With globalisation helping to make business travel more important than ever, the discipline of travel management is now crucial for optimising overall performance. It is important to understand that corporate travel is complicated, so should not be arranged haphazardly, or at the last minute. In this article, you will find out more about travel management itself, as well as the value of travel management companies helping to optimise your strategy.

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What is Travel Management?

Travel management is a specialism, which is based around organising corporate travel, tracking your various travel expenses and devising a comprehensive travel strategy. As a discipline, it is intended to help businesses and their employees to optimise the way they deal with their travel needs. This means making sure everything is handled properly, while minimising any negative impact on things like productivity and financial results.

What Are the Benefits of Travel Management for Companies?

A major benefit of travel management is the ability to reduce costs associated with travel. This can include everything from airline tickets, to hotel room rates and travel insurance. Generally, travel management specialists will have industry contacts and enough experience to find or negotiate the best deals.

By handing responsibility for this to a dedicated travel manager, or a travel management team, individual employees can also spend far more of their time doing core day-to-day tasks and less time on planning trips.

Once a travel strategy is in place, those offering travel management services can also help you to continually improve that strategy, by reporting on your business travel expenses and suggesting useful changes.

In-House Travel Agents vs. External Travel Agents

There are two main approaches that businesses can take: handling travel management in-house, or outsourcing it to an external travel agency, and both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.

In-House Travel Agent

Using an in-house travel agent for travel management purposes means that responsibility for managing your travel strategy stays within your own business. You will either employ someone specifically for the role, or somebody who is already under your employment will take on these responsibilities.

In terms of advantages, this allows you to scrutinise the work of the travel agent more easily than with an external agent, and you also avoid paying the commission or subscription fee an external agent would demand. On the other hand, you either need to employ someone for the role, or have a current employee dividing their time.

External Corporate Travel Agencies

The alternative is to work with an external corporate travel management agency. This means outsourcing responsibility for travel management to another business that specialises in this discipline. You will not employ the person managing your travel strategy, but you will pay them, either via a commission on bookings, or via a subscription fee.

Advantages to this approach include freeing up your own employees to do other things and gaining expert insight from a company that solely focuses on travel management. There is also the likelihood of obtaining cheaper travel rates. It can, however, be harder to scrutinise the precise work they do, so a level of trust is required.

What Are the Tasks of a Travel Agent?

Regardless of whether you employ a travel manager or agent, or opt to outsource to an external company, the core tasks will be very similar. Some of the most important functions and responsibilities are explained below:

1. Travel Planning

On a basic level, business travel needs to be planned ahead of time, so that all bases are covered. This involves, among other things, selecting the right dates for travel, as well as identifying the best times for flights, the best location for accommodation, whether or not airport transfers are needed, and so on.

Leaving travel planning in the capable hands of a travel manager, or travel management company, will help to ensure nothing is forgotten. Their in-depth knowledge of the travel industry can also be invaluable.

2. Negotiation

A large part of corporate travel management involves organising business travel for the best possible price. In order to achieve this, negotiation is likely to be needed with a variety of different vendors.

Travel management companies are ideally equipped to handle this responsibility, because their staff will be experienced in negotiations. They are also much more likely to have close contacts in different parts of the travel industry, allowing them to secure special rates that might otherwise be unattainable to you.

3. Arranging Accommodation

Another key responsibility when managing travel arrangements is organising suitable accommodation for business travellers. This means looking at all of the available options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts and shared accommodation. It also means booking the right number of rooms, for the right time number of days, at the right price.

When companies have insufficient time, they tend to simply look for cheap accommodation, or accommodation in the right location. However, a travel manager will be able to take the time to weigh up all of the different needs, assess them, and find accommodation that ticks as many boxes as possible, while staying under budget.

4. Transportation

Transportation forms a huge part of travel planning, and a good travel management company or professional can help you by handling all of your transportation needs in advance. This could include things like booking flights, securing a rental car, arranging airport transfers, purchasing train tickets, or booking discount travel passes.

Optimising your corporate travel strategy requires all of these things to be organised in advance, for the best possible price, while guaranteeing all business travellers get to where they need to be on time.

5. Meeting and Event Planning

Generally, business travel will be centred on attending meetings or business events and there is plenty of work that goes into organising this. For example, you will need to make sure everybody attending an event has the right credentials to get in and that they know where they are going and what they are doing.

If you are actually hosting the business event, the planning process becomes even more complicated. Either way, high-quality travel management services will be beneficial, helping you to cope with the logistical side.

6. Manage Travel Expenses

Finally, management of travel expenses is arguably the main part of the job and a professional travel manager will be far better equipped to handle this than someone with no real experience in the role. Indeed, good travel management companies will help you to simplify expenses, so that accommodation and extras all come under one bill.

Working with a professional company can also help you to manage your company finances. Consolidated financial reports make for easier reading and your travel manager can analyse these reports and pinpoint areas for improvement.

How Travel Companies Can Benefit From Travel Management Companies

In today’s globalised world, regular corporate travel is now a simple fact of life for many organisations. However, it is also becoming more common for businesses to turn to corporate travel agents or professional travel management companies for assistance. An agent can then help a business to optimise its travel strategy in a number of ways, often by taking on responsibility for booking flights, car rentals, accommodation and events. For hotel owners, this means corporate travel agents serve as an invaluable link to business travellers.

In order to actually book accommodation, flights and transportation for business clients, most corporate travel agents will turn to a global distribution system, or GDS system for short. With this in mind, it is important that companies operating in the travel industry like airlines, car rentals or hotels looking to maximise their appeal to business travellers also connect with the main GDS systems. Doing so will then allow travel agents to access real-time information about for example hotel’s room rates and availability, increasing the chances that they turn to your hotel for their business travel needs and boosting your revenue in the process.

Our “Global Distribution System (GDS): What Are the Benefits for Hotels? article provides more information about the main GDS systems, how they actually work and the ways they can be of benefit to companies operating in the travel industry.

List of Travel Management Companies

A growing number of companies are outsourcing responsibility for managing business travel to travel management companies, benefiting from their industry contacts, specialist knowledge and 24/7 support in the process. For hotels, connecting with the global distribution systems these travel agents use can help to attract more business travel guests.

In the article “Corporate Travel Agents for Hotels to Gain More Business Travellers”, you will learn more about the role of corporate travel agents, find out why companies are increasingly outsourcing travel management to them, and gain an understanding of why these travel agents are valuable for hotels looking to attract business travellers.

Corporate travel is a key component of running a modern business and, along with salaries and marketing costs, represents one of the largest expenses too. For this reason, it is imperative that you get the most value for your money. Travel management can assist with this, while also ensuring all logistical elements are handled properly.

More Tips Regarding Corporate Travel

The corporate travel market is receiving an increased focus from many in the travel industry, partly business travellers often spend more money on their travels, especially when their costs are covered by their employer. However, more importantly, business travel is growing, thanks to factors like globalisation and the availability of flights. In the following articles you find more information about the corporate travel market:

More Tips to Grow Your Business

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