Six common misconceptions about partnering with a travel management company
There can be a lot of confusion about what a Travel Management Company (TMC) is and isn’t. And depending on your role, you likely have different questions than your peers. This article breaks down some of the common misconceptions about a travel management company and how corporate travel management can support your bottom line.
- From the Business Traveler: “I like to book my travel and a TMC would take away that flexibility.”
- From the CFO: “We don’t have a budget for a TMC. Isn’t it an expensive service with pricing out of our budget?”
- From the Procurement Manager: “We already have negotiated rates and discounts with providers. It’s not worth partnering with a TMC.”
- From the Human Resources Director: “Partnering with a TMC would take too long. We need a new travel policy solution now.”
- From the Executive Director: “The software is unfamiliar, and our employees wouldn’t use the tool for travel services”
- From the Travel Arranger: “Working with a travel agency was a huge headache and I don’t think a TMC would make my life easier.”
From the business traveler: “I like to book my travel and a TMC would take away that flexibility.”
Requiring that all reservations go through a single TMC isn’t always popular with employees. They prefer the consistency and comfort of choosing their favorite airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. There’s also the concern they won’t be able to participate in rewards programs if they book with a TMC. However, the good news is that these are mainly false perceptions. Business travelers can earn loyalty points with a TMC, and they do have the flexibility to choose their flights, hotels and car rentals.
A TMC provides personalized settings through machine learning and automation, generating content based on travelers’ previous choices and their colleagues to improve what travelers see continuously. Travelers can make smart choices about their trips with built-in policy guidance without memorizing their company’s travel policy. A corporate booking tool significantly simplifies and reduces the time it takes for companies to set up business travel management approval workflows.
From the CFO: “We don’t have a budget for a TMC. Isn’t it an expensive service?”
You might be worried about the cost of introducing TMC if you work for a company that’s being asked to do more with less. Harvard Business Review recently reported that 51 percent of business leaders said their organization maintained control over expenses and reduced costs over the last year thanks to their strong travel culture and subsequent approach to travel management. Efficiently managed, corporate travel delivers ongoing savings and a return on investment. Businesses that partner with a TMC see a positive return on investment through their travel management program. The fee structure is low and it essentially pays for itself with unused ticket management.
The return on your investment in a TMC is guaranteed to be worthwhile for your business. Your TMC should constantly strive to offer unparalleled access to the best inventory in the marketplace. The biggest driver for businesses to start consolidating and managing travel through a single provider is the bottom line.
The streamlined expense management of a TMC will reduce inefficiencies in your current process. Would you rather have an automated feed or file directly connected to your company's general ledger for fast reconciliation, or choose to have your team sifting through expense claims with multiple associated credit card receipts for the room stay, breakfast, and train tickets for each business trip?
From the Procurement Manager: “We already have negotiated rates and discounts with providers. It’s not worth partnering with a TMC.”
The reality is that a TMC often has the functionality to honor any existing relationships you have with a hotel, airline, or car rental company. And in many instances, a TMC will be able to provide better rates to reduce travel spend across the travel industry. Ultimately, TMCs keep their clients happy by helping them save money. They work with air, hotel and car rental partners every day to meet your needs. Whether it’s deeply discounted hotel rates, negotiated airfares, frequent flyer match programs, or discounts on rental cars, your TMC should constantly strive to offer unparalleled access to the best inventory in the marketplace while reducing travel expenses.
A TMC will break down spend by business division, geography and billable versus nonbillable, to name a few. You’ll have access to dashboards showing your total spend, if your purchases align with your travel policy, if lower fares are available, and more.
Travel data is gold and can often be used as leverage in negotiations with hotels and airlines for discounted rates. Once your travelers are booking via your TMC, you’ll have access to real-time reporting to improve your seat at the bargaining table. You’ll gain substantial control over costs and realize a critical return on investment. You’ll also be able to gauge the company's performance by benchmarking with similarl sized organizations.
From the Human Resources Director: “Partnering with a TMC would take too long. We need a new travel policy solution now.”
The new world of corporate travel requires an obligation to a standard of care. Proper procedures and travel policies need to be in place when individuals are traveling on behalf of a company to ensure their safety. Changing your travel management processes through a TMC will streamline and deliver policies that make sense for your specific travel needs. The right online booking tool will outline preferred routes and rates to your employees and make it clear if there are exceptions to the policy and simplify risk management. This enables you to look for trends that may prompt you to reconsider your policy or speak with travelers who often choose to book out of policy.
Implementing a TMC is not as complicated as you might think. TMCs provide expertise across different company sizes from small, medium, and global travel implementations. An implementation team will work with your onboarding teams to support you with training, recommendations, best practices and ensure the change is a positive experience for everyone. A dedicated implementation manager to work with will align with your specific needs and ensure that travel program management will be a breeze.
From the Executive Director: “The software is unfamiliar, and our employees wouldn’t use the tool.”
The right TMC will provide an exclusive set of resources to help you and your team get the most from the booking platform, and help you manage the change in your business. Your employees will be able to easily book and manage business travel on any device: desktop, mobile, or over the phone.
The TMC’s mobile app will resemble the same experience as booking leisure travel and allow your travelers to book trips, check itineraries, get real-time updates, and make changes.
Traveler safety is essential - employees need to feel confident that the travel risk of their business trips is minimal and that they’re fully — and authentically — supported from the time they start planning and booking to their return home. Partnering with a TMC will support the well-being of your travelers at every step of their business trip and make it easy to get in-person help. A TMC should offer a convenient way for employees to get in touch with a travel consultant, make changes to their itinerary, receive travel alerts, and make smart decisions to increase savings and compliance for the business.
From the Travel Arranger: “Working with a travel agency was a huge headache, and I don’t think a TMC would make my life easier.”
You only stand to gain more time and less stress as a travel arranger adopting a TMC for your corporate travel program. Instead of managing multiple spreadsheets and spending time checking multiple booking websites, you’ll benefit from a consistent, omnichannel booking and trip management experience. Booking from various travel sites doesn’t provide a holistic view of business travel today, such as hotel hygiene or new airline safety practices, while a business travel program that uses a TMC does. You also miss out on technology that delivers a consumer-grade travel experience. That means they can't benefit from efficient travel booking, with machine learning technology enabling fast booking for hotels (within four minutes) and car, rail and air (within five minutes) in one, centralized, easy-to-use place.
What’s more, you don’t have to be on standby for late-night calls or travel emergencies. TMCs have staff that focuses solely on your travelers’ safety around the clock –24/7/365. They monitor developments with the pandemic, weather, strikes, airport closures, and safety threats to anticipate who might be impacted by these incidents. They keep clients, travel agents, and travelers informed of any pertinent information when it’s available.
Moving from an unmanaged travel program to utilizing a travel management company might seem daunting, but the benefits of travel management solutions outweigh the pain points. Learn more and download the Benefits of a Managed Travel Program one-pager.