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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

What Does a Travel Management Company do?

A travel management company (TMC) is a travel agency that provides extensive business travel support to organizations of all sizes. A TMC can simplify your workload, help you manage travel risks, reduce travel spend, serve your travelers, and provide integrated and centralized data reporting.

1. Simplifies and Streamlines Your Workload

Corporate travel management is complex. As a travel manager, you are often juggling a lot of different tasks within your company. Trying to keep track of employee travel preferences, travel plans, unused tickets, and more can be a daunting task. Travel management companies streamline your processes and support your business travel program through service and technology.

Christopherson Business Travel understands that technology is key to simplifying your workload. That’s why we built our AirPortal software platform. AirPortal provides customized dashboards for both travel managers and travelers with access to all the tools each stakeholder needs to manage the travel program and their business travel, respectively. This suite of tools within AirPortal streamlines the ability to manage risk, spend, profiles, travel plans, unused tickets, booking options, and more.

Each traveler is able to create a unique profile within our travel management platform that securely stores their travel preferences and loyalty program information. These profile details are fully integrated to ensure ease and convenience at the time of booking. When working with a TMC, travelers are able to book travel online or with an expert travel agent, based on your unique service needs. Your company travel policy is also custom-built and integrated to ensure all bookings are compliant.

AirPortal uses artificial intelligence to show the user what’s most important. On both the travel manager and traveler dashboards, AirPortal provides My Action Items, a feature that lists pressing or time-sensitive tasks and reminders so you always know what’s most important today. For example, if a traveler books their flight and rental car, but not a hotel reservation, a line will populate in their My Action Items alerting them of this gap in their travel plans. Or maybe a travel manager missed a travel approval request. This too will appear in the My Action Items feature of their dashboard, along with any other pressing tasks.AirPortal360 Travel Management Company

Some travel management companies like Christopherson also integrate their travel management software directly into valuable benchmarking tools, preferred booking tools, and your HR feed. Facilitating these integrations allows you to access everything you need from one centralized location, saving travelers and travel managers time, and ultimately money.

Providing guidance through account management is another way a travel management company can streamline and focus your travel program toward reaching your goals. Account managers should work with you to carefully analyze your program to see where you’re succeeding and where the gaps are. Based on that analysis, they should then provide a custom travel management plan to help you know where improvements can be made. This kind of consultative account management allows travel managers to lean on the expertise of seasoned industry professionals

2. Helps You Manage Risk

Duty of Care is the legal and moral responsibility each organization has to keep its employees safe from threats. Such threats could include extreme weather or natural disasters, political strikes and civil unrest, car accidents, theft, personal attacks, or terrorism—the list goes on. As a travel manager, how do you maintain confidence that you are upholding your obligation to protect and care for your travelers?

A travel management company can help expedite your knowledge of threatening situations in areas where you have travelers and facilitate your response and/or assistance. At Christopherson Business Travel, our clients utilize our SecurityLogic tool to access critical, real-time security data, quickly locate travelers and verify traveler safety.

SecurityLogic Corporate Travel Management Company Example

In a recent study, only half of the travel managers surveyed felt confident that they could locate their travelers within two hours of an emergency. If your travelers’ plans are not stored, managed, or accessible from one centralized location, trying to locate employees during a crisis could be a messy and stressful task, not to mention potentially disastrous.

SecurityLogic provides travel managers with a real-time list of who is currently traveling and where those travelers are. SecurityLogic also allows you to quickly see if your travelers are in or are going to be in an affected area.

Travel alerts inform you of events that could impact employee travel or compromise their safety. Travel managers have the option to click through to the news source to get even more information. For extra security, you can set up auto-alerts that push directly to travelers via text and email to verify safety.

Click here to see a quick video tutorial on SecurityLogic.

3. Reduces Your Travel Costs

Partnering with a corporate travel management company can significantly reduce your overall travel costs. TMCs have expert knowledge in all aspects of the travel industry, including contract negotiations. Your account manager should be able to negotiate with your preferred vendors to ensure you are paying the lowest amount possible.

Cost Savings from University Corporate Travel ColoradoBusiness travel plans often change or get canceled. Did you know that nearly 10% of all business travel airline tickets go unused? As a travel manager, how do you ensure those funds from unused airline tickets are used before they expire? Keeping track of all the changes in your traveler’s plans could be a fulltime job in and of itself.

Travel Management Companies should ensure your unused tickets don’t impact your bottom line. Christopherson’s AirBank tool, found within AirPortal, captures those unused airline tickets and prevents the loss of those funds by prompting their reuse at the time of booking, whether online or with a full-service advisor.

Working with a business travel agency also ensures employees are booking within your company travel policy. By booking within policy, you can take advantage of your corporate rates, ensure you aren’t overspending, and make expense tracking and reporting a breeze.

Lastly, by partnering with a TMC you are saving time. Every hour you do not have to spend dealing with a travel headache, is an hour you can utilize elsewhere. Travel managers shouldn’t have to troubleshoot flight delays, manually keep track of itineraries, or pull reports from multiple locations. Travelers can find information quicker, make last-minute updates to travel plans, access 24/7 support from a trusted travel expert, and locate all expense receipts in one location.

4. Serves Your Travelers

Companies rely on corporate travel to close new business, foster relationships with current accounts, or inspire and connect departments within their own organization. In order to ensure those travel dollars are well spent, businesses need to prioritize the traveler experience to avoid fatigue and travel burnout. This is where a travel management company can shine.

By utilizing a tool like AirPortal, travelers can access all their travel plans in one location. No more frustrated inbox searching! Travelers are also alerted when they have incomplete trip plans. This allows you to avoid the high-stress situation of arriving at a new destination and realizing you forgot to book a hotel. Avoiding these small hiccups makes for a better traveler experience overall.

Let’s dive deeper into the actual booking process. Whether your travelers like to book online themselves or with a travel agent, partnering with the right travel management company can provide huge upside.

First, adhering to company travel policy is effortless. Regardless of which booking option they choose, your travelers are only offered options that fit within your policy. Traveler preferences are also documented, integrated, and considered before any bookings are confirmed, which makes for happy travelers!

Most importantly, TMCs should offer around-the-clock expert support and consultation. We all know that flights are sometimes delayed or canceled. Occasionally hotels are overbooked. Having access to a dedicated travel advisor team or a certified online support team means your travelers can feel confident in knowing they always have a trusted expert to turn to.

High-stress circumstances during business travel can lead to traveler anger and resentment towards their employer. These situations need to be solved quickly and with little effort from the traveler. With Christopherson Business Travel, your travelers have an expert in their corner to deal with unforeseen issues no matter the day or time.

5. Provides Integrated and Centralized Data Reporting

Next, let’s dig into how a travel management company can help the travel manager as well as the finance department. Many businesses struggle to analyze data because this information is coming from multiple departments and software. Christopherson’s AirPortal platform takes all your data points and presents them in a meaningful and centralized way.

Your AirPortal reporting and analytics tools can help you identify which departments or individuals spend the most on travel, which travelers book outside of your policy, and trends to see where you can save money. Having clear, concise reporting ensures accountability across all departments and helps you to make better-informed business decisions.

In addition to AirPortal’s benchmarking and analytics options, you can also access ValueLogic, an ROI tool that allows you to see exactly how and where we’re saving you money. And since not all travel programs are the same, AirPortal’s reports can be customized to your specific needs, so you see what matters to you. The end result? Cost savings and a well-managed travel program.

 

Read our blog post, What are the benefits of a corporate travel management company?” to learn about more benefits a TMC can provide. 

 

Do You Need A Travel Management Company?  Customer Testimonial for CBT Travel Management

From Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits to start-ups, any organization that wants to save time or money on travel can benefit from using a TMC. Download our whitepaper “Do I Need A Travel Management Company?” to better understand how your travel program could benefit from a TMC.

Click Read next: 

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Business Travel Travel Management

Business Travel is Never Easy, But We’re Here

business travel Traveling for business is not easy. Discomforts include being away from friends and loved ones, sleeping in unfamiliar beds, being exposed to others’ germs, and driving in unfamiliar cities, all while trying to keep up with the constant flow of email, texts, IM, voicemail, and project deadlines. Yet business travelers are the lifeblood of the business world. They negotiate contracts, solve problems, and facilitate critical trading relationships that bolster the global economy. As a Travel Management Company, we work hard to make sure those business travelers are equipped with the tools and support needed to make their travels easier.

Beginning with the booking process, we offer a wide variety of choices–from do-it-yourself online booking options to VIP agent services. Traveling internationally? We provide up-to-date passport and visa requirements, and one button access to passport and visa services. En route, we provide easy access to itineraries, travel alerts for events or situations that may affect travel, and notifications on delays, cancellations, or gate changes. If travel plans are disrupted help is needed, our ‘click to call’ feature connects directly to our agents who will provide helpful assistance. Renting a car? We work with our clients to set up a contract with one of our preferred car providers. This allows companies access to elite membership benefits, including free upgrades and expedited check-in.

Our new partnership with Checkmate, allows travelers to make pre-arrival requests that are easily communicated via text or email with their hotel prior to check-in and throughout their stay. Need down pillows, room service delivered at a specific time, or another special request? No problem. Checkmate provides a direct connection from your phone. 

No, business travel is never easy, but Christopherson Business Travel works hard to make it as pleasant as possible. So, to all our clients and their road warriors who help drive our global economy, we thank you for your business and wish you safe travels!

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Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Ensures Travel Policy Compliance and Duty of Care with New Technologies

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, July 15, 2015 – Christopherson Business Travel is set to launch two new products to assist companies in achieving higher travel policy compliance, duty of care fulfillment, and simplified travel management processes.

Travel Approval is digital notification process.
Travel Approval is digital notification process.

“Our two new technologies, Travel Approval and Hotel Attachment, are solutions that solve common problems faced by corporate travel managers—the inconsistent and often undocumented travel approval process, and reduced travel policy compliance as a result of low hotel attachment rates,” said Mike Cameron, Christopherson’s CEO.

The first technology, Travel Approval, is a digital notification process that obtains and tracks approvals from booking to traveler to manager. Once a traveler makes a reservation—whether online or with a full-service travel agent—a series of synchronized emails are sent to both the traveler and the traveler’s manager through which the booking can be approved, modified, or canceled at any step or permission level.

“Online booking tools have done a good job in digitizing travel approvals but there has always been a gap in the approval process for agent-assisted bookings,” Cameron said. “We built Travel Approval as a complete, digital solution for approving those agent-assisted reservations. The result is the unification of online and full-service approvals and a greater ability to enforce travel policy compliance.”

Christopherson’s second new technology, Hotel Attachment, is a hotel compliance system that identifies itineraries with missing hotel bookings and provides the traveler with four options to close that gap: 1. Make a hotel reservation; 2. Request another reminder for a later date; 3. Attach a hotel reservation made outside the system to the itinerary; and 4. Waive the need for a hotel reservation. With Hotel Attachment’s digital reminders, companies can ensure trip plans are complete and hotel compliant prior to travel.

“Low hotel attachment results in weakened vendor negotiations and compromised duty of care,” Cameron said. “Hotel Attachment solves these problems. First, it meets the needs of the travelers who want an acceptable hotel included in every itinerary. Second, it meets the needs of the travel manager who wants savings, a knowledge of where travelers are in order to fulfill duty of care responsibilities, and the ability to satisfy the company’s commitments with contracted hotel vendors.”

Travel Approval and Hotel Attachment are both integrated into and supported by Christopherson’s proprietary technology platform, AirPortal. They will be released at the 2015 Global Business Travel Association Convention in Orlando, Florida, July 25-29.

About Christopherson Business Travel

Christopherson Business Travel, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah is the independently owned leader in business travel management, online travel tools, and business travel resources. As the 11th largest business travel agency in the United States, with 365 team members and five full-service locations, the company supports more than a half-billion dollars in annual travel bookings for more than 900 successful organizations across the country including Fortune 500 companies, publicly and privately-owned business, universities, and government entities. Christopherson is an affiliate of BCD Travel and a Preferred Partner of Concur. To learn more, visit CBTravel.com.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Christopherson Sponsors Concur Ignite 2015

Concur_TMC_Preferred_PartnerAs a Concur Preferred Partner, Christopherson Business Travel had the privilege of participating in Concur’s annual sales kickoff event, Ignite 2015, in Bellevue, WA. Nearly 20 Concur business partners joined 1,100 Concur executives, management, business development, and account management team members as they prepare for another year of making travel and expense management better for companies and travelers around the world. With the recent sale of Concur to SAP, the event was full of energy and excitement about the future of the combined organizations.

Our colleagues at Concur were interested to learn more about Christopherson’s travel management solutions and our integration with Concur Travel and Expense. As the 11th largest Travel Management Company in the U.S., Christopherson provides customers with a powerful end-to-end travel management solution and is confident of the value our exclusive travel technologies, like AirPortal 360 and AirPortal 360 Mobile, can bring to Concur customers.

Christopherson values our Preferred Partnership status with Concur and enjoyed this opportunity to participate in Ignite 2015.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

The Science of Maintaining a Unique Competitive Advantage

competition_advantageWhen in business, whether you own the company or are an employee of it, it is important to understand the difference between “unique competitive advantages” and “business strengths.” Many companies will tout their “advantages,” but what they’re really presenting are just their basic strengths and most cases, are likely are only spouting clichés. An example of a common and overused business cliché is: “we will exceed your expectations.”

While business strengths are important, they are not differentiators. You need strengths just to stay in business. You need unique competitive advantages to grow and prosper, faster than your competition.

At Christopherson Business Travel we have approached the development of our unique competitive advantages as a science. This is the only way you’re able to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace.

In order for something to be defined as a “unique competitive advantage” we require that it pass a four-part test:
1.    It must be objective.
2.    It must be quantifiable.
3.    It can’t be a cliché.
4.    It can’t be claimed by our competitors.

An example of one of our unique competitive advantages is the recent introduction of AirPortal 360™ Mobile, the first comprehensive mobile app to provide corporate travel managers the ability to manage their company’s travel program from the palm of their hand. Read about it here.

The introduction of this newest unique competitive advantage garnered a great deal of media attention (see here), which is objective and quantifiable.

Can we objectively say that our unique competitive advantages have helped us grow faster than our competition? During the last five years we have more than doubled in size, growing from a $160 million company in 2007, to a $341 million company in 2012. Christopherson was recently ranked #11 in size, in the U.S., by Business Travel News (BTN). We were also the fastest growing of all the top 20 Travel Management Companies in the U.S., in terms of percentage growth. Read more here.

The BTN ranking and applicable growth rate are objective, quantifiable, not a cliché, and can’t be claimed by our competitors. Thus, Christopherson Business Travel can present our technology to be a “unique competitive advantage.”

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Business Travel Travel Management

What Should Your Travel Management Company Do For You?

A good travel management company (TMC) is the key to an effective travel management program.

Travel Management CompanyYou should expect your TMC to work with you to:

  1. Design and implement a travel policy that is appropriate for your company and culture.
  2. Negotiate and manage vendor contracts that will generate company savings and provide traveler conveniences.
  3. Simplify the booking process for you and your travelers, whether you choose online, full service, or a blended approach.
  4. Give you the information and tools to manage your duty of care responsibilities, helping you to respond appropriately when there is an incident.
  5. Effectively manage your unused airline tickets.
  6. Give you full visibility into your travel spend with real-time information and on-demand reporting.
  7. Provide your travelers with the tools they need before, during, and after their trips.

Click Here for 10 more ways a TMC can benefit your company.

If your company’s travel program needs tuning, please contact one of our account managers and make an appointment today. We are here to help!

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

AirPortal 360™ is a Business Travel Management Nerve Center

Christopherson Business Travel recently released AirPortal 360™ which was the culmination of major investments and two years of work in building our proprietary travel management technology platform.

In creating AirPortal 360, we had three main objectives:

1.    To create a fully integrated platform

  • We had too many disparate 3rd party travel technology systems that were hard to make work well together.
  • We wanted better integration of full service & online travel management methodology and related policy compliance tools.

2.    To offer a 360°, real-time view that would enable high-level “situational awareness”

  • We wanted to create comprehensive dashboards and customizable widgets with KPIs.
  • We wanted to offer drill-down capabilities to solve specific problems.
  • We wanted to allow increased visibility and accountability.

3.    Provide Actionable Intelligence for all Users

  • External Clients: Travel Managers, Travel Arrangers and Travelers
  • Internal (TMC) Clients: Account Managers, Agents and Support

We also evaluated the individual stakeholder’s needs before we began building

AirPortal 360

Travel Managers want savings, policy compliance, and duty of care.  Thus AirPortal 360 offers:
•    Policy/vendor management tools for full service and online
•    Accurate management of unused airline tickets
•    The ability to identify who, when and where travelers are

Travelers want service and convenience. Through our traveler dashboard, business travelers have:
•     Document delivery (desktop & mobile)
•     Single sign-on connectivity to third party tools – TripIt®

TMC travel agents & account managers want tools to better manage their clients’ travel programs. To facilitate this, we created tools to:
•    Manage & monitor travel policy compliance
•    Manage preferred vendor relationships

We certainly think we’ve met our objectives and invite you to take a look at AirPortal 360™ here. You can also contact one of our executives to learn more about how we, and our business travel technology tools, can save you time and money.

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Business Travel Travel Management

When to Consider Moving to a New Travel Management Company

Thinking about changing travel management companies (TMC) may seem like a daunting task, but with improved technology and a strong TMC partner, making that switch can be seamless, and will result in higher traveler satisfaction while also increasing your cost savings.

Think about your current TMC and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your travel agent always warm and friendly?
  • Are your agents always going the extra mile?
  • Does your TMC negotiate directly with airlines, hotels and car rental companies on your corporation’s behalf?
  • Does your TMC continuously provide you proactive strategies to help you save money on your travel program?
  • Does your TMC offer the latest technology for your travel manager, travel arrangers and travelers?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you should definitely consider researching a better alternative.

Christopherson Business Travel is the independently owned leader in intelligent business travel management, online travel tools and business travel resources. Of utmost importance to Christopherson is a dedication to meeting the unique need of each customer. With that in mind, the Christopherson team–from the agents to the software developers to the account managers (and everyone in between)–works hard to configure, deliver and maintain a cost-saving, individualized service option for each client.

If you’re contemplating a switch from your current TMC, please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information on how Christopherson can improve your travel program and save you money.

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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.