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Lesley's Column

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3rd October 2016

TMCs can take the lead on technology

The article in this publication last week about the need for TMCs to take the lead on technology was spot on.
Until recently, the options for an organisation to develop online booking, traveller tracking, hotel and airline discount programmes were numerous and often needed separate contracts with each provider.
TMC relationships with technology providers were also in their infancy and so the pricing of products varied considerably depending on whether you contracted directly or through your TMC.
More importantly, the ability of a TMC to provide technical support for these products was limited.
All that has changed now. Most TMCs have strong support structures to help customers with everything from ‘how do I book this online?’ through to more complex customisation of products that meet travel policy, travel security and demands of internal IT teams.
The recent announcement by American Express of the purchase of KDS therefore comes as no surprise – it’s a natural step for a company with big ambitions to take a greater lead at a truly global level.
Not many companies have pockets the size of Amex, but neither do all organisations have a travel programme that needs such a degree of global integration.
The technical capability of most UK TMCs is such that they can already compete with the ‘big boys’ on all but the most complex travel programmes.
These days there’s rarely a need to have separate contracts with a TMC, online air and hotel booking tool, online rail tool, etc. The TMC will manage it all through a single contract and, most importantly, provide the right level of human support to ensure that back-up is available for complex bookings or technical problems.
The piece that’s still missing is mobile. The capability is there but the primary restricting factor is the IT departments of companies who have failed to keep up to speed with the frenetic environment (home and work) that their employees now operate in.
Mobile needs to come out of the ‘too difficult’ box.