Mobility-as-a-Service vs. TMCs: Redefining the Landscape of Corporate Travel
The Emergence of Mobility-as-a-Service
The mobility landscape has been largely dominated by private car ownership over the years, from its rapid expansion in the 1960s, through to the present day. The advent of the Internet has enabled the rise of new technologies that have re-defined the way people travel, for both leisure and business purposes, paving the way for improved access to shared transport and on-demand travel services.
According to a recent report by Statista, leisure tourism generated 80 per cent of total travel spend worldwide in 2021, with business travel accounting for the remaining 20% of expenditure. With health concerns and travel restrictions easing, corporate travel is now on its way to making a steady return back to 2019 pre-Covid levels.
Companies everywhere are now looking for ways to make the process of booking business travel easier and more practical for their employees. For mid to large enterprises (MLEs), a dedicated travel manager or travel team, is often tasked with looking after all aspects of planning, booking, and reporting for the company’s business travel requirements.
Smaller organisations are less likely to have a dedicated Travel Manager to handle their corporate travel, and so tend to assign that responsibility to other roles within the company. This often includes the HR or office management functions overseeing travel, with employees often tasked with finding and booking travel and accommodation themselves.
Travel managers must balance cost control with traveller comfort and manage bookings for non-employees such as contractors and interns. Along with filing various physical receipts and invoices, accounting for the total cost of business travel, and producing accurate financial projections of travel expenditure, it often makes sense for companies to increase the efficiency of this process by outsourcing these tasks to an external company.
When selecting a vendor for outsourcing travel management, transparency, simplicity, and customer support are key considerations, should any issues arise. Companies may also have more specific or complex travel needs that require a higher degree of technical support and personalisation.
Companies may choose to work with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) providers or more traditional Travel Management Companies (TMCs) to control costs and reduce the administrative burden of corporate travel management.
TMCs are contracted to plan and book business travel on behalf of larger organisations. Towards the tail end of the last century TMCs were having to print hardcopy tickets and either fax or post them to customers prior to their journeys. Since then, the travel experience has completely transformed, with technology and personalisation driving positive change within the industry and empowering business travellers more than ever.
MaaS is a disruptive innovation in the corporate travel sector where emerging technologies allow users to compare, book and pay for all their journeys with thousands of different travel and transport providers using a single technology platform.
As a socially grounded concept, MaaS aims to increase the accessibility and availability of sustainable and efficient transport methods for consumers and businesses that benefit society, including shared transport, electric vehicles, micromobility and active travel.
Comparing the MaaS and TMC Infrastructure
MaaS applications and TMCs both remove the need for planning journeys and offer flexible payment and invoicing options, which increases simplicity for travel managers. FOD Mobility Group’s MaaS platform Mobilleo is unique in this space for providing the same level of dedicated customer and technical support as a traditional TMC offers.
The consulting power of TMCs means they are effective in planning specialised, long-haul journeys. However, the technology used can sometimes have its limitations, falling short of the everchanging demands of an agile workforce.
Many TMCs typically use a Global Distribution System (GDS) that feeds travel information into an internal database. The GDS is used in combination with an online booking tool (OBT) as a point-of-sale system when consulting with clients.
On the other hand, MaaS allows users to directly compare, book, and pay for a much wider selection of travel modes and services, offering the best available pricing at the time of booking. Mobilleo is powered by two application programming interfaces (APIs) that extract content from various aggregator websites along with a supplier network via GDS.
The inclusion of two APIs means that content gaps are filled, and the customer is provided with the most accurate travel data in real-time via the Mobilleo app. The customer can access a network of thousands of connected automotive assets, global travel, public transport and payments and ticketing options, all in one platform.
The in-app payment and ticketing options available through Mobilleo are a key differentiator among its competitors. This feature removes the hassle of the user having to pay for and acquire their tickets on different aggregator or supplier websites.
The technology that powers MaaS platforms affects the degree of financial transparency, the agility of the technology, and the variety of travel options, which all provide an improved customer experience.
Making MaaS Profitable: Improved Cost Control in Corporate Travel
It is vital to control expenses when organising and managing corporate travel. Companies aim to balance their adherence to financial budgets and organisational policies with the comfort and satisfaction of their employees, so it is crucial to compare the best transport options that will fulfil both needs.
Mobilleo and TMCs both help businesses to ensure compliance with corporate travel budgets by consolidating travel booking, ticketing and expenses in one place. This eliminates the need to organise multiple contracts and vendors with differing costs. Finance and accounting teams are supported in this process with the ability to calculate a clearly defined monthly cost.
The advanced analytics of Mobilleo helps organisations to use real-time reporting and intelligent journey planning to get the best possible deal for their travel needs, but also assists in providing highly accurate data on the business’ total travel costs.
PAYG MaaS platforms and TMCs both tend to charge additional booking fees, however the charges from TMCs tend to be significantly higher and lack the wide range of availability for different travel options that MaaS can deliver. The technology used by TMCs may lead their travel bookers to use separate booking tools from time-to-time to fill certain requirement gaps, but at an additional cost to the customer. Considering the higher booking fees and additional charges, these expenses can add up to a considerable amount over time.
MaaS can also be more suitable for smaller organisations as outsourcing their travel to TMCs is unlikely to provide a viable return on investment due to the lower volume of business travel being booked. Mobilleo’s desktop application offers smaller businesses full control over the booking, management and reporting of travel across their organisation. The smartphone app can also be deployed to employees to manage their own travel and assign individual mobility budgets to monitor their spend.
MaaS Enhances Freedom for Business Travellers
Bleisure (a portmanteau of business and leisure) is a trend that signifies the changing attitudes of employees towards their work and life balance. With boundaries blurring between business and personal leisure time, more and more employees are choosing to make the most of their business trips by exploring cities and other destinations for longer or taking family and friends with them.
This type of travel is helping the market to recover from the economic stall in business travel during the pandemic. From a business perspective, embracing Bleisure brings benefits to the organisation by increasing employee retention and morale.
The Mobilleo platform allows organisations to apply a spending cap while enabling employees to travel as they please within those limitations. Companies can manage travel spend by setting a total spend limit for the organisation, team, job role or individual employee.
Users can book different modes of travel using a combination of their organisation’s account and a personal debit or credit card which gives employees the desired amount of flexibility and freedom. This enables employers to adhere to their own travel policy while giving employees the freedom to spend over the defined limit.
TMCs tend to arrange an itinerary and oversee the travel policy of the company which reduces the freedom of employees while travelling. TMCs may be able to offer more specialised travel needs for international travel by consulting on cultural, legal and tax considerations for long-haul journeys, but ultimately lack flexibility by placing restrictions on corporate mobility.
MaaS Infrastructure Supports an Agile Workforce
According to a survey by Travel Technology Europe, legacy systems are the biggest barrier to digital transformation and modernisation within the travel industry. The results explained that in many cases “patchwork” solutions were being made to antiquated technology platforms, which prevented many established travel companies, including TMCs, from moving forward.
The quick-fix solutions made to legacy systems makes TMCs more vulnerable to newer market players who are using more modern technologies. With work travel requirements becoming more fast-moving, a business needs to be empowered by the latest technology that provides a wide range of transport options and adapts to flexible schedules.
With MaaS, platforms like Mobilleo can be built around specific business needs and provides a dedicated app that employees can access while on-the-go. This means that corporate travel and its related activities are not restricted to being planned in advance, and employees can easily handle an unexpected change in circumstance.
Imagine an employee who has travelled to a meeting by train, but it has arrived slightly early. In this case, they can log into the Mobilleo app to locate the nearest café or restaurant within seconds of arriving at their location and an integration with Google maps will tell them exactly how to get there. If the train is cancelled, the employee can use the app to book alternative means of transport to get them to their destination, such as a hire car, taxi or car club vehicle.
Another element that increases Mobilleo’s agility is ticketless boarding passes and payment methods, which means a user can pay for their travel, and scan their tickets directly from their smartphone while travelling. This removes the hassle of having to locate and organise physical tickets from different providers, particularly on more complex journeys.
Customer Service in MaaS: Mobilleo’s Customer Success Strategy
The agility of Mobilleo’s technology gives customers the power to resolve last-minute changes in circumstance which means they do not have to rely on customer service as heavily, but the Mobilleo app is unique in the MaaS industry as it has a dedicated customer service team that can be contacted directly via Mobilleo’s in-app concierge feature. This makes it simple to request support when using the app and booking journeys that provides peace of mind for travellers knowing that help is available when needed.
For example, business travellers can ask the concierge team for their meals to be organised for long haul flights. Whether the flight is short, long-distance, direct, or multi-stop, the team can communicate with the carrier in advance to ensure the best flight experience for the customer.
The online booking tools employed by TMCs do not always include extras such as seat upgrades and wi-fi options. Additionally, rates from many hotels, low-cost carrier fares, and even some fares from major carriers can be missing from searches, which ultimately impacts the customer experience.
The Mobilleo team’s customer centric approach involves the development of a tailored system that matches the specific requirements of each organisation using a 4D methodology for successful MaaS implementation. TMCs work with the customer’s requirements for specific journeys and consult on policy, but do not have the technological infrastructure to support this same level of personalisation.
Mobilleo also adopts a customer success strategy, which involves close collaboration with clients to understand their business objectives and key technical considerations, configuring the booking tools and setting them up to meet those needs. The process also includes UAT testing and in-depth system training along with continuous development of the system after it has gone live, creating a truly personalised system that works for any business.
MaaS’ Contribution to Environmental Initiatives
A pressing challenge in the corporate travel industry in recent years has been how to regenerate the industry to the pre-Covid levels of 2019, while limiting the impact of this boost on the climate emergency. The travel management industry is looking at ways to create sustainable infrastructure, encourage the responsible use of natural resources and the adoption of technological innovations that change the way that people move for the better.
Independent research by Business Travel News in 2021 found that 67% of travel buyers want to understand their TMC’s sustainability strategies as part of the sourcing process whereas 89% of buyers want to see their TMCs provide more sustainability services, showing that in the field of corporate travel management, many TMCs are still catching up with individual companies’ targets to become more sustainable.
Mobilleo uses the latest technology to connect users to thousands of different suppliers with a broad range of sustainable transport options, including micromobility (bicycles and scooters), public transport (trains and buses) and rental options (EV hire and car club).
Reducing the use of CO2 emitting vehicles is an important factor both locally and globally in addressing several of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This reduction will decrease dependence on natural resources and alleviate congestion and pollution in cities. MaaS platform Mobilleo encourages a reduction in the use of single occupancy ICE vehicles for business journeys by offering shared and active travel alternatives, including trains, buses, trams, bicycles, scooters and EV hire.
Nearly half of the UK rail network is now electrified, and local authorities are in the process of introducing zero emission buses in their regions. London already boasts more than 650 zero-emission buses, and is set to have the largest electric bus fleet in Europe by 2024.
The encouragement of active travel will help to produce a more sustainable society. This links to the third UN SDG which promotes good health and well-being for the public. Mobilleo not only encourages a reduction in use of single occupancy ICE vehicles, but the platform also promotes the use of walking, public transport and micromobility options (bicycles and scooters) for the first and last mile of the user’s journey which helps businesses to encourage their colleagues to use active travel for at least a portion of their journeys.
In the Transport for London’s 2021 report on active travel for businesses, the benefits of encouraging active travel include an increase in productivity (with active colleagues taking 27% less sick days per year), an uplift in staff retention, an increase in business flexibility and resilience, a reduction in car parking space requirements, and an improvement in the focus and mental well-being of colleagues.
Mobilleo: A Roadmap to Modern Travel
While TMCs and MaaS platforms share similarities in their ability to cut costs and save the time spent on corporate journey planning, Mobilleo truly stands out in the corporate travel sector by using technological innovation to empower business travellers to move freely during inner-city travel, city-to-city travel and international travel.
TMCs have a wide range of industry connections but often lack the technological infrastructure to display the full range of separate travel options available to consumers. TMCs offer add-ons to enhance the customer experience, as does Mobilleo, but sometimes lack the remote booking options that give customers the power to travel without restrictions, whatever the circumstance.
Mobilleo uses the latest technology to connect users with thousands of transport options which promotes a reduction in the use of single occupancy ICE vehicles and an encouragement of active travel and micromobility options, while TMCs may be struggling to keep up with the corporate sustainability policies of their clients.
Mobilleo provides its clients with a market-leading range of multimodal travel options: providing businesses with complete freedom to travel according to their needs.