THE Swiss bank UBS has a very mature travel program with online booking in place for almost 15 years. Kevin Carr, the bank’s corporate travel manager, said the company introduced a new online booking tool five years ago, with Amadeus’ Cytric.
With the implementation, UBS moved away from different tools in different regions. “Before the current partnership, we had different tools in each region, but we decided to go global because there are many benefits of having global service standards,” he told BTN Europe.
While Cytric is UBS’s online booking tool from global retailer Amadeus, the bank contracts directly with Travelport as GDS and American Express Global Business Travel as travel management company. , which usually works with Saber.
“It’s ultimately about owning the relationship,” Carr says. “If you have a decent sized program, you want to influence the partner. You don’t want the TMC to lead this partnership and this development to fall on the TMC roadmap. You want to influence the supplier and prioritize your strategy. »
Do you find the best TMC and the best OBT and try to work them together or do you find the partnerships that might have compromises or less content but are a better connection? “We have always worked to have the best in the market for this service and force them to work together,” he said.
Carr also points out that it’s clear that some OBTs and TMCs work better together, although most TMCs say they work with every tool on the market.
“This idea of being agnostic is really kind of absurd,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all know there are always complications and you lose some functionality if you don’t use the correct GDS, TMC or OBT.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
With many vested interests in the market – deals with preferred vendors can skew what TMCs offer and even what consultants suggest – so buyers need to rely on other, more independent sources. A good place to start is your personal buyer network or through association networks like ITM or GBTA, he suggested.
Carr said: “Travel is inherently complicated due to different business models, and you never know who is getting what from whom.”
He recommended for those who are unable to contract directly, identifying the content and features that are essential for the business is vital, as sometimes the ultimate choice will involve a trade-off.
“It’s about understanding what the needs of the program are — the destinations and markets you want to cover,” Carr said.
He added: “Rail as a specific category has become much more important due to sustainability. While it might not have mattered before if you didn’t have a rail in some countries, now we are very worried about having it.
In this case, the content requirement made choosing an OBT provider a bit easier. “Everyone has GDS, Booking.com, HRS and Expedia but not everyone has rail,” Carr said.