May 18, 2024

ITM poll: buyers struggling to show value of TMCs

Demonstrating the value of using a TMC to stakeholders and travellers is the primary challenge for buyers right now, according to an ITM poll.

Over half (57%) of global, EMEA and UK travel managers at a special ITM Buyer Knowledge Exchange session earlier this month said they were facing increasing ‘noise’ from travellers wanting to book direct with airlines, and friction from stakeholders about the need to use a TMC.

This was followed by lack of access to fares through their OBT (53%) and managing travellers who are price-checking and booking flights themselves (47%).   

The session was dedicated to the topic of distribution, the TMC and OBT. 

Buyers shared tactics for managing traveller frustrations, which included:

  • allowing travellers to book a cheaper fare outside of programme, which must be flagged via expense processes in the month of travel
  • enabling visibility of the booking so that data can be tracked and duty of care protocol followed
  • recommending visibility of emissions as a factor for driving traveller behaviour to stay within programme.

Buyers believe that some airlines’ roll-out of new distribution strategies have not aligned well with corporate travel requirements, workflows and servicing capabilities and said they would like to have an open and honest dialogue with all parties involved.

But those who have attempted have so far struggled to bring together airlines, OBT and TMC due to the practicalities of gathering the right people around the table.

“A consistent concern for ITM’s buyer members centre around airline distribution, and the impact that changes to distribution models are having on traveller behaviour, the credibility of the managed travel programme, and internal stakeholders questioning the value of the TMC,” said Kerry Douglas, Head of Programme, ITM.

“It’s a really big challenge for travel managers right now, and an area for discussion that buyers have raised at several of ITM’s recent monthly Buyer Knowledge Exchange sessions. We therefore decided to hold an extra Buyer Knowledge Exchange session dedicated to the topic of distribution to help buyers share insights into how to manage the noise from their travellers and other internal stakeholders as best they can in the current environment.”

OBT optimisation will also be a key topic of discussion at the ITM Empower Conference  in Brighton on 25 April 2024.