Coronavirus: the impact on the UK's TMCs

Published 19/03/20

TMCs across the UK are demonstrating their benefit to clients during the coronavirus outbreak – but the long-term economic impact could threaten jobs across the sector.

The government’s ban on non-essential overseas travel, announced on Tuesday, was the latest significant step in the worldwide crisis and simply confirmed the self-imposed flying bans that many corporates had already put in place.

And industry trade body the Businss Travel Association (BTA) has warned many TMCs face an existential threat if the crisis continues, or if the country plunges into recession when the crisis is over.

BTA CEO Clive Wratten says urgent financial support was needed for the industry, which employs 12,000 and generates more than £10billion in revenue each year. He said that it was vital TMCs had access to credit that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said would be made available to business.

“Many travel management companies have suffered huge losses in revenue and are now facing a cash flow crisis. These are strong businesses and vital enablers for the UK economy, but many could fail before a demand for business travel resumes,” says Wratten.

“Once this crisis ends, the business travel industry will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery but, for our industry to get to this point, we must first weather the current storm and Government support is vital to help save our industry from collapse.”

Wratten adds: “We welcome the wider package of support measures announced by the Chancellor yesterday (17th March, 2020), and are seeking urgent clarification from the Government on how companies in the business travel supply chain can utilise them to help stabilise their businesses at this challenging time.”

At present, TMCs are spending the bulk of their time assisting clients with cancellations, as well as helping travellers currently overseas return home in the face of widespread schedule changes and aircraft groundings.

In a post on its website, Good Travel Management said it has been supporting clients with changes to travel plans, repatriation and cancellations and supporting them in mitigating costs where possible.

It added: “We remain stable and fully operational whilst also ensuring we support our employees during what are very challenging times. We would like to thank you for your ongoing support, patience and co-operation.”

Meanwhile, Wayte Travel Management’s Managing Director, Chris Morris, wrote to clients to reassure them it was implementing business continuity plans.

“From Monday 23rd March most of our staff will work a three-day week. We are also arranging for homeworking wherever possible,” said Morris.

“Please be assured that, throughout this period, we will continue to provide the excellent, proactive service that we’re known for.”

He adds: “Our business is long established and financially strong. We are well placed to survive this storm.”