Here’s a compilation of thoughts from members of The Company Dime‘s Editorial Board of six travel buyers.

The last three years put everyone to the test. It’s not that we don’t enjoy challenges; we thrive on them. But it’s time to focus on the future and do what we do best. Enough firefighting and bickering. 

If we’re in a new normal, it better include the familiar things we’ve always expected. But since it’s new, there’s plenty that can change and improve to help us and corporate travel at large. Change can be good, but a little stability would be welcome this year.

We want the basic blocking and tackling that comes with managed travel, like properly staffed travel management companies and well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable agents. We want less volatile travel pricing. We want transparency, honesty and professionalism in our dealings with all suppliers. We want industry associations to keep trying new things and pushing meaningful discourse.

Moreover …

• Could suppliers please stop asking us how much our companies will travel in the future? We understand that’s valuable information, and we recognize that the more you know about us, the better you can serve. But there’s much we don’t know. Many of our companies still are recovering, working through budgets, scoping out operational needs and assessing opportunities. We’ll tell you what we know as we learn it, but your frequent questioning won’t speed that up.

• To whatever extent possible, can suppliers maintain their sales and account management teams? New reps calling on us every few months makes it difficult to foster trusting, mutually beneficial relationships. We also want more thoughtful approaches to quarterly business reviews. Reps reading from slide decks during presentations wastes time; we can read. Suppliers should send those decks in advance and invest in their people’s presentation skills. This allows for more meaningful discussions on opportunities and issues during QBRs.

• Incessant cold calls and email solicitations from suppliers have to stop. Marketing is a fact of life. Any good supplier should have a healthy prospecting strategy. But it needs to be thoughtful and polite. Bombarding us repeatedly won’t get you our business. CRM systems easily help organize all this. Use one. And marketing messages sent directly to our traveling employees are an absolute no-no.

• We don’t want NDC discussions in every forum before realizing or at least understanding when benefits to corporate programs will emerge. Any NDC framework and process must allow for easily bookable corporate discounts, policy application, full agency servicing and complete reporting. Airlines have their reasons to make changes to the retailing environment, but don’t expect us to fund those changes, or encourage our TMCs and booking tools to foot some of the bill, if the value for us isn’t clear. We get the notion of bundles, but many of our travelers — by virtue of their loyalty program status or our preferred agreements — already get much of what has been contemplated. 

• We don’t want surprises for our travelers when they show up at their hotels. If your property is undergoing renovations, please update your website accordingly.

• We also don’t want surprises when travelers book. Resort and urban fees at hotels, carrier-imposed surcharges, add-on restaurant fees, a litany of car rental charges and other “junk” fees should go away. We’re sure all consumers are with us on this one. So is President Joe Biden. It may be too simplistic to suggest suppliers price their products and services inclusive of everything, without special items broken out. At the very least, they should clearly display all added fees at the time of booking. When they are hidden, comparison shopping — along with transparency and trust — goes out the window. With some effort, we might try to steer business away from suppliers that levy egregious, unsubstantiated fees.

Happy new year!


  1. I think the issues described here present an opportunity for us an industry to do better. It will require different communications and efforts from both buyers and suppliers. Let’s jointly consider solutions to problems we are seeing and agree on the right steps.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this wishlist The Company Dime. I read it with interest but I guess the one that drew my eye the most was the NDC topic (of course!). My personal belief is that, as repetitive it is to have NDC as topics on forums, the subject of updating distribution and content will continue to play a major role in the development of buyer programs and supplier behaviours/economic dynamics. In fact, in 2023 we are likely to see some accelerated NDC behaviours which will have major impacts. We’ve already been dealing with requests from savvy buyers wanting to audit the reality of NDC content across their suppliers or re-thinking their content and technology strategy because their focus (and the opportunity at hand) is on bringing a better experience to travellers.

    I think that every buyer should be thinking about the impact of NDC. Why? Because if they don’t, they will find its effects on their travel program will have happened anyway and they’ll be subject to them rather than party to them. We are entering into a world of “forced multi-channel,” where airlines are creating the need for programs to potentially think beyond their linear TMC/OBT/GDS/airline delivery if they want to get the right content. Like it or not, this is the reality, and that means the need for travel program leaders to have to focus on this. I also get the statement “… don’t expect us to fund those changes or encourage our TMCs and booking tools to foot some of the bill…” Really, I do, but the reality is that if you don’t invest as a buyer/TMC/OBT/GDS you will likely suffer missed content and/or increased cost/inefficiency as a result. It perplexes me that we will happily talk to the challenge of getting LCC content as a positive problem to be solved, but that the updating of distribution of legacy carriers as a pain in the neck — the two are part of the same dialogue.

    These changes aren’t going away just because we’re bored of hearing about NDC or because its a bit inconvenient, and the topic is likely to be around for a long time unless everyone just stops and goes back to where they were, and let’s be honest, that isn’t likely.

    1. “I think that every buyer should be thinking about the impact of NDC.” – I don’t disagree with you Paul. But, not to be cheeky, thinking about the impact of NDC is much like thinking about the how much we will travel in the future. We don’t know yet.

      Distribution needs an update, there’s no doubt. But in all the blathering I’ve heard about NDC, I haven’t seen/heard anything that has practical application for me today. The limitations are mind-boggling. We’re bored and inconvenienced because nothing has been delivered which is exciting or even particularly appealing.

      Please don’t get me wrong — we don’t have our heads in the sand about it, and we are beta testing it in one of our markets. It just seems very disparate, and I feel like disparate sources joined together are what brought us to the GDS in the first place.

Leave a Reply