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INTERVIEW


WORDS MAT THEW PARSONS


THE RIGHT QUESTIONS


After a career spanning some 30 years in the travel industry, including roles at all three GDSs, Guy Snelgar tells BBT about his new venture, Barndello Consulting


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR NEW BUSINESS?


The focus is to work with corporates and TMCs. There’s a technology part, but also a sales part – I’ve spent most of my career in sales. There are a lot of people who are facing challenges that haven’t been there before. I’ve come from a good place in terms of my experience, having worked with technology companies. In the past ten years, I’ve probably spoken with every single agency in the UK! So you hear about situations, what works, what doesn’t work, what they’re going through, what they’re hearing from their customers.


HOW WILL YOU WORK WITH TRAVEL BUYERS? I’ll help them understand what they want out of a TMC. I’ve seen enough RFPs in my time. I’ve seen good ones and bad ones... I’ve seen RFPs that show clearly what they want to get out of their travel programme. The pro- gramme has a purpose, goals and objectives. With others, they’ve just gone out to the first TMC they’ve found in a list, and sent them a document. So I’ll be helping buyers under- stand the value they can get out of asking the right questions.


DO CORPORATES UNDERSTAND THE VALUE A TMC CAN BRING?


People don’t generally see what a TMC does behind the scenes. When I talk to TMCs I say the corporate buyer they deal with probably knows why they use the TMC, but could they articulate it? If the buyer’s finance director asked them: “Why are we using a TMC, and why that particular TMC?” – could the buyer respond in language they understand? And if not, how do we expect to keep that business?


SO IT’S ABOUT COMMUNICATION We talk in our own language – codeshares, NDC, wait lists, classes – but we’re not good at talking in our customer’s language.


IS THERE A PERCEPTION THAT TMCs CHARGE TOO MUCH?


There is a revolution coming in the [trans- action fee] commercial model. We have an industry that is based around the one bit that doesn’t add any value. And we don’t charge for all the stuff that adds value. It is unusual to charge for managing the programme,


42 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019 buyingbusinesstravel.com


providing guidance and advice, duty-of-care. All those things – the reasons people use TMCs – we don’t charge for. We slap it all on the transaction fee and wonder why we get people saying, “Why do I need to pay for that?” I’ve spoken to some TMCs looking to break that model and change it, but are the market and the industry ready for it?


WHAT CHALLENGES DO BUYERS FACE WHEN SELECTING AN ONLINE BOOKING TOOL? When I used to run Sabre GetThere for EMEA, I worked with a lot of blue chip clients, rolling out online booking tools globally. It’s a minefield. What infuriated me was that you’re implementing something and, as often happens, it’s not gone as expected or it wasn’t successful. You find out afterwards it’s because there was something you didn’t know about. The response from the salesper- son is: well, you didn’t ask for that! But it’s not the buyer’s job to know what to ask for – they’re not the experts. So I’ll help customers ask the right questions, and prompt the suppliers to ask the right questions.


WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON NDC?


NDC gets seen as a goal in itself. It isn’t. It is one type of connectivity between the cus- tomer, TMC and supplier. It’s slightly ironic that no one talks about the various forms of XML and Edifact [Electronic Data Inter- change For Administration, Commerce and Transport] messaging that have been used to communicate with airlines in the past. In terms of coming up with the solution that makes NDC work, the GDSs are best placed to do it. They’ve got the people, the expertise, the customer base, the footprint… and the technology and know-how to make it work. If they get it right, they are the best people to do it; if they get it wrong, new entrants are coming in who will overtake them.


n Guy Snelgar will be a panellist at the BBT Forum on 7 November. Find out more at bbtforum.com


PROFILE Before founding Barndello


Consulting this year, Guy Snelgar was commercial director at Travelport. Prior to that, he was head of sales at Diners Club International. Previous roles include head of sales and consulting at Amadeus; director, EMEA, at Sabre GetThere; online development manager at Portman Travel; and international account and sales manager at Galileo.


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