In a time not too far long gone, corporate travel agents held the keys to the travel kingdom, so to speak. Only certified travel agents could book flights and make hotel reservations, and only a select few could find the best deals.
Then along came the internet and all that changed. Anyone with a computer could troll airline and hotel websites, finding the best rates and booking reservations—all with the click of a button. For many companies, that meant Marge in HR became the official corporate travel agent.
Lately, the tide has turned. Marge is swamped. She certainly doesn’t have time to scour hundreds (literally hundreds) of travel sites anymore. Companies have realized that 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 right one for your organization is easy if you know what to look for.
The key to avoiding the aggravation that comes from travel planning, as well as enjoying the cost-savings and even gaining a few perks along the way is simple. All you have to do is choose a corporate travel agent who:
1. Is well connected in the industry.
It’s 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 that one special connection will come through for a CEO, guest or employee. Your corporate travel agent should give you firsthand insight into vendors and accommodations.
2. Understands and knows value when they see it.
From last minute travel arrangements to leisure trips, the price for travel fluctuates by the hour. An experienced travel agent knows value, knows when to wait and when to snatch up a reservation pronto.
3. Can project manage, coordinating and rearranging the most minuscule details without losing their mind or dropping the ball.
Whether one person or a group is traveling, the devil is in the details. Work with a travel agent who is a proven multi-tasker. One who can reserve 15 airline seats together, 15 hotel rooms on the same floor, etc. without overlooking any minute detail. Group travel agents worth their salt are hard to come by.
4. Thinks clearly and rationally in the midst of “crazy”.
Weather, blackouts, national emergencies, a meeting running late and a multitude of other circumstances can impact travel plans. Even in the craziest of travel nightmares, the perfect corporate travel agent keeps their wits and has workable solutions up their sleeve.
5. Respects your privacy, keeping your info safe and secure.
Think about it. Your corporate travel agent has access to a vast amount of private data, and should have the latest security tools in place to protect it.
6. 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, one can be developed. 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 travel planner can deliver.
7. 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 agencies can do both seamlessly.
8. 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 personal travel agent sure will. And when they’re backed by a robust agency (like First in Service Travel), they can make things happen!
9. 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 acts 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 sources, which prove valuable to you.
10. Cares about people.
This one goes without saying (hopefully).
If you’re ready to bring humanity and personality back to business travel, please contact us today! We’d love to hear from you!