Whatever your politics you probably agree that history and loyalty are not high on the list of what President Trump considers virtues. This week's post-G7 assessment of Canada as a country that "stabbed us in the back" and Europe as "countries that rip us off on trade" as well as the threats of NATO withdrawal drew a few sharp intakes of breath.
It made us wonder about the longevity and durability of commercial alliances.
The business travel market is no different.
New B(usiness)romances — from embracing a new air alliance member to mergers and acquisitions and the ubiquitous preferred partnerships — are being announced all the time. Many of the component individual brands have had their own identity for some time.
When corporate unions change, the brand values of all the components are also subject to change.
For example, HRG is expected shortly (Q3) to become part of American Express GBT. HRG and Amex have both always been strong in the financial services sector so, not surprisingly, they were also often characterised as strong on service. In recent years the focus for both has moved into technology but there the similarity ends. HRG has focused on shredding the old orthodoxies on distribution and leading the way in innovative thinking in this area. For its part American Express has responded to market demand for slick, end-to-end solutions as evidenced by their own moves on automation and acquisition of KDS.
Service remains important but is no longer the first benefit to leap to mind.
With changing priorities come a different choice of partners.
Consumers have long puzzled about the disparity between how air alliances focus on the similarity of service while the in-flight experience can vary so hugely in reality. A TMC's hotel partners can range from the budget end to chains with luxury properties and yet neglect some obvious gaps in between — although the big hotel companies, such as Marriott and Hilton, continue to race to expand their brand portfolios. This week alone IHG launched Voco and Hilton registered domain names for a brand named Motto.
Travel buyers, like European nations, have every right to be confused about who's who.
We hear how change has always happened but that what distinguishes the present environment from the past is the speed of change. Just like members of the G7, travel buyers may have trouble keeping up with which TMC's company culture is compatible with their own or which of their negotiated deals remains a good deal.
President's Trump's abrupt dismissal of America's G7 partners reminds us that he has also strengthened ties with countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia, none of which are obvious US allies.
President Trump is moving around a chessboard to reassess who's on which side.
In the world of fast-changing company identities it might be time for travel buyers to reassess their partnerships more frequently.