Should TMCs develop their own technology?

by Business Travel iQ | 08 February 2018

BCD Travel’s new open platform for third parties potentially offers a third way

The news this week that BCD Travel is launching a technology marketplace for third-party companies in the corporate sector brings focus back on the question that travel management companies often ask themselves: should we develop our own technology in-house?

BCD’s calls SolutionSource, a “one-stop shop of third-party travel technology solutions”.

At launch, it includes price assurance technologies such as Fairfly and Yapta as well as Freebird and Rocketrip.

Yannis Karmis, BCD Travel’s senior vice president of product planning and development, calls SolutionSource “an open platform [that] opens the door to emerging technologies for our clients”.

“The travel landscape has changed significantly over the past few years, with a surge of technology providers offering unique and targeted travel solutions. This wave of innovation brings new capabilities that allow travel managers to optimise spend, influence traveller behaviour, drive operational efficiencies, and more,” the company said.

This idea of a one-stop shop is not new. Carlson Wagonlit’s early travel app library CWT To Go was intended to bring together apps from other players in the corporate travel space.

What is different here is that BCD is doing the heavy-lifting and making sure these new technologies integrate with existing corporate technology and workflows.

Irina Matz, BCD’s director of product planning, says, “To enable these partners, we recognise the need to expose the right technology in a way that’s easily consumable and scalable. We’ll continue to develop standard APIs and developer tools to support our SolutionSource strategy.”

It is a good strategy that should win BCD Travel new, tech-savvy clients who are keen to access what these innovative companies are doing.

It is also a halfway house between TMCs developing their own technology in-house or outsourcing everything to a dedicated technology provider, such as a Sabre, Amadeus or SAP Concur.

There are well-rehearsed arguments on both sides. In-house gives greater control and agility to react to individual client requirements; outsourcing gives you access to the multimillion dollar research budgets of the dedicated technology providers.

BCD Travel’s approach now offers a third way.

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