If you’ve worked with a traditional travel agent before, for booking your own leisure travel, then you may have enjoyed the many benefits that come with having a knowledgeable professional on your side for both booking and planning your trip. But what is a corporate travel agent?
A corporate travel agent, sometimes also just called a business travel agent, offers those same benefits, but to your company’s business travelers. Corporate travel agents may work for a travel management company (TMC), or they may be independent agents. Either way, working with a corporate travel agent can make your job as a Travel Arranger easier, and ensure a better travel experience for your team members.
Here’s what you need to know about working with a corporate travel agent.
A corporate travel agent knows what you don’t.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a corporate travel agent? They know everything that you don’t. Most travel agents, business or otherwise, have a particular focus and, for corporate travel agents, that focus is, of course, business travel.
They’ve personally traveled to some of the world’s most popular destinations for business and they know the best way to get there, how to get the best deals, what your travelers will need (like visas and other essential documentation), the best hotels in the best places to stay and even the best spots to take clients for dinner or an evening out.
Corporate travel agents also have the kind of knowledge that you won’t be able to just find on the internet with a quick Google search. They know things like whether or not the public transportation in a city is truly reliable, or how long you need to plan for getting to and from conferences and meetings.
Travel agents use all this personal knowledge and insight to help you plan the best business travel itineraries possible for your teams.
A corporate travel agent can save you money.
Yes, if you’re working specifically with an agent at a TMC, then they really can save you money! While working with an agent does incur an upfront cost that you might not be paying now, that agent can save you money on your overall business travel expenses down the line.
TMC travel agents typically have access to special rates that others won’t find. Hotel brands and similar travel providers often partner with travel management companies to get business and cut their fees for travel booked through the agent as part of their arrangement.
Additionally, an agent will be able to use their knowledge of a destination to advise you on the best ways to save money over the course of a business trip.
A corporate travel agent can complement your existing travel management processes.
As a Travel Arranger, you likely already have systems and processes in place to manage your teams’ travel. However, don’t think that partnering with a corporate travel agent will take the place of your existing system. Instead, a corporate travel agent will supplement what you’re already doing. You’ll still be able to oversee travel and expenses, but the corporate travel agent will make the entire process easier.
A corporate travel agent can help your team stay compliant.
If your teams book their own travel individually, you may find that you’re struggling to always keep your teams compliant with your company’s travel policy. An agent can help with that.
Rather than employees booking their travel, using whatever platform they prefer, shopping around for deals or not sticking to budget, a corporate travel agent will be a partner who will always book travel with your travel policies in mind. Additionally, an agent, thanks to their history and experience, understands business travel costs and expenses, as well as expensing processes, more so than your average employee.
Some corporate travel agents can’t do everything (but some can!).
Depending on the type of agent you work with, they may or may not be able to do everything. An independent travel agent isn’t a suitable replacement for travel management companies that offer round-the-clock support and safety and emergency services, as they’re not going to be available at all hours or in the event of a true emergency.
However, if you work with a TMC agent, you get the benefits of both working with a corporate travel agent and working with the TMC, which means your travelers will be able to access the TMC’s 24/7 and emergency services. If this is a concern for your team, you’ll definitely want to go with a TMC agent specifically, versus just any agent.
A corporate travel agent’s resources are often split, but that’s not the case with a TMC agent.
Similarly, if you’re working with an independent travel agent versus a TMC travel agent, then you’ll have to deal with that agent’s resources and attentions being split among their other clients. This can be frustrating when you need timely assistance and one-on-one attention. For this reason, it’s extra-important to carefully vet any agent that you’re considering working with and, if possible, speak with past or existing clients to learn more about the agent’s processes and performance. To avoid the chance of this altogether, though, opt for a TMC agent first, as they’ll have the TMC’s resources at their back, ensuring they can give you the undivided attention and care your team deserves.
What is a corporate travel agent? Often, they’re your best tool for the best business travel experience.
So, what is a corporate travel agent? In many instances, they’re exactly the right resource you need to ensure that your company’s business travel is seamless, within budget and policy compliant. While they can’t take the place of your in-house Travel Arranger, they can be a valuable addition to your team, with their years of insight and on-the-ground knowledge of business travel destinations. Moreover, if you take advantage of travel agent services provided by a TMC, you’ll enjoy even more benefits than you might with a traditional corporate travel agent, from cost savings to round-the-clock care.
Have more business travel needs? See how JTB Business Travel can help! From trip disruption assistance to expense report automation, we have a suite of services to fit the needs of Travelers, Travel Arrangers and Executives. Get in touch today to learn more.