January 26 - Unbundling Key Focus At Business Travel & Meetings Show

Stakeholder group formed to develop standards for airline product unbundling

Washington, DC and London, England, 26 January 2010 -- Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and the Institute of Travel & Meetings UK & Ireland (ITM) have finalised details of their inaugural Industry Solutions Group (ISG) meeting to be held at the Business Travel & Meetings Show on 9 February at Earls Court 2 in London. The 20 some ISG members, which include corporate travel buyers, travel management companies, technology providers, association executives, airlines and other distribution participants, will meet to consider impacts from unbundling and to develop a peer-reviewed Industry Position Paper for publication in early April.

In addition to leading the ISG member meeting in the morning, BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell will also lead a Keynote Session at 14.30 on same day at the show on the history of unbundling and the benefits and risks for the managed travel community.  Speaking about the focus by BTC on this issue at the show, Mitchell said, “We have seen how airlines have adapted unbundling in the U.S. and its new variations are moving across to the UK and Europe pretty swiftly.  Unbundling in itself is not an issue, but the method by which it is implemented, and the potential pitfalls to business travel buyers and intermediaries, are considerable unless there’s a thoughtful industry-level plan.”

BTC’s partner for the morning ISG meeting is the UK & Ireland’s ITM.  The association has created solutions groups in the past on transparency in remuneration, data, technology adoption and compliance. Explaining what the group hopes to achieve on this occasion, ITM CEO Paul Tilstone said, “We understand why airlines are moving to an unbundled product and there is great potential for the market, but only if all of the industry’s stakeholders are engaged in its implementation.  With BTC we hope to create an arena for discussion and understanding so that decisions are made with all parties’ concerns in mind.”

Tilstone added, “Every time a new unbundled product is released into the market the GDSs, TMCs, billing systems, and therefore subsequently, the buyers strain to deal with how the sale, data and payment are processed. Clearly with everyone focused on solving these issues every time they arise it undermines the managed programme and takes us all away from concentrating on more strategic issues.”

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