These days, everyone’s a travel expert.
Or everyone thinks they are, at least.
The hefty piles of online booking sites that are now just a click away means that booking holidays and short breaks has never been easier. Everyone has their own preferred site, their own preferred booking process and, of course, their own preferred travel type and accommodation – which means that everyone’s got their own opinion on exactly what good value for money looks like.
As such, it comes as no surprise that I often talk to travel and procurement managers who repeatedly have to defend their decision to appoint a travel management company(TMC), as opposed to just letting travellers, bookers and PAs arrange business travel independently. If you’re in procurement then this situation might sound very familiar indeed…
So, how do you convince your travellers that using a TMC really will deliver better value, in every sense, in comparison to however they decide to book their travel usually?
Duty of Care and 24/7 Assistance
Imagine if every traveller booked their own travel and, as a result, you had to contact every PA and booker to find out where your travellers were staying; it would take a tremendous amount of time – time that you just don’t have in an emergency situation. Alternatively, a TMC would be able to locate travellers and broadcast travel alerts to them at the touch of a button – they might even enable you to do this yourself through an innovative online traveller tracking tool.
Similarly, when a PA books a night’s accommodation via a discount website and the traveller arrives at the hotel only to be greeted with a problem, who do they turn to? Maybe they’ve been in meetings all day and driven for 3 hours to find that there is no room at the inn? It might sound far fetched, but I’ve heard these stories from organisations without TMCs time and time again. All good TMCs should have 24/7 assistance on tap, as having the peace of mind knowing that your travellers have someone to call and will be looked after really is priceless.
This is an area of managed business travel that really presents an opportunity to garner the support of key stakeholders within your organisation, as it’s one of the most effective ways that TMCs can help organisations to analyse and reduce travel costs.
‘You can’t save what you can’t see!’- it’s a well-known expression, but it’s certainly apt here. Having all travel booked through one single supplier instantly enables an organisation to see a complete, comprehensive picture of their total travel spend. Travellers themselves may not always be overly interested in the idea of reporting, but that could change once they realise that the reports highlight just how your organisation could obtain a cracking corporate rate in key locations, allowing them to stay in a better hotel for less money.
As tempting as it is to consider yourself a travel expert after booking a few long weekends away, business travel often has the potential to throw you for a loop. Knowing that you have a team of travel experts on hand to help you, whenever you need them, is worth its weight in gold. Your travellers might be quite happy booking their weekly trip to London and back, but when they need something a bit more complex, it’s a comfort to know that they can easily speak with a travel expert who is adept at splitting the itinerary up and being creative with airfares.
In addition, your organisation benefits from the advice that comes from an experienced account manager, who will be able to spot trends and share best practice on how to get the best out of your travel budget.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to find that there are some great value options sitting out there on the web, but it can be a real drain on your bookers’ time if they’re having to trawl through a myriad of booking sites to hunt down a great deal every time they need to travel for business.
Depending on your TMC and the technology that it offers, you should be able to find options from across both GDS and alternative channels included in your search results (both over the phone and through the online booking tool), meaning your bookers get a genuine variety of options without having to waste time searching through multiple websites.
Letting travellers ‘do their own thing’ is a smart way to lose money – fast. It leaves your company wide open to abuse of travel policy, something that usually isn’t detected until after the out of policy behaviour has already taken place, by which point your travel spend has already been increased.
A proactive TMC can not only help you implement a concise and clear travel policy in the first place, but also makes the traveller aware of the policy before mistakes are made, saving them from getting in trouble for not toeing the line!
The Bigger Picture
Sometimes it’s important for travellers to be aware of the bigger picture. Yes, they might have spent an hour trawling the web to find a flight that’s £10 cheaper (and wasted a lot more than that in terms of productivity), but analysing travel bookings is the same as going to the supermarket: one item might be cheaper down the road but you have to look at the cost of the whole trolley to see which supermarket really provides the best value.
Why not share with travellers and bookers the details of how much money you have saved by working with a TMC? Get your account manager to put together a dashboard of everything they’ve delivered in the last 12 months. If your travellers can see the results, they’ll really start to understand the value in using a TMC.
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