THE Swiss bank UBS has a very mature travel programme with online booking in place for almost 15 years. Kevin Carr, the bank’s corporate travel manager, said the company implemented a new online booking tool five years ago, with Amadeus’ Cytric.

With the implementation, UBS moved away from different tools in different regions. “Prior to the current partnership, we had different tools in each region, but we decided that we wanted to globalise as there are lots of benefits around having global servicing standards,” he told BTN Europe.

While Cytric is UBS’s online booking tool from global distribution player Amadeus, the bank contracts directly with Travelport as its GDS and American Express Global Business Travel as its travel management company, which typically works with Sabre.

“It is ultimately about owning the relationship,” says Carr. “If you have a decent-sized programme you want to be influencing the partner. You don’t want the TMC to be driving that partnership and development falling onto the TMC’s roadmap. You want to be influencing the provider and prioritising your strategy.”

Do you find the best TMC and best OBT and try to work them together or find the partnerships which might have some compromises or less content but is a better connection? “We have always worked at having the best in the market for that service and forcing them to work together,” he said.

Carr also points out that it is clear that certain OBTs and TMCs work better together, despite most TMCs saying they work with every tool in the market.

“This idea of being agnostic is a bit of nonsense really,” he said. “Ultimately, we all know there are always complications and you do lose certain functionality and features if not using the right GDS, TMC or OBT.”


With many vested interests in the market – preferred supplier deals can distort what TMCs offer and even what consultants suggest – so buyers have to rely on other more independent sources. A good place to start is in your personal network of buyers or through association networks like  ITM or GBTA, he suggested.

Carr said, “Travel is inherently complicated because of the various commercial models, and you never know who gets what from whom.”

He recommended for those not in the position to contract directly, identifying the content and functionality that is a must-have for the corporate is vital since sometimes the ultimate choice will involve compromise.

“It is all about understanding what the needs of the programme are – the destinations and markets you want to cover,” said Carr.

He added, “Rail as a specific category has become much more important because of sustainability. Whereas it might not have mattered previously if you didn’t have rail in some countries, now we are very concerned to have it.”

In this case, the content requirement has made choosing an OBT provider slightly easier. “Everyone has GDS,, HRS and Expedia but not everybody has got rail,” Carr said.

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