At Connoisseur Travel, we pass the value of our expertise on to you. Our wealth of relationships within the industry, tailored account management and state-of-the-art technology allow us to ensure your travel program is the best fit for your corporation.
"How do business travel agents add value versus booking travel directly on the web?" This is one of the questions I'm often asked when speaking with an organization who books their business travel activity without using a Travel Management Company (TMC). While the Internet has brought us many benefits, technology alone cannot replace the knowledge, expertise and personality offered by an experienced business travel agent. So if you travel or book travel for business, here are 15 reasons why you need a business travel agent in your life!
While technology does its best to mimic real human interaction, (most of us have used a chatbot at some point) with all the will in the world, it is just not the same as speaking to a real person. Your travel consultant knows you and the business travel products they are recommending to you inside and out; they will make recommendations based on your unique preferences and their insight into your likes and dislikes. You have to get home on Friday after the business trip by six; your travel consultant knows it is to see your child's soccer game that night. Nothing beats having a friendly and familiar person on the end of the phone whenever you need them.
Instead of spending countless hours researching for the best price on your next trip. Save time and pass the research, and booking details to your dedicated business travel consultant who will recommend appropriate options and costs for business trips. The time saving by doing so allows you to concentrate on your core business responsibilities. It can be easy to forget how much your time is worth in monetary terms, so here is an example:
A Lawyer books all their travel themselves on the web. To keep things straightforward, let us assume their time is worth $200 per hour to the company.
If they spend 30 minutes looking for and booking their business travel, the cost to the company is $100 in lost time. Not forgetting, the time needed to claim expenses and the other implications of booking travel that may not be the best value.
If they had sent their request to their business travel agency, and they paid a service fee of let us say $40. That's $60 saved straight away not to mention the value (that's not always easily visible) that comes from reduced rates, management information reports, cost saving identification, traveler tracking, 24-hour support and crisis management to name just a few. This also applies to travelers support staff such as administrative assistance or secretaries; what is their cost per hour to the company?
You might be looking to travel between city pairs that offer various methods of transportation. For example, if you need to fly between Washington, DC and New York City, rather than just searching for a flight between the two cities online, your travel consultant will ensure you take into consideration other means of travel such as Amtrak, which means you have covered all travel types for your trip.
If you have selected the "lowest priced" airfare on the internet to your required location, when you get there you could find that you have arrived at a major city's regional (low-cost) airport that is an hour's taxi ride away from where you need to be! This means inconvenience, lost time and often a huge taxi cost. There are many airports that cleverly incorporate the city into their name, despite being a significant distance away from the city center. This can mislead travelers who do not check distances before they book their flight. An experienced business travel consultant will make you aware if you are travelling to a regional airport to prepare for any additional travel time you will incur to get you to your actual destination.
Instead of purchasing your fare immediately on the internet, which commits you to the restrictions that some tickets come with, a TMC can hold seats for you using their “supplier relationship”. This means you can change or cancel your flights up until your fare expires, giving you the opportunity to fine tune any last-minute adjustments to your trip without incurring a cost.
A lower cost of travel is achievable with a smooth travel experience! Good business travel agents do not just book individual trips in isolation; they ask about your schedule so they can combine arrangements to make life easier and save money. For example, you have just booked two return rail tickets for two consecutive days travel into Philadelphia on the internet. If you'd booked through your TMC, they would recommend staying overnight in Philadelphia so you could merge two trips into one, which means less travelling and cost savings too as there's no need for that second rail ticket.
If you use a TMC, they will take the time to understand your organization's business travel needs, from regular destinations to project/trial work. With their expertise, they will ensure you're aware of travel supplier deals relevant to your travel patterns such as negotiating discounts or signing up to hotel and airline loyalty schemes. They will also help you optimize your business travel program by recommending cost reduction strategies. It is nice to have a travel partner who works toward your short and long term objectives.
Whether you need advice on what "basic economy" fares are, new aircraft seat selection, or local area information such as etiquette and weather, your travel consultant is at the end of the phone with their knowledge and expertise whenever you need their support.
If you regularly book with the same airline, hotel or car hire company, you could be able to secure a discount such as an airline route deal or corporate hotel rate, with the goal of securing discounts, enhance conditions, free benefits and upgrades. If you use a full service TMC, they will monitor your buying patterns and bring up any cost saving opportunities and better still, they will deliver them for you too!
If its 9 pm local time in your destination and you need to change your plans immediately, and you have booked directly online, your options to amend your plans are not always simple. Who is there to help; the "Buy Button"? To change a flight with an airline over the phone or through a websites help desk (if they even have one), it could take you ages to get through especially in the event of an unforeseen incident. With a full service TMC's 24-hour department, you can relax knowing you have 24-hour support to change your plans or even hold alternative travel options for you.
If your plans are affected by a delay or cancellation, they will be proactive in letting you know and coming up with an alternative solution for you. This reinforces Point #1 and getting home for you child's soccer game.
A full service TMC will notify you of any bookings requested to high-risk destinations. They'll also assist in advising the traveler of any risk-mitigation strategies they should be aware of along with the latest passport and visa requirements, which they can process for you too. Traveler tracking and crisis management also means they'll be there for you and your travelers in the event of a crisis.
If your travelers are booking multiple flights across different internet sites, it can be hard to keep track of where you are spending money, which limits your ability to have full control of your travel spend. Detailed management information reports and real-time data give you in-depth insight into your business travel habits, so you can spot trends and opportunities to improve.
TMCs provide payment solutions such as lodge card solutions and credit accounts that provide you full control and visibility of where you are spending and improves your company's cash flow. They can also arrange hotel direct billing, which means the traveler does not have to settle the bill when they check out as it has already been finalized on their behalf. This solution also means you can add meals and other hotel ancillary costs on to one bill saving time in submitting additional expense claims.
TMCs will ensure all bookings comply with your travel policy by encouraging and enforcing your rules as you see fit. This is a crucial tool in keeping business travel costs to a minimum, and you can rely on your TMC to share reports with you that show who is trying or succeeding in bypassing the rules.