This month’s installment of Accenture’s category insights may just to be the best yet in terms of rigor and practicality. The specific spend category in question is airlines, but there are also broader issues here surrounding travel management in general. Although consumerized airline shopping can make this category seemed commoditized, it is anything but. You have an extremely diverse set of stakeholders with different business objectives surrounding the airline travel, and a supply market that looks like a supply chain transportation market, which in a sense it is, if you think about air freight — except the freight is a business traveller.
The 10 strategies outlined are a perfect example of how to manage a complex category. Understanding the demand side of Airline sourcing, for example, is essential, especially related to stakeholder management. Corporate “road warriors” are usually critical talent to be empowered and supported. Loyalty programs are key enablers (and barriers) to success, and the change management and time involved for sourcing require strong planning and commitment. The article gives some excellent guidance on negotiation tactics, but also on some of the “softer” strategies that are no less critical to this fast changing category.