Covid……we all know how hard it has hit the travel industry and how we have been facing this ‘new normal’ for nearly a year now. So what does it mean for the TMC and their clients when it comes to airfares?
Airfares are available to everyone with an internet connection, you can go onto endless sites and book a flight ticket, so why do TMCs talk about ‘their fares’ so much? Volume is key in this and what Focus is able to do is utilise the group buying power of over 50 TMCs to negotiate one of the most competitive fare programmes in the market. These are fares that you would not be able to get through a normal Google search on the flight you want, and you also get the expertise that comes with booking through a responsible Travel Management Company.
If you haven’t used a TMC before for your Business Travel, the idea of going out and finding one that you can trust is probably quite daunting, especially if you only do a couple of trips a year, but this is where Focus TMCs can help. They are mainly SME companies themselves who not only have long experience of the travel industry and its past challenges, but also pride themselves on customer service and are able to tap into the best fares, technology and resources available. They will make your business trips a breeze as they not only make the initial booking, but also manage any changes, cancellations etc, and just generally support their customers – eg if you have ever arrived at the airport late and missed your flight due to traffic, you will know how valuable it is to be able to pick up the phone and just like magic, someone sorts it all out for you – they are truly experts in their field.
Our TMC Partners understand the importance of the Focus Fares Programme, which includes special fares with over 50 different airlines and we always value their feedback on the market competitiveness of these fares. This helps us at Focus HQ to negotiate further with the airlines for bespoke deals. Our latest challenges focus on customer confidence, and after nearly a year of restrictions, that is completely understandable. Clients want to know that they have flexibility in the rules of their ticket just in case they need to change or cancel and refund it, and that there is someone to speak to if borders close or quarantine rules change, especially at short notice. In the height of the pandemic, some travellers’ phone calls to airlines were on hold for 3 hours or more, where they were desperately trying to change or cancel bookings, apply for refunds or simply just find out if their flight was still operating. Those who used a TMC could sit there with less stress and have the information in minutes, and use their own time much more productively.
They say knowledge is power…..and Focus TMC Partners definitely hold a lot of knowledge but what happens when things don’t stand still for very long? Introducing our state of the art Extranet digital platform – a knowledge hub full of everything a TMC needs to know. Whether that is around the latest rules brought in by individual airlines, to PSD2 and training, all of which we are continually updating. There isn’t a day that goes by where the Extranet hasn’t been updated with numerous pieces of critical information, all of which is directly accessible by our TMC Partners.
Supporting our TMC Partners on everything, but especially fares in my case, is something we all take pride in. We have queries ranging from general questions on air related topics, advice on fare rules and fare distribution, along with training on utilising our in-house fares-related technology to ensure that no possible fare can be missed and value is provided to the traveller or travel booker. Some of our current key objectives are to ensure that staff who are either new or returning from furlough are fully trained on the various changes that Covid-19 has brought us and that we are constantly listening to our Partners’ needs and are prioritising what is of most importance to them and to their customers.
Article by Laura Currie – Business and Fares Support Executive at Focus Travel Partnership