This week Egencia announced that it was adding global WiFi access to its Advantage package of traveller experience-focused extras.
This offering — and moves to strengthen it — point to how corporate needs and their expectations from travel management companies are changing and how TMCs are evolving to respond to this demand.
Egencia launched Advantage late last year. The accompanying marketing blurb claimed the objective of this package of services was to make the "in-between moments" of the business traveller's experience better. All Egencia corporate clients and their travellers have access to Advantage which is an umbrella for such specific benefits as global access to airport lounges, visa processing, management of claims for air flight delays and risk management assistance.
It has now added WiFi.
Advantage enables customers to access WiFi at a discounted rate through 300 partner WiFi and mobile network providers in 120 countries. Working with partners means access is more secure than using public hotspots in hotels, airports and other public places — and hence a more suitable alternative for business travellers.
What corporate customers need — and expect — from TMCs is changing. It used to be about the tools and service needed to effectively manage travel bookings, the travel process and budget such as online booking tools, dashboards detailing spend by categories and time periods, traveller tracking for risk management purposes, expense management, etc.
As the trend for traveller centricity gains more traction tools such as these, which are more about the customer as a person rather than facilitating the booking transaction, are getting more popular. They go hand in hand with the emphasis on the full traveller experience.
Attention to Egencia's "in-between moments" of business travel can improve the traveller's productivity with services such as lounge access and WiFi. Travel admin tasks such as visa applications and claims for flight delay compensation are also being tended to and thus reducing traveller stress.
The trend is to acknowledge that the traveller is part of travel management responsibility not only in terms of corporate responsibility such as safety via traveller tracking or comfort through the hotel programme but in more individual and personal ways. Happy travellers improve rates of staff retention which drives benefit to the company's bottom line if not directly the travel budget.
Tools like this encourage compliance. They help companies to reach their corporate objectives by allowing travellers to be more productive and cut costs beyond the air bill.
Travel management has slowly but surely become about much more than getting Traveller X from A to B.