OBTs and Access to Content Dominate Discussions at Latest ITM Buyer Knowledge Exchange

15 Dec 2023

OBT optimisation and access to full travel content were the dominant topics on the agenda at ITM’s latest Buyer Knowledge Exchange (BKE) held on 12th December, echoing the results of ITM’s recent Buyer Priorities Survey which revealed that most buyers are not confident that they will have access to the airline content they need within their programme in 2024.

Global, EMEA and UK travel managers attending the session shared their concerns about understanding how much content they will have access to in 2024 and asking questions of their TMC about airline partnerships. Some buyers also advised that their travellers are expressing frustrations because they can book a cheaper fare outside of the policy, and this is damaging the credibility of the travel programme.

The group acknowledged that there is no easy solution to the issue as many parties are involved – airlines, OBTs, TMCs, plus their respective technical capabilities are also a key factor. However frustration from travellers is increasingly putting pressure on buyers to explore other solutions.

Other topics discussed included policy parameters, particularly with regards to business class travel. A poll of buyers revealed that for 55%, class of travel is determined by number of hours flown; and for 32% it is a combination of hierarchy and hours flown.

Discussions also covered the use of virtual cards, specifically for hotel payments. Some buyer attendees said that their travellers had recently experienced issues in the UK, including a major hotel chain, when historically this has predominantly been an issue in China and USA. However a poll of attendees showed that in general, where virtual cards are applicable to their programme, they are satisfied with their experience and that of their travellers.

Buyer Knowledge Exchange sessions are hosted regularly by ITM to assist buyer members problem solve common issues, ask questions of their peers and benchmark their approach. Travel managers taking part represent diverse industry sectors such as financial services, energy, food, technology, telecoms, consulting, media and entertainment.

For a full download of buyer sentiment, poll results and other topics that were raised at the latest Buyer Knowledge Exchange, visit the ITM Resource Centre to access the notes from the session. The next Buyer Knowledge Exchange takes place on 16 January 2024. Buyers can click here to register and join the discussion.