Partner with a TMC that has mastered the new rules of the game

Traffic light system for travel

The playing field has changed:

Partner with a TMC that has mastered the new rules of the game.

“Travellers are now booking, paying and travelling within the same month. It’s unprecedented.” A comment from Andrew Stark, MD Flight Centre Group Middle East and Africa, during the launch of FCM’s rebrand in South Africa – and just one example of how the playing field has changed worldwide.

On the surface, a shift in booking lead times demands a degree of flexibility from the traveller, but for travel managers and procurement managers, it means juggling approval processes, flight availability, cancelled or postponed tickets, and spend.

In other words, managing travel is more complex than ever. New needs emerge all the time – requiring flexibility, agility and a solutions-driven, customer-centric approach.

It’s time to partner with a TMC that understands the new rules of the game, including:

1. Content is king

The majority of business travellers today are worried about returning to travel, according to a global survey of business travellers by Wakefield Research. The good news is that “excited” was the second most common feeling associated with returning to travel.

It has become imperative that travel managers have the right content at their fingertips to support their travellers and put their minds at ease. They need to easily be able to access the available flights (direct and connecting); safe, convenient accommodation; and vetted transport options.

FCM’s global booking platform uses integrated, plug-and-play technology to put a wide array of local and international content at your disposal. Whether you’re booking air, hotel, car, visa or forex options, your journey can start and end in one place – with the FCM app, Sam (FCM’s responsive travel champion) offering smart recommendations and on-the-go support pre, post and during your trip.

2. The need for real-time information and support

Flight availability, status of borders and lockdown regulations can change by the minute. Destination can get red-listed and quarantines can suddenly be imposed. This new travel landscape requires unprecedented agility and flexibility.

Travel managers are looking to support their teams with systems that provide the correct information when needed, including up-to-the minute alerts and advisories.

3. Auto-rebooking should come standard

Pre-COVID, flight cancellations were an annoyance to business travellers. Today, flight cancellations can easily lead to anxiety and confusion for the traveller. Which flights are still operating? Which destinations are off-limits as stop-over options? Where will I be safe?

Sam’s auto rebooking function means your traveller will always be on the next available flight. No more scrambling to find a solution. The situation has already been resolved – automatically.

Even better? Sam’s on-the-go support means you can easily chat to an experienced travel consultant should you need to make changes to the new itinerary. Flexibility is now the name of the game.

4. A post-COVID world requires a new travel programme

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to relook and update your company’s travel programme. This new world has new priorities, requiring new policies and procedures.

It will probably not come as a surprise that Duty of Care has been elevated to the most important part of your travel programme. Tighten up your policies around duty of care and ensure that it is never compromised, even in the face of budget restrictions. Update all traveller details, communicate any changes in policy, get buy-in and focus on adoption and compliance.  And then relax, knowing that you are able to track your travellers and bring them home quickly and safely if need be.

Jockeying for position behind duty of care are Approval Processes and Cost Savings.

One-tier approval is no longer appropriate, and travel managers are looking to fortify and streamline their approvals process in 2021. Think multi-level, omni-channel approvals if necessary, with approval notifications sent straight to a traveller’s mobile. It’s coming – and the future is smooth.

As businesses slowly resume business travel, budget is top of mind. And companies are quickly realising that flexible fares and direct routes (coupled with limited flights) come with a higher price tag. Make sure your TMC has the tech to source and detect the lowest fares – and can use their global buying power to secure the best rates when it comes to accommodation, transport and other content.

5. Tracking and managing spend is vital

Corporate air spend has always been heavily dependent on external factors such as fluctuating oil prices, competition, and changes in supply and demand. Today, we are seeing fewer air routes combined with border closures and changing legislations, which has led to unpredictable airfares. For procurement managers, who are already faced with an unprecedented amount of cancelled flights and unused tickets,  it has become increasingly difficult to keep their travel budget in check.

Manually cross-checking spreadsheets to make sense of the raw data of your corporate travel programme is no longer viable if you want to keep a firm hand on cancelled flights, refunds and unused travel vouchers; air spend; fees on payment options; leakage; and much, much more.

FCM’s plug-and-play technology ensures you have quick, clean data at your fingertips, allowing you to analyse your company’s travel behaviour, spend, bookings and leakage – pulling  up-to-the minute reports for cost analysis, budgeting and planning.

“A large part of reimagining our post-COVID offering comes down to how we use data analytics to collaborate with our customers, supporting them in making decisions and building product offering,” says Steve Norris, Corporate Managing Director EMEA, Flight Centre Travel Group. “We can help customers build their own dashboards, using AI-generated reporting to ensure they know where they stand in real time.”

Take your travel programme to the next level. Talk with our experts.

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