|7th April 2022
SUPC wrote to members directly last week, to let them know that we are working with our Travel Management Companies (TMCs) to address the service level issues that some institutions are experiencing across the Travel Management Services Framework. We have worked closely with our suppliers to put action plans in place to improve, and the TMCs continue to recruit personnel for the customer services teams to ease bottlenecks and reduce call wait times.
Issues with Channel ferry crossings continue as P&O has not yet received permission to resume sailing after dismissing 800 workers last month. IT issues have been problematic at some major suppliers, with stranded travellers trying to call their TMC. Manchester Airport has seen delays build due to a lack of operation staff with COVID sickness levels, with some passengers missing flights. Similar scenes at Heathrow, with British Airways and Easyjet cancelling more than 100 flights, some on just minute notice due to COVID absence.
The TMCs are all experiencing largely the same issues, to a greater or lesser extent. Increased demand for bookings, changes in travel policies due to COVID-19, changes in restrictions and regulations globally, requirements for more offline assistance and the supporting supply chains (hotels, airlines, car hire etc.) not operating at full capacity. Recruitment and training of service personnel to meet increased demand are also proving problematic with time and resource constraints.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also had a major effect with TMCs working to extract travellers from the area, an increase in bookings from humanitarian organisations to put aid workers on the ground and the closure of airspace over Russia has resulted in flights being diverted and many journeys being delayed and or cancelled.
The TMCs are appreciative of the patience, understanding and expertise of institutions’ procurement teams in the way they handle and escalate the problems end-users are facing.
What can I do to help my bookers and travellers?
There is a considerably higher volume of offline bookings (i.e. phone calls and emails) that are being made as institutions begin to book travel. Not only is this time consuming, but it is also all very costly since offline bookings incur considerably higher transaction fees. All the TMCs have online training available via the booking dashboards and these quick e-learning modules can give bookers confidence to book online as they did pre-pandemic.
We will remain in communication with all the TMCs and will update members on the situation as appropriate. If you have any specific queries that you would like to raise, please get in touch with SUPC Head of Category Management Services, Jayne Thorn.