Thursday, January 5, 2012

Travel Supply Chain Intelligence

It has never ceased to surprise me how little time the chain studies its partners, clients and perceived competitors. They are all intertwined in activities right the way from the traveller to the front end supplier yet history demonstrates that they do not understand the people they depend on or those they want to replace.

A good example would be say an airline that wants to replace a TMC or GDS which is quite topical at the moment. Now the black and white capability is there in the shape of enabling technology but the real world is in colour and of different shades and complexity. Technology systems are the beginning of the road not the end of it, an enabler not the solution. But some folks just plough on anyway and seem genuinely shocked at the push back

I am convinced this happens because the players have not set the right priorities into understanding all of the things the other components do. Instead they blindly follow their ‘ideal scenario’ strategy and attempt to bludgeon it into the marketplace. Sometimes this just might work in parts but the risk of fall-out is great with the potential of lasting commercial or competitive damage. They should also realise by now that the other members in the chain are anticipating their moves and building detours and opportunities around them.

These thoughts are not here to try and dissuade the chain from evolving and diversifying, after all that is progress. What I am saying instead is that this industry needs to understand itself and its component parts a lot clearer. For example, has any airline ever taken the time (and at the right level) to examine what it’s ‘partners’ do in detail? To sit down and better evaluate the chain reaction of planned strategy and thereby have answers to the issues that will surely arise? They might even find ways that benefit, or at least soften the blow to the rest of the industry.

The way some current players go about change is simply not savvy. They know what they want and charge at it, usually with disappointing results. A bit more thought, understanding, broader knowledge and early dialogue just might form a better basis for progress. And for heavens sake remember that the world has multi markets, technologies languages and cultures. Head offices in their ‘ivory towers’ in the USA, UK, Germany and The Far East can pontificate and plan as much as they like but to little avail if their decisions simply are unworkable elsewhere. Instead they can do major damage.

So my plea is to stop, think, research a great deal, understand the players/competitors better and look way beyond the first hurdle and towards the end-game. I still maintain that the major industry bodies should be driving this understanding. Perhaps if they had less back slapping, money making, selling type conferences and more distribution, supply chain summits they would make a bigger contribution.

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