A Business Traveler’s Primer
If you travel frequently for business, chances are you’ve learned to simplify your process as much as possible. You always have backup chargers to prevent that panicked run for a replacement before a meeting. You choose shoes that are comfortable in the airport and on the conference floor. You eliminate every variable you can, because for everything you can’t control, you risk veering the plan off-course.
When you’re in this mindset, it’s easy to feel that booking with online travel agencies (or OTAs) might be your simplest option. After all, most travelers are already comfortable booking their airfare online for leisure travel, and they know the process is easy, quick, and convenient. But what you don’t know might affect your bottom line—or even your trip.
Vendor Agreements with Online Booking Sites Can Be Adversarial
Recent news that Expedia is suing United Airlines over an alleged contract breach is just one example of the tenuous and competitive relationship that can exist between popular online booking sites and major airlines. Depending on the result, travelers who’ve booked online far in advance might find that their tickets aren’t actually guaranteed.
The relationship TMCs have with airlines and other travel vendors tends to look quite different. Because TMCs employ travel experts with a long-term investment in maintaining a direct line of communication with vendors, airline and vendor relationships operate more like true partnerships. Disagreements are far more likely to be resolved long before a contract dispute happens, because each party benefits from the relationship. What’s more, TMCs are able to leverage their partnerships across all travel touch points (airfare, ground transport, hotels, etc.) to lower the overall cost of your trip, above and beyond a single ticket price.
Compliance with Your Company’s Travel Policy
While it may feel like you’re choosing the best price from what’s available to you online, it’s easy to go over budget or accidentally run afoul of your company’s policies when booking sites are your only tool. TMCs are well-versed in compliance policies and keep detailed records of the preferences and budget needs of your particular company every time you book. You never have to memorize all the details, and you don’t get in trouble with accounting—your trip is policy-compliant every time.
Research and Trip Planning Costs
If you know what you want and feel savvy enough to plan and book every aspect of your trip, it might still feel easy to handle it all yourself. But are you factoring in the time cost of that research and planning? Chances are your time is better spent preparing your pitch, your presentation—the actual business at hand.
The travel professionals TMCs employ have the long-term relationships with vendors to access pricing you may not see online, and they’re able to predict and avert conflicts between each leg of the trip before it is finalized. Your personal travel preferences will also be saved (aisle seat, executive suite) the first time you book a trip—and those preferences will be applied every time you book. With the right TMC, you just might find yourself receiving occasional perks that otherwise wouldn’t be in the budget.
A Good TMC Offers Online Convenience—And Analytics
These days, travelers need online, on-the-go support for their trip, including digital flight information, real-time updates, and trip-at-a-glance features. A good TMC has their own robust technology (such as RezDesk, our online and mobile booking tool) to provide all the information and functionality you require.
Long after your trip, a modern TMC keeps offering value by tracking and breaking down trip costs across your entire company, allowing travel managers to track the metrics most critical for the business and highlight opportunities for improvement, reducing the workload for your resources department.
Online booking may be convenient for simple, low-stakes personal travel (although for a real vacation, our leisure side might change your mind), but when your company’s travel budget and your trip’s success is on the line, you still can’t beat the all-in-one service of a TMC.
Learn more about our travel management services for business travelers and corporations here.