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Sometimes it’s not enough to take reservations, provide access to discounts, and manage booking tools.
“A common theme that ran through every single one of those meetings was, ‘I don’t have enough visibility to run my business, and from that visibility — even if I had it — I don’t have the insight into how to drive savings,'” said Parker Schlank, a vice president at the company.
To address that need, Travel Leaders Corporate created a new consulting and analytics program. The practice had a soft launch in the fall, but the company officially rolled it out earlier this month after several months of fine-tuning.
The new program offers three levels of service: data consolidation, advanced analytics development, and full travel consulting. Or as Schlank, who oversees the practice, describes it: “crawl, walk, and run.”
Broadly, the service digs into data that lets companies find out more about their ability to leverage spend and monitor traveler behavior. The majority of customers for the consulting and analytics offering do not use Travel Leaders Corporate for traditional services like online booking and supplier discounting.
Some major travel management companies already have consulting arms, including BCD Travel’s Advito, but Schlank said the biggest competition has been professional services firms such as PwC and Accenture.
He thinks Travel Leaders Corporate has a chance to stand out by reaching the underserved middle market, or companies that spend approximately $10 million a year on air, hotel, car rental, ground transportation and other travel expenses.
Companies with enormous travel budgets are typically well served already, while small spenders may not find significant savings by using a consulting service.
“The middle is really where the companies and the customers are holding out their hand and asking for help, and those are obviously the ones that we’re trying to reach,” Schlank said.
Adding the data-crunching program to the company’s menu of services was a necessary move as the role of travel management companies evolves, he said.
“I think for many TMCs out there, they’re being forced to innovate and think as to what the next step along that evolutional process is,” Schlank said. “This isn’t rocket science; it’s listening to the customers that are out there and listening to what their needs are and making sure we’re addressing their needs.”