If your company’s growth has your staff flying all over the country and increasing the travel budget, you might want to think about outside help to manage your company’s business travel. The common refrain is that an outside travel agency can bring down costs. But there’s a lot more to your travel program than just dollars and cents. Here’s what a travel management company (TMC) brings to the table.
More than a Corporate Travel Agency
What’s the difference between a corporate travel agency and a travel management company? A travel agency, even a business-oriented agency, is open to anyone who wants to book a reservation. A TMC is in the business of helping corporations oversee their travel program and budget. They offer strategic oversight of the travel program and negotiate with suppliers like airlines, hotel chains and car rental agencies on behalf of their clients. They work to make the investment in business travel meet the organization’s overall goals.
What is a TMC’s expertise?
A program manager at a TMC understands the client’s industry and their objectives as well as the dynamics of their travel spending. They help use targeted spending to influence suppliers for better discounts and amenities for their client. Overall, they are balancing what’s cost-effective and comfortable for your business travelers.
International Business Travel Experts
At Travel Leaders Group, we train all of our corporate agents to be international travel experts. This is a unique core competency. We find the best routings and fares for an itinerary. And once that’s done, our rate desk spends even more time finding better ways that a traveler could make the trip by considering different ticketing options. Sometimes we break up a long overseas trip into different flight pairs or even use an ‘Around the World’ ticket for favorable pricing. Our team may incorporate currency conversions if it works to the client’s advantage. Sometimes, we might shop for consolidator fares. Typically, if a client concentrates its business in a specific geographic area, we can work with a long-term partner to get off-market pricing. This is the type of effort that goes into building an international travel program for our clients.
We use small and large techniques to assure accurate travel management. Our reservations’ technology will book trips according to your established travel policy. When your employee books a trip using an online booking tool, we then compile all confirmations numbers, records, and travel dates, in order so that travelers stay organized. In addition, agents track unused airfare in order to reuse the value of a cancelled ticket for future trips. This information can be imported into the self-booking tool so it’s easily reused.
Timely & Relevant Communications
Our travel communications system, called TL CONNECT, allows a traveler to receive messages about their itinerary, flight status, reminders of delays & boarding times, gate changes, and will also let you know the terminal upon your arrival to the airport. Sometimes our travelers get texts from us about delays and gate changes even before it’s posted on the airport monitors. If our clients are hit with a major delay or cancellation and need accommodations, they can reply to one of our texts and quickly get rebooked.
Reporting Shows the Value
Travel Leaders Group offers data analytics tools that give a dashboard view of a company’s travel spending. Our reports show the macro and the micro view of how your travel budget is spent; which city pairs are flown most; which hotel chain is most utilized; and which form of ground transportation is the most popular option. You can see how negotiated rates saved your company against rack rates. And the same tool will also benchmark your company’s spending against a similar size company, or a company in a similar industry, or one with similar policies.
We can also show a traveler scorecard in the categories of: numbers of exchanged tickets, lower airfare booked and advance booking days. We drill down into who is booking travel 7-14 days in advance vs. 5-6 days ahead, which costs the company more money. A company Travel Manager would review the data report and learn which employees need additional training on the travel policy - whether it’s the whole company, a certain department or a few people. We can even identify a single traveler who may need individual coaching.
Why would a small to medium-sized business use a TMC?
In a small business – 3 or 4 people – you’ll know that who spent $750 on a flight that was cancelled and expect them to reuse the value for their next plane ticket. But in a mid-sized company – 15 or 20 people traveling regularly - the accountants lose that visibility. When you get to the size where you lack that insight, a TMC can help regain it.
Another issue is compliance. While a company may require booking the lowest fare, many travelers don’t comply - they use the vendor where they have loyalty points. A TMC will enforce if you truly want staff to fly on the lowest fare or stay at the preferred hotel chain.
Duty of Care Responsibility & Risk
Duty of Care is the responsibility of a company to protect an employee from injury while traveling for business. Tort law in our country and even stronger laws in the UK and Europe will hold a corporation liable if an employee is injured during a business trip and was not provided Duty of Care resources. Lack of security for an employee on business travel exposes a company to liability if they don’t provide certain protections. At a minimum, a company should know where its travelers are at any given time and be able to reach out to them in an emergency situation. Learn more about Stabilitas, the Duty of Care provider for Travel Leaders Group.
How a TMC Will Maximize Your Travel Spending:
• Negotiate with suppliers for preferred rates on airfare, car rentals and hotel rates - even airport parking lots!
• Enforce travel policies so that travelers use preferred vendors at the time of booking.
• Educate travelers on the financial difference between 5-6 days advance booking vs. 7-14 days in advance.
• Give insights into how travelers are behaving using Reporting & Analytics tools.
• Help a Travel Manager understand the nuances of travel spending and identify potential savings opportunities.
• Integrate credit card and expense data. Your company can learn what the staff buys when they book outside of the TMC and identifies which people don’t follow your company policy.
We Find Ways to Help Travel Managers Do Their Jobs Better
A TMC can work with your company to reduce costs, improve traveler behaviors and general satisfaction with work travel. Our expertise can help guide you to the suppliers that best fit your company’s needs. We can show where your travel budget is spent, as well as which suppliers travelers like best. Our data and reporting will give a Travel Manager the leverage they need to work with senior management and supporting information for internal meetings. At Travel Leaders Group, we help solve problems for our clients. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.