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Travel Management

The Balancing Act of Business Travel Rewards and Business Travel Expense

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a road-warrior, traveling 75 percent of the work week. In the business travel environment, you’re bound to connect with other road-warriors. Whether it’s over a meal or during a layover, you often find yourself sharing the tricks of the trade. Now that I’m not traveling as much, I don’t find myself discussing packing tips or how to negotiate an upgrade with as much frequency. What I do share with fellow business professionals though, is how to maximize their personal travel benefits while traveling for business.

While there are tricks to boosting personal travel rewards, they often come at the employer’s expense. And some may think, “well, why not?” From the road warrior’s perspective: doesn’t the employer owe them for their time? Doesn’t the employer realize how much revenue their road-warriors create for them? Despite an employer’s investment in a positive corporate culture and benefits to encourage their travelers’ satisfaction, some road-warriors still feel entitled to more. Loyalty points are an easy way to make them feel repaid. Take, for example, direct bookings with hotels. If you book on a hotel chain’s app, a $129/night standard room may be $159/night. While the cost difference is only $30, the reward difference for the business traveler is an extra 5,000 bonus points.

What about airlines? A business traveler may book their ticket on a low-cost carrier where bags are included, and it appears they’re trying to watch the company’s bottom line. But did anyone catch that the ticket was booked at the highest-priced tier for $200 more? The difference for the business traveler is that they’ve just gotten double miles, priority status, and their companion pass in sight. If that same business traveler is on the road every week, buying tickets based on their rewards rather than cost, that $200 extra per ticket, quickly becomes $800/month and $10,400/year. Were a company to have a team of 10 road-warriors with the same buying practices as their perk-seeking colleague, the company could potentially accrue $104,000 in lost costs each year.

As you can see, the balancing act between taking care of the people who take care of your business, while also making sure that their travel expenses don’t come with detriment to the bottom line, can be delicate. While it is certainly understandable for a business traveler to want compensation for their time and energy, the downside is that they often don’t see the repercussions until those costs are added up. The reality is that it’s not just a few extra perks here and there, but can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for the business.

If you’re trying to figure out how to balance costs and traveler rewards, it may be beneficial to consider a managed travel program. As a corporate travel management agency, we encourage companies to allow their travelers to accrue the loyalty points they deserve at a cost that makes sense, and we show you how. By outlining your travel policy and creating stop gaps, unruly spending can be taken under control and business travelers can still be rewarded. Christopherson Business Travel’s cost-saving solutions and consultative account management helps do just that. Interested in learning more about how to control corporate travel expenses? Contact us to talk to one of our experienced business travel experts.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Internet Travel Sites vs Corporate Travel Agency: 10 Reasons Why the Agency is the Best Choice

As a sales person for one of the country’s largest travel management companies (TMC), I frequently encounter companies who book all their travel online using public internet travel sites (like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.). Inevitably, these companies want to know why they should use a corporate travel agency rather than these public sites.

10 Reasons to Use a Travel Management Company Instead of Internet Travel Sites

  1. Many public travel websites charge fees too – they’re just hidden in the fine print.
  2. A TMC will guarantee the lowest rate. Why waste time and energy searching a half dozen sites when we guarantee the best deal?
  3.  A TMC provides 24-hour emergency after-hours service. When a storm hits and your flight is cancelled, you can call your TMC agent, who knows your company and can provide you immediate, efficient, and courteous support round the clock.
  4.  A TMC will manage your unused airline tickets. Did you know that 10% of corporation’s tickets go unused? That can really add up to a big loss. But a TMC will manage, audit, report, and ensure the reuse of all your travelers’ unused tickets.
  5.  A TMC will build your corporation’s travel policy into your company’s booking options (online or with an agent) so that travelers who book outside the policy are required to get approval.
  6. A TMC will negotiate hotel and car rental contracts on your behalf and ensure those rates at the time of booking.
  7. A TMC will provide consultative services to your company to provide cost savings, cost avoidance, and return on investment
  8. A TMC will provide the necessary tools to facility your duty of care so you can quickly locate your travelers in the event of an emergency.
  9. A TMC will keep track of all past, current and future itineraries.
  10. A TMC will  house all travelers’ personal information, TSA required information, and frequent flyer information in one profile.  Each time they book a ticket, their information automatically populates into their reservation.

As a leader in business travel management, Christopherson Business Travel focuses on the unique needs of our clients. We configure, deliver, and maintain a travel program with maximized traveler satisfaction and cost savings. It is our job to help our clients manage a travel program that provides savings to counter the cost of maintaining such a program.

Let us show you how we do it. Contact us for more details on how Christopherson can help your corporation enjoy increased service and cost savings with our business travel programs.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

DataLogic®: Your Central Source for All Business Travel Reporting Tools

At Christopherson Business Travel, we recognize the importance of backing up our claims with hard data. Through our comprehensive report aggregator DataLogic®, we provide our clients with easy access to an invaluable set of reporting tools and performance benchmarking analysis options.

Among those tools are DataLogic’s travel spend tracking dashboard, ValueLogic®, Christopherson’s exclusive software that manages the ROI of our travel management company, and the integration of two leading travel management reporting tools, iBank and Travel GPA.

With this assembly of options, DataLogic really is the central source for all the reporting tools essential to managing a highly effective business travel program.

ValueLogic®

By choosing Christopherson, your company gets more than just our word that we are the cost-effective business travel partner of choice. With ValueLogic, you can asses the ROI of our TMC partnership through fully-customizable reports that show exactly how and where Christopherson Business Travel is saving you money.

At any time, you have the ability to access and review the following critical information in real time data:

  • Airline, car, and hotel savings
  • Voided ticket savings
  • Average savings per itinerary
  • Unused airline ticket data (via AirBank®)

iBank

Christopherson maximizes the power of iBank by consolidating travel information into a clear, concise, and comprehensive view of your company’s travel spend.

iBank captures travel data from a variety of sources, including all major reservation systems and online bookings tools. We also provide secure internet access so you can view travel spend, measure preferred supplier usage, track travel behavior, monitor policy adherence, and improve profitability.

Travel GPA

With more than 90 benchmarking metrics available for analysis, Travel GPA identifies those key measurements that are clearly tied to your organization’s performance and then grades them good or bad with comparisons against your industry, a similar sized company, your travel spend from the previous year, or your current goals. Then, with the Travel GPA Report Card™, you can easily track how well your travelers are utilizing the contracts your company has for airlines, car rentals, and hotels.

*DataLogic is one of the many business travel tools Christopherson provides through our integrated technology platform, AirPortal®. To learn more about AirPortal, DataLogic, and how Christopherson can save your company time and money on business travel, please contact one of our representatives.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

2012 Travel Forecast and Recommendations

Since the fourth quarter of last year, the Christopherson Business Travel Account Management team has been actively negotiating 2012 air, car, and hotel contracts for those companies that qualify.  Because the negotiation process is more viable this year, it has been necessary for us double-check every angle in order to secure the best contracts for a great return on investment for our clients.  Below are the forecasts and recommendation guidelines for 2012 that we use when obtaining the ultimate contract for you

Airfare

Forecasts:

  • Fare increases of 3-5%.  Significant fuel surcharges, prompted by rising oil prices, will ultimately determine this.
  • Capacity cuts that occurred in Q4 2011 are likely to be sustained into 2012, but over-supply may remain in some regions.
  • Additional factors threatening to push up total ticket prices include consolidated airline entities, distribution/card payment fees, and EU Emissions Trading System.

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate hard on pockets of over-capacity in the market.
  2. Joint ventures and other airline consolidations will pose an increasing threat to managed air programs.
  3. A reliable way to reduce average ticket price is to find ways to avoid last-minute purchases.
  4. Be wary of significant over-commitment to volume or market-share targets during negotiation.

Car Rental

Forecasts:

  • Demand will continue to rise steadily and providers will keep inventory tightly aligned.
  • Rate increases will be minor (4-6%) thanks to strong competition, but total cost of rental will continue to climb (ancillary charges, taxes, insurance, fuel).

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate harder on ancillaries and other charges, such as refueling premiums.
  2. Revisit car rental program before suppliers start to push up their rates.
  3. Book further in advance.
  4. Evaluate relative financial costs of private vehicle use vs. car rental.
  5. Set policy on ancillary items (i.e. satellite navigation systems, etc.).

Hotel 

Forecasts:

  • More chains will demand heavy rate increases in opening 2012 negotiations.
  • New capacity will be limited in N. America and Europe but significant in Asia-Pacific.
  • Rates will rise 2- 6% in general, but with another double-digit jump in markets like New York.
  • Demand will continue to rise, though at a lower rate than 2011.

Recommendations:

  • Be wary of dynamic pricing and be sure to negotiate more than 10% off the BAR.
  • Expand # of hotels in RFP process but concentrate on fewer properties in final decision.
  • Negotiate hotel contracts for transient travelers to cover small meetings (up to 50 room nights).
  • Insist on negotiated rate being an LRA rate.
Categories
Travel Management

Tips to Control Corporate Travel Expenses

According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), many businesses point to travel expenses as one of their biggest budget items. The following are some relatively easy steps corporations can take today to keep travel expenses lower and under control.
1) Consolidate your corporate travel program with a single travel management company (TMC). The TMC can assist with negotiating discounts for air, car rentals and hotels. This will result in a more effective and professional travel solution for your organization, and help realize cost savings while maximizing return on your travel spend.
2) Implement a travel policy which defines parameters for travel authorization and transportation usage. Install proper controls to ensure your dollars are not being wasted and that travel policies are being followed. The policy should also address spend limits and expense reimbursement procedures.
3) Assign a travel coordinator within your organization to handle all travel arrangement with the TMC. This individual should be familiar with the corporate travel policy, negotiated arrangements, opportunities for cost savings and service improvements.
4) Keep track of your organization’s travel patterns and expenditures. Data collection is perhaps one of the most important elements to monitor travel expenses and manage unused tickets.
Christopherson Business Travel welcomes the opportunity to answer any questions about the unique benefits we can bring to your organization as your intelligent business travel partner.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News

Business Travel Downturn

There has been a sizable cutback in business travel during the recent economic downturn. We’ve seen many of our clients reduce their business travel budgets in the 20+ percent range. I’ve spoken to many of my associates, who own travel management companies around the country. They’re all seeing about the same percentage of client travel reductions.

Business travel tends to be a leading economic indicator. It is one of the first expenses a company reduces during an economic downturn and conversely, it tends to be one of the first things to go up during an economic expansion.

We have been fortunate because we have been increasing our market share, during the past six months, which has offset some of the travel reductions from our existing clients.

There is a certain amount of mission critical travel which can’t be avoided. We have seen our clients respond to the need to cut their travel costs in many ways.

The first trend is simply cost avoidance. Companies can “avoid” travel in many ways:

  1. Meeting alternatives. We are seeing more clients hold meetings using web conferencing tools like WebEx and GoToMeeting®.
  2. Training the trainer. Some Clients are sending fewer people to a training conference and then come back and train their teams.
  3. Shorten the trip. Clients are packing more meetings into a shorter period of time to trim an extra day’s expense on the hotel and car rental.
  4. Cancel incentive trips. This is partially in response to our government’s portrayal of AIG’s and other financial services industry incentive trips.

The second trend we have seen is clients are moving down the value chain. Clients who used to allow business and first class travel overseas have restricted their policy to only allow coach travel. Clients who used to stay at the higher priced hotel chains are moving down to the more moderately priced hotels. We’re seeing clients rent smaller cars and rent them with the less expensive off-airport car rental companies.

The third trend we’re seeing is clients are using this opportunity to renegotiate their contracts with their travel vendors. Most airlines have cut their capacity to right-size their “available seats” with the reduced travel demand. Hotels and car rental companies can’t do that as easily. With empty hotel rooms and lots of car rental inventory our clients have been able to get better deals.

Business cycles come and go. The successful companies are the ones who can respond quickly without affecting the value they provide to their customers. They will be stronger when the economy turns around… and it will!