British Airways’ global sales chief told business travel leaders “there are opportunities for everyone to drive costs out”.
Stephen Humphreys told the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) conference: “Our relationship with the GTMC is fundamental to our business. You manage £1.5 billion of BA revenue.” But he added: “Competition for premium travellers has never been stronger.
“There are opportunities for everyone to work on efficiencies and drive costs out [and] to use technology to drive bespoke products for key customers.”
Asked to clarify, Humphreys said: “Shareholders have an expectation about non-fuel costs. Really good partnerships look at how to unlock savings in partnership. TMC costs get a lot of air play but there are a lot of other costs. One of the big items is credit card costs.”
Humphreys identified a major challenge as “how together we manage the next generation of business traveller who is used to self-service”.
He said: “The answer lies somewhere in personalisation, in understanding the customer, but unless we get that right there is a danger of things fragmenting.”
Referring to Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), he said: “We’re taking bookings through NDC now. NDC is an enabler – potentially it will enable us to vary all kinds of things to different sets of customers.”
Airline association Iata promotes NDC as a distribution standard which will allow airlines to sell ancillaries and personalise offers through third parties. But the involvement of non-GDS technology providers threatens to take bookings outside GDS channels and poses a problem for agents.
Humphreys insisted: “We have no interest in disrupting the TMC model because the TMC model works well for us.”
However, he declined to give more details of BA’s NDC initiative. Asked through what channels NDC bookings are available, he said: “Our sales team are talking to partners, including about NDC. We’re able to take this through third parties.
“If you are interested in trials, talk to us about this directly or with a GDS partner.”