FCM Travel Solutions GM Euan McNeil and sales director Lloyd Barkhuizen recently gave their views on ‘What’s hot for corporate travel in 2018’ during a webinar organised by the African Business Travel Association (ABTA).
Traveller Friction in the spotlight in SA
Traveller friction – or the wear and tear travel has on the employees of a company – featured prominently on the agenda with McNeil saying that although this concept has been in the global limelight for some time, it is now also taking centre stage in South Africa.
Monique Swart, founder of ABTA, explained that although many South African companies used to shrug off traveller friction as unimportant, they are now starting to introduce concrete measures to manage friction better in 2018.
She said that in 2018, the focus needs to be more on the human element of travel. “It’s not just about cost, it’s about the humans in your company because that’s where the true value lies,” she said.
“Traveller friction is a huge focus not only in our business but also from our client base,” said Barkhuizen, adding that it is important to bring the right content and the right product to make life easier for the traveller.
According to Barkhuizen, although travel has moved from HR to the procurement space, we are seeing an increased dialogue between the two departments. “There’s a merge between the two departments with them talking to each other,” he said, adding that this open and honest conversation is a step in the right direction.
Be smart about data
Managing data will be another key focus for the year ahead. McNeil explained there has been a major shift in what organisations were trying to achieve with their data. “Gone are the days of simple reports. Now it’s about bringing data from various sources into one platform that can give really quick and real-time insights into your programme.”
Traveller friction is one area smart data can help to address. McNeil explained that a major challenge for most companies has been that they didn’t have the right data to effectively measure the impact travel is having on employees. As a result, they were not able to put strategies in place to address the impact of traveller friction.
However, McNeil added that this is now changing. By combining smart data with the goal to address traveller friction, you are able to put in place policies that organisations can actually measure and manage and help drive down traveller friction.
Too often we find that procurement processes boil down to transaction fees, but we deliver value far beyond the transaction and partner with corporates in a way that helps them to achieve their objectives. The type of reporting we focus on now is much more than just transactional data – it’s more about travel programme objectives and the people within that programme.
The NDC will change the way we book travel
Finally, the Iata NDC (New Distribution Capability) is set to have a major impact on the way we book and sell travel.
“The NDC is a hot topic at the moment and we’re certainly seeing a lot more airlines exploring this avenue. It is the way of the future and an exciting opportunity if you look at airlines’ ability to distribute ancillary services,” he said. “It creates the opportunity for corporates to ease the traveller friction burden and helps us to improve the level of personalisation.”
McNeil warned however that a lot of work still needs to be done to make the NDC an easy-to-use platform for corporates and TMCs. “It’s probably going to impact the European and American markets before it hits us – but by staying ahead of the curve, you’ll certainly be able to take advantage of the benefits the NDC will start to bring.”
The year ahead will certainly be an interesting one. Technology is always changing in our industry and I think it’s going to continue to do that. It’s how we adapt and respond to that will be the key to success.
FCM’s role as a TMC is to adapt to the ever-changing disruptors we face in the market and to continuously evolve to provide value to our corporates.
To view the full webinar, click here https://from.sketchup.co.za/index.php/s/Qxba7ZNrWqpONfm