A Professional Angle to Handling Your Travel Requirements
Travel today has gone through major changes. Your Travel Agent’s commissions have disappeared. To survive, he needs to innovate. The handling of Corporate Travel is being reinvented. In such a scenario, you the client, needs to be on top of the metamorphosis the Industry is going through. The post recession environment, has further brought in more aspects that need to be considered. Management is key to ensuring you get the best for your Travel Spend.
The Right Travel Management Company
Is your Travel Management Company considering the whole spectrum of your Travel and Entertainment (T&E) Budget when handling your Travel account? Are they bringing effective savings to the table? Are they demonstrating potential additional savings at your Business Review meeting?
Today Corporate Travel Management is a complex business. It can no longer be handled by an old style Travel Agent who mainly concentrates his/her efforts on supplying a decent air or hotel booking, and documentation service. Corporate Travel Management is more than just that. It should be able to deliver everything you budgeted for within your budget. It is also about creating effective savings.
Booking And Documentation Processes
Accurate booking processes are vital to getting a trip organised exactly as the Business Traveller wants. This of course means a lot of accurate data has to go into systems. To avoid repetitional work, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) like Amadeus or Sabre, have what is called a Passenger Booking Profile, in the Business. The best TMCs out there are able to migrate most of the data required, directly from the Company’s Human Resources (HR), systems directly into the GDS. They then have the traveller update his profile with meal/seat preferences and any other critical data. The information moves seamlessly from the client company’s systems to the GDS. When making a booking, all that a Booking Agent has to do is to move the data from the Passenger’s Booking Profile on to a booking screen to make the reservation. This is accomplished with just a few clicks of the computer mouse.
Self Booking Tool (SBT)
Some companies choose a Self Service Reservations (SSR) method to cut costs. Corporate travellers or their assistants use an online Self Booking Tool (SBT), which is installed on personal computers, laptops and other machines within the corporate environment, to make their airline and hotel bookings. The software is made available through the GDS, and is linked to the TMCs systems. Some corporates even take the process to Self Ticketing. Travellers issue their own tickets sitting in their own offices or homes. The whole process of Self Booking, reduces the work-load on Travel Consultants which in turn makes way for a reduction of the Transaction Fee.
Mid and Back-Office Systems
Once a ticket or document has been issued, it needs to be reported to the Airline, the local Billing Settlement Plan (BSP) Office for appropriate accounting and related payments. This is usually automatically done through the GDS. If a Purchasing Card or Virtual Credit Card was used, Credit Card companies need to be notified as well. That is also usually integrated into the GDS. The next step in the process is the Back-Office system. In some cases, GDS companies have been known to get involved in that area as well. If not, the TMC will have to automate the process of accounting and billing the client. In the Arabian Gulf Area, TMCs are known to provide credit of their own accord to selected clients. That requires yet another billing and settlement process. In other parts of the world the whole process is handled by Credit Card payment solutions.
Management Information Reports (MIR)
Most TMCs will provide standard Management Information Reports on monthly/quarterly basis. They may charge additional amounts for specialised account specific reports. If your company opts for a Credit Card Payment Solution or a Purchasing Card, major Credit Cards companies today provide excellent MIR.
Account or Client Relationship Management
TMCs usually provide Client Account Management for larger accounts. The person is usually an expert in Travel Management. He or she will advice the client right from the start. From implementing the Travel Policy of the client if one exists, to advising the clients on cost savings. Depending on the client’s Travel spend, there will usually be options. Often, these may point in the direction of consolidations on specific airlines or with selected hotel chains. Global consolidations are also possible for multi national situations. The Client Account Manager should be able to advise on subjects like Travel Insurance, VAT Refunds, Credit Card payment solutions etc. The Account Manager will also be responsible for periodical Business Reviews as specified in the client agreement.
Like most other Travel related processes, pricing can be a complex process or sometimes, surprisingly a very straight forward, easy one. Almost all pricing today is on the basis of transactions and the time taken to make a booking – be it an airline, hotel or car rental booking.
Major TMCs are able to give you an average booking time taken for your specific account. TMCs may give you a Bundled Fee: in other words, one fee for booking Air, Hotel and Car or, split the fee by service. They may also give you different combinations of services depending on client requirements. Again, if your company opts for an SBT, you will save time for the TMC and lower their costs, resulting in lower Transaction Fees. Account Management may come at a separate cost and will depend on number of visits, telephone calls and analyses that may be involved in managing the Travel account.
The process of setting targets for the TMC is often referred to as bench-marking. For example, a client may tell their TMC, “My T&E Budget for the year is 2 million US Dollars. If you save 10% of the Budget for my Company, I will pay you 10% of the savings back to you, as a bonus.” They can even put the bench-marking agreement on a scale: the more theTMC saves for the client, the more they will earn as a bonus. This very often involves negotiation and the analyses of fairly high amounts of data. Usually, only the largest corporates get involved in Bench-marking.
Our Corporate Travel Service Aims at Providing Our Clients With:
- Setting up of internal processes including Travel Policies, if necessary.
- Taking over the complex job of Travel negotiations with Airlines and other suppliers.
- Improving the efficiencies of your existing Travel Agent.
- Reducing your Travel costs, or getting you more Travel for less money.
Adding Value to Your Business
With many years of Travel management experience, we add value to client companies in several ways. Managing your Travel Account, configuration of Travel services that will best suit your requirements, Travel Bookers training and working with Contact Centres. These are some of our key areas of expertise.
How Will Such Services Benefit Your Organisation?
Having experienced Travel professionals on your side will ensure you always get the best value for your money. You can be assured of better Travel services at lower costs.
Travel Management – FAQs
What is Corporate Travel Management?
In a nutshell, Corporate Travel Management is the skill and ability to provide all the Travel and Hotel requirements a company budgeted for, at a lower cost than budgeted, with no compromise on standards of Travel and Accommodation.
Does the size of a Travel Management Company (TMC), matter?
In one word, “Yes.” Corporate Travel Management is a ‘game’ played by the big boys. Travel Management Companies will need larger volumes to effectively negotiate on behalf of clients. They would have also spent big bucks on Information Technology, creating an effective closed cycle, involving many processes of ordering and fulfilment.
What volume of Travel spend would make Corporate Travel Management meaningful?
An air travel spend of 1 million US Dollars will make a good beginning. There will be instances when the Travel Management Company will be able to utilise their combined client volumes, to muscle deals with suppliers, that a smaller Travel Agent may not be able to.
Should all companies have a Travel Policy?
A Travel Policy is really a mixed bag of goodies. We would recommend a basic Travel Policy if the company has an Air Travel spend of 1 million US Dollars. Ultimately, the success of any Travel Policy depends on the buy-in of the company’s employees.