By Brent Blake, President, Acendas Travel
Oh, how the times are changing.
Recently, Acendas Travel assembled a group of 50-plus travel industry professionals to ascertain the collective wisdom on corporate travel trends. In short, the feedback they provided is that internal and external forces are acting to make corporate travel more complex, but the payoffs added are; efficiency, better risk management, and the opportunity to save money/minimize expenses.
Corporate travel management has moved from the basic process of making an air, hotel or rental car transaction, to that of providing comprehensive business solutions. Additionally, the platform which has enabled that evolution is technology. Every aspect of what we do in managing corporate travel is touched by technology. We offer solutions to individual companies for which they cannot provide themselves.
So, what is happening in the marketplace that is causing companies to turn to travel management companies (TMCs), instead of performing these functions internally? Here are a few:
- Traveler Tracking. Always knowing where your travelers are throughout a trip and how to contact impacted staff falls under a company’s duty of care obligation. Duty of care is an element of the larger risk management strategy that companies engage to protect themselves and their employees. If you are not receiving this service, you SHOULD be.
- Branded Fares. These are increasing in the industry because they give the legacy airlines a fare category to compete against low cost carriers. They are NOT suitable for companies that want to manage their travel spend, and they are difficult to write into a travel policy. Show branded fares in your online booking tool, but gray them out, so they can’t be booked.
- Online Booking Tools. These tools should be used to allow travelers to view and book at their own discretion, yet drive travel program compliant purchases. The tools currently available have plusses and minuses, but the important tactic is to implement one of them.
- Data and Analytics. This newer concept is cool, as identifying travelers by their purchase behaviors is important. Their “averaged” numbers may be within acceptable benchmarks, but by analyzing their actual buying behavior, you can determine whether they’re really supporting the program, or just good at not getting caught. Knowing traveler patterns is the first step toward a true understanding of what is driving your travel costs. Then you can decide on the appropriate reaction.
- Cancellation Policies. This trend is continuing to change and come in different forms; e.g. 24 and 48-hour cancellation fees. Business travelers should be aware of this change, however, it’s imperative to incorporate a reminder or other notice for travelers to cancel immediately, if plans have changed.
It is important that your company has discussions around these travel industry trends because of their growing presence and impact on your operations. It is easy to see how the absence of a watchful eye and appropriate technology can result in higher cost and inefficiencies — not to mention missed connections. Investing in a TMC is not only a strategic business decision, but also an increasingly frequent pattern with the complexities and risks related to business travel, regardless of travel spend.