Travel buyers are expecting suppliers to be more reactive than proactive to change in the future. There have been a lot of announcements recently and there are more to come, but each release also tends to lead to more questions. Are you fully aware of what your suppliers are up to and where they are going next? It's time to ask.
Sometimes buyers rely on TMCs and suppliers to deliver on innovation but there are cost and resource challenges among them too. Suppliers at our recent summit commented on the difficulties of keeping up with the pace of change, whether it's to cope with new technology, or distribution strategies.
You'll have no doubt seen technology timelines where something new and revolutionary is launched perhaps every decade and then from 2000 onwards there are too many dots to fit on the line. The below is a payments example shared by Lian Wolf, director of Benelux and Nordics at AirPlus at the summit.
After sharing how airlines are looking to use AI and facial recognition, Arnaud Le Masne de Chermont, VP - global accounts and emerging markets at Egencia said: "The challenge is finding money to invest in technology and going across devices. The cost is getting higher, especially as airlines are looking at direct connect etc. The pace is moving very fast; I think mentally some are ready but there's fear and uncertainty that comes with it."
A change in regulation can disrupt companies too. Claude Walter, associate director commercial card partnerships of AirPlus revealed it took "20 months and millions of euros" to adapt when merchant fee changes were introduced, as it prompted a lot of companies to switch to company liability. It is currently tackling PSD2 and, as with all companies, GDPR.
"Regulation is becoming more complex and takes more resources into adapting and being compliant. It can hinder development as money is being spent elsewhere," he explained.
It's no surprise that there are more mergers, acquisitions and failures, not just across the travel sector (whether TMC, airline, hotel etc) but many others. It's always been the way that those in larger groups have deeper pockets to implement change and will acquire younger brands for their product and talent. But a smaller amount of choice can push up travel costs.