New GBTA Study Examines Role of Travel Management Companies

business travelerTravel management companies (TMCs) are working directly with corporate travel managers to play an increasingly important role in implementing, improving and successfully operating global travel programs, according to a new study by the GBTA Foundation, the research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, and Egencia, the business travel company of Expedia, Inc.

GBTA reports it surveyed 1,429 travel managers in Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe, finding that travel managers around the globe say key capabilities offered by travel management companies are vital to their programs. This includes TMCs’ industry knowledge (96%), access to local rates (93%), and combined global coverage and local footprints (89%). The report also examined the decision-making process behind global policies and how these policies are managed, GTA says.  

“As multinational corporations operate across the world, they are enlisting the help of travel management companies to bolster their programs by leveraging TMCs’ regional expertise and technology offerings to help them manage travel spend more strategically,” said GBTA Vice President of Research Joseph Bates. “Global travel programs help control costs, manage risk and can function across any number of regions to support the business traveler.”

Almost half of respondents (46%) stated their companies have global travel programs in place to ensure consistent policy enforcement (67%), manage risk (67%), compile program data (61%), and negotiate with suppliers at a global level (60%). More than half of those surveyed worldwide (54%) said TMCs have increased their knowledge of local issues around the world. 

·         Most travel managers worldwide (60%) feel that TMCs can now provide their companies with global service and support in extending their travel programs’ reach and capabilities.

·         Travel managers in the developing and fast-growing markets of Latin America (70%) and Asia (68%) said that the number of travel management tools available to them, such as online booking tools and expense data reports, have increased greatly.

According to the travel managers surveyed, global travel programs help strengthen relationships with preferred vendors (75%), improve adherence to approved booking channels (68%), and communicate travel policy to employees (67%). 

To improve global programs in the future, the majority of travel managers worldwide (76%) reported that they will look to TMCs to help with cost containment strategies (74%), integrate data (73%), and integrate new mobile technologies (65%). Most respondents worldwide (70%) noted that mobile devices are crucial to their global travel programs.

The greatest challenges to global travel policies revolve around cost savings and reporting technology, and vary by region. Safety and visa issues also ranked highly as an area of improvement for global travel programs in select regions.

 ·         North America: Airline ancillary fees present the biggest challenge for more than half (57%) of North American travel managers.

 ·         Asia: Hotel costs (49%) and a lack of GDS information on ancillary services (49%) were the top challenges reported by travel managers in this region.

 ·         Latin America: Traveler safety and visa permits are key areas for improvement among more than half (51%) of travel managers.

·         Europe: Hotel costs (46%) and GDS information on ancillary services (41%) were reported as the largest areas of concern for travel managers.

"As more organizations think and act like global businesses, there are higher expectations for the managed travel industry to deliver faster and better solutions that remove complexity for the company and the traveler,” said Mark Hollyhead, Egencia’s senior vice president, Americas.

“Companies will increasingly look to improve their global travel programs to further seek best value, control spending and ensure diligence in their duty of care. There will also be a rapidly growing interest in global programs demanding the best technology and service solutions for users," Hollyhead said. 

Egencia and two travel professionals from global organizations will be participating in an education session titled “Travel Buyers Only: Going Global: What Does a Global Travel Program Look Like?” at the 2013 GBTA Convention on Sunday August 4 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm (Room 6C). For more information on the event, visit www.gbta.org/convention.

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