Matching global capability with local insights in an evolving travel landscape


Matching global capability with local insights in an evolving travel landscape

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It’s no secret that we live in a period of constant change, with the business travel landscape also evolving at a rapid pace. Digital advancements have fundamentally changed how we work, live, and travel. Some of this happens on a global scale, while other trends happen only in certain regions.

Regardless of whether these changes are happening globally or in your own backyard, your TMC needs to be keeping pace with this rapidly evolving travel landscape and must provide tech solutions, global expertise, and local insights to ensure travelers enjoy less stressful – and more productive – business travel.

Let's use some real-life examples from our Asian operations where being global and local has its advantages.

1. Market trends and behavior

A TMC that is both global and local is aware of market changes, whether they are major overall trends, or whether they’re only happening in only one region or country. This includes processes or trends such as the way technology is displayed and utilized, or how travelers choose to pay. 

Take China for example. Booking behaviors have changed, and there’s been a distinct shift from air travel to land travel, namely rail or private car rental.

“It’s changed completely,” says Calvin Xie, FCM General Manager for China. “Before, we would always educate clients to book their tickets seven days in advance because it's cheap and it embodies better travel behavior. But this no longer works. Nowadays, many of our travelers tend to book only one day or even a few hours in advance due to the uncertainty and frequent itinerary changes.”

This means Calvin and his team have worked hard to modify the FCM Platform for the Chinese market. The result is an open-ended platform allowing reporting, data flow, and duty of care processes to be carried through consistently – and aligned with FCM globally. The Chinese business traveler is top of mind in the platform’s localization. Payment via WeChat Pay or Alipay? Check. Comparisons between China rail and air ticket prices on one page? Check. Expense or profile management aligned with your company system? Check.

2. Consumer culture

Different cultures inform ways of working, ways of booking travel, and even traveler confidence and duty of care. Every program that encompasses multiple countries has to remember this balance when rolling out a supplier or process.

This time we're using India as an example. Considered a "high-tech and high-touch market," there’s been an increasing demand for end-to-end travel requirements, using a combination of FCM’s round-the-clock in-house customer support and technology adoption, like FCM India’s self-booking tool.

The FCM car program, focused on the safety of female travelers, has been especially well-received. Bringing together more than 15 vendors across the country, the program covers every facet of the transportation process: from calling the customer to ask if her car has arrived on time, to checking in on her safe arrival at the destination. All responses are recorded and reported to the travel manager for quality control.

“Customers don’t need to have multiple vendors managing their car program. We take on the onus of understanding their multiple requirements and create personalized solutions for them,” says Punit Puri, General Manager of FCM India.

3. The adoption of technology

Some markets embrace technology quicker than others. At times, the rate of digitalization can appear alarming, but is indicative of culture and habits.

Japan, for example, has seen an extraordinary acceleration – and adoption – of mobile tech. According to Kenichi Shiraishi, FCM General Manager for Japan, this is because locals wanted to avoid going out during the pandemic, but still continued with regular activities such as shopping, restaurant dining, and banking. Enter tech.

“While not in the same category as retail activity, domestic corporate travel, too, saw a huge inclination towards digitalization, with sheer necessity soon evolving into a deliberate choice,” says Ken. “Travelers realized that paper is not convenient. We are now fielding more and more requests from both companies and individuals to digitalize the business travel process.”

There’s also convenience and choice to think about, especially in a market where the type of options available differ from other countries.

“The focus is to be all-encompassing and accessible on a single platform. Big-name hotels must be part of the inventory. Small, hot-spring inns deserve space as well. It is difficult for such entities to be found by customers on their own, and having them online in one place helps,” said Ken. “Besides convenience, we will also be optimizing opportunities for everyone in the travel ecosystem: Who says good meetings cannot be held in these small inns? Customers might love the idea!”

FCM’s global capabilities mean we can deliver a consistent booking experience – whether you’re booking travel in Asia, the United States, or South Africa. FCM’s plug-and-play functionality means your global team can access a wide range of travel content and information, design digital itineraries, seek approval, book, and report – in exactly the same way, anywhere in the world. But, more than that, we understand that local markets require different things. Like a safe corporate car program for female travelers. Or payment solutions on common regional platforms.

Ready to combine global expertise with hyper-local, personalized service? Let's talk.

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