2014 has been an eventful year with exciting product developments and unprecedented growth in the Concur ecosystem. Despite the many changes, our focus on creating the Perfect Trip to improve the traveler experience has not wavered. And our TMC Preferred Partners are right there with us, carving out valuable roles to serve customers in the ever-changing travel industry.
In March 2014, as part of a TMC Preferred Partner blog series, our friends at Christopherson Business Travel wrote a blog post about the evolution of the TMC entitled, “Adding Data, Technology & Service – Evolution of the TMC.” Mike Cameron, CEO and co-owner of Christopherson, took a frank look at the role of travel management companies today and how to leverage technology like TripIt and TripLink to improve the level of specialized service a TMC can provide. He said, “As an industry, we have to evolve in how we manage travel in order to stay relevant,” outlining what Christopherson is doing differently to take on new ways to service travelers as leaders in the field.
Concur EVP, Mike Koetting, recently weighed in on the evolution of managed travel programs and shared his vision of the TMC of the Future. "Traditionally, TMCs have bundled their services to support corporate customers. But VIP services can be unbundled with the help of supplier connections to offer a la carte VIP services to travelers at their discretion," he said.
Nothing Mike Cameron of Christopherson said back in March has become less true today, "Open booking does create new opportunities." Unmanaged bookings are a reality and properly collecting and incorporating data into a managed travel environment helps TMCs focus on duty of care, more complex travel plans, support to travelers who are stranded, and more. Improving the customer experience is what we are all focused on and TripLink connects traveler data to make this possible. Christopherson Business Travel says, “Although we were skeptical at first about the open booking concept, we’ve come to see it as an asset to our service as a travel management company […] We’ve always embraced the idea of including everyone’s information completely in the reservation. Up until TripLink, it was a very manual process. […] With TripLink, a traveler can enter their information on their end. The clunky manual process is now automated and digitized.”
Concur’s Mike Koetting shares his thoughts on how TripLink connects the traveler experience. "Many travel apps are one-dimensional, representing just a shrunken version of the supplier website contained on the internet. But mobile technology has the ability to translate data, events and itineraries into a three-dimensional experience for the traveler. Apps should connect to a full ecosystem of information to enable decision making and simplicity at all points in the travel experience.”
As things continue to evolve and change in the travel industry, so will the role of TMCs. However, one aspect of the essential role of managed travel programs will not, Christopherson's Mike Cameron explains: “It’s about evolution, and there will always be an opportunity to provide better value and help travelers and travel managers save money.” With this mainstay in mind, as an industry, we should work towards seeking out ways to make the Perfect Trip possible and serve travelers as best we can with The Power of And.
“The greatest power a technology company can exercise is The Power of And. It's time to break down unnecessary either/or constructs to make room for both/and opportunities. Why should travelers have to choose between booking traditionally, OR being compliant. Travelers should book where they want to book AND maintain compliance.”