Travel management companies are facing an uncertain future, as more and more travellers are opting to manage their own travel plans.
A recent report published by Air and Business Travel News said that corporate companies are opting to manage their own travel expenses, without the involvement of travel management companies, leading to a downturn in the travel management industry.
While some companies are exercising their own controls over their travel and accommodation expenses, through price negotiations and the use of travel management software, many others are allowing their employees to use their smart phones to manage their own travel schedules and expenses.
Sanjay Parekh, the managing director of Webexpenses, a company offering expense management solutions, said, ‘The role (of a travel manager) will change. It will go beyond day-to-day booking and processing, and become more of a consultative position, advising the business on how to reduce operational costs, and sourcing information for individual travellers.’
Diane Bouzebiba, the managing director of Amadeus UK, a travel technology company, said, ‘The mobile internet essentially creates another layer between the formal and accredited expert and the end user. So the travel manager’s role becomes more complex: they’re an intermediary not just between provider and traveller but also between traveller and reviewer.’
In future, travel managers may have to change their roles to fit into today’s new travel economy.
Caroline Allen, the regional director for Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), said, ‘Currently we tend to use data to assess past performance of a programme or to measure compliance. By, say, 2020, travel managers will have become far better at analysing this data and using it to predict future actions.’
The time has come for travel managers to broaden their horizons, or suffer in the face of competition from smart phone devices.