When searching for an alternative corporate travel agency (or starting with one for the first time), there are plenty of questions you might be asking:
– Do I really need to have a corporate travel company?
– How do I find a company that will satisfy all of our requirements while reigning in travel costs?
– How will I know when I’ve found the right Corporate travel agency?
As for the first question, yes, you do need a corporate travel company.
Even better, you need a solution that integrates technology with the human service of booking help and trip support.
As for the second and third questions, we’ll be addressing those in the bulk of this post.
46% of Corporate travelers have booked outside of policy for hotel bookings, so something is definitely wrong with the business travel industry.
Rogue Corporate travel bookings are a big problem. With no oversight, out-of-policies bookings only increase.
Keep reading to understand how a travel management company or tool can really help you achieve traveler satisfaction & greater compliance.
What is a corporate travel agency or company?
A travel management company (TMC) is a professional service provider that books and manages travel for a business. Typically, a business will get one or a few key contacts at the agency to assist them in keeping all trips within company policy and to provide the travelers with 24/7 support.
There are countless different kinds of corporate travel agencies and it’s a struggle to summarize their service offerings. Big companies might provide support in dozens of languages but charge for every call. Smaller companies might be difficult to reach during off-hours and not cover as many languages but might charge a premium monthly fee that covers all requirements.
Here are the aspects that corporate travel agencies have in common:
– Book trips for employees
– Offer support for rescheduling, cancellations, etc.
– Bargain corporate rates & group rates
Traditional corporate travel agencies vs new, advanced options
Do you use a travel agency when booking a holiday in Spain? Probably not. And why is that? Because there are consumer booking websites like Expedia and Booking.com that satisfy all of your needs as a traveler.
The Corporate travel industry is evolving in a similar way.
What’s different about how Corporate travel is evolving (compared to consumer travel).
– Need for less complicated, simpler travel policy compliance.
– No paying out of pocket.
– Travel expenditure reporting.
– Automated expensing.
What’s very similar to consumer travelers’ needs.
– Need for autonomy and self-booking.
– Accessibility to all of the flight and hotel options available around the globe.
– Good user experience.
– Great experience on mobile.
– 24/7 travel support.
So you can see that while businesses do have different needs, there are lots of similarities in what businesses and consumers demand.
Just like tourists, business travelers wish to book for themselves, search from all available options, and enjoy a great experience whether that’s on a call with consumer support or checking their itinerary on a cell phone.
Here’s the problem: the vast number of corporate travel companies have not evolved to these new standards. They’re still pushing employees to call a hotline to book a trip and charging for each and every one of those calls.
This is why when you hire your corporate travel agency, you need to look for a combination of technology and human service. Typically, these solutions are called travel management platforms.
In 2019 and beyond, a company that can only offer the human factor won’t be able to really help your business automate travel policy compliance, whereas a company that concentrates only on technology won’t be able to support your corporate travelers when they’re stuck in a foreign city and can’t get home.
What to look for in a corporate travel company and (most importantly) why?
Easy booking experience
To provide your travelers trip support and your CFO budgetary control, you need not a mix of human service and technology in addition to these critical factors. Here’s our list of what to look for.
The quick and easy booking experience
corporate travelers should be able to book for themselves. Simultaneously, it should be very easy and convenient for administrators to book for others.
Consumer-grade travel inventory
Provide travelers access to all the Airline and hotel brands they want. Lower your travel expenditures by using low-cost airlines like Indigo and Spice Jet. All of the world’s inventory should be available to you as a business without needing to use a consumer tool.
No hidden costs
Understand the fee structure prior to signing up with any travel management company. Try to find red flags like charges for support calls or for simple, regular bookings.
Excellent trip support
This is where the human factor really comes into play. At this point, no amount of modern technology can soothe you when your flight has been canceled and you really need to get to an event. A real live human can promptly find you an alternate route. Check for travel support that is offered 24/7, in multiple languages, and has good reviews from travelers.
Built-in travel policies and approvals
What’s the only way to get travel policy compliance? By integrating your travel policy inside the platform where business travel is booked and getting each of your travelers and administrators to use that 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 fantastic traveler experience
Travel spend reporting
Getting clarity into travel expenses is huge! With travel booked on so many different platforms, it’s very difficult to get complete data. Keep in mind that 46% of business travelers have booked on consumer websites. That data is spread all over the place and can’t be accessed until it’s expensed. Search for a company or platform that provides real-time reports for your finance team.
Innovative and scalable
Business travel is still evolving. When hiring travel management companies and/or platforms, it’s great to check that the company is future-ready & Innovative