Meet Amanda McCarthy, who has been with Reed & Mackay for six years. Strong supplier relationships are critical to a TMC and Amanda shares her insights into how those relationships, and commitment to industry knowledge, are the foundations from which the company delivers the best value to clients.

As VP Travel Operations in the US team, what does your role involve?

When I first joined Reed & Mackay US, it was as VP of Supplier Relations, to establish relationships from a commercial perspective, optimise the contracts and relationships we already had, plus increase our portfolio of US suppliers to help grow the market.

When the pandemic hit, commercial teams were brought together and, while I still have a commercial element to my role, I now oversee the Travel Operations team. This includes looking after airline contracts, with a strong focus on our fares team who do all the contract loading, and making sure we maximise the commercial contracts.

Overall, my team manages the airline partnerships for all Reed & Mackay US suppliers and finds the best fares for our clients. We also look where we can find additional value, such as ensuring we have the best industry commission contracts as well as any additional marketing income opportunities.

You worked with a well-known airline for 20 years prior to joining Reed & Mackay – how has your former role helped with your role here?

I know a customer’s journey from beginning to end and the key stages we should be adding value for clients. That has allowed me to help our Operations teams manage expectations, such as where we do need to provide feedback to airlines. And I worked with Reed & Mackay when I was with the airline, so I’ve seen how much the Operations team is involved in making those journeys as smooth as possible for clients.

Since the pandemic, what have been the major changes you’ve seen in both your role and the industry as a whole?

From the supplier side it’s been around supply and demand. From a travel operations point of view, my team is focused on searching for the best content for clients. That has been a huge challenge as both air fares and hotel prices have risen, due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic. We’ve also noticed that travel patterns have changed, as some clients moved out of the key cities after the pandemic, so it’s also about understanding where our travellers are coming from now.

Where can a TMC add value for clients?

We offer value with our personalised customer service. It’s not just about making the booking and the consultant’s job is done. It’s making sure every part of a client’s journey is exceptional. Our strong relationships with suppliers allows us to negotiate for elements such as early check in, late check out, preferred seats, boarding priority etc. And offering a personalised service is a positive step to recognising and embracing traveller wellbeing. Here is just a small example of that; one of our consultants knows a client they work with likes trail mix, so calls ahead to all the hotels they stay at to make sure they have it for our traveller. 

We’re also adding value with our teams’ industry knowledge. It’s getting to the point where the majority of flight schedules are back to normal in the US, but our teams continue to use their experience and local knowledge to determine which airports are easier to travel through, which offer the best connections depending on the time of year and weather, etc. The knowledge they have about their clients’ journey makes a huge difference and our consultants take pride in offering this.

Are you seeing change in the approach towards sustainability from suppliers?

There are many suppliers who are doing this well, working with key corporations, looking at different ways to reduce carbon footprint. The challenge, at the moment, is there isn’t an industry standard. Recently we’ve seen more airlines looking at investing in sustainability projects but, again, it’s mixed. Some are far ahead and others not so much. But it’s good to show clients and prospects that we’re working with those suppliers who are as interested in sustainable travel as we are.

There’s plenty of talk in the industry around New Distribution Capability (NDC). Do you think it’s going to change how clients travel?

It’s how we translate NDC that will benefit travellers. A business traveller just wants the best fare, the best service, the best offering. When NDC content is fully up and running, with consistency and personalisation across the board, the change will be the increased choice available to the client. It will be great to be able to offer the ancillaries and the bundling – that’s where we’ll be able to make a real difference to the traveller. We’re already focused on delivering a personalised travel experience and NDC will allow us to develop that further still.

Can you share a topline summary of your goals for 2023 and beyond?

We’re ensuring we receive the best airline, hotel, rail and ground transportation content in market, and have all the tools to offer that content to our clients, providing the best customer experience. We’re also starting to explore other areas where we can add value.

Finally, what are the top 3 destinations you would like to visit?

My dream destination would be to Peru’s Machu Picchu; it’s been on my bucket list for a long time. I’m originally from London so would like to go back there for a trip, to see friends and family. And I’d love to travel around the Greek islands again. I’ve visited before but want to go back and spend more time – I love it there!