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Travel management companies are, for some reason, determined to emphasize just how complicated and painful travel is becoming.
American Express Global Business Travel has been describing travel as an “event” — explaining how a single trip can require as much planning as organizing a small gathering.
Its new CEO, Paul Abbott, first alluded to this idea while speaking at the Institute of Travel Management‘s conference in May. Earlier this month, Mark McSpadden, vice president of global product strategy and experience, reiterated this viewpoint.
The latest reminder of just how much of a pain it all is comes from Travel and Transport, which today has declared it’s embarking on a “New Era of Journey Management.”
This means its travel advisors are no longer travel advisors. They have instead been transformed into so-called journey managers.
In yet another example of the travel industry creating its own language of grating buzzwords, phrases and titles, journey managers will have the distinction of being born during a pandemic.
Apart from a lot of frantic profile updating on LinkedIn, what does journey manager mean? What does a journey manager do that an advisor didn’t do before?
Very little, going by the official explanation: “Journey managers have next-level expertise, providing validated, useful information so travelers can make an informed decision about travel plans … By turning to advisors and tools, travel buyers can be confident that travelers have the correct information available to them and are not wasting time looking for answers online.”
We get the process of travel is different. Grabbing a drink in a bar is also a different experience, but fortunately we’re not seeing “beverage coordinators”.
Mega-agencies love a rebrand exercise. Last year, as part of Carlson Wagonlit’s rebrand to CWT, it decided to call itself a “B2B4E travel management platform”, which don’t go without lighthearted criticism.
Corporate travel isn’t “journey management”. Corporate clients understand agencies are a safe pair hands, but deep down all they want is to get their employees safely from A to B.
There’s a risk this marketing will backfire. For years these same corporate travel agencies promoted frictionless travel. A return to this kind of messaging could cut through the noise a lot more.