Expanding Roles in the Cards for TMCs
A recent GBTA Foundation study, sponsored by Concur, looked at how corporate travel programs keep adapting in today’s changing world. It focused on how travel management companies (TMCs) are serving companies and business travelers by surveying both travel buyers and the travelers themselves.
Let’s talk about priorities over the next five years. Travel buyers in the United States and the United Kingdom both list data analysis/performance measurement/reporting; cost savings achieved by travel program and improving the traveler experience among their top three areas where they want their TMC to improve.
Data analysis, reporting and cost savings are hardly surprising. With such a high level of travel buyers (48 percent in the U.S. and 46 percent in the UK) indicating improving the traveler experience is an important priority in the coming years, however, it suggests buyers want to see TMCs continue expanding beyond their traditional role.
It is no longer just about helping to leverage spend, drive compliance and improve process efficiencies. Instead, buyers also want TMCs to improve traveler satisfaction, likely by providing better products and services to travelers.
What does that look like for business travelers?
In the United States, we asked business travelers what they wanted to see their company/TMC improve in to make their business travel experience a better one. While travelers indicated a variety of elements, travel convenience, changing or modifying reservations on short notice and the speed/ease/convenience of the booking process were most commonly selected in the top five.
Interestingly, four of the elements listed as priorities for business travelers varied based on travel frequency. Unsurprisingly, high-frequency travelers are least likely to rank discovering or comparing travel options in their top five as they likely have favorite vendors or already know about specific airline routes and hotel properties. Frequent travelers are most likely to include changing or modifying a reservation on short notice in their top five, however.
In the United Kingdom and Australia, business travelers identified the booking process as the top priority. Other key priorities include travel convenience, receiving loyalty points for business travel, cost and choosing between different airline and hotel brands.
A few differences emerge when comparing the U.S., the UK and Australia. U.K. travelers are less likely to include changing or modifying reservations on short notice in their top five, compared to the U.S. Australia-based business travelers are more likely than U.S. travelers to include choosing between different airline and hotel providers and receiving loyalty points for business travel in their top five. Additionally, while one-quarter (25 percent) of U.S. travelers include using sharing services in their top five, only 15 percent of UK and Australia-based travelers do so.
Looking at these priorities for both the buyers and the travelers across the globe presents a clear opportunity for TMCs to better serve companies and expand their roles in the future.