Should you really care about your travel management companies SLA’s?

I’ve been sitting here going through Meon Valley Travels’ stat’s ready to write a blog on why you should care that we are incredibly quick at answering phones and replying to emails and quite frankly, it’s boring. Who’s cares? If you’re distracted by your TMC’s SLA’s, then maybe you’re with the wrong TMC?

You probably think I’m being slightly provocative but seriously, if I reel off a load of stats and you’re anything like me, you’ll skim read it and be bored stiff whilst the rest of the market blags with abandon that they deliver the same standards. Statistics can tell anyone anything you want but I don’t need to tell you that. You know the way it works, we’ve all seen it before, and you’ve experienced it as a consumer time and time again.  But surely SLA’s should be a prerequisite, not a ‘value-add’?

So, what should we care about instead of the cold hard stats when dealing with a TMC? How about the approach, the value, the experience… how do you quantify that?

In the global theatre with vanilla-scripted call centre agents, it is now not uncommon to battle through 3 (or more) barriers to get to a ‘warm response unit’…yes, that’s what some call talking to a human, heaven help us! In my book, if I invest the time to call someone then a ‘warm response’ is the first thing I want, not the last.

Of course, tech has its place. Instant gratification through Meons mobile and click-to-book platforms are perfect for point to point and when everything goes to plan. But when you want someone to help do you have to persevere to speak to the best ‘warm response unit’ your TMC chooses to afford? Or do you want to get through to the right someone who knows what they are doing because they deal with fast complex issues and a balance of needs, day in day out?

John Lewis’ philosophy is that ‘the customer is never wrong’. It’s a subtle difference to the customer always being right because clearly, as far as we as customers are concerned, we are never wrong. And we take the same approach ourselves, so when any customer has any issue we say… it’s our job to fix it, whatever it is. This creates a partnership mentality and demonstrates clearly where attributable value plays its part, and relationships are key.

Our SLA’s don’t just focus on how quickly a qualified expert answers the phone, they focus on how quickly we deliver the need or resolve the challenge. And trust me, when you are stuck at an airport with a cancelled connection and wondering how you’re going to get home, you’re going to want the latter.

If you’re still a little sceptical, let me give you a couple of examples that highlight the impact a different, Meon approach, can have:-

JFK shuts down. You, along with 160 thousand other customers are displaced within 20 minutes. You call your TMC which, let’s face it has gone into overload like every other agency. Am I going to claim that we could get you a flight when none exist? No. But would we queue-jump you onto the first available flight, nab a hotel and relieve you of booking that nice restaurant before they too are all full… all before most have even made it through the airline services queue? You bet we will… all while fellow passengers are hung out to dry waiting for a ‘warm response unit’ advising all to speak to the airline/rebook online or, most offensive of all.. to try a different airline. You, however, should be well informed, well directed and handling your business, not the delay.

On the other hand how about when your flight goes ‘tech’, just your flight, so you should be able to get through to your TMC surely? If it’s outside UK business hours do you get through to a call handling system ensuring the SLA is met (yep, 3 rings and you’re into the queue – tick) but even then the eventual answering service only handle a handful of calls overnight so aren’t experienced in rebooking, re-ticketing or rerouting? You end up stuck where you are or fending for yourself trying to persuade the airline that you really do need to get home asap even if they keep telling you they can’t help because you have a ‘cheap ticket’. Alternatively, you could get through to someone sensitive to the fact that your £100 flight actually relates to a $million dollar meeting so you need a solution that is proportionate.


The product your TMC sells might not be that different…  but the Meon approach is.