Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, May 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Travel buyers should still negotiate deals with airlines – even though the process has “become more difficult and complex” in recent years.
Toni Goth, from aircraft charter firm Pro Sky, said the RFP process for airlines was “still worth doing” during a session at the Business Travel Show’s pre-show conference for hosted buyers.
“A lot of people say why do all this negotiation? The traveller should just pick the cheapest ticket,” said Goth. “He should do that, but that could well be a corporate fare or contracted rate. These are not contradictory positions – they should be combined.
“Negotiating with airlines is still woth doing because you can achieve something especially on long-haul and also on some intra-European and domestic routes.”
Goth added that airlines were still “hungry” for corporate bookings because business travellers generally paid higher prices as they booked later than leisure passengers.
“I don’t know of any airline that is not hungry for corporate business,” he said. “Ryanair is now transforming itself to attract business travellers and Easyjet has been doing the same for several years.”
Goth stressed that buyers had to have access to their own travel data in any negotiation process with carriers.
“You don’t want to rely on information from the airline – that is a bad position to be in,” he added.
But Travelport’s Reg Warlop warned that buyers may increasingly not be able to get access to their negotiated rates with airlines.
“You may have negotiated that rate but that does not mean the buyer will have access to that rate,” he told the conference. “It may depend on the trip and other factors such as whether the traveller has tier membership.
“Airlines are checking prices and availability every second and that’s going to be more important in the next few years.”
He suggested that buyers should include any potential ancillaries, such as last-minute lounge access or upgrades, as part of the negotiations with airlines.
“Speak to the supplier about all of the offers that they could bombard travellers with and include them in the agreements,” added Warlop. “Airlines are going to be making all their profits from these upsells and buyers can gain visibility by including them.”