< PrevNext > Travel Managers Pivot to a CRM Approach & Gain Power By Festive Road managing partner Paul Tilstone / February 16, 2016 Share Paul Tilstone, Managing Partner, Festive Road In 2016 travel managers will begin looking inward at their programs rather than outward toward the supply chain. The irony is that the travel suppliers and aggregators have caused this strategic shift.Fueled by macro developments like e-commerce efficiencies and connectivity combined with globalization, suppliers have actually created a landscape for change over the last decade. These changes disrupted the business travel market and paved the way for new entrants that now add to the confusion, and all of this amplifies traditional travel program issues: Policy is more precarious, data is more difficult and content is more fragmented.In this environment, travel managers who focus primarily on the shifting sands of the supply market have limited their power to affect positive program change. They have become reactionary. Realizing the weakness of their position, travel managers will pivot to an area where they can have a larger impact. Namely, demand management.To win the new game, however, travel managers need a different skill set. They must understand their travelers’ needs, communicate effectively with stakeholders and essentially think of their travelers as customers and the travel program in terms of customer relationship management. In short, they need to become sellers and marketers instead of buyers and compliance drivers.They’ll do it because they must. Procurement and travel management will only continue to work if what’s being procured offers travelers something more than they can get elsewhere. And that means understanding traveler types by need, working with the right-fit suppliers and creating personalized products and services through appropriate channels in order to raise the travel booking user experience.Those who have started down this path see the results—the renewed power in supplier engagements and the structural freedom this gives to the program. We’ve heard about the leaders in this field for the past few years, they’re the regular winners of awards: the Googles, the AstraZenecas, the HPs and the Ciscos.In 2016, more travel managers will start to get this right and together forge a new era of travel management.