The Beat Letters: On The Role Of TMCs And Globalization

Two readers responded to last week's GUEST column by Doug Weeks regarding travel management company globalization, which itself was in response to feature in The Beat on the role of TMCs ...

At Carlson Wagonlit Travel, our view of TMC globalization stands worlds apart from that of your guest commentator, whose recent observations in The Beat (9/17/09) contrast significantly with our research findings (Global Horizons: Consolidating a Travel Program) and the needs of an overwhelming majority of our multinational clients and prospects. Our experience shows that unlike the "single point of failure" he refers to, consolidating a travel program across borders and working with a single TMC bring significant benefits every day and over the long-term.

Our clients attest to this. Having successfully consolidated their travel programs on a local or regional level, many of them have subsequently adopted a global approach. Moreover, an increasing number of the RFPs we respond to reflect this global tendency.

According to our research, multinational clients who consolidate their travel program by standardizing their travel policy, processes and tools; leveraging their total travel volume; and concentrating sourcing with an optimal number of suppliers can save on average 20 percent of their total travel spend and enhance service and security. The higher the spend, the greater the savings.

Working with a single TMC drives successful travel program consolidation for several reasons:

• More timely and consistent data and reporting
• Optimized traveler services and support through standardized tools (e.g., an online travel portal, profile management), coupled with locally adapted SLAs that meet specific market and/or cultural needs
• Enhanced traveler tracking and responsiveness in an emergency
• More effective program management, including sourcing, the sharing and implementation of best practices, and performance monitoring
• One point of accountability for the entire travel program
• Duplication of tasks and the associated costs are eliminated
• More consistent financial management
• Streamlined communications
• Easier TMC management on a day-to-day basis

At CWT, we believe putting the needs of clients first and striving to continuously provide an outstanding level of service is driven by collective passion and a deep-rooted commitment to excellence. It has nothing to do with multiple TMCs competing against one another. As a company, we do a much better job on behalf of our clients when there is a sense of partnership and shared achievement. Call it a "single point of success," if you will.

~ Carlson Wagonlit Travel executive vice president for global program solutions Cathy Voss

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I really enjoyed reading Doug Weeks' comments regarding TMC globalization. Here is a travel manager who fully understand and appreciates the difficulties that a corporation will face in globalising their travel procurement. Nobody truly believes that even a TMC with same name above it's door can deliver the same service globally--just as it is impossible for an airline alliance to deliver uniform service around the world. Not only is it impossible, it is not something that any client would want. People are different, and their requirements and expectations are different in more or less every country, so it would be difficult enough to streamline and deliver seamless service in a region.

As Doug mentions, the various technology tools in general also operate differently in every region. The truth is that the global procurement process today should consist of two (at least) different RFPs: 1) Which TMC has the technology to gather data from multiple different sources including competitive TMCs and deliver the type of consolidated data that is the only reason for even considering globalization. And 2) Which TMC can deliver the best in breed services, technology, pricing etc in the separate regions or even in separate countries as long as one of the criteria of selection is the ability and willingness to deliver correct and timely data to whatever TMC gets the contract for the first RFP.

~ PhoCusWright European corporate travel analyst John Melchior