The role of travel management companies is evolving, driven
by the rise of new technology and the changing demands of business travelers.
Whereas once TMCs functioned primarily to process bookings,
now they must harness data and tools such as artificial intelligence,
predictive analytics and chatbots to provide value to their customers
throughout the travel experience.
These are some of the conclusions from Harnessing Technology
to Empower Your People, a report from Advantage Travel Partnership based on findings
from the 2017 Advantage Conference and Business Travel Symposium and a “Buyer
Research Survey” conducted by the Institute of Travel Management.
“Through continuous discussions with members and
research undertaken with travel buyers from ITM, we noted that technology
strengthens the service of a TMC,” says Neil Armorgie, CEO of WIN and global
product director for Advantage.
“Human interaction remains the vital ingredient that
business travelers and clients are ultimately looking for. Technology enhances
this partnership making for a more seamless relationship and therefore
achieving better productivity for the client, which ultimately helps them grow
According to the research, 87% of travel buyers are excited about
the future of travel technology, but 76% said they are looking for help from
business partners to keep them up-to-date on new developments.
TMCs should look to fill this role by making strategic investments
in new technology and qualified staff, creating an appropriate balance of “man
The paper states, “As much as new technologies will automate
process-driven tasks, business travel continues to be an industry dominated by
people and relationships, and the ability to deploy people into more creative
roles should be an excellent opportunity to further personalize the travel
As they develop new solutions, TMCs should put themselves “in
the shoes of their customer,” to create a positive, personalized experience throughout
the journey, from the booking to airline and hotel check-ins, to renting a car,
making restaurant reservations and providing recommendations for tours and
TMCs should also keep in mind that
technology use cuts across age categories, with both millennials and baby
boomers embracing technology in booking and during their travel.
The paper suggests TMCs identify travelers
not by age but by state of mind: “The largest proportion of business travelers
today can be branded as a ‘Modern Traveler’ – those who look for convenience,
connectivity and the ability to replicate their leisure experience in a
business environment. The Modern Traveler can have a short attention span but
is able to process information quickly.”