Corporate Travel Contact Centre – Location Choice

The Contact Centre is the heart of the Corporate Travel service to clients. It is the engine; everything else will revolve around it. Without it, there can be no service. Where then, would be the ideal location for your all-important Corporate Travel Contact Centre? Many a diehard traditionalist would tell you that it should be located where the head office is. In other words, the Managing Director or CEO, would like it where he is located. Such a notion, I presume, would come from a desire to show off one’s empire to every visitor. Some others would argue for it to be located in their own building, wherever that may be. Their main argument would be that with such an arrangement, they will have no rental costs. My own views on the subject are very different.

There was a time when it was necessary to locate the Operations Centre, close to the client. Those were the days of paper tickets. When fancy brick-and-mortar structures were important. There was often the need to rush a ticket to a client. Sometimes, for the client to come storming into your office to inform you of dire mishandling. One of your staff had messed up his itinerary. Fortunately, those days are long gone.

The Best Location for The Corporate Travel Contact Centre

Ideally, the Corporate Travel Contact Centre should be located where your rental costs are the least expensive. You do not need prime real estate to house your Contact Centre.

Today, it is not an area clients visit: everything has gone electronic. Even if you own extensive office space in the centre of town, that really is not the site for your Contact Centre. Rent it out: make some extra cash.

Set up your Contact centre in an area where the rent is cheap. Of course, rent is not the only factor that you need to take into consideration. It would be pointless to set it up in the middle of the desert because rents are cheap. You need to consider the following points before you decide where to set up the Contact Centre:

Points to Consider When Setting up a Contact Centre (call centre):

  1. Is the area easily accessible?
  2. Are there good, regular and reliable public transportation systems available to/from the area?
  3. Does the area have good Internet and telecommunication facilities?
  4. Are there any electricity-related issues in the area?
  5. Are there any problems with the water supply?
  6. Where do the majority of your staff live?
  7. If you are in an area that has heavy seasonal rains, will that affect your operation?
  8. Is the area secure and suitably protected?

Today many a successful Corporate Travel Contact Centre is located far away from the frenzied activities of downtown areas. I know of some that are located in warehouses near Airports. What matters really, is the service; not the location.

I should also add that if your current Contact Centre is costing you too much to run, you should seriously consider moving it out to a suitable location where you can save on rental costs.

Is a BPO Feasible for Corporate Travel Processes?

Any discussion on the location of the Corporate Travel Contact Centre will bring up the question of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Of course, the volume of your business should be considered, before BPO will become an item of serious discussion. To outsource, or not to outsource, is the question. One can argue the point till the cows come home and still have no clear-cut answers. In my personal opinion, several aspects of the Travel industry, as against Corporate Travel services, can be outsourced. Especially, when it comes to routine airline reservations. However, when it comes to Corporate Travel, one should proceed with Outsourcing cautiously.

When To Outsource Your Business Processes – Culture

Conducting a detailed study of the service, costs, benefits and savings is important. The business culture, of the city you conduct your business in, will also be a critical factor to consider. For instance, we all know that in the Arabian Gulf, personal relationships are important. Arabs traditionally like a conversation with their suppliers. That Kahwah (Arabic coffee) or Sulaimani (Arabic tea) over which you discuss business, is important. One may argue that those discussions can take place at higher levels, or with Key Account Managers. Those of us who know the Gulf well, would probably disagree. It is often very important for a senior decision-maker in the Arab world, to have a chat with the actual person who is making his booking. If you take that person out of the equation, you can easily lose the whole client account.

Should you decide to go the route of the BPO, a lot of care should be taken during the negotiation and implementation processes. It should be handled by a senior manager who knows his travel well. He should also be aware of all operational processes. Please do not think he can delegate the responsibilities and successfully deliver. One cannot sign what one considers a fantastic contract and forget all about what we term as Travel Operations. I think every ‘what if’ situation should be considered, reviewed and signed off with the knowledge and confidence that there will be no negative impact. I also think, one should review staffing very seriously. It should be a very important part of the contract. Above-average staff in Country A, may not be good enough for clients in Country B. In Corporate Travel when things go wrong, the situation can become quite explosive. You could lose a major client over a single badly handled telephone call. You may never be given a second chance.

Implementation of BPO processes are critical to its success. It is important that you have an excellent Operational coordinator on your side to handle the processes between your organisation and the BPO vendor. The person should be empowered completely, to handle any situation that may arise.

When it comes to BPO, you may perhaps wish not to outsource the travel arrangements of your VIPs and, some ‘Prima Donnas’ that every corporate seems to always have. It can, however, be done: set up a VIP handling unit with your BPO vendor. We need always to take special care of decision-makers and influencers.


When you have a Corporate Travel Contact Centre of over 150 staff, you need to consider carefully, where you set it up. Whether you handle it on your own, or go for the BPO idea, setting it up the right way could save you money, and significantly increase your profits.

Coromandel SAS has decades of experience in setting up, and managing Corporate Travel Contact Centres for top travel companies, and can help you to smooth out the process of setting up your own. Get in touch today to set up a free consultation.

© Mano Chandra Dhas

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  1. Reply

    I was in Trinidad & Tobago recently, where Delta has a reservation center. Sabre operates out of Uruguay. I just read your post while writing a report for a non-travel industry company that requested I do some preliminary research for them regarding diversifying their Philippines-based call center operations to Colombia.
    JetBlue keeps a lot of their contact center operations in house, but not in their Long Island headquarters, but out of a company owned operations center in Utah.
    In some cases, outsourced centers can perform the task better than the client company, especially when the client company is focused on other disciplines. This becomes more true as passengers nowadays expect to rebook flights via Twitter (I have done it) or through an app.
    Still, you make a very good point. Companies need to be culturally competent. I like your example of serving gulf customers. It sounds like their expectations are far different, and expect a certain level of intimacy in their customer service.
    Last year I was at an event where Copa Airlines gave a talk. They spoke about how they use contact center analytics to measure customer expectations–and their ability to meet them. One interesting finding was that while Brasilieros were very picky about their onboard meals, their North American passengers were thrilled to be offered any food at all!
    Surely this diversity of expectations carries over into the contact center, as well.

    • Reply

      Thank you for your comments, Loren. You make some very valid points. The Gulf is a totally different animal. Don’t forget that in an Emirate like Dubai, there are about 120 different nationalities living and working in the Emirate. In fact the majority of the population of the Emirate, is the expatriate segment. They bring with them every individuality of their own particular nationality. The one-size-fits all principle, can never work in the Gulf. Throw in the local Arab preferences, and you have a challenge like none other! While BPO can save many companies in many different fields a lot of Dollars, in my view, one would have to always handle it with care and careful project studies, before launching out into one.

  2. Reply

    dear Mano,
    Your blog is indeed staright to the point and very well written.
    I am agreeable to every single point you have refered to.
    Best of luck and best regards

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