When the Going Gets Tough

With some of the difficulties suppliers are experiencing being played out publicly, such as the BA Cabin Crew strikes in response to working practice reviews, it occurred to me that....it must be very hard for many in the traditional supplier sectors to plan their year ahead let alone their long term future strategy. There's no question that suppliers should be taking a long hard look at their operating models and re-assessing them in light of the heightened change in demand the industry experienced over the last eighteen months. According to our latest ITM Research, just 32% of buyers are predicting some travel & meetings expenditure growth in 2010, whilst 45% are predicting flat expenditure and a further 23% suggesting a further reduction. And that's without any mass expenditure purge on the public sector which may or may not come. There may be some light but it's difficult to tell how fast we're going and where the tunnel ends. Plus, maybe the tunnel we emerge from is not like the one we went into.

Certainly some suppliers in each of the sectors have demonstrated a different way of thinking. There are TMC's who have signed video conference re-seller agreements and airlines who have re-cast their class structure, but one gets a sense that these are hedged actions based on an unknown future rather than any hard sense of what's in store.

The trick in today's business is to remain nimble and quick, to stay close to your customer and to your staff - to have both connected so you can assess demand change and implement supply variance before others do. But taking a fundamental look at what you do and why/how you do it is not easy for any company - you question your very reason for being. And gaining support from stakeholders at a time when many are experiencing difficulties themselves just adds an additional layer of complexity when trying to create a dynamic travel business for a new future. But question their value they must and engage with consumers they should.

The business travel and meetings industry is entering an incredibly exciting phase. Any tough trading environment creates the seeds of innovation and the travel sector has always attracted entrepreneurs in abundance. Those new to the sector see opportunity with fresh eyes and aren't laden with baggage. I expect to see a new wave of value in this exciting and vibrant arena, and some big supplier changes in the year ahead.

FEB 08 2010

‹ See all blogs

To post a comment you must log in.

Email this page to a friend

Members' Sign In

Forgotten your password?

Not registered yet?Register now