Corporates in Asia are stepping up traveller education in an effort to cut reliance on TMCs, which are facing a manpower crunch, with the situation unlikely to be resolved in the next 12 months.
According to a Singapore-based regional corporate travel manager (CTM), a leading TMC which is trying to fill 3,000 global vacancies has only managed to reach about one-third of its target at press time.
He shared: “Some travellers are waiting 30 minutes and there is no answer (from the TMC), or they put their calls on speaker and wait for one to two hours (to speak to a consultant).
“We are having to manage expectations and educate travellers on the alternatives like ‘self-serve’ and checking the advisories created on the TMC website.”
“Travellers are also being urged to use online booking tools and make bookings six weeks in advance. Otherwise, airfares booked two weeks prior, as was the practice pre-Covid, could be 20 to 50 per cent higher, double or more.”
Not booking with the TMC was a “tricky situation”, he commented, and the company was having an “internal conversation” with travellers to “self declare” their trips with its security vendor.
“The reality is travellers will have to manage themselves on the road,” he observed.
A regional CTM in a US pharmaceutical firm said: “TMCs are trying to cope and are doing their best. But consultants who lost jobs during the pandemic fear they will be displaced again if they return and if there is a recession,” she said.
The company, she added, was educating travellers to book in advance and not make last-minute trips.
A senior CTM in the finance industry described the landscape of less supply and the need to establish new procurement relationships as the “new world” of travel management.