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 centralized travel booking platform aligned with a corporate travel agent not only meets these challenges head-on, but also improves any inefficiencies in your business’s corporate travel program. Throughout this post, we’ll address:
- The challenges of decentralized business travel management programs
- 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 decentralized travel management program
Some key problems of decentralized travel management strategy include:
- Problem: No view of what employees spend: You might have a business travel policy in place, but making sure employees don’t go out of policy when booking airfare, car rentals, rail travel or hotel stays, or when generating expenses, can be difficult. Without lot of supervision, it can be difficult to maintain travel policy compliance throughout your organization.
- Solution: A corporate travel agent’s job includes helping to book travel compliant travel and education on a 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 through a centralized platform, with a reliable agent for escalation or support can avoid the headache of reimbursement forms, as well as unlock significant cost savings for businesses.
- Problem: Time consuming admin: Inputting data into spreadsheets to manage travel and actual expenses is time consuming. This takes attention away from other business tasks that are much more crucial.
- Solution: A one-stop shop prevents your travelers from acting as part-time accountants and lets them focus on their travel and main duties while traveling. With a corporate travel agent’s support, traveler bookings are compliant, easy to approve and more cost-effective than other booking methods.
These are just some of the reasons why organizations often turn to a business travel agent to help with the travel booking process.
So, what is a corporate travel agent?
Corporate travel agents, or business travel consultants can be described as business travel curators; working full-time to create customized and bespoke itineraries that fit the bill for travel needs and the specific trip while aligning with the company’s travel policy and restrictions. Like traditional travel advisors, corporate travel agents have the travel experience and knowledge to make sure that travel is seamless, regardless of travel services used.
When placed at a corporate travel management company (or TMC), like Egencia, the job of a corporate travel agent is to support individual and group travel itineraries, and answer questions about travel management tools. With years of experience in travel, a good corporate travel agent is an indispensable component of business travel.
What does a corporate travel agent do?
Corporate travel agents connect organizations with resources and providers in the travel industry. They hire corporate travel consultants who are experts in their field and who are trained in arranging business travel on behalf of their customers. An arranged travel plan provides traveler safety as well as risk management and duty of care adherence.
Some of the benefits you can expect from using a corporate travel agent are:
Reduction in travel spend
You can get better rates for your business travel when you use a corporate travel agent. Over time, these travel savings can have a big impact on your travel spend and make hiring a professional 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 business travel agent will provide the essential documentation and 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 – 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 understand which hotels are recommended and which are best avoided. This expertise comes from experience in booking, arranging and speaking directly to travelers 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 agents are becoming less popular since companies want more management over their travel management and have gained important benefits through centralizing their travel booking process internally.
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 will be able to get 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 into your business.