Most corporations spend about 10% of their revenue on business travel. However, that investment tends to pay off. Companies typically see a $2.09 profit increase and a $9.50 revenue increase for every dollar spent on travel.
Still, it’s difficult for many organizations to track and report those metrics. Additionally, business travel expenses often fluctuate, making it hard for companies to budget for it.
For these reasons and more—including concerns about employee safety—it is critical to hire the right travel management company (TMC). A travel management company will help you manage business travel risk, improve reporting, expenses, and more to ensure your investment in corporate travel pays off.
Here’s a short guide on how to choose the right corporate travel management company for your organization.
What To Look For In A Corporate Travel Agency
There is a persistent myth that corporate travel agencies are interchangeable and that one is as good as any other. This myth stems from the misperception that corporate travel management companies are simply travel agents that only help you book flights, rooms, and car rentals.
However, experienced corporate travel management companies provide far more valuable services that extend beyond typical travel agencies. As a result, they are an invaluable partner that can elevate your corporate travel program with the right strategy.
To ensure that you select the right corporate travel agency, look for the following features and services that will provide you with the most value, saving you time and money.
Cutting-Edge Business Travel Technology
There are many business travel management software providers. But the right corporate travel management company will have integrated, digital solutions that deliver the right tools to your employees. In addition to technology for corporate travel managers that track expenses, report metrics, manage unused tickets and assist with risk management, your corporate travel software should offer business travelers easy access to booking options, itineraries, policies, risk plans, and their support team.
From self-service options to mobile apps, your business travel technology should be up-to-date, real-time, and fully integrated. Look for a corporate travel management company that provides software that helps you manage your entire program conveniently, centrally, and cost-effectively, all while keeping a pulse on your employees’ locations in case of emergency.
Furthermore, if you are a corporate travel manager or are responsible for tracking your business travel expenses and ROI, your corporate travel management company’s technology should deliver real-time reporting with actionable data.
Experienced Travel Agents & Business Travel Support Teams
There is no substitute for experience. The business travel industry transforms quickly and is often the first indicator of how economic, geopolitical, weather and climate situations are going to affect global industries and economies. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of that.
When situations like these arise, they can often affect travel prices, the availability of travel vendors’ services and products, and sometimes, the safety of an organization’s business travelers.
An experienced corporate travel management company has its finger on the pulse of the travel industry and will know when and how these factors may impact your business travel program. Additionally, a TMC provides a team of expert travel agents, an account manager, and additional client service members who can assist you and your business travelers in navigating those changes or any other domestic or international situations that arise.
When business travelers encounter those unexpected, or even concerning, situations, they need access to someone who can assist them immediately. Your company may not be able to facilitate 24/7 availability for traveling employees. When looking for a corporate travel agency, look for a partner who provides immediate access to expert travel agents 24/7, 365 days a year.
Christopherson’s travel agents are particularly skilled at swiftly helping business travelers en route who have encountered these kinds of sudden and unforeseen situations. This level of skill and expertise is invaluable to maintaining your duty of care standards.
Ultimately, your travel management company’s team of travel agents, account managers, and support personnel should be consultative advisors who offer personalized solutions and deliver a plan that meets your needs, saves your company money, and aligns with your goals, travel policies, and risk management plans. It can also be beneficial to find a corporate travel agency with experience in your industry sector and an understanding of your frequent business travel destinations, whether domestic or international.
Corporate Travel Policy Integration
Every business travel program should create a corporate travel policy. These policies ensure that both the organization and its business travelers are protected. They also help companies save money and manage the risk associated with business travel.
The right corporate travel management company will have the expertise to consult with you on current best practices of corporate travel policies. They will also have the technology needed to integrate that policy with all your booking options, helpful benchmarking tools, and your HR feed.
Additionally, the right corporate travel management company can guide you in presenting and communicating your corporate travel policy to your business travelers. Maintaining a current travel policy that 1) aligns with your corporate culture, 2) offers a measure of flexibility, and 3) is clearly communicated, allows you to set expectations while keeping business traveler satisfaction high. It also ensures that all your bookings are compliant which saves you money, gives you data to leverage when negotiating rates, and provides the intelligence you need to manage risk.
While business travel risk management is one of the most important duties of a corporate travel manager, it can sometimes be a bit of a grey area.
For example, what happens when employees participate in extra-curricular activities while “off-the-clock” but are still traveling for business? What if an employee gets into a car accident on their business trip, but the accident occurred not while engaged in business but while they were on their way to meet a friend? Should the consumption of alcohol be allowed while business traveling? Should your travel program address phone usage or other safety standards while driving?
These questions and more are another reason corporate travel policies are important and the right corporate travel management company can help you define what you want to allow or not allow within the scope of business travel.
Risk Management and Business Traveler Safety Tools
In addition to utilizing corporate travel policies to facilitate duty of care requirements, companies should also outline plans for managing business travel risk. Such plans ensure the lines of communication in an emergency are defined, open, and accessible if a business trip goes awry.
The right corporate travel management company will help you outline and implement your risk management plans. Risk management plans should consider business traveler safety needs and outline contingency options to enable quick pivots and immediate service when employees are on the road. Your corporate travel management company’s technology should also offer solutions for real-time notification of emergency, disaster, and weather alerts.
Intelligent Reporting & Travel Data Options
Suhail Doshi, the CEO of Mixpanel said, “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.”
There is a world of difference between data and actionable data. The right corporate travel management company will deliver the reports and tracking software you need to access actionable data that measures performance and helps you analyze areas for improvement.
When your corporate travel management company provides easy-to-read reports with the right data, you can more easily justify the investment in business travel and prove the ROI of your corporate travel program to your management team. With proven, actionable data, you can also see where to save while identifying additional expenditures that yield greater profit and revenue.
When searching for a corporate travel agency, ask for a demonstration of their reporting software and look at the data they deliver. Ask if they are customizable and ensure they track metrics that will assist you in your future decisions.
Corporate Event Management Team
A challenge for many corporate travel managers is the additional level of detailed coordination required for corporate event planning. Organizing large conferences, making group travel arrangements, and negotiating with vendors can prove overwhelming on top of the numerous daily tasks associated with managing a corporate travel program.
But the right corporate travel management company will have an experienced corporate meetings and events team with specialized expertise in group air travel, incentive trips, and the various types of business travel events.
Such business travel events may include small gatherings like executive retreats and team meetings, or large events like trade shows and conferences. Regardless of the size of your event, your corporate travel management company’s meetings and events team has the ability to help you plan, manage, and execute details like audiovisual needs, catering, activities, ground transportation, attendee registration, and more.
Additionally, corporate meetings and events teams ensure each event is uniquely themed and aligns with your organization’s vision for the type of experience you’re wanting to create. They also maintain established relationships with trusted vendors worldwide to ensure the quality of that experience.
Business Travel Vendor Negotiation Expertise
When you partner with the right corporate travel management agency, you are able to leverage the collective buying power of that travel agency. Additionally, you can rely on your account manager to identify the power of your own spend data to strategically negotiate rates that benefit your bottom line.
Why Use A Corporate Travel Management Company?
If your company engages in business travel, partnering with a travel management company will save you time and money. An effective travel management program includes the following and more:
- Intelligent corporate travel software
- Centralized data and reporting
- 24/7 support
- Online and agent booking options
- Risk management support
- Expert vendor negotiation
- Cost savings
- Simplified and streamlined process
The right corporate travel management company should provide a comprehensive travel management plan that helps you navigate the unique needs of your own corporate travel program and caters to the needs of your business travelers.
How To Choose A Business Travel Management Company
Here is a quick checklist of things you can do when screening corporate travel management companies:
- Review their website to understand their services
- Ask for a demonstration of their travel software
- Assess their solutions against your greatest needs
- View sample reports
- Read case studies
- Ask for references
- Check online reviews
- Inquire with an RFI
Why Choose Christopherson Business Travel As Your Travel Management Company
Christopherson Business Travel is the travel management company you need to manage your travel program. What sets us apart is our unique approach to balancing the need for personalized, consultative service with technology that leads the way in this fast-paced world and ever-changing industry.
We take pride in improving our clients’ travel management programs and providing best-in-class service to meet the needs of their business travelers.