12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
BBT's mystery buyer demands the super profile we’ve been promised by TMCs for years.
The much-vaunted global profile, widely proposed by TMCs and online travel agents, is more myth than reality. For many years we have been promised the concept of being able to make or change reservations anywhere in the world, using the same traveller profile, whether booking in the UK, Europe or the US. However, the reality is that we are still way behind reaching this goal.
Our company has 200,000 employees and around 75 per cent of those are travellers. We are a global organisation – our people travel regularly between the regions where our offices are based. In common with most of our peers, we don’t have all our eggs in one basket and have a number of TMCs worldwide. As a result, our mobile workforce is likely to be dealing with a disparate number of TMCs and GDSs.
If someone travels from, say, Germany to the UK and then needs to change their booking, they have to do that through the TMC in the country of departure because Germany is predominantly linked to Amadeus and the UK is linked to Galileo, so the user sees a different profile in those countries.
My expectation is that the traveller from Germany should be able to access the much-discussed super profile from the UK. With a global system, they should be able to access the same one everywhere.
I am in travel services rather than travel buying; I am not interested just in price, but also focused on delivering a service. I am looking for greatest uniformity and flexibility for my travellers. TMCs have long been selling the idea that your profile was almost strapped on your back, so that wherever you go, your profile goes with you, and for me that leads to greatest mobility and ability to deliver service excellence.
But this isn’t currently possible, and it’s largely down to the dominance of different GDSs in different countries or regions. That fragmentation stands in the way of travellers being able to contact any branch of any of our TMCs for access to a consistent profile. Even within one TMC, that is not possible.
The global or super profile is a great idea and should be easy to provide, because it is just a set of data fields. But each profile is stored in a different format in different GDSs, and that’s a key part of the problem.
When a traveller calls a TMC’s 24-hour service, the agent should be able to type in a name and get all details of that traveller, to find out how and where people are, within seconds. Travellers only call the 24/7 team when they are in serious need of help – and then find they have to wait for the agent to bring up the relevant information.
There would be an enormous advantage to a global profile and TMCs have promoted it for years. If they have looked further into the investment required and don’t feel there is a sufficient return - that’s fine, but in that case, the offer should be repositioned. Perhaps it could be a joint venture between TMCs. If they could collaboratively develop or invest in this, there would be strong benefits for all stakeholders involved.
I am also not convinced that NDC can solve this problem. A stronger relationship between the vision and the reality would mitigate the fact that the gap between the initial proposal of years ago and where we are now is as wide as it was at the concept. It is time these dreams were brought to fruition.