Event report: Advantage Conference
The travel consortium's annual conference took place in Miami last month. Andy Hoskins reports
Consolidation, relationships and technology were among the key themes considered at the Advantage Conference, where the consortium’s management also announced significant growth in business travel sales.
In the opening session of the event, held at the National Doral Hotel in Miami, Florida, Advantage Chief Executive Julia Lo Bue-said highlighted increasing consolidation among suppliers and TMCS.
“Consolidation will create opportunities for smaller TMCS,” she said, referring to American Express GBT’S upcoming takeover of HRG – two of the world’s largest TMCS. Many are forecasting fallout from the merger and, with the potential for job losses, a wealth of talent available to recruit.
“We’ve also seen acquisitions at the small to medium level and many TMCS making the enquiries are Advantage members,” she said.
Neil Armorgie, Global Product Director for Advantage, used a series of Star Wars metaphors to describe the progress of WIN (the Worldwide Independent Travel Network), concluding that the combined Amex GBT and HRG operation will become “the new Death Star”.
Ron Dileo, founder and CEO of consultancy In the Black, named several areas he expects to evolve in the years ahead, including blockchain, machine learning, NDC and industry consolidation.
He also stressed “service will continue to rule the day” in an increasingly customercentric environment and that “procurement will have a diminishing role”.
In another session, three travel managers discussed their relationships with their TMCS, with the consensus that cultural fit was more important than size or cost.
“We’re drafting RFP documents on the basis of what key stakeholders want. Our partners must really understand us,” said the travel manager of a charitable foundation.
Alice Linley-munro, Global Travel Analyst at Oil Spill Response, added: “We may be a small fish in a big pond but our TMC listens to us and they are proactive – not just reactive. They really ‘get’ our business.”