There is a common misperception that small businesses can secure the cheapest business travel by booking on the internet directly with hotels, car hire companies and airlines. But as time-strapped CEOs, personal assistants or in-house travel bookers spend countless hours trawling the internet for fares, running cost comparisons then booking, buying and reconciling travel expenses, are the benefits really what they seem?
For SMEs there are a number of key advantages of working with a travel management company (TMC) rather than booking travel ad hoc online. According to business travel specialist, Corporate Traveller, working with a TMC is now critical for businesses that want to get the most value from their spend on travel.
A TMC will show you how to create efficiencies at every stage of the booking and buying process and has the potential to deliver hard and soft dollar savings on every booking. A TMC will not only give you expert advice but most importantly they have the technology, systems and supplier relationships to ensure you’re getting the best deal every time you travel. Below are a few reasons why your business needs a travel expert on board:
Consolidate all of your air travel, hotel accommodation and car hire bookings with the one TMC and your business will gain 100 percent visibility of your spend levels and patterns. By bringing all the elements of your travel program together through a single source, you will streamline travel booking processes, capture crucial travel data and enhance your travel security. A TMC provides a single point of contact for you and your travellers during an emergency and provides crucial support when bookings need to be changed or amended urgently.
Enhance your travel performance
The overall efficiency of your travel is determined largely by your business’ culture. Your decision towards when and where you fly, the airlines you choose and the hotels in which you stay, can dramatically impact the overall cost-effectiveness of your travel. Even if your business has only a small number of travellers, variations in the above factors can create unnecessary cost blowouts.
Working closely with you, a TMC can help you achieve quick and simple improvements by:
- Implementing processes so that all of your business travel is managed centrally.
- Assessing how you travel and identifying areas where costs can be contained e.g. how far in advance are your airfares booked? What class of travel are your employees travelling in? What kinds of tickets are you buying (flexible or restricted)? How many travel changes are being made (and how much the change fees are) and how competitive your hotel rates are.
- Weighing up what you value most: flexible business travel with preferred suppliers or finding the lowest-cost travel options?
- Creating a basic travel policy that can be used company wide to guide the way your employees travel.
- Ensuring everyone is aware of this policy and complies with this policy.
Get the most value from your airfares
A TMC will provide you with a range of strategies to make sure your business is booking and buying airfares cost efficiently. One of the key ways a TMC can you help your business save on airfares is by implementing a Best Fare of the Day policy. By using Best Fare of the Day, your travellers will be booking the cheapest available airfare from a spread of airlines. A TMC will ensure that BFoD is used every time a booking is made, which drives compliance.
A TMC can also help your business to manage airline credit on hold and monitor how far in advance your tickets are being purchased. Generally the earlier an airfare is bought the cheaper the ticket. A TMC will also help you to analyse whether more cost-effective classes of travel or airlines can be booked (eg. economy for domestic flights; premium economy where available; and business instead of first class); and if your travel volumes are high enough, negotiate a private fare with a carrier on your high capacity routes.
Save more on accommodation
Book your hotel accommodation through a TMC and your travel manager will help you generate more savings by:
- Assessing your room night volumes in cities or at certain hotels. A TMC will use this data to help you negotiate a corporate discount.
- Looking at the trends in where your people stay to determine whether there are more cost effective alternatives that are just as convenient.
- Negotiating on the total cost of your accommodation and identifying where services specific to your company’s requirements can be added in to the room rate at a discount or for free eg. Wi-Fi, parking, use of business facilities etc.
- Instigating re-negotiations when your business’ specific hotel rates are found to be uncompetitive.
- Ensuring your company’s agreed hotel rates are loaded into a consultant reservation system and online booking tool so they are accurate and accessible.
Increase your savings on car hire
Your TMC can provide expert advice on how to drive savings on ground transport. Your travel manager can show you how to maximise savings with preferred car hire suppliers, and things to look out for when it comes to category of car, insurance details, GPS inclusions, booking channels and the refuelling of vehicles.
These days there are so many options available to travellers, it is important that SMEs have the right support, knowledge and technology to be able to navigate through the travel industry maze. But by building a sound framework for your booking and buying processes, using a TMC for their expertise, technology and reporting, your businesses will be in the best position to achieve long-term savings.