Chapter Blog

What will best practice travel management look like in 2018?

What will best practice travel management look like in 2018?

The speed of technological development, macro-economic uncertainty and the rise of traveler centricity are key considerations for any buyer looking to future proof their travel program.

New fare aggregators and traveler focused tools are hitting the market with a frequency never seen before. Buyers must be able to quickly and effectively identify those that could enhance rather than undermine their programs and support this with proactive communication. With New Distribution Capability (NDC) just around the corner and GDPR on the horizon, proactivity is not a choice. Buyers and TMCs alike must embrace the future or stand to lose control.

Cost will be no less important in 2018 than it has been in the years preceding; business travel is still one of the largest areas of controllable expense for a company. As we approach 2018, those responsible for travel will need to consider how they balance cost and corporate goals with employee need.

So what will we see from the TMCs delivering the greatest value in 2018?

Access to global, multi-channel content that demystifies distribution

Open booking champions will argue that by providing choice, travelers will make smart business appropriate decisions that save money. With prominent early adopters flying the flag for open booking, the future value of the GDS became a hot topic of conversation. Now with NDC (the IATA standard promising richer content delivery) just around the corner, a plethora of quick to market apps vying for traveler attention and an increasing frequency of airlines supporting direct connect by leveraging distribution charges, those responsible for business travel are necessarily focused on the future of distribution.

TMCs set to deliver value in 2018 are working towards a content utopia to deliver global, multi-channel content to their clients across desktop and mobile.

Human support that helps to make sense of AI

Whether it’s artificial intelligence or the latest traveler experience app, your TMC (as your strategic partner) should keep you at the sharp edge and help you to identify initiatives and tools worth taking forward. From chat-bots to personalization, your TMC should act as an informed filter for what is likely just a distraction and what’s here to stay.

Guidance on why compliance and data security matter in light of looming legislation

A run of data breaches across the travel sector have reinforced that there is a very real danger if data security is not tight. Balancing security and savings is not a new quandary for the travel sector but it remains a fact that booking on discount fare platforms could require you to hand off data to a non-secure site. TMCs that combine a best fare guarantee with a secure booking site are the solution.

GDPR will be a big ticket item for Global and EU Travel Managers to tackle. What is it? A harmonized data protection framework operating across the EU and imposing processing and hosting rules on the rest of the world intended to give citizens back the control of their personal data. Local and global travel managers and TMCs will need to take a joined up approach to evidence compliance across the global supply chain.

A fresh approach to financial control driven by business intelligence

The GBTA is expecting a “sharp” increase in global travel costs next year with global airfares set to increase by 3.5 per cent while hotel rates will be around 3.7 per cent higher. TMCs will be called upon to demonstrate their worth by helping clients to accurately budget and find new ground to generate savings. Next generation business intelligence will be critical in helping TMCs turn big data into useful visual analytics that help to quickly uncover insights.

Duty of Care – taking care of traveler in a dangerous world

The nature of global business means that people need to travel. Whether it’s within their own city or across international borders, the pressure is on to keep them safe. In this day and age, businesses must build an auditable process of travel risk prevention which stands up to the test of reasonableness. TMCs are no longer on the periphery of risk management. Whether through in-house services or strategic partnerships, a TMC must work proactively with their clients to ensure that risk is tackled from the core of the program – the policy itself.    

A consumer focused approach to travel booking technology

As Gen Z  climb the corporate ladder they bring with them an increasingly traveler centric approach. Considering the content distribution shakeup and aggressive M&A activity in the online aggregator market TMCs have their work cut out if they are to compete with the consumer tools. TMCs that can combine in depth knowledge of their clients’ needs with the agility and investment to deliver solutions are the ones to watch.

Based in Philadelphia, DeAnne Dale, Reed & Mackay’s SVP Global Strategy and Consulting. If you’d like to take your travel program to the next level, we’d love to hear from you.

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Travel management encompasses a variety of industry players: non-profit corporations, hoteliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, airlines, travel management companies, data consolidators, consultants that act as a liaison between buyers and suppliers – the list goes on and on.

Despite the wealth of available information, diving into managed travel as an individual with little to no experience can certainly be intimidating. GBTA recently hosted a webinar in which GoldSpring Consulting’s Mark Williams provided an overview of what individuals new to managed travel should focus their efforts on.

  1. Determine Your Strategy

First, determine your strategy and best practices as they pertain to each element of program management, such as travel policy, TMCs and OBTs, air, hotel, payment and any additional resources. Consider the following questions: What do you need from a policy perspective? What kind of services do you need from a TMC and which TMC can deliver those services? Which airline is the best fit based on your travel patterns, requirements and corporate culture? What kind of a payment system would help?

  1. Start a Committee

Companies typically take a committee-approach to writing and reviewing a travel policy. The committee would ideally consist of at least five individuals: a travel manager, the employee handling accounts payable, someone who audits expense reports, a representative from a department with high travel activity and an outsider to guide the process.

  1. Develop a Travel Policy

Travel policy is the bedrock of any travel program. Without a concise or well-written travel policy, your travelers have no guidance or direction. In order to develop a policy, first determine what your company’s current practices are and how you want them to change. In addition to having clearly defined terms, a travel policy must be enforceable, easily accessible to travelers, and capable of measuring and tracking compliance. Since the travel industry undergoes frequent changes, Williams stressed the importance of keeping your policy updated and reviewing it on at least an annual basis.

Once your policy is in place, you can determine which relationships make sense from a supplier perspective. Williams also delved into the importance of TMCs and OBTs and offered best practices for airlines, hotels, payments and more.

For a more in-depth look into managed travel, GBTA members may view Strategy Bootcamp: What Everyone New to Managed Travel Should Know in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

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