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October 14, 2014

GBTA: What Drives Travel Manager Satisfaction with Travel Management Companies?




Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of travel managers in North America and 80 percent of travel managers in Latin America are satisfied with their Travel Management Company (TMC), according to a new study by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association.

The study, “What Drives Travel Manager’s Satisfaction with TMCs – A Latin American & North America Study,” sponsored by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), surveyed more than 500 corporate travel managers in North America and Latin America to identify what drives satisfaction levels of travel managers in relation to their primary TMC. Travel managers were asked to rate their level of satisfaction in the areas of  cost savings, services, innovation, technology, online booking tools, program management, safety and security and global services.

North American travel managers ranked cost and savings as the most important “satisfaction driver,” followed by online booking tools and innovation and technology. Latin American travel managers, however, placed a high priority on global services, citing these services as a key driver alongside safety and security services.

“Through this report, we are better able to understand what travel managers value in their TMC relationship," Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation’s vice president of research, said in a statement. "Roughly four out of 10 travel managers who responded to this survey said they are likely to change TMCs within the next year. By understanding what drives satisfaction levels, TMCs can focus on what specifically drives the most value in a travel program.”

The study examined the most important drivers of satisfaction in the following categories:

-          Savings. Air savings was ranked as the most important element related to cost savings. Overall, 61 percent of travel managers in North America and 55 percent of travel managers in Latin America were satisfied or very satisfied with the savings they realized as a result of working with a TMC.
-          Services. In North America, call center services and traveler satisfaction measurements ranked as most important, while in Latin America on-site services topped the list.
-          Innovation. Just over half of all the travel managers surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the innovation they see from their TMC.
-          Technology. In North America, travel managers are most concerned with the ability to drive technology development and ease of use and service support; in contrast, for travel managers in Latin America, a range of products and quality are the most important key drivers of satisfaction.
-          Online Booking Tools. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of travel managers in North America are satisfied or very satisfied with their online booking tool, compared to about half (51 percent) of Latin American travel managers.
-          Program Management. In North America, having a single point of contact to resolve problems is the most important aspect of a TMC’s program management services. Measurement of objectives and program performance ranked as most important in Latin America.
-          Safety and Security. Proactive security alerts, travel tracking and security consultation were the most important elements of safety and security services for travel managers in North America. For Latin America, 84 percent of travel managers who use their TMC’s safety and security services indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied.
-          Global Services. Local accountability, program management and local rate negotiations were the most important factors among travel managers in both Latin America and North America when measuring their TMC’s global services.

“As the definition and demands of a performing travel program continue to evolve, TMCs and travel buyers must ensure that the metrics we have in place to measure success accurately reflect the changing expectations of travelers and travel managers alike,” Barbara Barnard, senior vice president, U.S. Corporate, CWT, added in the statement. “This study was the first to measure TMC success metrics and serves as a catalyst for TMCs and travel managers to identify relevant levers that will accurately measure satisfaction and define success of the travel program of the future.”

The GBTA Foundation will hold a webinar sponsored by CWT on October 29 at 2 pm ET. The webinar, What Drives Travel Managers' Satisfaction with TMCs?, will include insights from both Barnard and Bates. Registration for the webinar is available at GBTA.org.


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