Personalisation and customisation vital for business travel
Clients want to know what a TMC’s ‘hands-on approach’ is for crisis management versus what's left to a virtual chatbot or call centre to handle.
Tech, automation and online efficiencies may be the way forward right now … but who do you turn to if you’re caught in a travel crisis, and you don’t have a dedicated travel manager or team?
Or if you have questions a chatbot can’t answer?
What about a pre-flight emergency that warrants the kind of urgent attention you won’t get from an online enquiry form?
Almost everyone has most likely felt the frustration of dealing with digital or online companies that have no face. Or phone number. Or people to speak to when there’s an issue.
“Partnering with a Travel Management Company (TMC) that offers a high level of personal service is still paramount for companies that we’re talking to at the moment,” said Melissa Elf, FCM Australia General Manager.
“Travellers want to know they can call their travel manager and ask a few questions before they take off on their first international trip now borders are open or if they run into trouble overseas their TMC has a 24/7/365-day emergency team that can help them then and there.
“In-house Travel Bookers want to know they can reach out to their travel team by email or text or with a quick call. They also want access to reliable and localised info on any new travel procedures, like what FCM has provided on the COVID Travel Hub.”
Personal support – the top 8 that call for a real mate
Here’s a handful of travel scenarios where experienced, personal service is most wanted by clients:
- Major flight or itinerary disruptions
- Personal injury, hospitalisation or illness while travelling
- Pre-trip COVID questions particularly around new airport and documentation procedures
- Support for managing travel to high-risk destinations
- Strategic program advice and program reviews
- Group travel
- Complex itinerary builds and in-country travel advice for remote destinations
- Travellers caught out mid-trip by unexpected changes.
FCM’s front-line travel and account managers report the level of enquiry from customers who want support and advice to navigate complex travel requirements post-COVID is high. Borders may be open again but many of the COVID-19 travel requirements are still in place across the globe.
Travel Managers are being asked everything from what to print out before heading to the airport, whether they need PCR or RAT test, where to go in different cities for pre-departure PCR tests to what the transit requirements are for lengthy layovers.
“The need for advice and support for international travellers in particular is just as critical as it was during the pandemic. And as a TMC which is leading the way in offering clients an effective hybrid service model, FCM makes sure its people know where to go and how to advise customers quickly and accurately,” Melissa said. “Our dedicated internal COVID team helps to make this possible.”
The travel booking, approval, payment and reconciliation workflow is becoming more automated and efficient but there is still a huge requirement from our clients for easy and responsive personal service.
According to FCM’s operational team – it’s when a crisis hits or major travel disruption occurs the value of having a local travel professional on the end of the phone who knows how to help you efficiently is demonstrated.
“Getting the right balance of personal service and technology is crucial for customers, and probably even more so now that travel is starting to pick up again. During the past year FCM has launched some amazing technology such as the FCM Platform, but we are also acutely aware how important service levels are,” FCM’s General Manager said.
“Some customers prefer using a certain channel for communicating whether that’s email or virtual assistance, which is why FCM has adopted an omnichannel approach. But nothing beats the hands-on approach of personal service."
Company requests for proposals (RFPs) continue to place a huge emphasis on travel team configuration, levels of travel management experience, multi-level relationships, service level agreements, issue resolution processes, customer feedback processes and customer satisfaction scores.
Organisations want a prospective TMC to show evidence of being able to handle crisis situations that are relevant to their travel program. They also want to know what a TMC’s ‘hands-on approach’ is to managing a crisis versus what is left to a faceless chatbot or outsourced call centre to handle.
Think your organisation might be partnered with the wrong kind of TMC? Chat to our team today or call 1300 557 854 about what you need for smoother business travel.