Collaborative consumption will have a significant impact on managed travel in the future, delegates were told at the annual GTMC conference in Marrakech.
Travelport director Simon Ferguson and Statesman Travel’s Veronica Skvorova hosted a seminar looking at business travel in 2035.
The pair pointed to the rise of businesses such as Airbnb, Zipcar, Netflix and Spotify, and said that collaborative consumption start-ups have attracted $2 billion in funding in the last two years.
Skvorova said the hybrid TMC of the future could combine a sophisticated automated transaction booking service with a personalised concierge advisory service and business consultancy. The transactional and booking functions would be taken care of by a personalised avatar “e-agent,” which providers could “rent out to travellers”.
“Customers could continually engage with their e-agent to fine-tune their trips,” said Skvorova.
The session was the result of research by the GTMC’s Twenty/20 group into attitudes towards business travel by ‘Gen Y’ frequent travellers and students.
Ferguson and Skvorova also predicted a new, expanded role for TMCs beyond travel, morphing into resource management companies and business consultancies – using data and knowledge to help clients collaborate and share resources and capabilities. Automating the logistics of booking travel “frees up the TMCs to do more high-value services for their clients,” said Ferguson.
The future TMC will be use its predictive data to advise companies on strategy, for example, by accurately forecasting their tax risk for the coming year by calculating the tax liabilities of European travellers working in the US.
“This is already being done in pockets,” said Skvorova. “For example, calculating safety risk to travellers in the marine travel and charity sectors.”
Ferguson said these developments could lead to a change in the travel buyer’s role – moving it into a more central procurement function while the TMC moves closer to the heart of the client’s business and takes over managing the corporate travel programme and policies.
Other projections that will impact on managed travel included a Goldman Sachs report predicting that by 2035, eight of the world’s top 10 economies will be MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) or BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.