After the hard blow of the corona crisis, business travel agency BCD is doing great again, says the man behind the company John Fentener van Vlissingen at BNR Business. “There is a clear recovery.” However, the company is experiencing a shortage of staff.
Last year, the company closed with 75 million EBITDA (which is an indication of the company’s vitality) profit. Fentener van Vlissingen also sees the cash flow of the business travel agency increasing. ‘A significantly higher EBITDA is expected for this year. The recovery is not far from where we were in 2019. Turnover is expected to be 80 percent of what it was before the corona pandemic.’ Due to the corona period, the company has started working in a more sober way, spending less money. However, a problem for the company at the moment is a shortage of personnel.
‘The corona period was incredibly tough. We’ve seen really heavy red numbers.’ The company’s turnover dropped dramatically. “At times that was down to just 10 percent or 20 percent of what it was. There were even times when we reached 5 percent.’ That is why BCD had no choice but to let some of the – in total 15,000 – employees go.
The company had created a special arrangement for this. ‘Every employee over the age of 57.5 was allowed to leave voluntarily. They then received financial compensation. If they then worked somewhere else one or two days a week, the period until retirement would be easy to bridge.’ Nearly 2,000 employees eventually made use of this scheme. The company has had to let go a total of 3000 employees. “I never doubted that there would be a future for BCD. I thought we would come out stronger. But of course there are always times when you wonder if you’re going to make it.’
There are employees who left the company during the corona period and now want to come back. ‘That staff shortage is starting to resolve itself.’ Although at the business travel agency there is currently still – due to the shortage of staff – the tension whether customers can be treated at a high level. ‘Furthermore, we were very lucky with the nervous market. In the past three years we have gained no fewer than 3.5 billion new customers.’ According to Fentener van Vlissingen, this was mainly due to the provision of tailor-made solutions to those customers. ‘This involves, for example, making agreements for a longer period, or per country.’ Another factor is that there are competitors of BCD in the business travel industry that have not survived the corona pandemic.
Listen to the episode of BNR Business Doing here
In an interview with De Telegraaf, Fentener van Vlissingen announced yesterday that he would take a step back. In the interview, he says he will step down as a commissioner of BCD in the spring of next year at the latest. He will then remain associated with the company as owner.