Delivering value in the 21st century

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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That seems to be the over-arching outcome of a recent ASATA survey among South African business travellers, who were asked to weigh in on the value they believe their travel agent should provide.

Almost five years after ASATA conducted its 21st century travel agent study, we’re launching the 2.0 version, looking at how the value proposition has changed.

In addition to online surveys, we conducted telephonic interviews with our customers – corporate travellers and corporate procurement managers – to see where the gaps lie and how we need to re-engineer our respective businesses to ensure we’re delivering the value our customers expect.

Flexibility, security, value and insider knowledge by far emerged as they key areas where TMCs could deliver value to corporate travellers. It’s also true that many of you were willing to take ownership over several elements of planning and booking travel instead of relying on your TMC.

However, when it came to saving time, helping with complex travel plans, being available and delivering a knowledgable, personalised service, nothing beats your TMC for corporate travel peace of mind.

Travel management is no longer about cost-cutting. It hasn’t been for a while. Today, buyers and TMCs are more concerned with balancing company needs and the overall needs of the traveller – improving productivity, staff retention and travel policy development.

This fresh take on our 21st Century Travel Agent is aimed at equipping our members with the insights we need to ensure we evolve our value proposition and align it with what their corporate travel customers most desire.

Beyond safety and travel alerts, our customers expect us to have advanced destination information, knowledge about product and even the best business class seats on an aircraft, helping you sift through the plethora of information that exists around travel.

These and other insights were shared at ASATA’s recent Travel Summit, which brought together industry stakeholders to examine the biggest risks facing travel businesses and what the new battleground is for clients and what it requires from us as the travel industry.

With more choice than ever before in the history of travel, now more than ever it’s essential we look for opportunities to clearly define our value. ■