Bright ideas for small Irish businesses from corporate playbooks 

Think corporate travel services only cater to the big players? On the surface, it might seem our rising stars — the growing Irish businesses — are left in the lurch. But is that really the case? 


A team of people brain storming

Did you know that the true heartbeat of Ireland’s economy is its small and medium businesses? Oh yes, these unsung heroes are buzzing with activity, constantly shaping the ever-charming landscape of the Irish market. The Irish SME Association gives us the scoop, revealing that 50% of the workforce in Ireland finds its home in businesses boasting fewer than 50 employees. 

But here's a thought  – when booking travel, do these businesses find themselves on the back foot, given that corporate travel solutions are traditionally cut out for the bigger players? Maybe not. 

Take the use of a travel management company (TMC), aka business travel agent, for example. While the big guns, with their big travel volumes, indeed negotiate discounted rates, here’s the twist: TMCs play a rather clever game.

They pool together the collective buying prowess of all their clients – big and small – to snag those same sweet deals for the smaller fish who might not have the mighty spending power on their own. 

And get this: most TMCs roll out the red carpet for smaller businesses, offering their vast reservoir of expertise, seasoned professionals, and top-notch systems – all without slapping on a price tag. So, the smallest of companies can enjoy insights and advice free of charge! 

Whether you use a TMC or not, the reality is that managing travel in-house can often be costlier than outsourcing. It's not just about the time spent hunting down flights or hotels. Hidden fees and strict terms can drive trip costs up. Using a TMC will save you more than money—it saves headaches. 

Consider this. Online travel agents might tempt you with those eye-catching hotel rates, but let's face it: the world of business moves fast and is full of surprises! Most OTA bookings don't play nice with last-minute changes.

As for those airfare comparison sites flaunting irresistible deals, tread with caution. Unexpected fees have a way of creeping in by the time you hit 'pay'. And if you believe you're getting a full view of all options out there, you might want to double-check. Plenty of airlines and hotels don't even get a look-in on these sites. So, the question stands: Are you seeing the best deals or just their curated highlights? 

Want some business travel golden nuggets from the big players? Read on.  

1. A corporate travel policy? Indispensable 

A company travel policy isn't just a "nice to have"; it's a must. And relax; it doesn't need to be a maze of rules, just clear guidelines for business travel. Step one? Get out that calculator and tally up your spending on flights, stays, and transport. Pinpoint your regular cities and go-to providers. Got the numbers? Time to strike some savvy deals. Zero in on those suppliers ready to roll out the red carpet with year-round perks. The reward? Businesses typically shave 15% off their costs by focusing on travel bookings. 

The next step is to make sure your choice of suppliers suits the needs of your travellers. Today's millennial business traveller cares where they stay. They want to make their own choices. Your travel policy needs to offer them a wide range of options so they can pick their own flight times, opt for an Airbnb instead of a hotel and ride Uber instead of a local taxi. To cater to these tailored tastes, you’ll need to invest in an effective online booking platform if you’re not working with a TMC. 

Talking of traveller preferences. According to a Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) survey, 82% of business travellers are interested in topping up their work travel with some downtime at the destination. How do you divvy up the costs? ‘Bleisure' trips are easy for TMCs to handle because they have sophisticated systems that serve up leisure options and rates while keeping a keen eye on expenses.  

2. Managing the time suck of business travel 

Handling business travel in-house can be quite the time-eater. That's why many large companies turn to travel management companies (TMCs) for help. Even smaller businesses, with their smaller paperwork piles, can benefit from this approach. It's all about sharpening your focus. 

Balancing everyday tasks with travel bookings can make your team's plate overflow. When productivity is at stake, "unmanaged" travel bookings can only add to the chaos. And let's not even talk about the avalanche of receipts and reports your finance team might be buried under! 

Here's where the lightbulb moment happens for growing businesses: partnering with a TMC. It's not just about saving money; it's about mastering spending, understanding travel trends, and having detailed spending reports and travel advice an email away. It's the smart move. 

Now, let's talk strategy. Bigger companies have their eyes on traveller safety and refining supplier agreements. But for smaller players, it's all about saving money, boosting traveller productivity, and gaining insight into expenses. 

Guess who comes to the rescue for all these challenges? Yep, you guessed it: TMCs. 

For business travellers, it's about getting the best bang for their buck – unbeatable deals and loyalty rewards are top priorities. 

But for employers, hopping between multiple websites and booking platforms can blow the travel budget. Simplify your life with one online booking tool, and you'll always know where your travellers are while unlocking more discounts from suppliers. 

Ready to explore the world of stress-free business travel? TMCs have the map – let's go! 

Swifter, smarter, smoother business travel. Let's talk. 

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