ITM UK & Ireland's latest research among its members who buy and manage travel and meetings services has found that supplier product changes such as airline unbundling fares (charging separately for online booking, baggage and online catering, etc), while creating transparency, often posed a negative impact on travel-management systems.
More than 65 per cent of buyers felt that all supplier sectors "failed to consider the impact of any product changes on the buying community" while 64 per cent said that "product changes led to more work to find work-around or alternative solutions".
The research comes in wake of a mission statement by ITM Chairman Jamie Hindhaugh for buyers and suppliers to work closer together to develop an improved industry.
Nearly all the buyers surveyed (98 per cent) felt that airlines and global distribution service providers should work more closely together to ensure that systems provided true comparative fare data in the face of unbundling.
Paul Tilstone, chief executive of ITM, said: "Data-capture, process flows and cost appeared as the top three buyer impacts from the continuing unbundling trend within the aviation industry. While there appears to be some real potential positives from unbundling, you can't help but think that greater consultation could result in a more positive environment for all."
Colin Goldney, managing director of ITM's research partner, Argate, added: "There's definitely an understanding of the reasons why airlines are changing products and services and in general the opportunity for greater transparency is being greeted positively, but without a collaborative approach there appears to be a cost and time impact on the buyer and travel management company (TMC) community that is going unnoticed by suppliers."