Just as the Web revolutionized corporate travel (at least part of it), and reduced costs from $50 to $5, it's time for mega corporate agencies to invest in another solution that will drive costs down even further. I remember back in the early days, every mega agency fought online travel with a vengeance until their customers began demanding the online service. They used every excuse in the book to keep adoption levels low and margins high.
The next big step is to migrate fulfillment, online support and basic reservations offshore. As a result, labor costs will drop by 40 percent and service will improve as agencies are able to add more staff. There are more than 5,000 travel agents in India and Manila with over five years of experience ready to handle corporate travel transactions. The agency that gets there first will have a competitive advantage for several years to come, along with significantly higher margins.
When I ask the agency owners, they tell me that the customer isn't ready for the solution, they won't like the accent, they can't find any qualified agents, etc. My answer: Your customers are already using the service from other vendors (outside of travel), only hire quality English speakers if accent is an issue and, I can introduce them to thousands of qualified agents with more experience than most agents in the U.S. What is the problem? If I were a travel manager (and I was one), I'd be demanding this solution (at least the option).