View from Behind the Frontline - Part 1
Updated: May 7, 2020
Raise your Profile
The role of the TMC has always been to shape the travel program, deliver value and ensure the safety of their customers. In the short to medium term however, there will be a significant shift to more demanding requirements from the corporate and the traveller, to ensure their safety and well-being in what is likely to be a continually moving, fluid landscape.
Businesses are looking at objectives and strategies for what will be a difficult journey back to recovery. This requires a joined-up approach and is set to raise the profile of the TMC more than ever before.
Will relaxing the lockdown solve everything?
Politically there will be a desire to get everything back to normal. Countries around the world recognise the first ingredient to fuelling demand is relaxing of travel restrictions, so that domestic and international travel is permitted. However, we are in unprecedented times + we are very much a demand-led industry.
In Business Travel, that demand for travel is going to need 3 ingredients - not 1.
1. Government Sentiment – relaxing travel restrictions
2. Corporate Sentiment – determining if, when, and where they will allow travel
3. Traveller Sentiment –reassurances and certainty around safety
Plan for Recovery
The Smart TMC is already planning and delivering a proactive program of services to educate, inform and guide the corporates and their travellers post-lockdown. They are consulting and preparing them for what demand may look like; which will be much more volatile than pre-pandemic business levels. Those TMCs that haven’t yet started, need to get started.
In the short-to medium term, the focus must be where their revenues will come from, then develop initiatives that support these theories, for example key services that add value, smart technology, automation, safe booking behaviour, duty of care and risk management.
TMCs have unprecedented knowledge and experience of the eco-system, supply chain, legislation, legal requirements and disaster recovery. This is a key differentiator in a fast-moving landscape. Never before have those honed skills been so critical to helping customers navigate through the maze of information and mis-information.
Corporate's will need these skills to determine when it’s time to travel, when it's safe to travel and how to travel, once the restrictions are relaxed.
Analyse the Risks
Everyone wants business travel to get back to some semblance of normality. When it does it will require a strategic approach, as relaxing travel restrictions alone will not address the concerns of companies and travellers. There will be even more emphasis on risk management and the well-being of business travellers.
Business travellers will need to understand the nuances by type and duration of travel restrictions, and the specific conditions. Governments are expected to introduce a range of limitations for inbound and outbound travellers before boarding, such as health screening or certificates. It will be a minefield for the average traveller to navigate - both those who consider themselves risk tolerant - and those who are risk averse.