Direct connect is big news for business travel, but how will your organisation actually feel the benefit of what’s been hailed as the ‘distribution revolution’?
Not since the arrival of online travel agents has the business travel industry been so shaken up and it’s not difficult to see why; direct connect solutions challenge traditional methods of content distribution and threaten to transform how many travel management companies (TMCs) operate. However, when you strip away the dramatic headlines and controversial opinions of industry-insiders, where does that leave you as customer?
Here’s a quick crash-course in the practical benefits of using a TMC that offers direct connect solutions:
1. Simple savings
Some travel spend savings are hard earnt; company-wide drives for behavioural change or a complete overhaul of your travel policy, whereas others are simple, straightforward quick wins. The savings that direct connect will bring to your organisation certainly fall into the latter category.
The savings made available to your organisation by being able to access content directly from suppliers are incredibly simple to work out; you just take the number of flights you book on average with a particular airline, Lufthansa or British Airways for example, and then multiply this by the booking fee that the airline has applied to all bookings made by the GDS – a saving achieved simply by having access to direct connect content.
Direct connect solutions will also give your bookers access to any promotions that travel suppliers choose to run, but will allow you to book in a more convenient way that aligns with your overall travel programme.
2. More choice and exclusive content
Having direct access to suppliers’ content ultimately gives your bookers more choice when it comes to choosing a flight or hotel – an increased number of options mean that they’re more likely to find a booking option that suits them, whether that’s in terms of price or style.
Direct connects will also give you access to exclusive content from travel suppliers; when booking flights this could come in the form of lounge access, onboard meals or even class options like premium economy, whereas hotels might like to offer all-inclusive WiFi or an evening meal.
An example of this that’s close to home for us is the recent implementation of a direct connect between our online booking tool and Premier Inn, meaning that Click are the first place outside of Premier Inn’s direct channels that business travellers will be able to book the hotel brand’s new hub rooms.
3. Technological innovation
An indirect, but important, benefit of using a TMC who implements direct connect solutions to major suppliers is that they are clearly willing to invest in their technology – something that will ensure that, as their customer, you can expect to have the most innovative, intuitive technology available to you.
Implementing direct connects with major suppliers shows that your TMC is thinking about the future of business travel and means that they’re unlikely to get caught out by major industry changes – meaning your organisation won’t either.
It’s safe to assume that this innovative approach will be applied to other areas of your TMC’s service; perhaps they’re soon to be launching AI in order to help you book your travel? Or a new app that will make your travellers’ lives much easier?
4. Independence from GDS
Content might seem like a bit of a buzzword in some industries, but when it comes to business travel it’s absolutely key to seeing significant savings – having access to a wide choice of different content (sourced from a combination of GDS’s, online booking sites like booking.com and direct connects) means that you’re best placed to find great prices and packages.
Having access to direct connect solutions means that your TMC isn’t completely dependent on the GDS as a source of travel content – which is very good news for you, as with more and more airlines levying booking charges against GDS booking, dependence on the GDS is a risk.
If your TMC relies on the GDS to provide all of their content, content that is then passed on to you as a customer, then it’s unlikely that they’re prepared for direct connect. Although this might not seem like too much of a problem right now (with only a few airlines implementing a direct connect solution), this could become more of a problem in the future – especially if suppliers choose to bypass the GDS altogether and only offer a direct booking system.
If you’ve got further questions about direct connect and NDC, and how they can affect your travel programme, then get in touch by tweeting your questions to us @ClickTravel using #DirectConnectNDC or contact us directly here.