. It’s a “tech city”.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, start-up or small business, put your travel plans in the capable and knowledgeable hands of our Business Travel Expert, Steve Pittelli. Contact Steve at 1 866 818 7339, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit him at 614 Queen Street West, Toronto.