Money

What's Your Competitive Advantage In Business Travel?

Tom Halligan
Posted on July 20, 2017
(L to R): Jorge Gómez from Mondelez International in Miami, responsible for the corporate travel program in the Americas; Lenore D’Anzieri of Dav El/Boston Coach; Mark Williams, founding partner of GoldSpring Consulting; and Tami Saccoccio, director of operations and global affiliate relations for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston. (LCT photo)
(L to R): Jorge Gómez from Mondelez International in Miami, responsible for the corporate travel program in the Americas; Lenore D’Anzieri of Dav El/Boston Coach; Mark Williams, founding partner of GoldSpring Consulting; and Tami Saccoccio, director of operations and global affiliate relations for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston. (LCT photo)

[Editor’s note: The article is based on a panel session “How To Monetize The Ever-Evolving Business Travel Sector,” held Tuesday, March 12 during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas. The panelists included: Lenore D’Anzieri from Dav El / BostonCoach Chauffeured Transportation Network, who builds and maintains travel industry partnerships; Jorge Gómez of Mondelez International in Miami, responsible for the corporate travel program in the Americas; Mark Williams, founding partner of GoldSpring Consulting, an independent travel consultancy that improves travel management for corporations and other organizations. The moderator was Tami Saccoccio, director of operations and global affiliate relations for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston].

As the travel industry adapts to the gig economy, operators can emphasize the better value of their services compared to TNCs when pitching corporate travel managers and customers.

Pricing
The perception is TNCs are always cheaper and operators can’t compete on price. Commonwealth’s Tami Saccoccio makes sure to take control of the pricing discussion with accounts.

“A lot of the travel managers who I’ve spoken to say TNCs are so much cheaper, but they don’t always take surge pricing into account. And I reply, ‘Are they really cheaper? Would you be willing to give me comprehensive data and let’s take a look at the bottom-line?’ And almost everyone I spoke to, because of surge pricing, guess what? We were 4% higher. That’s not a lot for duty-of-care. So don’t let pricing get over on you when you talk to your client. Make sure you ask them the right questions and pull the information out of them.”

Mark Williams of Goldspring Consulting added, “No question in my mind, the gap has narrowed. The price issue that was the kickoff to get everybody excited about TNCs seems to be fading away. And so that’s another marketing point operators can tell clients. When they look at the data, is the (savings) really what they think it is? And I think most would find out it’s not.”

Capture the Data
Because TNCs do not provide corporate travel managers the data, or it’s hard to get or filter, operators have an advantage because they can provide detailed account and ride data, Jorge Gomez of Mondelez International said.

“You have to understand the sharing economy (ridesharing, room sharing, etc.) has affected every component of travel. From a financial standpoint, because travel managers are not able to capture the reporting as they used to, they don’t really understand what their bottom line is because they can’t capture the information,” he said. “Corporations save money when there’s travel policy compliance, and unless you have a way to capture that information, that’s a deficit to the corporate travel policy.”
 
Push Duty of Care
Considering ample news accounts almost weekly of the latest TNC driver criminal act, legal action, or outrageous behavior towards passengers, it’s vital for operators to emphasize to travel managers and accounts their duty-of-care responsibility.

“A lot of travel managers don’t really understand what duty-of-care means, and most travelers don’t,” Dav El/BostonCoach’s Lenore D’Anzieri said. “When I’m out there I ask them, ‘What does duty of care mean to you?’ And some of them say ‘What does that mean?’ And then I explain it to them so it’s really important to drive that message home.”

Williams added: “I think the travel managers’ primary role is duty-of-care. As Lenore says, some of them, many of them, may not totally understand what that means, but that is the core part of the job responsibility. So operators can focus on it, but you don’t win by bashing the TNCs. You win by promoting the positive aspects of what you can offer. And you do that by pushing the duty-of-care button. And I believe when the message is out there, people will pay a premium, call it a risk management premium, an insurance premium, duty-of-care premium, whatever you want to call it. They’ll pay a premium for that, but they don’t understand it. The message hasn’t gotten out there to them enough.”

Talk Tech
Operators should update all customers about the technology investments they make that improve and enhance their overall services — from booking to billing — as well as promoting the new vehicles they purchase that have the latest safety features and tech amenities.

“Technology is what is driving the TNCs because of the ease of use,” Williams said. “I know there are steps being taken within the industry to cover that gap, and those are extremely necessary steps and I applaud those because it’s the key initial step to competing. I think focusing on technology is part of your value equation for your customer. But look at technology first, and then where can you equate that to a value proposition for your customer. Remember your customer is really your rider, not your travel manager or your corporation.”

The technology has to be supported by a fully vetted united organization, D’Anzieri added. “For us to be competitive, not only do we have to have the technology, but we also must have the community of providers who can give these new travelers what they want — the near-demand, the on-demand.”

Reinforce Your Competitive Advantage
Gómez stresses operators need to pinpoint all of their competitive advantages to demand a price differential from TNCs. “The competitive advantage might not justify a wide range differential in pricing from you and a TNC, but at least you can educate them; but you also will need to help the travel manager educate the end user. That’s a collaborative approach between yourselves and the travel manager, and once they understand they’re good travel managers, they will be willing to work with you to make sure they educate their internal pool of people who use the service. Every time you have an opportunity, from the RFP all the way through the relationship to each and every person, you speak safety and security.”
 
Presentation Matters
Gómez advises operators to prepare presentations that compare and contrast their services so clients and travel managers can easily digest your advantages.

“I’m a graphical person, so I like to see everything in graphics and I also like to look at the details,” Gómez said. “So you put it all together into one chart. You put the TNCs on one side, and you put your service on the other side, and you look at all the components — price point, technology, customer service, duty-of-care. And then within duty-of-care, add insurance risk, validation of the drivers, or background checks. Make it simple. And when they see the comparison, they’ll probably see the differences allow for that price [variation].”


Related Topics: business travel, corporate travel, ILCT 2017, industry education, Lenore D'Anzieri, procurement, staying competitive, Tami Saccoccio

Comments ( 1 )
  • john michael

     | about 2 years ago

    What if the industry has a strong definition of "duty of care". An idea that will immediately set the limousine business apart from the tnc hacks. Price should not be the strongest purchase option, it should be quality service and "duty of care"

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