A mass migration of corporates to online

TMCs report a significant migration of corporates to online bookings in South Africa at the moment and they are wooing clients with in-house corporate booking tools to avoid losing large portions of client bookings.

“I estimate that we have migrated as much as 90% of our corporate clients over to the Tourvest Travelit booking tool in the last four years,” says ceo of Reynolds Travel, Mary Reynolds.

According to Reynolds, the key to holding on to corporate clients in the present environment is to provide them with the efficiencies of an online booking tool together with the availability of personal service for high-touch bookings.

“This year, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of corporates using our in-house booking tool, with most domestic requirements now being made online,” confirms Sharon Leong, ceo of Thompsons Travel Corporate – Johannesburg.

“These tools are essential for a TMC operation to provide a holistic travel offering instead of clients diluting their travel through various channels.”

XL Nexus Travel started migrating clients across to the TRAVX booking system at the beginning of 2019, with a number of migrations completed and many more in the pipeline, says md, Sailesh Parbhu.

“While we still charge a small transaction fee for online bookings, corporates can reduce their service fees and costs by between 15% and 30%. They now also have a missed-opportunity indicator that allows the finance team or approver to make a more informed decision based on the options selected, especially if cost is a contributing factor.”

Wings Travel Management agrees that the biggest trend in the TMC space at present is technology offerings, says Carmen Hidalgo, team leader, Business Development: Corporate.

“Being adaptable and able to offer clients control of their own travel programme through technology whilst mitigating risk and optimising cost are the biggest areas of focus for corporate clients. Wings is able to offer this control and innovation in our technology, as we have existing solutions that can be developed further to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our clients.”

Hidalgo says travellers are becoming more educated on managing travel programmes and optimising their budgets, which can be both positive and negative.

“It’s positive because the TMC’s value offering can be clearly understood and utilised to the best benefit of the corporate. It is also negative because many corporates remain focused on only the ticket price or service fee (direct cost), comparing online content continuously.”

She says this unfortunately impacts negatively on time efficiency and total cost of ownership.

“The true value of a TMC does not lie in the transaction itself, but in the service, data analytics and technology all working together seamlessly to enhance a travel programme. Indirect costs are usually overlooked and these can lead to the most savings for corporates in the long run.”