Capturing the unmanaged travel spend of SMEs is the corporate equivalent of herding cats. And in India, where there are an estimated 50 million SMEs, that’s a big herd.
Not all these SMEs need or want to have their business travel managed, but as they account for some 40% of the country’s $2 trillion GDP, there is a significant local, regional if not international travel spend up for grabs.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel in India believes that its new “CWT For You” product – available as a web-based booking tool and as IOS and Android apps – will appeal to SMEs in the country which currently do not have a managed travel programme. There is no minimum spend required to sign up.
Users will get access to CWT negotiated fares and room rates. Geeta Jain, CEO for CWT India, said that these negotiated rates include fares with low cost carriers SpiceJet, IndiGo and Go Air, which offer CWT For You users benefits such as in-flight meals, preferred seat selection, flight changes and cancellations at no extra cost on these airlines.
The accommodation options include upmarket and budget properties, and while rail is not part of the launch Jain said “we plan to introduce this in the near future.”
One challenge facing CWT and other established TMCs targetting the unmanaged spend of SMEs is the desire of the mainstream online travel agents to also tap into this market, and this is relevant in all markets.
Jain explained that CWT For You “has been designed specifically for corporate travel, keeping in mind the specific needs of the SMEs – without loading any high touch travel program elements that a large company would require.”
In practical terms, the cancellation and change options negotiated with the LCCs give business travellers more flexibility than if booked direct. CWT For You users will get access to its CWT AnalytIQs business intelligence tool,
The consumer-facing marketing campaigns of MakeMyTrip and Yatra give them a head start over CWT in terms of their recognition within the SME sector. Jain said the CWT will be marketing its product in a number of ways – attending SME events across the country, partnering with other firms which have a strong relationship with the SME community and, taking a lead perhaps from the leisure OTAs, special offers and promotions.
“Peer influence will be another important channel for us in acquiring new customers, and so we’re extremely focused on the user experience,” she added.