Low debt, high trust—the formula for TMC success 

Inside View with BCD Travel CEO John Snyder.

Lowdown on low debt—We’re certainly no accounting firm, but net debt ratio is a favorite topic of conversation for the BCD Travel leadership team. (For wannabe mathematicians out there, the equation is: Net debt = short-term debt + long-term debt – cash and cash equivalents.) Our Chief Financial Officer Stephan Baars takes every opportunity to explain to our customers and employees why BCD Travel’s low debt load matters. The short story: Low debt allows us to be nimble and take advantage of opportunities, particularly when others in the industry are retrenching. We are unique among competitors because of our appetite and capacity for growth.

Based on publicly available information, we know some of our competitors are highly leveraged. Interestingly, some of them have suggested we are, too. But we’re not. Our low debt levels are a clear competitive strength for BCD. Our company’s financial health enables us to invest aggressively in areas that add value to our clients’ programs, including DecisionSource® and TripSource®. It also lets us make key strategic acquisitions such as the technology that powers our TripSource Hotels offering; agency acquisitions like Tbiz, World Travel Services and our joint venture in Brazil; and business-line acquisitions like Universal Meeting Management and Plan 365 (the latter two were BCD Meetings & Events deals). For clients, our minimized debt means we operate as a strong, reliable service provider that customers can trust.

Relationship matters—Trust is a key part of any relationship, and we’re proud of the record we have with our customers, as well as our reputation in the industry. We love having third-party validation of our standing in the industry, such as being awarded Most Admired Travel Management Company three years running by readers of The Beat. But, today, a successful travel management company has to expand its definition of “relationships.” To prosper, we must have strong external relationships—not only with the companies that hire us, but also with the travelers we assist every day. And, as a growing company, we also must form great internal relationships so that the work we do as BCD Travel, Advito and BCD Meetings & Events is cohesive and uncomplicatedly beneficial to the companies and travelers we serve. Our people from all segments of our business and all time zones around the world make that happen. We believe our people are BCD’s greatest asset, so much so that “human value” is a tenet of our company’s strategic direction.

Built for change—Another driver of our strategic direction is a philosophy we call “built for change.” The translation is that BCD makes it a mission to show customers how deep, sustained program change can open new doors in savings, satisfaction and security. Two recent stories highlight what we mean when we say built for change. One is a Move story about managing evolving travel risks; it provides an overview of how the business travel risk landscape is changing, as proven by recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere. Companies must adapt by being ready for disruptions and dangers anywhere—not just in traditionally “risky” destinations. And they have to educate employees about the larger role travelers must play in keeping themselves safe and their companies informed during a crisis.

The other story is a Business Travel News article penned by Advito Managing Director April Bridgeman as part of BTN’s “What to Watch 2016” series. It forecasts the market for virtual collaboration services will double by 2020 and envisions how travel managers will adapt: “With their depth of experience in helping employees make the right booking choices, travel managers will play a growing role in managing virtual options. Effectively leveraging virtual collaboration assets will let travel managers drive travel savings or shift travel spend to higher-value trips.” April is spot-on about this evolution and what it will mean for travel managers and TMCs like us. How we meet the needs of our clients and their travelers will evolve, but the fundamentals of why our clients rely on us will remain the same. They trust us to be their expert advisers on getting employees where they need to be. That’s how we’re built, no matter the changes that come our way.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve read here or would like to read in future segments of Inside View. Send me an email at [email protected].


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