Business Travel Travel Management

Looking For Quality Of Service In A TMC

Having a travel management company that you can continually rely on is one of the most important features of managed travel. And surprisingly, it’s one that’s most often overlooked. When our sales teams begins discussions with potential new clients, 9 out of 10 times we discover they are dissatisfied with their current travel management procedures. Occasionally they’re companies who manage their own travel and are looking for a better solution. But often, they are already working with a TMC and are dissatisfied with their current level of service. They’ve typically seen issues like no follow-up support or limited after-hours care. Frequently it’s more broad, like a lack of overall account management on their travel or admin services. If you or your company are looking for a new TMC or a change, it’s important to understand what qualities make a TMC top notch in travel support service.

Important factors that note high quality of service and support in TMCs:

  • After-hours care and support is included –Things don’t always go as planned. Flights get delayed, meetings go long, blizzards blizzard. It’s important to not overlook comprehensive after-hours care when partnering with a TMC. In addition to our top of the line after hours support, all of our advisors are highly experienced and located within the United States. That means you can talk to someone from home when it really counts.
  • Proactive duty of care approach –A quality TMC should additionally provide support and communication tools to use when your employees are traveling. For example, our SecurityLogic tool helps locate and communicate with their travelers quickly in case of an emergency. It also provides alerts to travelers or travel managers, should an event occur nearby.
  • Good standing relationship with airlines – A working relationship with different airlines has its perks. Because of our stellar relationship with many major airlines, we are able to provide superior service for our clients, including accommodation support.  It also often results in additional deals and savings for your company.
  • A consultative approach – Our account managers, not only love their accounts like family, but also have goals tied to how they are rated in Christopherson. Your success is literally their success. Our Airportal system allows them to be more consultative than other TMCs.

Quality of service is one of the more important features needed in a successful travel management program. Around the clock support and a consultative approach is important, but also superior risk management and industry relations. If you would like to learn more about how Christopherson continually goes above and beyond for our clients, please contact us.

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Do It Yourself vs. Using A Full Service Agency

There are those who believe that booking travel is something that anyone can and should do.  There are those who believe that booking travel should be left in the hands of experts.  I think that both groups have some valid points however I think that those who believe that they should do their online bookings directly with the vendor and/or via a portal, such as Travelocity or Expedia or Orbitz are setting themselves up for problems. There is a great article that addresses some of the potential problems that happen far too frequently to those who do it themselves.
If one wants to book online, I would suggest that one does so through a full service travel agency, such as Christopherson Business Travel. The difference will be the level of service that the customer receives if there is a problem. Unlike the online booking portals, a full service agency can and will, offer personal service if a traveler makes a mistake when booking travel or has an issue arise while traveling. Additionally, if one is using a full service agency and discovers that the trip that they are planning is more complex than they first anticipated, they can reach a real agent who will be able to assist them. So by utilizing a full service agency, a traveler can have the best of booking online and having access to professional assistance when needed and/or desired.
For corporations, the equation to determine value vs. service fee costs, needs to include the hidden costs associated with booking online. Hidden costs include things like, lost productivity due to employees spending their time trying to book their travel, lost productivity when an employee books an impossible connection or the actual cost of paying a salesman or engineer or manager to sit and book a trip. If an employee is making $50,000 a year and spends 30 minutes booking a trip, that’s about $12.00 worth of that employees time spent booking travel and does not include any fee charged by the online booking tool. Then comes the issue of employees who either unknowingly or knowingly, book outside the travel policy and cost their company money. When booking with a full service agency, such as Christopherson Business Travel, we can customize our online booking tool to help enforce a company’s travel policy, which is something that Orbitz, et al, will do for smaller companies.
And if a company is doing lots of international travel, I would strongly suggest utilizing an agent given all the changes that have happened in the last year, the increasing numbers of countries requiring visas or passenger information prior to the day of travel or that the TSA is now requiring airlines to provide them with the full name, the date of birth, gender and citizenship of each traveler, along with requiring the name on the ticket to match the name on the ID being presented at check in, all add layers of complexity to international travel. Additionally, agents have access to specials, such as they BUY COACH, FLY BUSINESS offerings from a number of airlines. This means that a traveler can purchase a full fare coach ticket and end up seated in business class. You won’t find these deals offered through the online booking tools, you will only get them from an agent. Agents can also suggest alternatives to avoid paying certain taxes or to get a lower fare by using various “tricks of the trade”.
So, to recap, I would suggest that even if you are an ardent DIY person, that you still utilize an online booking tool associated with a full service agency so that you can get service when you need it. And if you aren’t really savvy, I would suggest that it is beneficial to work with a full service agency because there is someone there to assist you, if you need it. And for those who do a lot of international or even a lot of complex itineraries, working with a full service agent can save you money, time and stress.