WTF is it with TLAs?

by Business Travel iQ | 13 September 2018

As CTI rebrand as Amber Road, we look at whether business travel’s obsession with three-letter abbreviations is finally over

The trouble with TLAs (three-letter abbreviations or acronyms) is that there are only so many of them – 17,576 if you are interested. Sooner or later you find that someone else wants to use the same one as you. This is perhaps most clearly seen with famous bout in which Hulk Hogan and John Cena (or more accurately the lawyers) of the World Wrestling Federation took on the giant pandas of the World Wildlife Fund. Spoiler alert – the pandas won; the wrestlers are now part of World Wrestling Entertainment – perhaps a more accurate name in any case - and go by the TLA of WWE.

The same situation cropped up in recent years with two travel management companies.

In 2013, the long-established Chelsea Travel Management decided to go down the TLA route, rebranding itself as CTM, naturally enough. The company said at the time: “The rebrand is part of [a] business strategy…to broaden the product portfolio and brand awareness of companies within the group.”

Unfortunately for the TMC (and there’s another TLA right there), the following year Australia’s Corporate Travel Management, also well known as CTM, expanded into the UK with the acquisition of Chambers Travel.

Adding to the confusion, in 2013, TD Travel and Hotelscene came together under a new umbrella, Corporate Travel International or CTI for short.

You can forgive travel managers and industry observers for getting mixed up.

This week we hear that CTI is doing something completely leftfield for the business travel sector – ditching its TLA and going for a new naming approach – it is now to be known as Amber Road, named after “the original business travel route”, according to boss Clive Wratten.

In business travel, we are surrounded by TLAs and not just in the world of TMCs (did someone say HRG?). Conversations between industry folk are peppered with RFPs, SLAs, OBTs, KPIs, ROIs and OTAs. Some would argue that they are a handy shorthand; we would argue that they act as unnatural barrier to those on the outside.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to adopt CTI’s approach and ditch the TLAs. It would certainly lead to less confusion and better understanding.

But before we do that, perhaps we need to take care. We are sure CTI checked when they decided to rebrand but we feel duty bound to inform them and our readers of the existence of an established global trade management software company of the same name.


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