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Nina & Pinta has formed a new partnership with University College Birmingham (UCB). The new partnership follows an initial seminar designed to address one of the largest challenges facing the industry today; the adoption of the sharing economy within managed corporate travel programmes.

The session was attended by MA International Tourism Business Administration students from UCB led by Assistant Dean Michelle Callanan. The travel industry delegation led by Nina & Pinta partners Chris Pouney and Jo Lloyd included buyers from Government, Mining and FMCG industries along with supplier representation from hotel and ground transport companies.

Pouney said: “We observed that most of the industry discussion tends to be either defensive or reactive when it comes to the sharing economy. Reasons are instead given for not using sharing economy suppliers, yet ever more libertarian travellers are voting with their feet and using them anyway, damaging the very credibility of managed corporate travel programmes. We wanted to create a forum with forward thinking travel managers and academia and move the debate on to questions such as: How we can use them? What is driving the need? And, how can more traditional suppliers adapt to fulfill this need?”

Callanan said: “The sharing economy (or sharing-tourism) is a key disruptive force that is under review within the MA programme. The students provided input as academics, as the next generation of travel professionals and as consumers. Given the range of nationalities within the group, the discussion also contained a cross-cultural context.

Discussion and interaction was lively with the student delegation intrigued to hear for themselves more of the complexities of managed corporate travel. The students were keen to share that peer-to-peer review systems are critical amongst members of Generation Y.”

Pouney said: “This is a fascinating topic and we are seeing three separate areas of activity. Firstly, corporate travel managers are under pressure to investigate the sharing economy and provide informed recommendations to their organisations. Secondly, traditional suppliers need to find their USP and understand evolving customer needs. Finally, sharing economy suppliers that are focussed on entering the corporate travel space inevitably need to adapt their products to meet the needs of the sector. Nina and Pinta looks forward to continuing to provide debate, content and thinking to assist the industry on this journey.”

Nina & Pinta and UCB will continue to work together on research projects. One of their combined aims will be to investigate whether sharing economy suppliers can actually bring measurable savings to a travel programme.