When hunting for a replacement corporate travel agency (or getting started with one for the first time), there are a lot of questions you might be asking:
Do I really need a corporate travel company?
How do I find the company that will meet all of our needs while reigning in travel costs?
Is it worth separating the different elements of travel to companies who specialise is different areas?
How will I know when I’ve found the right corporate travel services?
As for the first question, yes, you do need a corporate travel agency or a company that includes travel management features. You need a solution that combines technology with the human service of booking help and trip support.
46% of business travellers have booked outside of policy for hotel bookings, so something is clearly wrong with the business travel industry. Rogue business travel bookings are a huge problem. With no oversight, out-of-policies bookings only increase.
What is a corporate travel agency or company?
A travel management company (TMC) is a service provider that books and manages travel for a business. Typically a business will get one or a few main contacts at the agency to help them keep all trips within company policy and to offer the travellers on-the-go support.
Why should you separate the different elements of your travel programme and use more than one company?
There are plenty of issues with utilizing just one corporate travel company. Here are the top concerns:
Poor technology for travellers and admins: Travel agencies rely on a lot of phone calls and emails to interact with their clients. But today’s travellers don’t want to hop on a phone call. They want to book for themselves easily within company policy. Similarly, many administrators would rather log into a platform to get their own questions answered, then have to email an agent to ask for a report. Having good technology can also help you generate useful travel data so you can track your company’s business travel spend accurately.
Bad rates and high fees: Your typical TMC cannot specialise in every aspect of travel meaning you are not getting the best rates on every aspect of your travel. We find a TMC is most useful for long haul, multi sector flights, they have fares we can only dream of but a hotel booking agent like ourselves specialises in hotel rates, we don’t charge fees and give a rebate on the commission we earn.
Lack of travel inventory and options: Travel agencies might partner with a few vendors. They don’t usually offer low-cost budget vendors like Southwest Airlines and EasyJet. This is something you should definitely include in your corporate travel program, especially for small businesses, to improve cost savings on business travel.
What to look for in a corporate travel agency and why
To give your travelers trip support and your CFO financial control, you need not a mix of human service and technology as well as these critical factors. Here’s our list of what to look for.
Easy booking experience
Travellers should be able to book travel for themselves if that is their preference. At the same time, it should be very easy and enjoyable for administrators to book for others. Administrators can also rely on great tracking technology to follow which employee is on what business trip and where.
Consumer-grade travel inventory
Give travellers access to all the flight carriers and hotel brands they want. Lower your travel spend on airfare by using low-cost carriers like Norwegian and EasyJet. All of the world’s inventory should be available to you as a business without having to use a consumer tool.
No hidden costs
Understand the fee structure before signing on with any travel management company. Look for red flags like charges for support calls or for simple, routine bookings.
Excellent trip support
This is where the human element really comes in. At this point, there’s no amount of travel technology that can comfort you when your flight has been cancelled and you really need to get to an event. A real live human can quickly find you an alternate route. Look for travel support that addresses all your travel needs and is offered 24/7, in multiple languages, and has great reviews from travelers.
Built in travel policies and approvals
What’s the only way to get travel policy compliance? By baking your travel policy inside the platform where travel is booked and getting all of your travellers and administrators to use that online booking tool. Not only do you need to find a tool with built-in travel policies and approval workflows, but you also need to make sure that the tool hits the above needs for a great travel experience so that everyone is really on board. Effective business travel management starts today!
Travel spend reporting
Getting visibility into travel spend is huge! With travel booked on so many different platforms, it’s very hard to get all the data. Remember that 46% of business travellers have booked on consumer sites. That data is spread all over the place and can’t get accessed until it’s expensed. Look for a company or platform that offers real-time reports for your finance team and that can help with reimbursement processes.