When someone thinks about traveling, whether it’s for work or leisure, ‘easy’ is not the first word that comes to mind. There is a lot that goes into traveling, including finding reasonably priced airfare and hotel, making sure you are on time and what to do if you need to reschedule.
Professional Travel, a privately owned travel management company, specializes in corporate, sport and leisure travel. Located in North Olmsted, it’s one of the top 33 professional travel companies in America, a certified veteran owned business, and an ERC preferred partner. We spoke with John Sturm, Executive Director of Professional Travel, about why businesses should use a travel management company for travel and the benefits to this service.
Choosing a travel management company over planning a trip yourself
In today’s travel world, it’s becoming more important to put controls over what you are doing and how you are doing it. According to the Global Business Travel Association, domestic business travel alone is expected to rise 6.6% while international travel is expected to rise 12.5% this year. Sturm says there are 3 areas a travel company should focus on when delivering exceptional service.
Savings- By allowing travel management companies to negotiate hotels, car rentals and flights due to their existing relationships in the industry, they can put packages together that most other online companies cannot do. When all of those savings are combined, it totals somewhere between 12-17% net.
- Scrutiny - According to Sturm, scrutiny is a collection of aggregated data that captures 100% of travel expenditures. When this data is put into a dashboard, companies can look for exceptions to see how they can save money.
- Service - Unexpectedly, flights are cancelled due to weather or complications with a plane. When using a travel company, it can help with having 24/7 access to an agent to reschedule your travel plans. Service also includes safety measure.
- Security - Since the 9/11 attacks, air travel security has been critical. Travel management companies can act as a proactive security blanket for companies. The management company, like Professional Travel, can track every one of its travelers, make direct contact with the traveler and let their corporations know that the traveler is safe and accommodations have been made.
Employers are missing out
Where companies fall short is most don’t understand the totality of the travel industry and expenditures. (The expenditure is anywhere between the 2nd and 3rd largest controllable expense that a company has, yet corporations allow or enable their travelers to book whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want.)—Pull Quote
“Typically what happens are the airlines, the hotels and the credit card companies market directly to the travelers, so when employees are allowed to do what they want, their choices are not always in the best interest of the corporation,” says Sturm.
Consequently, they are paying higher premiums for all of those benefits. Companies need to understand that the travel management company that they’re working with will negotiate the best contracts possible for these services.
Furthermore, when a company mandates specific requirements for business travel, the company itself reaps the benefits. For example, just as an individual can incur frequent flyer points, so can a company – when all employees adhere to guidelines, the company can cash in and save between 5% - 7% on their airline expenditures.
Other advantages to working with a travel management company
As a business, you may have to provide the structure necessary to diminish dangers and threats wherever your travelers go.
“As a corporation, the duty of care is your responsibility to make sure you are communicating proactively any issues that could affect the well being of your traveler,” says Sturm. “Travel management companies can collaborate with risk management companies, not only to alert travelers that might be going into harm’s way but to handle special circumstances as well. For example, if you were on a plane 30 days ago and there was a passenger that got ill, a travel company can alert you so you know to go get tested or treated.”
The primary purpose of risk management, however, is to make sure that an audit of all your procedures is conducted so your corporation is not held liable by mitigating any of the risks that could potentially occur. By having travel companies act as your duty of care, it allows the traveler to stay safe, out of harm’s way and keep the company in the loop at all times.
How to manage last-minute cancellations
Airline cancellations happen for a lot of reasons, whether it’s a mechanical issue with the plane, weather or cancellation due to connecting flights. Whichever the reason, you should have a plan in place if the unexpected occurs. In addition to notifying the party you were going to visit, make sure to reschedule the meeting at the party’s earliest convenience.
“It’s also critical to communicate to your travel management company that your flight has been cancelled so they can track it. When you book on your own, you don’t have that ability,” says Sturm.
Travel companies, like Professional Travel, will conduct regular audits and track every single ticket that doesn’t get used.
Professional Travel’s unique audit
Professional Travel will conduct a full audit, where it looks at the destinations travelers are going to, carriers they are using and where the client’s key facilities are located.
“We collect this data and evaluate whether you are using the best-in-class processes for your overall travel expenditure or not. We also look at what your travel policy is and examine it to make sure it’s covering the company from a legal standpoint and that it’s also taking advantage of some of the industry’s best practices,” says Sturm.
When an analysis is finished on an unmanaged program, it can lead to savings in excess of 20%.
“We’ve had large corporate accounts that have 600 preferred hotel properties, but after we did the analysis, they only needed about 140, which led to almost $1.2 million in savings,” says Sturm.
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