To the Business Travel Community: Let’s Rebuild Together
Rocketrip is fresh off a company-wide Hack Week, where cross-functional teams came together to innovate solutions for travel managers and business travelers in a post-Covid world. That ability to innovate and challenge the status quo is why we all choose to be part of the startup community, but our drive to help right now is motivated by deep appreciation for the value of business travel — value that wouldn’t be possible without many “legacy” players in the ecosystem that are hurting right now.
We’re heartbroken at the job losses and furloughs that have hit the travel industry, affecting our partners at travel management companies (TMCs) particularly hard and swiftly. And I’m not going to sit back and watch our partners take a hit on their value at a time when our chips are down.
How we’re evolving together
Alongside our enterprise clients, our TMC and online booking tool (OBT) partners have been instrumental in figuring out best practices and ideas for how to move forward safely as an industry. In a time of crisis, it can be instinctual to develop tunnel vision and focus solely on the present. That’s not happening with us or our key TMC partners, who are dedicated to providing measurable value to finance teams, travel managers, and travelers.
From Altour — which is putting out weekly thought leadership by top partners in their Minute with Altour interview series — to BCD’s regular updates on how airlines are adjusting their operations by region, FCM Travel Solutions’ podcast, and Direct Travel’s webinars on how to manage travel in a crisis, our industry partners are providing immeasurable value right now. Although no one was prepared for this pandemic, their collective years of experience (and we’ve partnered with many for 7+ years) have led to lots of valuable knowledge and resources.
Rocketrip is not a TMC, nor do we aspire to be. We believe in adding a layer of dynamic value to existing travel programs, regardless of your travel tech stack. But we appreciate the value TMCs are bringing to travelers and enterprise clients, and as volatility in the supply chain continues, that knowledge is going to be more important than ever.
Trust is everything
The only thing we really know is that business travel is not flipping back on like a light switch, and business travelers will be doing a lot more calculations about the safety of themselves and their families when travel does come back. We see the importance more than ever for real-time data on traveler behavior, partners that you can trust, and the ability to listen to traveler concerns with empathy. It’s going to be critical that travelers feel secure and confident in their travel programs once it’s safe to even start considering travel again.
How do you ensure your travelers trust your travel program? Customer service will play a huge role. Enterprise customer support requires a specific structure, skill set, and staffing. We all have heard the stories of hours and hours on hold with an airline or off-shoring tech company, and we’ve all seen business travelers resorting to Twitter to try to get the attention of their hotel or flight support. The TMCs we partner with are trained in the art of travel crisis management. They have the connections at suppliers and duty of care providers to get your teams on the ground the help they need quickly.
So, what’s next for the business travel community? I don’t know for sure, but we’ll only get there by innovating together.
Dan Ruch is the CEO and founder of Rocketrip