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."
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
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."