TMCs get leaner, smarter


Global TMCs look set to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic in a better shape, as they move towards closer client partnerships, new pricing models that benefit all parties, and continued innovations.

Jo Sully, vice president and regional general manager, Asia Pacific, American Express Global Business Travel, observed that “a true partnership approach” by TMCs and clients is now key.

TMCs are still working hard during this period to assure clients of their stability

“Objectives must align, risk must be shared and both must be adaptable to change,” she said.

And with service needs changing, new pricing models have to be trialled.

Matthew Stewart, managing director, BCD Travel, Singapore noted a growing demand for information on health and safety measures by governments, airlines, at airports, etc – services that are not remunerated by the old model.

“Navigating the new future of business travel and the anticipated requirements from organisations and travellers, we need to come up with new ways that compensate us for the costs of that service,” Stewart said.

CWT has been testing new pricing models for various RFPs and Akshay Kapoor, head of APAC sales, reports the response so far “has been extremely positive”.

According to Kapoor, CWT has been piloting a number of trials with select customers for some months, focusing on new pricing structures, including fixed and variable pricing, “to tap the opportunity for a win-win model for the customer and provider and to form the basis for future pricing strategies”.

What is also trending, according to Tristan Smith, vice president of commercial, SMEs, Egencia, is “a shift in the focus of travel programmes away from cost control and return on investment towards risk management and employee experience”.

Smith commented that the travel manager is emerging from the pandemic with more responsibility for risk management and employee wellbeing, in partnership with executive leaders.

“Together they are being asked to reshape systems, policies and technology to reflect the organisation’s shifting priorities,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Bertrand Saillet, managing director, Asia, FCM Travel Solutions, has observed an increase in “outsourced travel resources” enquiries – from the end of 2H20202 – with travel being switched on, albeit slowly and primarily domestic, with lower resources”.

The outlook for 2021, Saillet said, is “the ongoing need for outsourcing travel due to the shifts and changes in the travel industry and the leaner/smaller corporate procurement teams which are not resourced or equipped to navigate some of the newer changes we are seeing”.

To ensure client confidence, FCM has “continued to invest in critical activity, including product research and development, given that many of our customers have continued to travel and many other companies have engaged with us to re-assess their programmes or options”.

“We have also continued to invest in implementation and in account management to really understand how our customer’s needs hierarchies have changed due to the pandemic,” he told TTGmice.

In July, it launched Traveller Hub, an interactive Covid-19 travel resource. In October, Flight Centre’s Innovation Community launched the AI Reporting Tool to help travellers visualise information and turn it into actionable insights.

Likewise, BCD’s Stewart said the TMC – which had reinvested 35 per cent to 40 per cent annually into the company over the last five years – would continue to do so despite the sharp drop in earnings, especially in innovative solutions.

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