If you’ve lived long enough, then you remember the days when corporate travel agents held the keys to the travel kingdom, so to speak. Only through group or corporate travel agencies could you book flights and make hotel reservations, and only a select few had cultivated the relationships in the travel industry that would translate to best pricing and perks.
Then along came the internet, and travel agents were no longer gatekeepers. Anyone with a computer and a web connection could troll airline and hotel websites, spending hours searching air fares and hotel reservations—all with the click of a button. For many organizations, large or small, that meant Marge in HR became the official corporate travel agent on top of her other job responsibilities.
Turns out, Marge is swamped, and she’s an expert in HR, not corporate travel planning. She certainly doesn’t have time to scour hundreds (literally hundreds) of travel sites anymore. Companies have realized their travel programs have gone astray. By bringing corporate travel planning in-house, they’re losing a lot of value, both financially and operationally. Once again, corporate travel planners are in demand, and choosing the perfect one for your organization is easy if you know the right qualities to look for.
The 10 Qualities That Distinguish Ordinary Corporate Travel Agents from the Extraordinary Corporate Travel Agents
Like in any profession, there are ordinary corporate travel agents who do an adequate job. Then, there are corporate travel agents who go above and beyond, always there when you need them and pleasantly surprising you when you least expect it.
Here are 10 qualities to look for in a perfect corporate travel agent.
- Your corporate travel planner is well connected in the industry.
Your corporate travel agent should be able to give you firsthand knowledge about vendors and accommodations. It is true that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as important in corporate travel planning as it is in the entertainment industry. You never know when an agent’s one special connection will come through for you, your CEO, guest or employee.
- Your corporate travel agent understands and knows value.
From last minute corporate travel plans to executive leisure trips, the price for travel fluctuates by the hour. An experienced corporate travel agent knows value, knows when to wait and when to snatch up a reservation pronto.
- Your corporate travel agent is part of a travel agency with a backup team who can project manage, coordinate and rearrange the most minuscule details without losing their minds or dropping the ball.
Whether you have one person or a group traveling, the devil is in the details. Work with a travel agent who is a proven multitasker. One who can reserve 15 airline seats together, 15 hotel rooms on the same floor, etc. without overlooking any tiny detail, especially if your travelers are departing from various cities. Group travel agents worth their salt are hard to come by.
- Your corporate travel planner acts proactively and thinks rationally in the midst of “chaos.”
Weather, blackouts, national emergencies, a meeting running late and a multitude of other circumstances can impact corporate travel plans. Even in the chaos of travel nightmares, the perfect corporate travel agent acts proactively and thinks rationally to create workarounds.
- Your corporate travel agent respects your privacy, keeping your information safe and secure.
Think about it. Your corporate travel agent has access to a vast amount of your company’s and team’s private data, and should have the latest security tools in place to protect it.
- Your corporate travel planner is capable of developing, implementing and sticking to a corporate travel policy.
If you have a corporate travel policy in place, you want an agent who takes the time to understand and follow it. If no such policy exists, your corporate travel agent can develop one. The benefits of having a policy include evaluating your company’s budget and needs and avoiding needlessly high travel costs. Not to mention the little perks only a well-connected travel planner can deliver.
- Your corporate travel agent can handle big and small accounts.
Small companies don’t want to feel ignored. Large companies need the assurance that their travel planner can handle the volume. The best corporate travel agencies can do both seamlessly.
- Your corporate travel planner has a personal touch but is backed by a powerful agency.
When there’s talk of airlines charging passengers to use the toilet, it’s a clear indication that the idea of service is dying. Some feel it’s been dead a while now. A corporate travel agent brings humanity back to travel. No, the customer service rep on the other line may not care that you’ve missed a flight, but your corporate travel agency sure will. And when they’re backed by a robust agency (like First in Service Travel), they can make things happen!
- Your corporate travel agent is willing to develop (and maintain) relationships.
Planning corporate travel is personal. Work with an agent who cares enough to keep track of personal preferences. One who promises to be there when you need it, no matter what time it is. One who answers calls and works quickly. One who’s smart enough not to burn bridges, knowing the impact it has on clients. One who invests in building relationships with key people in the travel industry, which prove valuable to you.
- Your corporate travel agent genuinely cares about people.
This one goes without saying, hopefully. Your “spidey sense” will know.
It is simple to avoid the aggravation that comes from corporate travel planning, as well as enjoying the cost-savings and even gaining a few perks for your executives and team along the way. All you have to do is choose a corporate travel agent. If you’re ready to bring humanity and personality back to corporate travel, please contact us today. We think you’ll know the perfect corporate travel agency for you when you meet us.
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