The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimates that business travel spending is projected to increase 21% in 2021 and continue rising to approximately $1.4 trillion by 2024.
As companies around the world ramp up business travel operations, travel management companies are in high demand. Businesses are more focused than ever on the ROI of business travel, and the risk management of that travel has moved to the forefront of C-suite conversations.
With a steady increase of employees returning to business travel, some companies may be considering the help of a travel agency. However, companies seeking a comprehensive solution for corporate travel management should turn to a travel management company (TMC) instead.
Below, explore the differences between a travel agency and a corporate travel management company. Plus, discover how TMCs are uniquely structured to help protect your travelers and your bottom line.
What’s the Difference Between a Travel Agency and a Travel Management Company?
In the most basic terms, a corporate travel management company assists businesses with developing and managing their corporate travel program through a variety of services and technology.
The key difference between a travel agency and a travel management company is that travel management companies work directly with businesses to analyze and then streamline all aspects of their existing travel program. Often, a travel management company implements new technology to help businesses reach their intended program goals and track progress.
A singular travel agency primarily focuses on assisting clients with booking business travel. Travel agencies may also provide a limited range of special rates for vendors they have relationships with. They may or may not be able to offer off-hours assistance.
On the other hand, travel management companies offer businesses a broader set of services customized to the needs of their corporate travel program including policy creation and integration and tools for risk management. They can also provide reporting options, unused ticket management, and booking options that fit the needs of their program, company, and culture.
How Do Travel Management Companies Work?
Once you understand the difference between a travel agency and a travel management company, you can begin to see the unique value a TMC offers. Integrating, centralizing, and often automating different components of modern business travel are how travel management companies improve any organization’s corporate travel program.
If your corporate travel program is unmanaged or lacking clear goals and policies, a travel management company can work with you to develop a travel management plan that fits your strategy.
By helping you examine your existing vendor relationships, rates, travel patterns and processes, a TMC can identify ways to streamline or automate procedures, implement actionable data and reporting, while also providing you with the technology you need to execute your plan and ultimately save money.
With the necessary travel management plan and corporate travel software in place, experienced corporate travel agents, like the travel advisors at Christopherson Business Travel, can then assist your travelers based on the integrated policies of your corporate travel program. Those policies can also be fully integrated into an online booking tool that meets the needs of your travelers.
At Christopherson, our travel advisors are well-versed in the best practices of corporate travel programs, domestic and international travel, VIP travel, and the needs of corporate travelers. We maintain cost controls by utilizing your preferred vendors and finding the lowest possible rates. For those unplanned emergencies on the road, our team offers assistance 24/7, 365 days a year.
What to Look for in a Travel Management Company
The benefits of working with a travel management company extend far beyond your bottom line. Today’s business traveler needs more than efficient booking and expense management tools. Corporate travel managers have more responsibility than ever to ensure their travelers are safe, protected, and supported throughout their travel experience.
A travel management company is an effective partnership to ensure your corporate travel program functions at the highest level with the greatest efficiency. Whether you’re just beginning internal discussions or already performing a travel management company comparison, here are five key benefits to consider in making the decision to use a TMC.
An Expert Partner
A travel management company should provide consultative services to guide the development of your corporate travel management program and make meaningful recommendations to your existing policy.
Easy-to-Use Technology and Seamless Reporting
One of the most important considerations in using a travel management company involves technology and reporting.
Christopherson’s integrated software program delivers secure, real-time visibility into your organization’s entire corporate travel program. Designed to meet the needs of both travelers and travel managers, our platform delivers solutions for compliant travel booking, traveler tracking, and comprehensive reporting to see where you’re earning the most in savings.
Consistently Low Rates
Finding and securing the best rates for flights, hotels, or car rentals that also meet the scheduling restraints of the trip can be a major time drain for employees. In addition to removing that stress, a travel management company can customize your plan based on your preferred vendors and also offer a wider range of booking options for your travelers.
Corporate travel software, such as Christopherson’s tool for managing unused tickets or hotel payment authorization, allows you to maximize savings, increase compliance, protect against fraud, and eliminate waste.
Giving you the tools to track your business travelers’ locations and safety during a potentially dangerous situation is just one way a travel management company can help you take a proactive approach to protecting your travelers.
Christopherson’s risk management technology allows you to access global travel alerts and locate your travelers anywhere in the world. The data is updated in real-time so you can quickly confirm the safety of your travelers and push time-sensitive alerts as needed.
The Value of Integration
As one of the key differences between a TMC and a travel agency, comprehensive integration of your whole travel program is a valuable reason to use a travel management company. Program integration allows you to centralize your data, reporting, unused tickets, profiles, policies, and ensure that the right vendors and rates are used. It also streamlines your workflow and provides the information you need to deliver on your duty of care requirements.
When you’re ready to transform your travel management program, the experts at Christopherson are prepared to help. Talk to a corporate travel management consultant today.