Category Archives: Travel Management

7 Questions Every Business Should Ask Before Contracting With A TMC – Part 2

contracting with a tmc

Once your company decides to partner with a TMC, finding one that suits your company’s needs becomes the next challenge. If you missed it, see our part 1 of this blog series, addressing the initial questions to ask any travel management company during the vetting process. Now that you’ve asked the first round of questions from your perspective TMCs, it’s time to dive deeper. We’ve compiled additional questions to ask, regardless if this the first time you’re working with a TMC or just looking for a new fit.

Questions to ask before contracting with a TMC

  1. What are the typical savings for your clients? What’s the biggest bang for your buck? Unfortunately, when it comes to cost savings, travel management is not so black and white. Cost is often a major factor, but what are the other pain points affecting your company and its travelers? Having an understanding of what savings looks like to a TMC is an important perspective. 
  2. How much back and forth is needed to finalize travel plans? Depending on your set up and preferences, every company’s answer is going to look different. Seeing how each TMC handles this question can provide excellent insight into their customization options and overall customer service.
  3. Will I be working with a dedicated team? AKA – when the going gets tough, can I rely on people who know the ins-and-outs of my travel needs and preferences? Having reliable back up when you’re stranded alone in an airport at 2:30 am is what makes the difference between a good TMC and a great TMC. At Christopherson, you will have an account manager who always has your back, plus a collection of advisers.
  4. How do you handle travel mishaps? What happens if a traveler misses their flight? Or has a family emergency and needs to quickly change their itinerary? Asking how each company resolves unforeseen travel issues can save you time and energy in the future.
  5. Is there a general travel insurance provider? How well do they know business travel industries as a whole? Are they well-equipped to assist in other travel-related needs, like travel insurance or credit card pre-payment?
  6. Do you provide after hours support? When the unforeseen happens after 5pm, what it the procedure to assisting your travelers. Will they be waiting for a callback? Or will they receive immediate service and support?
  7. How are you different from other TMCs? Ask them for their elevator pitch. Make sure your concerns and their priorities are aligned before contracting with a TMC.

A reliable TMC who always has your back is an essential factor for any growing business. Make sure you choose the corporate travel partner that’s right for your company’s needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for a TMC, or, just interested in more about TMCs in general. We’re always here to talk.

The First Questions To Ask TMCs – Part 1

first questions to ask TMCs

Deciding to manage travel with a TMC is an exciting transition for any company. Knowing that your travel will be in the hands of experts is relieving, and getting time back in your day back is an appealing perk too. So, now that your company is ready to move forward – where do you start?  What traits are essential for a qualified travel management company? And more importantly, which one is the right fit for your business’ specific needs?

We understand this venture can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these beginning questions to ask TMCs. These are questions we’re frequently asked by interested companies. We’ve also included additional tips and thoughts to consider during the process.

The first 6 questions to ask TMCs

  1. How much money are you going to save me? This is the million dollar question, isn’t it? It’s the question we hear most frequently, and I’m sure it’s the first question your CEO is going to ask you too. Yes, this is an important question, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor either. At Christopherson, our clients can expect to save 15-18% on travel costs on average. But it’s important to also keep in mind other factors; like price of the tickets, time, stress and ancillary costs. Items like these are often not factored into blanket cost statements. Many factors go into a healthy and successful travel management program. Cost is just one of the many considering factors.
  2. What technology do you offer? What solutions are you looking to solve in a travel management software? In your research, you may find there are tools for problems that you didn’t even know existed. Our proprietary technology, AirPortal 360, is a powerful, extensive travel technology tool. With a tool set for travel managers, as well as travelers, you can rest assured that everyone is on the same page. Stay on top of your travel with tools that assist with risk management, hotel pre-pay solutions, unused ticket assistance, and much more.
  3. What is the employee turnover rate at your company? Knowing this answer before signing on with a TMC can truly save time and wasted energy down the line. It can be the difference between and happy and long-term relationship with your account manager, or skipping to new account managers every few months. Having a company by your side that not only takes good care of you, but also their employees is important when it comes to customer satisfaction in the long run.
  4. What is your client retention rate? A very similar question. A low retention of current clients can indicate an issue with performance at a travel management company.
  5. Are there additional inclusions into the travel program? Will the TMC have an initial low price, but nickel and dime you for additional features and actions? This is one reason why the ‘how much are you going to save me’ question can be misleading and necessary to dive further.
  6. Do you provide custom solutions? Is the product and travel program a simple ‘off-the-shelf’ model?  It’s important to understand if your program will have the customization you need to run an efficient travel management program.

At Christopherson Business Travel, our approach is dedicated account management with custom travel programs. Feel confidant that your business is in the right hands with our experienced team and 24/7 service. Please contact us to learn more about how Christopherson can fit your travel needs. Keep an eye out for our next addition of questions to ask TMCs.

How to Select the Right Corporate Travel Partners

selecting-corporate-travel-partners

I recently had the pleasure of attending the GBTA- North Carolina’s Education Day.  Themed ‘Bridging the Travel Gap’, it focused on helping both buyers and suppliers bridge the gaps that may exist during the purchasing process. The keynote speaker was Neil Hammond of Goldspring Consulting and he focused on Better Engaging the Buyer and Supplier Relationship. While he delivered a breadth of beneficial material, I really enjoyed his process on selecting the right corporate travel partners. By breaking it out into steps, it makes the process less daunting. It also allows for increased communication and guidelines, ensuring everyone’s needs are met for future travel management practices.

Selecting the right corporate travel partners for your business:

  1. Involve any key stakeholders to get internal support. Gaining this support is especially helpful when a introducing a new policy or changing vendors.
  2. Align your message internally in order to deliver the same message to your travelers.
  3. Educate key decision makers as necessary. Take the time to explain why vendor options are being evaluated.
  4. Define your strategy in advance of collecting a proposal. Will you be awarding a single contract or multiple?
  5. Survey your travelers. This will give you a clear picture of what travelers like and also in keeping their opinions in mind, will ensure buy-in as you proceed in the decision making process.
  6. Agree on your decision making process. What parameters are you looking for? Do these align with your company policy? Do you have a clear timeline for the implementation of this change?
  7. Clearly express your requirements to potential suppliers.
  8. Evaluate suppliers, engaging throughout the process to gain clarification and provide updates on your timeline, if necessary.
  9. Execute a decision according to the defined timeline.

While making a change to your travel program is never easy, following these steps will help you stay organized while selecting your corporate travel partners. And remember, Christopherson is always here to help. With more that 60 years experience in corporate travel, we understand the challenges that businesses face with travel management. If you would like to discuss the process of choosing corporate travel partners in more depth, feel free to contact us, or read our additional blogs below.

Leaving Houston Before Hurricane Harvey’s Landfall

leaving Houston during Hurricane Harvey

When I arrived in Houston for the Concur Fusion Exchange event the last week of August, little did I know of the growing threat brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, was headed straight for the Texas Gulf Coast and Houston. I had never been so close to a hurricane, and as I continued to watch the news and engage in conversations, I grew a little nervous.  With my flight scheduled the same day as the forecasted landfall, I wondered how long I might be in Houston. Would the weather prevented my travels out of town?

In stepped Tina, our wonderful agent at Christopherson Business Travel!  With traffic backing up on the highways to get out of town, and with the airlines inundated with calls to accommodate flights home, Tina told me to just concentrate on my day while she handled my travel plans.  Just her communications alone was enough to calm my nerves. And as the day approached its end, Tina let me know that she secured a spot for me on a packed flight out of town!

I was very appreciative to experience the incredible service that our Christopherson agents provide, and my family was excited to hear that I would be out of harms way.  When travels go smoothly, we don’t often recognize the value of being supported by a terrific team of agents, but when interruptions occur, its a great feeling to know that they are in your corner!

Thank you to Tina, and best wishes to all those affected by Harvey (and Irma) as the rebuilding continues!

Qualities of a Great Corporate Travel Manager

qualities-corporate-travel-manager

Whether you’re switching from in-house travel management or changing providers, knowing what a good corporate travel manager looks like can be difficult. You want to make sure you and your employees are in good hands; and the best way to do that is ensure your corporate travel manager is up to snuff.

Top qualities of an excellent corporate travel manager

  1. Connections in the industry. Sometimes solving problems comes down to your connections or past experiences. An exceptional manager typically has years of experience under their belt, with a network of contacts to get things done quickly and smoothly. Their connections may even help you get a great deal with a vendor or accommodations.
  2. Has the experience to guide you. Travel pricing can fluctuate by the hour. Having a travel manager that can see the value in a good price or smooth itinerary can be invaluable.
  3. Works well with both large and small accounts. Companies of different sizes have different pain points. Knowing how to effectively and seamlessly work with accounts of each size is the sign of a great travel manager. 
  4. Respects privacy and security. Your travel manager will have exposure to personal information. They should be utilizing the latest security tools to protect you and your travelers to help protect it. 
  5. Works well on their feet. Impending weather, meeting cancellations, emergencies – there are many variables that can quickly derail travel itineraries. That’s why it’s so important to have a travel manager who can quickly pick up the pieces and move on with an effective plan. 
  6. Backed by a powerful agency.  Large travel management companies, like Christopherson often have deals and connections with airlines, hotels or car services. Working through a TMC often saves you time and stress, but more often than not, a lot of money too.

A Millennial Friendly Travel Policy?

Millennial travel policy

While attending the GBTA Convention in Boston this past month, I was both expectant but still a little surprised about the buzz around the concept of millennial business travelers. After all, millennials have been in the workplace for roughly 15 years. During this time, this generation is still inspiring new ideas to pop up.  While there, I attended a couple of education sessions focused on travel policy. One session that I found particularly interesting, featured a panel of two travel managers.  They presented and answered questions on their individual company’s travel policies, including millennial travelers.

Millennial Friendly Travel Policy

• There is a common assumption that millennial travelers are collaborative and like big open public lobby spaces where they can relax and catch up on work. Actually, some are introverts and still appreciate having a work station in their hotel room.
• Millennials have a need to personalize everything and are more likely to dine out in a unique restaurant or go sightseeing on a business trip. It tends all about the experience for these travelers but, as this generation gets older and takes on more personal and familial responsibility, we might begin to see a shift in the “bleisure” time.
• Millennial travelers are 60% more likely to pay for an upgraded hotel room or seat on their flight. This one is actually true and they seem to be willing to treat their comfort as a personal expense.
All of this comes down to one word- OPTIONS. Build a policy that works for your company, is good for your bottom line and vendor relationships but also provides your travelers a few options and you will have happy travelers.

 

Christopherson and Domo Partnership

Christopherson-Domo-app

At Christopherson, we’ve built a reputation of being the most innovative, technologically-savvy TMC in the industry. Whether we build it ourselves or integrate with other cutting-edge companies, we are committed to being the first in travel technology and a leader in delivering our clients digital tools to solve their problems. Which is why we are excited to announce our latest solution for busy companies and their employees. Christopherson Business Travel and Domo, a business analytics company, have paired up to streamline travel management data. Using Domo’s ability to quickly turn data into insights, and our technology suite to enhance your travel program, we’re again the first to bring unparalleled service to business travel.

Christopherson and Domo—bringing two leaders together

Domo connects directly to any source of data to streamline its reporting. It can combine, cleanse, and transform data in a flash, uncovering insights in just a few clicks. It allows users to visualize and share data across your organization with ease.

Christopherson and Domo have a multifaceted relationship. We have been using Domo to provide actionable insights for our own business for four years. And we are Domo’s premier travel management company. With a symbiotic relationship like ours, it was only inevitable that we would build something great together.

As the first travel management app developer within their ecosystem, the possibilities to integrate were intriguing. Domo and our travel management software, AirPortal, now integrate at ten different data sources. These ten Domo data connectors help us to gain valuable insight and answer questions with intuitive data exploration and filtering. Our account managers receive alerts when a client’s travel spend makes a significant change, up or down. Our sales team and our OPs managers are also able to make smarter, faster decisions to improve their business results. 

Introducing our Domo-Partnered Apps:

We’re excited about our three new Domo Partner apps that will be released at the Global Business Travel Association Convention this week. The first in an ongoing series of apps, they pinpoint managed travel frustrations and easily finds solutions.  

Travel Leakage Analyzer

This app provides insight into travel spend, revealing pieces previously hidden.  It integrates directly to a feed from a our Airportal, a general ledger, or Concur Expense, and compares it to bookings made through Christopherson. From there it analyzes travel compliance, and more importantly, finds non-compliance. The drill down functionality also allows you to be as granular as needed. With this tool, you can understand your entire picture of compliance, and know where to start to change it around.

Travel Map Insights

With this app you can effectively determine the best locations for future hotel RFPs, based upon a real time data. By looking at hotel locations, total room nights, average daily rate and total spend, your travel manager can make a more informed decision to future vendor negations. Travel managers will be able to easily see and sort the data to make better decisions.

Travel Analytics

This is a set of apps offering powerful analytics tools to travel managers. It accesses their data in real-time, making it fast and simple to gleen powerful insights for travel executives and managers.

The Christopherson and Domo Relationship  

Premiering at GBTA, this is just the first of an exciting future for powerful and real-time solutions in the travel management industry. With our powerful travel technology suite, coupled with Domo’s cloud-based analysis system, the potential to revolutionize travel management headaches are endless. If you are attending the GBTA convention in Boston this week, we invite you to join us at booth 1175. We will be demo-ing our  integrated apps with Domo, as well as exciting updates to our AirPortal 360 suite. Hope to see you there!

Enterprise/National as a Ground Transportation Supplier

To be effective, corporate travel programs require many moving parts. One critical area involves nurturing wonderful supplier relationships, including ground transportation. We’ve found that Enterprise/National offers customized benefits for many of our clients.

Customized benefits from Enterprise/National:

  • Dual Brand Agreement (National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car).       Programs are customized and negotiated based on the company’s specific travel patterns and traveler needs.
  • One loyalty number “Emerald Club” that is provided and works for both brands globally.
  • Global Billing options are available.
  • Local Account Management and support provided for any customized agreement.
  • 100% location compliance with corporate pricing.
  • Supporting lines of business that can help with other areas of ground transportation: Enterprise RideShare, Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Truck Rental, Exotics by Enterprise, Enterprise Car Sales.

Christopherson Business Travel maintains excellent communication with the many Enterprise/National Representatives throughout the country.  If you need a referral to the right contact in your area, please allow us to be your resource for making an introduction.

We’ve spent the last 60 years dedicated to finding travel management solutions for busy companies. From customized travel programs to advanced technology, we provide peace of mind. Contact us to learn more about how Christopherson, along with our preferred partners, and assist you with your travel needs.

Read Next:

How Do TMCs Assist Travelers?

How-TMCs-Help-Travelers

On our blog, we often talk about the benefits of a managed travel program for corporations.  But what about the traveler?  Whether traveling every single week or only once a year, a company’s managed travel program should assist travelers as well.

Traveling itself is taxing. And that’s not even counting in the stress from meetings, staying on top of emails and time management. We support companies, but more importantly their employees, with the eccentricities of travel. Christopherson provides  a wealth of essential resources, just for travelers.

How Christopherson assists travelers:

  • One-stop Shopping. Book your air, hotel and car from one source.  All discounts and negotiated rates are at your fingertips.
  • Guaranteed Lowest Fare. The traveler will receive a refund if a lower fare is found that meets the same qualifications as the original fare.
  • Afterhours. Christopherson is available 24/7  You will receive experienced, efficient, and courteous support round the clock, no matter where they are in the world.
  • Unused Ticket Tracking. Unused tickets are tracked and made available to you immediately upon cancellation of the original ticket.
  • Traveler Profile. Avoid wasted time and hassle of having to communicate or re-entering your unique travel preferences every time you book your travel.

You have enough on your plate. We cover the tiny details of travel so you can focus on the more important items.

Read next:

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning travel management company with more that 60 years of experience.  From our custom-built technology to our experts employees, we’ve succeeded by providing superior support for all the unique problems travel hands out. If you think your company could benefit from additional travel management solutions, contact us today.

Surviving a One-Day Buisness Trip

Surviving a one day business trip

We are all so busy that, at times, a one-day business trip can have a lot of benefits. First, it saves your company money on an overnight in a hotel. Second, it takes less time away from any personal and professional duties and can make a person more productive. While the benefits are strong, the concept of doing such a trip can be daunting to some people.

Tips to surviving a one-day business trip:

1) Stay healthy. Catching an early flight, attending meetings, and then catching another flight at the end of the day is exhausting. Combat this by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy to ensure you have plenty of energy to get you through the day.
2) Dress comfortably. Without access to a hotel, you will need to wear business clothes for the entire day. Invest in some that are wrinkle free and wear comfortable shoes.
3) Pack a small “what if” bag. You’ll need to be prepared in the event that you need to stay over. Extra undergarments, travel sized toiletries and a toothbrush can put your mind at ease.
4) Take advantage of any travel perks. If you have access to an airport lounge or a business center, these can be a great place to catch up on work. If you don’t have such access, you may consider using your extra time to enjoy your destination for an hour or two.
5) Lastly, if your trip includes a red- eye flight, you might consider purchasing an upgrade to ensure you get enough sleep to continue to be productive once you land.

A one-day business trip is eventually inevitable for most professionals.  But if you tackle it strategically, you can walk away with a productive and energetic day under your belt.