If you’re in the market for a new TMC with global capabilities, or you’re looking to consolidate your business travel management
services, APAC may be a stalling point. Companies with travel interests in Asia Pacific have to hurdle some tricky requirements, and not all travel management companies are up to the task.
Consider, for example, the state of managed travel in China, which PhoCusWright
surveyed just five years ago:
- Fewer than half of all corporations used a single, contracted TMC for bookings.
- More than three-quarters used paper forms and manual processes to conduct T&E expense reporting.
- More than 90% gave employees cash advances to cover travel expenses.
In 2014, business travel management in China is slowly but surely evolving. Other regions in Asia Pacific are seeing faster change, and yet certain challenges persist.Implementing Online Booking Tools
Online booking tools are an essential part of any modern travel program—not just for the time savings they provide, but for traveler tracking/safety purposes and for fully integrated travel data. In a recent post on one of our GlobalStar partners, we explained how GDS systems interface with OBTs
in comparing air fares, hotels, and ground travel prices.
But in the Asia-Pacific region, bookings are complicated by designated local channels—even for tools that can access GDS and non-GDS content. Some Asian airlines, for example, still funnel their best rates into country-specific GDSs. Japan’s railway is on a separate CRS. Chinese carriers can only distribute their content through TravelSky, China’s independent GDS. In India, rates for the same flights and hotel properties and quoted differently to Indian passport-holders versus foreigners.
So companies need a TMC
that can interface with APAC’s complex frameworks and overcome the biases of local travelers, who often doubt the rate-shopping abilities of an outside group.Issuing Corporate Credit Cards
Capturing more travel spending on corporate credit cards is always a positive step for companies and their business travel managers. Unfortunately, many of the world’s developing markets—in particular, China and India—are slow to adopt commercial card products. And strict consumer credit card regulations make it difficult for foreign card issuers to enter the scene.
As reported in a recent BTN article
, “China is the most regulated and protectionist market in the region, according to card networks and banks.” While China may be partial to its own banks/card providers, multinational corporations are looking for global solutions.
New security measures may help expedite the process. Card issuers are now developing embedded microchip/EMV cards (U.S. merchants that aren’t ready to accept them by October 2015 will be held liable for any fraudulent charges incurred), improving their behavior analysis tools, and employing SMS verifications or one-time passwords. Card issuers are also upping the ante with consolidated reporting capabilities and easier oversight/customer support features.Business Travel Management Opportunities in APAC
Even despite these challenges, Asia Pacific offers plenty of opportunities to generate travel cost savings and
improve your business travel ROI. In fact, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council/Oxford Economics, Asian economies generate the highest ROI per business travel dollar invested (as compared to all other global regions). In China, sales are significantly more likely to convert with in-person meetings attached, and more deals are dependent on business travel, as compared to deals originating in the U.S., U.K., Germany, or Brazil.
What are your business travel management challenges—in APAC or overall? Tell us what you’re up against so we can continue to deliver timely, relevant blog content.