ASATA column: Are you being heard?

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Traveller centricity – this buzzword has emerged over the past years as the most effective philosophy to increase trip productivity and compliance.

The idea is simple: satisfied and happy travellers will generally be compliant – they have no reason to rebel against the travel policy. And, increased programme compliance can in turn bring down the total costs of business travel.

A compelling theory, but are travel managers actually putting this theory into practice? Not yet, it seems. A recent ACTE survey – The role of traveller centricity in business air travel – reveals a clear ‘disconnect’ between what travel managers expect from suppliers such as airlines and what they believe matters most to their travellers.

Costs and practicalities of air travel still trump the traveller experience for most travel managers. For travel managers, destinations and discounts are the overwhelming priority when choosing an airline. Factors that are highly important to travellers, such as a frequent flyer programme, rank at the bottom of the list of priorities for travel managers.

When it comes to the in-flight experience, baggage allowance tops the list for travel managers. On the other hand, most business travellers highly value Wi-Fi and power outlets, options that are deemed unimportant and irrelevant by travel managers.

Why can we see this clear ‘disconnect’? Surely, in an era of traveller centricity, anything that is important to travellers should figure prominently on the travel manager’s agenda?

Whatever the reasons for this disconnect, your ASATA travel agent can have an important role to play if you want your travel manager to hear your needs and wants. Through his or her experience, your ASATA travel agent is also ideally positioned to strike the right balance between optimising traveller satisfaction and controlling costs. They will run a reality check, making sure they know what matters to the traveller, what frustrates him or what makes him tick.

Your ASATA travel agent will also be able to liaise with airlines and other suppliers, making sure that the priorities of the traveller and the company are taken into consideration when signing agreements. Your travel agent will be able to arrange traveller benefits, such as frequent flyer miles, with the relevant suppliers while at the same time also addressing baggage allowance and flexibility of the air ticket.

Otto De Vries
ASTA CEO