Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

The Benefits of Using a Group Travel Agent

The two most common responses we hear when group travel is brought up are, “It will cost the company more to use a group travel agent than for me to book the trip myself,” and, “My group isn’t big enough for me to use a group travel agent.” So you might be surprised to learn that taking advantage of Christopherson Business Travel’s Group Travel and Incentive Agents can really be cost effective and save more time than it takes to get everyone to agree to offering the trip in the first place.

Take the following scenarios for example. In a corporate office, the main travel planner is sometimes also an executive assistant or office manager. This person might get a request like this from their boss: “Please book travel for such-and-such group in 3 weeks. They’re going to such-and-such destination. Add in a couple of excursions, don’t forget to include the spouses or significant others, and make sure the hotel is 5 star or above. Oh, and by the way, the company can’t spend more than $X on the trip.” Or, the company’s travel planner may be asked to plan a trip for a group or team that will be paying for the trip on their own. The total cost needs to include transportation, hotels, food, and excursions.

I can say from personal experience that putting together group trips like this can be very time consuming and often complicated. The number of days spent researching all of the possibilities can take as long as taking the trip yourself, or longer. The number of emails and phone calls that need to be made to vendors can mount up faster than getting through TSA. Then comes pricing out the trip. It’s like trying to fit all the things you purchased while traveling into an already full carry-on bag and then stuffing in it into the plane’s overhead compartment.

Group Travel and Incentive Agents Are Actually More Cost Effective

Myth-Breaker #1:  The notion that it will cost the company more to use a group travel agent than to book the trip oneself is false. Using a group agent usually saves you money on the bottom line. A group agent will look at the timing of the trip and can help strategize once the common interests of the group have been decided. They can look at multiple locations that would fit the group size, culture, and type of meeting. The agent also has the ability to send out a “request for proposal” to several hotels and transportation companies to gather the best pricing and set up contracts with the airlines that will hold pricing in some cases. They also can negotiate additional amenities to offset the cost.

Additionally, the group agent will most likely have worked, or built relationships, with certain vendors in the past that can benefit the customer and help provide discounts. They can also tap into their resources and network to make sure the VIP customer is well taken care of. They can provide all the forms and documents necessary to make sure all travelers are accounted for. Plus, hundreds of options to increase the fun factor of the trip are at their fingertips. When it comes to helping to stay on budget, they know how to negotiate with the best of them. When you consider all of the cost (and time) savings that a group agent brings to the table, you can see that it really does off-set the expense of what it costs to use such an agent. And the executive assistant, office manager, or travel arranger can get back to work on all of those other projects that have a higher priority in their job.

Group Travel and Incentive Agents Can Plan Trips for Any Size Group

Myth-Breaker #2: The idea that your group isn’t big enough to use a group travel agent is also false. Having a group of less than 10 travelers can, in some instances, be considered a group. There is no travel industry standard about what number of travelers constitutes a group. A group of five could be considered a group and group discounts could apply. And in fact, it really makes sense to use a group agent when your group is smaller as they might have influence with vendors who can help lower costs or provide additional amenities that otherwise would not be offered. The group agent can also be the point person for all the travelers to make their arrangements with and pay for their trip if need be, and the agent can give the group’s arranger a breakdown of all of the travel plans which could include: costs,  departures, arrivals, hotel room confirmations, and special requests of each traveler. There really is a lot that a group agent can do for a smaller group and the cost is minimal when compared to the overall planning time necessary for such a trip.

So just remember that at Christopherson Business Travel, we have group and Incentive Agents who are part of the total travel management program we offer. Just ask your Account Manager to introduce you to one of the agents when planning the next trip for a group of people.