The fact that most corporates prefer using travel agents who specialize in corporate travel services is proof enough that corporate travel requirements are quite different from those of leisure travel. Hence there has been a spurt of travel agents specializing in the same and consequently, the tourism industry saw the emergence of a new sector – corporate travel.
The importance of corporate travel agencies lies in the fact that they have online systems which are accessible by the corporates that they have as clients. Consequently, employees of those corporates are able to see their entire itinerary and have all travel details at their fingertips like:
- Complete details of their corporate travel itinerary,
- Updated tracking details of their respective flights,
- Details of additional costs, if required, in the form of in-flight fees, baggage fees etc.,
- Travel alerts,
- Visa procurement policy details, identification requirements etc., for out of country travel,
- Conversion rates and currency requirements, if any etc.
What corporate travel agencies have on offer?
With service contracts and MoUs were signed between corporates and agencies offering corporate travel solutions were in the travel agencies agree to take the onus of ensuring a hassle-free business trip within and outside the country, there is a lot that corporates expect from them. In fact, corporate travel agencies are also well equipped to offer these specialized services and have on offer the following services to the corporates that they cater to.
- Fare negotiation: Corporate travel agencies or CTAs cater to a lot of corporate clients and hence have tie-ups with hotels, airlines, car rentals etc. Since travel agencies offer these services a good number of clients throughout the year, they are better placed to negotiate fares and obtain discounts. In fact in many cases, travel agencies have also been successful in obtaining flight upgrades for their clients.
- Itinerary change: Any rescheduling or cancellation of bookings, especially air tickets, hotels etc., generally attract a heavy cancellation charge. But CTAs by virtue of their tie-ups with these tourism services are able to get the same done at minimal costs or even free of cost.
- Emergency contacts: With experience, these CTAs are better equipped to handle any exigencies or emergencies that a corporate traveller might have to face during their travel itinerary. In such instances having a CTA agent by their side handling the same helps to relieve them of excess stress by taking care of the situation in the best possible manner.
- Personalized service: Corporate travel management companies usually assign a specific client manager who handles specific corporate clients. This manager becomes the one point contact for the corporates with regards to anything and everything related to corporate travel. This kind of personalized service is only possible to maintain because of the volume of business a CTA gets from the corporates.
- In-depth information: CTAs need to have a much wider reach where travel resources are concerned. This is also something that they acquire quickly once they start catering to the corporate travel demands of their clients. This acquired in-depth information helps make corporate trips easier for their clients. In fact, clients can also be given a briefing about what to expect when on a visit to a certain place. This increases the comfort and convenience of corporate clients when they travel.
For the CTA all of the services that they offer are financially viable but for the traditional travel agent specializing in leisure travel, offering these services might not present an economically viable solution. Hence CTAs are better equipped to handle corporate clients than traditional travel agencies.
Dealing with increased demands
As corporate travel growth accelerates, CTAs too need to find ways to adapt themselves to handle these situations. Poor management, especially in instances of increased demand, can play havoc with the reputation of a CTA and also make it lose clients. Thus the following factors need to be considered and incorporated as a means of dealing with the increased demands of the corporate travel industry.
- Travel policy: It is extremely important for CTAs to adopt a clear, precise and all-encompassing travel policy which applies to all types of corporate travellers. This policy should also be used to:
- Establish standards which provide a benchmark for performance evaluation and
- Eventually, help corporates to reduce their corporate travel expenditure by offering corporate travel packages at a lower cost.
- Maintaining the traveller’s autonomy: It is essential to give the corporate traveller a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy so that they are able to incorporate adaptations to their itinerary if the situation so demands.
- Concentrating on traveller security: Corporate travellers demand a higher level of security than those opting for leisure travel. This is because of the nature of corporate work involved which makes every corporate travel have a certain level of risk. Thus it is very important for the CTAs to address this issue by ensuring employee integrity, having travel resource partners who can be trusted etc.
- Automation with mobility: The world today is certainly much more fast-paced than it was a few years ago. This pace is ever-increasing and leading to tight schedules with a paucity of time a major side-effect. Thus CTAs need to have a corporate travel program that is automated and optimized for offering mobile solutions so that travel specifics like ticket reservations, hotel booking etc., can be accessed by the corporate traveller on the go.
Adopting these changes makes the CTA future-ready wherein they will be able to combat competition and ensure better business than ever before.