If you use a travel management company already, hopefully, you’ll be pretty clear on the value they bring to the table, but, if you’re just starting to think about using a TMC, you may need convincing about the value TMCs provide versus booking yourself or through a local travel agency. And I promise you; it’s a lot! Here are just 10 of the ways a TMC will add value to your business travel programme...
#1 - Provide 24-hour support for your employees
Most TMCs will offer you a service that operates around the clock, every day of the year. As such, you can be confident that wherever your employees are or whatever help they need when they’re travelling, there’s someone on the end of the phone who will help them. If you’re booking your own travel, who does the traveller call at three in the morning because they’ve missed their flight or they’ve been involved in a crisis?
#2 - Improve compliance with your corporate travel policy
We’ve explained in previous posts how important a business travel policy is if you want to control your business travel spend. Not only will a TMC help you create one, but they will also enforce it for you too, and this is how they can increase compliance. A TMC will build your travel policy controls into their booking processes, so whether you book over the phone or online using their online booking tool, your travel policy rules will be applied to every reservation. They can also incorporate approval processes, which is an excellent way to streamline authorisation requests, especially if this something you currently do manually.
#3 - Reduce average transaction values
A good TMC will analyse your business travel spend and identify areas where you can save money. This is achieved in a number of ways, (which we describe in another blog post), but includes negotiating discounts with airlines, hotels and train operating companies; giving you access to discounted rates; including rates from online discounters like laterooms.com; analysing trends and educating your travellers to alter buying behaviour.
#4 - Give you your time back
Have you ever considered how much time each individual in your business spends researching and booking travel? Sure, we all want to find the best deal ourselves, but we can forget that the determination to search every nook and cranny for a cheaper rate can often cost more than the saving in lost time. If you were to handover this responsibility to a TMC, your employees could focus on higher value tasks, which is what they were employed to do in the first place.
#5 - Make you a more responsible employer
How do you currently keep track of which employees are travelling, where they are and their future arrangements? How do you know if they’re prepared for the destinations they’re visiting? A TMC can help massively with this by tracking your travellers for you, so you always know where they are and how to contact them. They can advise on pre-trip information, so you know employees are fully prepared before they travel, and they’ll also be on hand throughout their trip to assist with any problems they encounter.
#6 - Share their expertise
The knowledge of experienced business travel consultants is vast. As well as making the process of booking travel efficient and personal, business travel consultants are skilled at maximising the value of every trip. For example, they may secure the lowest fare by being creative; they may obtain a better product for the same price, or they might maximise a traveller’s time by arranging a chauffeur to get them to the airport and back again for free. Whats more, business travel consultants get to know their customers and often feel like part of your own organisation. Think of it as having your own personal travel assistant.
#7 - Centralise all your business travel needs
Using a TMC allows you to have everything related to travel in one place. From managing bookings to analysing data, you’ll have instant access to book and manage travel whenever you need to. A single point of contact such as an Account Manager also means you have just one relationship to manage, rather than having to meet with various travel suppliers as you try to negotiate deals for your business. Outsourcing all the time-consuming work to your TMC means you can take a step back and adopt a more strategic role in your travel programme, giving you the head-space to focus on optimising your business travel strategy.
#8 - Flexible payment and invoicing options
A TMC will offer you various ways to pay for travel services, and will often mix and match to find the perfect solution. With individual, consolidated and electronic invoicing and tracking of employee numbers, cost centres, project codes and any other references you need, they can make the admin associated with payments and invoicing much easier for you, which will save you time and money.
#9 - Reduce environmental impact of business travel
Business travel is a significant contributor to the environmental impact of most businesses, but if you’re not tracking this, it can be tough to quantify. A TMC will monitor this for you and help you reduce it using tactics designed to reduce or offset the CO2 produced by your business travel activities.
#10 - Build stronger supplier relationships
TMCs usually have good, long-established relationships with their suppliers (the same suppliers you use to travel or stay with). You can use your TMC’s relationship to introduce your business to suppliers, when you may otherwise have had no idea who to speak to or the data required to negotiate with them. A stable relationship with a supplier can also come handy when a problem arises. Your TMC will have the leverage to get assistance that would otherwise be unavailable.
Hopefully, that will give you some insight into how TMCs add value; I think it’s fair to say that the job of a TMC goes far beyond simply booking and arranging business travel.