Business travel firm FCM bets on AI to boost efficiency as Chinese work trips rebound

FCM Travel Greater China, a business travel management company, plans to invest in it. Artificial intelligence capabilities and give its staff the skills they need to get the most out of technology. Overseas travel to China The market enjoys a recovery.
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The drive to adopt and integrate AI into its operations recently began with the opening of the company's new “AI Center of Excellence” in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

According to Calvin Xie, general manager of FCM Travel Greater China, the city was an ideal destination thanks to its large talent pool, proximity to Hong Kong and its position in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

Artificial intelligence It's a tool to allow companies to operate more efficiently, he said, reducing time that can be spent on “high-value” tasks such as delivering better quality customer experiences.

It's not as simple as “doubling the number of employees,” Xie said.

'We want a lean operation, we don't want to end up with a big army,' says Calvin Xie, general manager of FCM Travel Greater China. Image: SCMP handout

“We want a lean operation,” he added. “We don't want to end up with a large army.” It's more about how we're going to transform our workforce to achieve that. [employees] Equipped with the skills needed for the next decade.

FCM is the flagship corporate travel arm of Australia's Flight Center Travel Group. It has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Having offices in Guangzhou and Hong Kong provides deep coordination for business access. Gulf Economic ZoneXie said.

“We have no plans to expand our offices further [FCM’s] Business-wise, we don't need to open offices in all cities, but we want to maintain our presence in tier-one cities,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a brain drain in Hong Kong, making it difficult for the group to hire and retain talent. But recruiting is easy these days, especially on the mainland where many young professionals are eager to join a multinational company.

But do we need more elites to join us? I think the answer is yes, especially in the Greater Bay Area,” Zee said.

Business is booming for the group due to the resurgence of corporate and leisure travel across China.

While traditional favorites such as South Korea and Japan remain popular, new destinations are emerging, the report said. Australia and Malaysia have entered the top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists, with the former moving up seven places from 18th to ninth.

Of China Business travel Spending rose 12.6 percent year-on-year to US$360 billion, but was still slightly below the pre-pandemic level of US$380 billion, according to a report last year by the Global Business Travel Association. Receipts are forecast to reach US$4.1 billion by the end of this year.

There has been a jump in the number of business travelers who tag along to some leisure time at the end of their trips – a trend sometimes referred to in the industry as blazers.

FCM has seen a nearly 40 percent increase in “leisure” trips as difficulties in obtaining visas and slower international air capacity compared to pre-pandemic levels made business travelers more willing to extend their trips. have done.

China's business travelers are most likely to stay within Asia, with Singapore ranking as the top destination, according to FlightCenter data. Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul and Frankfurt were the other most popular destinations.

Singapore maintains its lead as the number one destination for Chinese business travelers in 2024, with its appeal boosted by the provision of 30-day visa-free entry in January.

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