When it comes to business travel, most companies quickly learn that planning, booking and making sure that business trips go smoothly can involve a large amount of administrative work. This often falls on the individual employee to deal with, raising a number of issues, from making sure that travel is booked correctly to monitoring travel cost effectiveness.
Having a centralised travel booking platform aligned with a corporate travel agent not only meets these challenges head-on, but also improves any inefficiencies in your business’ corporate travel programme. Throughout this post, we’ll address:
- The challenges of decentralised business travel management programmes
- What is a corporate travel agent?
- The role of a corporate travel agent
- Combining corporate travel agents and travel management
The challenges of having a decentralised travel management programme
Some key problems of decentralised travel management strategy include:
- Problem: No view of what employees spend: You might have a business travel policy in place, but making sure employees stay within the policy when booking airfares, car rentals, rail travel or hotel stays, or when generating expenses, can be difficult. Without a lot of supervision, it can be difficult to maintain travel policy compliance throughout your organisation.
- Solution: A corporate travel agent’s role includes helping to book travel that complies with policy and educating employees on how to use the travel management company’s (TMC’s) online booking tool.
- Problem: Paying full rates and missing out on savings: If employees are booking their own trips, they’ll miss out on savings and even end up paying full rates.
- Solution: Booking via a centralised platform, with a reliable agent to handle any issues or provide assistance, can avoid the headache of filling in claims forms, as well as generating significant cost savings for businesses.
- Problem: Time consuming admin: Entering data into spreadsheets to manage travel costs and expenses is time consuming. This diverts attention from other business tasks that are far more crucial.
- Solution: A one-stop shop prevents your travellers from being part-time accountants while travelling, and allows them to focus on their trip and key tasks. With a corporate travel agent’s assistance, travellers’ bookings are compliant, simple to approve, and more cost-effective than other booking methods.
These are just some of the reasons why organisations often turn to a corporate travel agent to help with the travel booking process.
So, what is a corporate travel agent?
A corporate travel agent, or business travel consultant, can be described as a business travel curator. Their work involves creating customised, bespoke itineraries that fulfil specific travel needs and trips while making sure they are aligned with the company’s travel policy and restrictions. Like traditional travel advisors, corporate travel agents have the experience and knowledge to ensure that a trip runs smoothly, regardless of the travel services used.
When working for a corporate travel management company (or TMC), like Egencia, a corporate travel agent’s role is to oversee individual and group travel itineraries, and answer any questions about travel management tools. With years of experience in travel, a good corporate travel agent is an indispensable component of efficient business travel.
What does a corporate travel agent do?
Corporate travel agents connect organisations with resources and providers in the travel industry. They employ corporate travel consultants who are experts in their field and who are trained in arranging business travel on behalf of their customers. A well-organised travel plan provides safety for the traveller, as well as risk management and a duty of care.
Here are just some of the benefits you can expect from using a corporate travel agent:
Reduction in travel spend
You can get better rates for your business travel. Over time, these travel savings can have a big impact on your overall travel spend and make hiring a corporate travel company quite cost effective.
Dedicated corporate travel agencies have access to a network of travel providers they can use. This means you can save money, since you avoid the higher or premium rates charged when going directly.
Professional travel itineraries
Another great benefit is professional travel itineraries. If you need travel visas for international travel, a corporate travel agent can provide the necessary documentation and will take care of all the administrative work and complex details. Or, if you have a complex journey and need to book connecting flights, a business travel consultant will have the expertise to complete these travel bookings easily and effectively – it’s simple!
Provide recommendations and business travel advice
It can be difficult to know what a hotel is going to be like until you’ve stayed there yourself. Online reviews aren’t always accurate, and personal preferences can vary while still searching for the best rates, so booking accommodation can be stressful. Corporate travel agents know which hotels are recommended and which are best avoided. This expertise comes from experience in booking, arranging and speaking directly to travellers and customers about their stay and overall experience. If a hotel room wasn’t up to scratch, you can be sure a customer will provide that feedback to their corporate travel agency to make sure that future travel arrangements are up to par while within the corporate travel policy.
Combining corporate travel agents and travel management
Corporate travel agencies are becoming less popular as companies want more management over their travel plans and have achieved significant benefits by centralising their travel booking processes in-house.
However, modern travel management companies such as Egencia offer the best of both worlds. With Egencia, you can get all the latest technology, automation, and modern travel and travel expense integration, while enjoying all the benefits of speaking to a business travel consultant if you need additional help.
Combining the benefits of a traditional corporate travel agency with a modern travel management company provides a comprehensive travel solution. A business benefits from travel consultancy and advice when needed, as well as automation, efficiency and cost savings on their business travel.
Request a Demo Today to learn how you can implement an effective corporate travel solution for your business.