I read with interest your "Buyer's Table" discussion among travel management specialists about travel management companies and also about global distribution systems
. Data management is obviously a challenge but I doubt that any TMC can do a superior job than a well-organized corporate travel manager.
Identifying opportunity for savings is certainly a key role for all TMs. I venture to say that today one bigger opportunity for travel savings being somewhat ignored is longer lead time before travel. Of course, most frequent travelers know that upgrade privileges from frequent flyer programs expand as booking is delayed. But that is a behavior problem and difficult for anyone to manage, even a traveler's boss. Similarly, late booking tends to increase lodging expense.
I am beginning to wonder what really should be a role for travel agencies in corporate travel. Until they have skin in the game, their roles are likely to diminish. Group buying (customer aggregation) is a likely possibility but it challenges some very important security preferences. Also, I feel that a TMC should be studying destinations and advising corporate clients with heavy traffic to some destinations how best to manage things like personal emergencies, contacting "right" people when a need arises, etc. In fact, destination management can be a great source of value. If I were to open a travel store, I would assign staff to specific destination areas. Maybe that's where corporate travel management should really migrate.