There is much more to controlling your company’s travel budget than just allowing your employees and clients to make their own travel arrangements and submit expense reports.
Many companies who are going this route are not only sacrificing service but they are in fact losing money by not implementing a strict travel program that allows them to effectively manage and control their travel budget.
A professional travel service can offer significant advantages.
As I write this article, I am reminded of a colleauge who called was on a business trip in London. While over there, the meetings went better than he anticipated. He subsiquitly wanted to make an imediate change in his itinerary. His return from London back to Los Angeles needed to be a day earlier than it was currently scheduled for. At 8am local time in London England (that makes it 3am EST here in the States) he wanted to speak directly with someone. He didn’t want to risk not being able to get the availabilty for a next day flight as it was already a one day time difference in London. It was very important thet he reach someone right away.
A professional Travel service can offer a management team capable of handling virtually everything that a traditional in house travel department would do. For a contracted cost, your company can partner with a company that operates with efficiency. The “hands on” service is well worth the cost. The simple truth is as professional travel agents they can do an array of things that discount travel web sites cannot.
A professional travel service can utilize their negotiated contracts with the airlines to offer fares that are often less costly than the airline’s published fares. They have at their disposale access to search engines that aggregate all available fare types. Allowing them to be able to virtually guarantee the lowest possible fares across all markets. In addition to being less expensive, in many cases a Travel service can offer less restricted tickets as well, while still maintaining the lower fares – this is critical to the corporate traveler who is often subjected to inflated pricing structures in order to allow flexibility.
A professional Travel service can also offer complete management of all trips, meetings or any travel related issues. The arrangement of hotels, ground transportation, meeting rooms, and other various special assistance requirements are all areas that your professional will take care of.
A professional Travel service offers all of these things and so much more. They do virtually all of the paperwork, and handle all itineraries and invoices. They can submit on a bi monthly basis spreadsheets, updates, expense reports, credit card consolidation statements, and consolidated airline purchase reports. They can offer complete customization based on each account’s unique needs, and work hand-in-hand with their accounting departments as needed.
Going back to my colleuge in London – who else could he call at 3am EST (remember it’s 8am in London)? Would he feel comfortable leaving a message on a voice mail machine and hoping that they get a response in time to arrange an urgent change to an international ticket? His company’s contracted Travel service had assigned an agent to him, and that agent was personally able to gather all of the information from them, in “real time” (and time IS money in these situations!). He was assured that he was able to check availability for his request to change his return flight. He was able to verbally let them know that everything was under his control and that he had already started the change process. He was given his new schedule and everything from the hotel to ground transportation in London and in Los Angeles was taken care of within hours.
Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of having someone who will be there when your clients need to make an adjustment in their schedule. As professional service companies they put themselves in your employee’s shoes and they cater to all of their travel needs. They set up profiles to ensure that your employee’s personal needs are met, with all of their loyalty programs information on file. If someone needs a business class seat and it’s within the company’s guidelines they can provide options. If your employees need to stay in a hotel in Europe or in any city in the USA, they can offer options and service there as well.