I have written a guest comment for today's Travel Mole about what corporate buyers want from agents in 2012. You can read it below and also on the Travel Mole website http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2000094
"In a survey of business travel buyers commissioned by the Business Travel Show for the New Year, cost, the London 2012 Olympics, the economy and travel alternatives were all among their top concerns for 2012; and as we head into another year of economic uncertainty - last week it was reported the UK’s GDP fell by 0.2% and hotel, fuel and ancillary fees are continuing to rise - buyers tell me that now, more than ever, they need their TMCs to keep them informed and continue to suggest new ways they can save money and add value.
1 Cost savings
Buyers are looking to TMCs to help them introduce initiatives to improve compliance this year and, therefore, manage costs. For example, adherence to preferred supplier agreements, not booking outside of policy or introducing, improving or increasing the use of technology (ie with self booking tools (SBTs)). They also want advice on managing the demand for travel and potential travel alternatives such as video and teleconferencing where relevant.
2 The London 2012 Olympics
Buyers are expecting to feel a ripple effect from London staging the Olympics in the form of hotel availability, commuting disruption and reduced demand. Buyers who normally do a lot in London from May to September need TMC help to plan around this. They want TMCs to not only advise them about the impact the Olympics will have on business travel but also on commuter travel, homeworking and general movement of employees.
3 The Economy
As mentioned earlier, the latest figures show the UK economy fell by 0.2 per cent last quarter and analysts and politicians are worried we about to enter a double dip recession. In times of uncertainty like this, the demand for travel is often driven down. Non-savvy organisations adopt the ‘ostrich’ approach and fail to deal with the effects of the economy strategically or with a long-term approach opting instead for short term cost-cutting.
What buyers need from their TMCs in this instance is help and advice on how they can continue travelling - and continue to do business - but more effectively. They need smarter account management.
4 Emissions Trading Scheme
The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was the first large emissions trading scheme in the world under which large emitters of carbon dioxide within the EU must monitor their CO2 emissions and annually report them. The scheme was recently extended to the airline industry, with the changes coming into effect this year. This is likely to mean an additional hike in the cost of flights. Buyers will need TMCs to keep them informed and prepared so the increased costs don’t come as a nasty shock.
5 Adding value
Many organisations are integrating business travel and meetings budgets, but business travel buyers don’t necessarily have the resources or the expertise to fulfill the meetings management activity. While they focus on their core competences, they are looking to TMCs to alleviate this additional workload with specialist meetings expertise."
All of the issues above - and more - will be addressed, dissected and debated at the Business Travel Show, which takes place at Earls Court on 7-8 February 2012.
For the full line up of 26 sessions and to register for a free visitor pass to the show, go to www.businesstravelshow.com.