Traditionally, travel managers rely on travel management companies (TMCs) when booking for travel needs. These TMCs are known for finding great deals and being the best time-saving option available. However, travel managers at larger companies who remain responsible for global travel programs are starting to realize that TMCs are no longer enough on their own.
The Need for Visibility
The biggest issue that travel managers have noticed with TMCs is a lack of visibility. TMCs simply do not provide enough data to give travel managers the visibility they want. They rely on internal data but do not necessarily share it with their clients. The result is that travel managers cannot be sure that TMCs find the best options for their budget and needs. Instead, they rely on the fact that TMCs have consistently delivered good results for them in the past.
Instead, travel managers want solutions that show all of the available options. This allows them to know that they are not only getting a great price and finding flights that work for their needs but that every option was examined. By contrast, a solution like FairFly offers complete visibility.
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Reshopping is a Must
As travel managers search for alternatives to TMCs, they prioritize the ability to “reshop.” This refers to comparing fares for the same flight, seat, class, and cabin. Reshopping ensures that you find the best possible deal for the exact travel requirements. This feature is highly sought after for its ability to save. In fact, a recent survey from Festive Road found that 85% of travel managers prefer TMCs that reshop. Paul Tilstone wrote an informative op-ed about those survey results, titled “Op-Ed: Paul Tilstone on New TMC Needs in a New Era.”
Each solution or TMC that offers reshopping does so in a slightly different way. For example, FairFly uses proprietary technology that completes the comparison efficiently.
The Demand for New Solutions
The survey from Festive Road also found that a quarter of corporate clients are contemplating using an alternative to the traditional TMC. These managers cited technological advancements as the reason. Some of these managers may still plan on using TMCs to an extent. They may simply supplement them with other tools, such as online booking or comparison tools.
In practical terms, this means that travel managers have realized that TMCs do not provide enough data for them to trust in the process. While TMCs always have access to more than sufficient data, the demand for visibility has increased. This lets other companies, like FairFly, easily step in and fill the gaps, working in harmony with TMCs or alone.
At the same time, TMCs are starting to adapt their solutions, filling the growing demand for visibility. However, they do not necessarily want to invest resources and money into doing so. This is particularly true if more than half of their clients are unlikely to leave them.
Some TMCs are changing but are slow to do so. This opens up an opportunity for other companies. A new player will join in and cater to the new, post-pandemic need and demand for increased visibility.
New Solutions are Always on the Table
Two-thirds of respondents in the survey said that TMCs would continue to be their “primary service partners,” but this does not mean new solutions will not grow. It is important to note that the question referred to the “primary” service partner. This means that even businesses who plan to continue using TMCs for the foreseeable future may consider supplementing them with other options.
Tools like FairFly, for example, can partner with global TMCs to let travel managers get the best of both solutions. Travel managers tap into the familiarity of TMCs with the visibility of other solutions. This could potentially even lead to some travel managers who thought they would keep primary relationships with TMCs to change their minds once they see the options available… or they may simply rely less on TMCs as time goes on.