A panel of travel buyers have warned TMCs to adapt to the changing travel environment or risk becoming "defunct".
Speaking at the 2016 Advantage conference in a session on relationships with travel management companies, Nikki Rogan from Symantec, Kerrie Hudson from Yorkshire Building Society and Hilti's Jenni Joynt said the TMC is still "essential" to a travel manager and businesses but no longer in the traditional sense.
"I think a TMC can be a one-stop solution as they used to be but they have to adapt," said Joynt. Whether it's bringing sharing economy providers on board as an example or helping with end to end solutions, there is definitely a place but it's going to change."
Rogan agreed with this saying "the most successful TMCs will be the ones that can aggregate the most content, which is really key".
Hudson said: "The need for a travel booker is becoming defunct but I don't think the need for a TMC is. For a big corporate I never envisage them saying to all travellers book what you like as you still have the risk, security and data aspects, especially as companies are still wanting more and more cost savings so I believe a TMC is still required going forward but in a different role."
Joynt added that one area a TMC should help with is to make "business travel more like leisure travel" and "stop travellers finding cheaper deals elsewhere".
On the panel moderated by Caroline Strachan, former Astra Zeneca buyer and now partner at consultancy Festive Road, the buyers said they wanted more guidance from their TMC on issues such as sharing economy providers like Airbnb and Uber.
Speaking about TMCs in general Rogan said relationships are better when viewed as a business partner rather than a buyer/supplier format.
"An example being the latest trends in the sharing economy - as a buyer I can network with my peers and find out what they're doing but I'd really like a TMC to come to me after speaking with a company like Uber and offer a solution on how buyers can work with them and move forward," she added.
Research presented by ITM CEO Simone Buckley showed that 71 per cent of buyers found it tougher to manage compliance over the past three years and 83 per cent of TMCs have been supportive of that challenge. But where buyers wanted more help was around 'consultation of policy'.
Hudson agreed with this figure: "Our TMC actually supports us well with our policy and helps by making recommendations to the policy which will improve various things like cost."
Data and analytics
Strachan asked the panel their thoughts on data and analytics and what they expected from their TMC around this issue.
Joynt said: "The first thing you need to know is what you want the data for, is it for savings, benchmarking, compliance, security etc. Then ask whose data do you use? Then you must make sure it's all compatible. One of the main things is not quantity but quality and a part of the responsibility for the TMC is to use that data to look into the future and how we can use this for future trends.
Rogan added: "The key is getting the accurate data in a user friendly format, predictive analytics would be really helpful to manage our programme."