Travel Leaders Focusing On Portals, Hotel Adoption, Traveler Education - Business Travel News

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Travel Leaders Focusing On Portals, Hotel Adoption, Traveler Education

November 18, 2013 - 09:15 AM ET

By David Jonas

Within agency requests for proposals, buyers are including more questions on customized travel portals and traveler education, according to Travel Leaders executives briefing reporters during the company's national meeting last week in Atlanta. Those areas will get more attention during 2014 within Travel Leaders' business travel units, including franchised associate agencies and Travel Leaders Corporate, as will hotel adoption.

"It's a concern for companies not to know where their travelers are," said Peter Thompson, vice president of the Travel Leaders Franchise Group, who oversees the company's Business Travel Center of Excellence. "We are going to have a big initiative around hotel adoption. We are going to work with some of our preferred hotel companies. We work a lot with Lanyon. The opportunity is to just talk to travelers about the reasons why they should book their hotel through their travel management company, whether online or offline. Some travelers don't really understand that, and that's why education is starting to pop up in RFPs."

Thompson noted that "there are more RFPs than I have seen out there in my 32 years in this industry."

"Our associates typically focus on the SME marketplace," he continued. "Companies that spend $2 million or $3 million [on travel] don't really understand the opportunities out there for a formalized program that helps them reduce cost of ownership and total spend, but also give travelers direction and makes life for their travelers easier. It amazes me how many companies out there have unmanaged programs, and that's where our associates are driving hard."

In many RFPs, Thompson said companies are asking how the agency will educate travelers about program goals, opportunities and successes. Travel Leaders agencies are addressing that need partly through newsletters and webinars, he said. Thompson also noted that Travel Leaders delivers client education through a now-quarterly document providing industry insight and face-to-face client events featuring key industry executives.

He also said that because more RFPs nowadays include questions on customized portals, "in 2014 we will step up our support around that initiative."

Travel Leaders last week announced that franchised locations and Travel Leaders Corporate combined to win $83 million "in new business travel accounts" during the third quarter. Though the company does not report net new business including all lost accounts' volume, a statement attributed to Travel Leaders Corporate president David Holyoke indicated "no noteworthy client losses."

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