The biggest factor influencing business travel in 2019 will be distribution as the industry moves towards IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC ) and hotel suppliers continue to drive direct booking channels, according to FCM Travel Solutions.
Duty of care will also remain high on corporates’ agendas due to the ongoing risk of terrorism, natural disasters and geo-political volatility.
However, travel data will be even more critical and travel management companie’s (TMC) will need to evolve as aggregators of MI from multiple booking sources to support clients effectively with traveller safety, FCM warns.
Jo Greenfield, UK general manager at FCM Travel Solutions, commented: “It will no longer be sufficient for TMCs to say that they can only track travellers if all bookings have been made via their reservations systems. We need to be able to pull in data and bookings from other channels, even if the client has booked externally, so that we can truly support corporates with their duty of care obligations and traveller safety.
“Customers will also expect greater visibility around reporting and analytics as other data management solutions come into the market, which will potentially reduce the role of a TMC as MI providers. As a TMC, we need to adapt and continue to evolve and address this challenge and ensure we are proactively aggregating comprehensive business intelligence.
In the UK, FCM forecasts that corporates will continue to focus on cost and ROI on their travel programme in 2019 but not necessarily because of uncertainty around Brexit. “There is definitely a focus on cost and clients cutting spend on internal travel, but it is hard to know if that is Brexit related. On the whole we saw clients up-trading in 2018 – in fact 17 of our top 20 UK clients up-traded by anything from 5% to 1319% – and we expect that trend to continue as corporates are focussing on travel that will grow their business,” explains Greenfield. “We also foresee an increase in travel to and within Europe as companies look to outsource business functions and set up shared services in markets like Poland for example.”