The travel industry is no stranger to disruption. Our ‘business as usual’, even before COVID, was one fraught with disparate and incongruent systems, complex workflows and rapidly changing environments influenced by factors outside our control.
While we know that ‘business as usual’ pre-COVID will never return, we are well versed in leveraging technology, know-how and skills we’ve acquired over many years to deal with disruption. We have always conducted business in a fluid environment. We have always understood the value of working and collaborating with customers, suppliers and partners.
And, although we’ve never faced this scale of disruption, it must be said that TMCs and travel advisers have become rather adept at it.
What does that mean for your customers and their value exchange with you?
There is no question that now, more than ever, your adaptability, resilience and technological skills and systems deliver immense value to travel buyers and travellers who themselves are grappling with a massive uncertainty gap.
Navigating the dynamic and complex environment that has arisen in times of COVID, we can step into the uncertainty gap, delivering real value by helping the travel buyer manage this on behalf of their company and traveller.
Understanding the real value travel advisers could bring in this dynamic business environment, what skills and systems could you enhance or leverage to assist travel buyers and travellers?
With product selection driven primarily by health protocols, safety concerns and regulations, and no longer by price, what role could TMCs and travel advisers play in accessing content, what is booked and how it is booked?
In this fluid environment, we understand that greater flexibility will be a key consideration. Here again, travel advisers have a unique opportunity to help travel buyers negotiate better terms and conditions with suppliers, including change, cancellation and refund policies.
We’ve also seen in the past year the impact of airline business models that collect funds, often months in advance, to cover current operating costs and how this influenced refunds for unflown tickets. How can you guide your travel buyer on how they protect their travel spend better in an environment where inflexible settlement remains a challenge?
What real value can you add in terms of simplifying workflows, better integrating with your customer’s technology, helping to keep travellers safe and comfortable and further reducing costs? And think what this could be worth to companies; how stepping into the uncertainty gap may be a driver for changing TMC fees in future?
Travel advisers are natural problem solvers and are adept at dealing with ambiguity. While we recognise that integration can always improve, we know that the skills you possess add immense value for travel buyers and travellers as they navigate the minefield of the changing landscape around health and safety protocols, travel restrictions, market/destination closures and quarantine restrictions.
A new ‘business as usual’ creates challenges for our customers. However, a unique opportunity exists for us to leverage and enhance our skills and systems to help solve some of these.
It will take an extraordinary effort to build demand, develop meaningful partnerships and rebuild trust with travellers and between stakeholders in the distribution chain. To further ease obstacles to travel, we will have to actively seek out what the great need is from our customers in these changing times, how we can address these and what opportunities exist in this space to collaborate.
But we are an industry that has a never-give-up approach. Through perseverance and innovation, we will not only survive, but find a real opportunity to thrive.