Did you know that nearly 1.3 million business trips are taken in the U.S. every single day? According to the Global Business Travel Association that number is expected to rise. Yet, only 60% of companies have a corporate travel policy, the lack of which exposes their company to unnecessary risks like legal complications or overspending. Incorporating a corporate travel management plan can help a company realize a positive ROI on their travel, protect employees while on the road, and improve morale and employee retention rates.
So what is corporate travel management?
Corporate travel management is more than the simple act of booking flights and hotels. It is the integration of an organization’s travel program with a travel management company that can provide expertise in managing travel risks, logistics, budgets and reporting, company travel policies, VIP travel services, unused tickets, and more.
A well-run corporate travel management program empowers employees with industry-best technology, mobile access, and data-based decision making that increases the value of business travel.
What Does A Corporate Travel Management Company Do?
Corporations, non-profits, universities, government agencies, and private businesses of all sizes hire corporate travel management companies to facilitate their corporate travel program. For companies with large travel programs or extensive travel needs, an in-house, on-site travel team may be an ideal service set up, while smaller companies might rely on the corporate travel management company’s agents and online booking tool. Regardless of company size, all clients enjoy the convenience and cost-savings that are accessible through a corporate management company and prefer the peace of mind that comes from having experts handle their business travel needs.
Other benefits of hiring a corporate travel management company are:
- Reduced costs—From booking airline tickets and hotels to car rentals and insurance, utilizing the leveraged negotiating power of a corporate travel management company helps organizations reduce overall travel expenses. Integrating travel policies and better managing unused airline tickets all lend to reduced costs. Plus, utilizing the expertise of a corporate travel agent means better planned business trips, access to low fare searches, and other money-saving/time-saving opportunities the most savvy business traveler may not be aware of.
- Managed policies—Corporate travel policies protect your company from unnecessary risk and inform your business travelers of your expectations. These policies are in place to avoid legal problems, meet government and local regulations and requirements, and provide for your employee’s safety while traveling. A well-run corporate travel program that maintains strong risk management and enjoys greater cost savings is based upon travelers’ compliance with a well-written, well-communicated, and fully-integrated corporate travel policy.
- Time management—Leaving business travelers on their own to plan their trips and find low fares across myriad internet sites with a plethora of options ultimately wastes time. By employing the expertise of experienced corporate travel agents who have the technology and know-how to quickly plan and execute on your travel plans means both time and money is saved with a corporate travel management company.
- Integrated Online Booking—While there are multiple online booking websites as well as options to book directly with a vendor, doing so potentially means you’ve got reservations in multiple locations for one business trip. A better option is to provide corporate travelers with an online booking tool that is integrated with your program, policy, and negotiated rates so they can still have the autonomy of booking travel online, while keeping those bookings in a centralized location. This also allows the corporate travel manager to maintain duty of care standards and locate travelers in an emergency. A corporate travel management company can provide this technology and assist with full integration.
- Data & Reporting—Measuring the success of your travel program is critical to justifying travel costs and prove the ROI. A corporate management company will provide the data you need to make informed decisions and deliver the right reporting tools to track spend, savings, traveler behavior, and more.
- 24/7 365 Day Traveler Support—When your travelers are on the road, they may encounter situations that require support at any hour. By partnering with a corporate travel management company that delivers support 24/7 365 days a year, they can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having the assistance they need when they need it.
- Mobile Technology—With mobile technology, your travelers can access their itineraries from anywhere in the world, receive alerts to breaking conditions, and immediately contact support. A mobile access point that has all the needed information at their fingertips is critical when searching for hotel confirmations, car rental locations, and flight information.
What Is The Difference Between a Corporate Travel Management Company and a Travel Agency?
If one word were used to explain the difference between a corporate travel management company and a travel agency, it would be “partnership.”
By partnering with a corporate travel management company you have a relationship you can rely on to help you create and implement travel policies, negotiate vendor agreements, access and integrate the latest trends and best practices, fulfill reporting requirements, and more.
While a travel agency may seem similar, travel agencies typically only manage the booking of travel and do not provide in-depth management, analysis, or expertise on how to build a thriving, cost-effective corporate travel program.
Ultimately, with a corporate travel management company, you get a high level of care and concern for the health and success of the entire corporate travel program as well as the experience to manage it with expertise.
What Tasks Will A Corporate Travel Management Company Perform?
A corporate travel management company ultimately provides the corporate travel software, services, and solutions that help manage business travel spend, traveler bookings, travel policy, unused tickets, vendor relationships, and more. Along with delivering support 24/7 365 days a year, a corporate travel management company also provides risk management tools and support so you know where your travelers are in real time in the event of an emergency.
A few of the tasks corporate travel management companies assist with include:
1 – Book travel and provide itineraries. Whether booking business travel online or with a corporate travel agent, the arrangement of your logisitcs—from flights to hotel to ground transportation—are organized for a seamless travel experience. All bookings are also integrated with corporate travel policies for cost-savings, compliance, and risk management.
2 – Expert vendor negotiations. A key benefit of corporate travel management companies is having the expertise of an Account Manager to assist you in vendor negotiations. Through their expert analysis of your travel program’s patterns and volume, they can leverage your spend with airlines, hoteliers, and car rental companies to get better rates and perks for your travelers.
3 – Traveler profile management. Today’s travelers are savvy. They want to maintain and enjoy their reward program status and be able to count on experiencing their travel preferences even when they’re on the road for work. A corporate travel management company can help you manage those individual and unique traveler profiles so every reservation is booked with those preferences and membership numbers integrated. Perks, rewards, and points are earned and travelers don’t have to enter their info every time they book. It’s a win-win.
4 – Arranging business meetings and events. Whether you are planning a small executive retreat or have a 50,000 person conference to arrange, a corporate travel management company often has a dedicated meetings and incentive trip team to help you handle the unique needs of planning a corporate event. From coordinating audio visual equipment to arranging the shipments of displays to managing attendee registration, a corporate travel management company can direct every detail of the experience you are trying to create.
5 – Integrating corporate travel policy. Having access to integrated corporate travel technology allows you manage a more sophisticated, streamlined, cost-saving travel program. One of the most important things to integrate when you begin working with a corporate travel management company is your travel policy. Doing so allows you to take advantage of your negotiated corporate rates, ensure that you aren’t overspending, maintain better duty of care, and more easily track and report on spend.
What Challenges Do Corporate Travel Management Companies Help Companies Overcome?
As mentioned previously, one of the greatest benefits of partnering with a corporate travel management company is being able to rely on their experience and expertise. This becomes particularly valuable when challenges arise for business travelers on the road. Here are just a few difficulties organizations may face and how a corporate travel management company can help.
Cancelled trips or delayed flights – On average, a cancelled business trip costs a company around $900. Corporate travel management companies help mitigate that cost by:
- providing ‘round-the-clock service so travelers have rebooking assistance in the moment
- providing technology to manage unused airline tickets if the trip is cancelled
- providing assistance in working with vendors for refunds, vouchers, or any recourse available
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, the partnership of a corporate travel management company proved to be essential with the flurry of cancelled business trips.
En route support – Any company with multiple travelers on the road in either domestic or international locations (or both) experiences the challenge of providing support to everyone at all times. A corporate travel management company with 24/7 365 day traveler support mitigates that challenge by delivering assistance to your travelers no matter where they are in the world. For example, if an employee is delayed due to weather conditions or misses a flight or forgot to book a hotel, support can be facilitated, flights can be rebooked, or accommodations quickly made.
En route safety – Duty of care should be a top priority for any company with business travelers. By employing comprehensive travel policies, communicating safety protocols and emergency plans, and utilizing risk management technology, companies can decrease the risks associated with business travel in measure. And if a safety or emergency situation does arise en route, corporate travel management companies can provide the support companies need to get their business travelers home safely.
The New Reality of Business Travel in A Post-COVID World
Managing traveler safety, wellness, and the overall experience throughout the next decade is going to be a top priority for corporate travel managers. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the necessity of better managing risk, increasing policy compliance, and implementing strong communication plans.
As we move farther into 2021 with the rollout of vaccines and a return to more normal life, business travel has already begun to resume. Companies are eager to make up lost ground in developing business relationships. After all, nearly ⅔ of business travelers believe that it is difficult to build working business relationships via Zoom calls.
But business travel will certainly look different and any employee hesitation to travel will need to be addressed. Companies need to communicate how their preferred travel vendors are complying with COVID-19 regulations for safety and cleanliness. Companies will also need to take into account border restrictions or required quarantines on either end of a business trip.
A corporate travel management company can provide the resources travel managers need to keep travelers well-informed and make smart, safe decisions for their travel program.
How To Choose A Corporate Travel Management Company
Whether you’ve supported your business travelers internally for two months or twenty years, contacting a corporate travel management company to learn how they can service your unique needs is an essential step to streamlining your travel program.
Here are a few things to look for in a corporate travel management company:
- Innovative technology with mobile access for travelers
- Online booking tools and experienced corporate travel agents
- 24/7 365 customer support
- Account management to guide your program
- Extensive vendor networks and leveraged connections
- Data analytics and reporting tools
- Global travel expertise
Why Christopherson Is Your Corporate Travel Management Solution
Christopherson Business Travel delivers the industry-leading technology companies need to save money on business travel, achieve their corporate travel program goals, and meet their travelers needs. We also employ the expertise of Account Managers who develop unique travel management plans that help clients deliver an ROI on their business travel. And we provide an easy, integrated booking experience both through the online booking tool or with our corporate travel agents that leaves business travelers satisfied.
To schedule a demo of our program and tools, click here.