Outsourcing in the Travel Industry

Arthur Wright

There is an old tale about how various parts of our body felt about each other: They were not in harmony. The hard-working limbs—eyes, ears, brain, etc.—felt that the stomach was the laziest and did nothing to contribute. So, the story goes, they all conspired against the stomach and stopped feeding it. In time, each participant in this task discovered that by not feeding the stomach, they also become weak and were unable to complete their tasks.

Regardless of the size of the firm that we work with, or the industry sector, we are currently becoming more aware of our inter-dependence in the global market. The words "consolidation," "merger" and "outsourcing" are used frequently.

In regard to consolidation within the travel and tourism sector, we have seen the local neighborhood travel agency consolidate with larger firms, consequentially expanding everyone's knowledge and experiences within the larger travel agency. The airlines created "Loyalty Programs" for individuals and businesses. The airlines also made alliances and designed new aircrafts for more comfortable long-distance flights for certain classes of service. The cruise lines followed suit with additional larger ships that accommodate and cater to specific audiences. The hotel sector has also taken part in the re-invention of the overall hotel experience. The end result is that each sector in the hospitality industry has reinvented itself in an attempt to meet the expectations of a specific clientele, which has grown to expect more.

No longer does one product suit all—the focus is now on individuality. We often hear another expression: Time is money. Travelers need to ask the questions: What is my time worth to me, my family or my employer?

Outsourcing may have come to have a bad reputation, but in this instance it can have value to your company to help realize savings and gain the very best travel arrangements. The travel community remains a strong and viable industry. It is true that travel agencies charge fees because their income no longer typically comes from the suppliers. It's up to the individual and/or business traveler and travel agent to seek one another out and discover the correct partnerships. By working in partnership, and using the knowledge and resources that a travel agency is aware of, you may discover long-term, overall savings.

Three airlines have recently gone out of business. We have seen major disruptions and delays within the airline Industry. If your firm was affected by these disruptions, did your travel agency offer alternative travel arrangements? The purpose of building a relationship with a travel agency is to help you guide your overall travel needs towards your best long-term goal and to assist you in the event of any major disruptions. You may want to employ an in-house travel/meeting coordinator, but you should also consider "outsourcing" part of this task to a travel agency that best complements your firm's goals.

First Published on e-BIM.