What is the True Value of a TMC?

our response to the recent article from the Business Travel Magazine

A recent article from The Business Travel Magazine claims that Travel Buyers are finding it harder to convince their travellers about the value of using a Travel Management Companies (TMCs)…

The article paints a bleak picture of an industry struggling to keep pace with a fast-moving business travel environment. It claims that TMCs are often slow to react to retailing changes (such as the adoption of NDC) and lack the flexibility needed to meet evolving consumer demands.

TMCs are struggling to prove their value to clients, the author suggests, with restricted access to content and outdated travel technology shouldering much of the blame.

However, at Gray Dawes, we respectfully and heartily disagree… 

After all, not all TMCs are created equally. Tarring everyone with the same brush only serves to devalue the brilliant work and innovative thinking that organisations such as ours bring to the industry and the benefits that a High Touch, High Tech, High Content service delivery model brings to corporate travel clients.

In this article, we take a deeper look at the “Value Proposition” piece from the Business Travel Magazine and demonstrate how we are genuinely doing things differently.

TMCs are not providing travel buyers with good enough access to content and the huge upheaval in the way airline fares are retailed via NDC and the slow pace of its rollout are partly to blame.

There’s little doubt that the introduction of the New Distribution Capability (NDC) in October 2012 was one of the biggest shakeups the industry has ever seen. It revolutionised the way air travel content could be presented and purchased – travellers and travel bookers no longer had to trawl through innumerable sources to find the air products they wanted.

However changing 40 years of airline distribution technology does not come without its pitfalls, and some TMCs have struggled to implement the retailing model into their ecosystems.

💡 Why Gray Dawes Is Different

We were early adopters of the NDC standard and have integrated it seamlessly into our systems. Our clients get access to supplier-direct fares and NDC content without being slowed down by clunky interfaces or a restriction of access.

While some TMCs might be hesitant to release content if their online booking tool (OBT) is unable to handle the volume or variety of fares, our YourTrip platform presents content from GDS, supplier-direct, NDC, Expedia, and Booking.com all in one place, without any friction.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for TMCs to demonstrate their value to clients, and travellers will try to find lower fares themselves.

The article cites a poll from a special ITM Buyer Knowledge Exchange Session which noted the key challenges faced by travel buyers:

  • 57% cited demonstrating the value of a TMC to stakeholders and travellers as a challenge.
  • 53% cited access to fares through their online booking tool (OBT) as a challenge.
  • 47% cited managing travellers who are price-checking and booking themselves as a challenge.

The piece suggests that TMCs, more than ever, are having to work overtime to prove why they are needed, and that travellers are becoming increasingly alienated. It points to a new crop of younger travellers who want to self-serve – a group who believe they can find lower fares and think they are doing the right thing.

💡Why Gray Dawes Is Different

When it comes to demonstrating value, our service offering speaks for us. The seamless integration of NDC content into our own retailing ecosystem shows travel buyers and bookers that searching for and securing the best fares does not have to be difficult. Everything they could ever need is clearly displayed and easily accessible all in one place – there’s no need for clients to shop around and we never hear “I can find it cheaper on the Internet”.

But it is important to remember that value is not only derived from the power of proprietary travel technology or the cheapness of fares. It is also gained by taking the time to understand the needs of a business traveller and reinforced by awesome customer service. Our High Touch approach to understanding our clients, their culture, and their business objectives allows us to craft tailored travel solutions and deliver unique experiences that go beyond monetary benefit.

The value of a TMC is determined by several factors, from the power of its technology to the content options it offers to clients. Not to mention outstanding customer service that’s ALWAYS ON.

At Gray Dawes, we’re there for our clients whenever and wherever they need us.

High Tech

Our travel technology can be accessed through our PORTAL platform via a single sign-on. Our online booking tool, YourTrip, delivers content from GDS, NDC, the web and more.

High Touch

Our innovative ‘follow the sun’ delivery model means we provide a truly ALWAYS ON service, caring for our clients around the clock – when they need us, where they need us.

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High Content

We believe that content is king. That’s why we empower our clients with the freedom of choice, giving them everything they need to book better and spend smarter all in one place.

TMCs are slow to adapt to changes in the travel landscape and could struggle to keep travellers booking in-policy. Buyers might stick to traditional channels to maintain duty of care instead

The article suggests that travel buyers are increasingly choosing to book outside of policy to save money and maintain duty of care, the implication being that TMCs are not evolving fast enough in a post-NDC world and that they are routinely failing to deliver a service which a buyer couldn’t replicate themselves.

This is echoed by a quote from Kerry Douglas, Head of Programme at ITM: “Some buyers have started to make allowances for limited bookings to be made outside of the programme to accommodate direct cost savings.”

The failings of TMCs, including a lack of proprietary technology and seamless access to content, have created an environment in which travellers believe they are travel managers who can book better.

💡Why Gray Dawes Is Different

We also own our technology meaning that tools work seamlessly with one another and content is delivered across different devices unrestricted. Buyers don’t have to consider booking outside of policy because there’s no cost-saving or ease-of-access benefit to doing so.

Ian Currington, Director of Account Management & Client Implementation at Gray Dawes, suggests that the impression of TMCs as being slow to act and the touted increase in client apathy might be a result of other factors:

“The elephant in the room not mentioned is that the bigger corporates are clearly not putting enough pressure on tech suppliers to get the content flowing correctly. You have to ask yourself – is this a TMC problem or a technology problem?

 

“The way I see it is that increasingly as an industry we use far too many acronyms and talk so much about “NDC” and other concepts without considering whether the clients really care where the content comes from? It’s simple; they expect best value packaged with great tech and great service. And to us that equals Gray Dawes.”

Tarring all TMCs with the same brush only serves to devalue the brilliant work and innovative thinking that many organisations bring to the industry.

The article from the Business Travel Magazine paints a bleak picture of an industry in too broad a stroke. It depicts TMCs as slow to react to retailing changes and struggling to keep pace with consumer demands – an ailing service which is turning travellers into makeshift travel managers.

However, reality suggests otherwise. At Gray Dawes, we are genuinely doing things differently, and our High Content offering is stronger than ever. Some TMCs might be hesitant to release content if their OBT is unable to handle the fares seamlessly, but not us – our YourTrip platform presents fares from GDS, supplier-direct, NDC, Expedia, and Booking.com all in one place.

Access to content is also not the only driver of value. Being able to deliver a quality, personal service which ties great technology together with all-encompassing content, is just as precious to travellers and travel bookers.

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READ THE FULL ARTICLE

From the Business Travel Magazine

“TMCs find themselves having to reassert their value to travellers and the feeling of déjà vu is palpable. The global pandemic was a successful exercise in doing that but two years later a new trigger – access to content – is causing concern.”

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