Traveller Centricity for Travel Management Companies and their Corporate clients
When large businesses use a Travel Management Company (a.k.a. a “TMC”) for their corporate travel needs, it’s because they want the travel booking, advisory and compliance processes to be more efficient, accurate and secure.
They want someone with expert knowledge to take the pressure away from a non-core organisational activity in what can be a complex and frustrating task. TMCs such as
TSI, Omega World, BCD Travel, CWT, Reed & Mackay, MeritBiz, etc. outsource the planning, booking and associated servicing of corporate individual traveller arrangements – as well as provide for organisational needs for meetings, conferences and events.
There are common issues however, that face TMCs, which can ultimately compromise their value chain. The travel and hospitality industries have notoriously fierce competition - from incumbents, new entrants, alternative travel agencies and people self-booking – so meeting and exceeding customer needs is paramount in retaining a preferred supplier status and repeat business.
In this competitive market, innovative technology can be an important source of differentiation. It can also address some common challenges that still face TMCs.
Let’s consider 3:
1. Demonstrating the highest levels of personal service whilst also efficiently achieving Corporate client cost and SLA goals. For example, one dilemma is finding the right balance of on-site ‘implant operations’ for face-to-face service but at higher cost, or a fully remote service.
2. Delayed sign off from clients can lead to missed deadlines, higher costs or competitor wins. Whilst many TMCs have mobile business travel app’s, too often multiple internal sign-offs and process disconnects compound busy traveller schedule pressures.
3. Duty of Care is more than ensuring compliance to corporate policy. It’s also more than tracking travellers in real time for incident communications and safety. It’s about enabling travel trade-offs, showing empathy and knowledge during service delivery, and being responsive. The more complex the requirement, the more challenging this becomes.
These challenges can be cost-effectively alleviated with smarter customer communication technologies. For example, a step-up from today’s mainly emailed Forms, or (voice-only) phone, is a Video enabled capability for traveller centricity – the human expression of assurance for the traveller that their complex needs are understood is gratifying, whilst also providing a compliance trail for the TMC.
Once advisory processes have been discussed, with alternatives and options considered, the choices can be rapidly approved using automated eSigning workflow processes for multi-level sign-off’s. Everything can be securely retained in the traveller’s private data room, shared only by the TMC and/or employer.
First class business travel services with stringent SLAs ensuring service comes first and a comprehensive approach also require Value Add options. This is where VIP/Concierge Services, and Online collaboration tools come to the fore. These can be integrated with business travel app’s that provides vital travel information whilst mobile. They can react faster to changing work schedules or even explain that they want to upgrade hotels for cheaper flights, or vice-versa. The traveller can change or book travel, call or text an agent directly from their phone, access and share travel itineraries (airlines, hotels, ground transportation, etc.), and review policy or safety updates.
With 4G (5G on the horizon) busy executives can now simply video call their favourite agent and let all this be handled without having to do the data entry normally associated with such processes.
Employers keep their travellers happy – and TMC’s grow their business. Time to take a closer look at the most innovative technology.
Chris Jones, MD of Icon UK, will be speaking at HTL’17 on Wednesday 27 at 2.45pm in theatre 3.
0203 150 1081