Isleworth Travel Management’s Brett Gerrett discusses this year’s challenges and his hopes for travel going forward with Abra Dunsby
Working for a travel management company during the coronavirus pandemic has come with its own particular set of challenges, says Isleworth Travel Management’s general manager Brett Gerrett.
“Our business travel proposition is at zero at the moment,” he says. “With leisure we’re saying, ‘Go out and support the countries and businesses you’ve been supporting for years’. However with business travel, people normally go in and out [of countries] very quickly and that’s complicated right now.”
The company is currently backing the Business Travel Association’s rescue package, which calls for the government to temporarily suspend Air Passenger Duty and offer business rate relief for TMCs.
Gerrett adds the lack of government support and often-changing travel advice has led to business travellers cancelling trips.
“The next-day urgent business trip to Milan or Munich has been put on hold, as clients are thinking, ‘Do I trust the safety element?’ That volatility means you can’t plan for business now.”
As the TMC is owned by Sunvil, part of Gerrett’s job also involves looking after the group’s air product, including its leisure product to Greece, Latin America and Africa. “I’m managing the relationships with airlines and trying to get refunds where possible,” he says.
Despite this year’s many difficulties, Gerrett says a high point was being named a TTG 30 Under 30 candidate, and he looks forward to the opportunities it brings.
“I was really happy to be chosen,” he says. “I think it’s got me in front of a few people who I’d probably have struggled to sit down with otherwise from a supplier point of view, so I’ve gained an advantage there.”
He urges others in the travel industry to be tenacious in order to make it through the crisis. “No one can sit comfortably and rest on their laurels now, thinking ‘My job is safe’ – no job is safe,” he says. “Companies are fighting for survival. My advice would be – don’t ignore a phone call as it might be the one that saves your business.”