Q&A: It’s time to focus on air ancillaries

Ancillaries are no longer secondary, says Advito air expert Olivier Benoit. In today’s business travel market—where buyers must focus on the traveler experience, as well as savings—negotiating on the front end for Wi-Fi, extra legroom, early boarding and additional baggage is essential. In a hot-topic Q&A, Benoit dives into the opportunities and challenges.

Why should air ancillaries be top of mind for travel buyers now?

Olivier Benoit, Advito

Buyers should feel a sense of urgency because airlines are increasingly monetizing services. Carriers are rolling out personalized ancillary offers and extending those to travelers. Corporate buyers need to add ancillaries to their travel policies and air negotiation checklists to make sure they have a say. If they don’t, airlines gain the powerful position of determining which ancillaries their travelers receive—and how much the company pays for them.

How do these add-ons help companies further their business goals?

Selecting the right air ancillaries allows companies to manage costs, improve traveler comfort and boost employee productivity. Ancillaries play an important role in the shift to a focus on the traveler experience.

Are there hurdles to prioritizing ancillaries?

The biggest challenge is that there’s no industry standard for distributing ancillaries. Airlines are creative, options are plentiful and technology to track this spend has historically been limited. The good news is that’s changing. Better data collection and consolidation from travel management company, corporate card and air supplier reporting streams is simplifying the process. Now it’s possible to use this data to figure out which ancillaries your travelers want and how much you could save by negotiating add-ons with suppliers on the front end.

Talk a little more about air supplier reporting on ancillaries. Is this new?

Yes, a few airlines now are breaking down ancillary spend in their reports to corporate travel programs. Buyers should use this data, but with some caution. These supplier reports on ancillaries are still a work in progress, but they’re also a positive trend. They increase transparency, and travel buyers should encourage more airlines to provide them.

Briefly describe the steps a company should take to develop a smart air ancillary strategy.

Use TMC and corporate card data to assess your ancillary spending and traveler needs. Determine which ancillaries will further your company’s business goals of improving employee satisfaction and productivity, while also controlling costs. Incorporate ancillary specifications into your air travel policy. Negotiate these ancillaries with air suppliers. Engage and educate employees about the new ancillary options. Use TMC and card data to track traveler use of and company spend on air ancillaries. Review and adjust regularly to ensure you’re always getting the best ancillary options for your travelers at the best possible price.

Check out Olivier Benoit’s Out Front blog post recapping a recent industry conference session on air ancillaries. Discover more air travel trends in the 2018 Industry Forecast.