2011 | It’s starting with a bang

January 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

by Tony

Are you bummed that Chuck Liddell just hung ‘em up? Now that “The Iceman” has retired from the Ultimate Fighting scene, an unlikely replacement may be stepping into the ring. Indulge me here. If you consider your ring to be the travel space, then American Airlines might be considered an aggressive fighter engaged in a content battle with Orbitz, Travelport, Expedia, Sabre and a host of industry associations. It has always been interesting to watch how these skirmishes have played out in the past.  As a long time observer, I must say, it really is great theatre. Depending on your perspective, it’s almost as good as the recent premier of The Jersey Shore, sure to be another intrigue and mayhem packed season courtesy of our favorite guidos and guidettes.

You might be skeptical of my analogy, but imagine how Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from The Jersey Shore would handle this current airline industry squabble. He’d hit the gym and pump some iron, head to the tanning salon for a fresh coat of bronze, and then would check out the clubs for some action. In other words, he wouldn’t do anything differently. Not to offend any of my travel buyer friends out there, but beyond signing a petition or two and voicing concerns, your past performance has been to go about things in a “business as usual” manner while the skirmish unfolds, only to end up being the victims of any outcome that may ultimately impact your business.

Far be it for me to advocate anyone picking a fight because like The Situation, I’m a lover and not a fighter. However, I’m not averse to offering my advice, so here it goes. Travel buyers can and should be more engaged with respect to closely managing their entire travel and expense “supply chain.” In a managed travel program there are a myriad of things that form your supply chain. Everything from the products and services consumed (ex: airline seat, hotel room, etc), the middleman who helps with the purchase (ex: TMC), the form of payment, online booking tool, mid and back office technologies, and anything else that is part of the end-to-end sourcing process by which corporations buy and manage their T&E spend.

I have long advocated that travel buyers must be engaged in some way with all the aspects of the complete supply chain – in some cases directly owning pieces is essential, while in others, having an indirect but relevant position will suffice. As I predicted in 2005, when the last skirmish arose between the airlines and the GDSs, travel buyers were not sitting at the negotiating table, and they eventually got stuck with the tab (read the 2005 BTN story here).  New fees materialized and they quickly found their way into corporate travel programs. My point is not to argue whether or not those fees are appropriate. Rather, I urge you to be engaged in the discussion as those decisions are being made. So, while sitting on the sidelines Jersey Shore style might be entertaining, it will not suffice if you are buyer.

You must be completely aware, and involved, with everything that forms your T&E supply chain. So, while the combatants in this skirmish battle on, your friends at Carrying On suggest that apathy is no longer an option. Since you are the one who will be picking up the tab, shouldn’t you be taking a close look at all the options on the menu?

Entry filed under: Ancillary Fees, Business Travel, Tony's thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Wrap up 2010 | Some popcorn and a show 2011 Resolutions | Drinking on jury duty, green M&M’s, Bieber tweets and much more

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