There are many ways to arrange travel for business; via a travel agent, tour operator, online travel agent or by booking direct with airlines, hotels and transportation suppliers.
However only one type of provider is a specialist in business travel – a Travel Management Company (TMC). A TMC is an independent intermediary that manages the business travel requirements of an individual, company or organisation, saving them time and money.
As well as flight or hotel reservations, TMCs offer services such as aircraft charter, airport lounges, parking and transfers, international rail tickets, car hire, chauffeurs, foreign exchange, group travel, passport and visas. In fact, a one-stop service for all business travel requirements.
Often referred to as business travel agents, TMCs’ primary aims are to provide savings to their customers whilst keeping travellers safe. They do this by helping to create and implement travel policies that meet the needs of each client company.
Instead of different booking systems in which booking details can be lost or misunderstood, TMCs use a common technology platform knows as the Global Distribution System (GDS). These display real time availability for flights, hotel, rail and car rental bookings. Many TMCs also provide online self-booking tools through which travellers can make their own flight and hotel bookings from a list of preferred suppliers.
Some TMCs then add extra functionality through specially designed systems, linked to a single point so that the TMC. Individual and company profiles of travellers are securely stored ensuring that every travel request is compliant with the agreed company travel policy.
This enables TMCs to provide a detailed audit trail for every aspect of travel policy including risk, expense management and traveller security, whilst the client has complete visibility of every individual booking and company-wide activity.
So how can a Travel Management Company save you money?
Here are just 10 examples:
1. Creating or improving an existing travel policy that defines your company’s objectives, meets travellers’ needs, specifies the best way to get to the most regular business destinations and gives travellers a choice of hotels or airlines is a critical first step towards cost control.
2. TMCs negotiate discounted fares and loyalty benefits with vendors. By requiring travellers to book business trips in-policy, company travel spend becomes visible and supplier discounts can be maximised.
3. By implementing a pre-trip approval process that makes clear who gives approval for travel, the TMC can avoid money being wasted on un-necessary trips.
4. Introducing a limit on the hotel star rating or class of airline ticket that can be booked will keep costs down.
5. Sophisticated TMC software will search out special promotional prices and best ‘on the day’ rates. Some systems will automatically cancel and rebook tickets when a cheaper alternative in the same location is available.
6. Additional charges such as Wi-Fi can significantly increase the overall cost of a trip. The TMC will ensure that, wherever possible, these charges are bundled into an all-inclusive price, keeping you in control of your spend.
7. The TMC will make all your travel arrangements, saving your company staff valuable time and freeing them to concentrate on more productive (and profitable) activities instead.
8. Business trip arrangements often change at the last minute. By booking all travel through a TMC, a booking can be cancelled or changed without penalty – unlike most online travel agents like Expedia who also require payment in advance.
9. A TMC will help you choose how to pay for travel, either by individual, consolidated electronic invoicing, cost centre or project code to make processing simpler and quicker for you.
10. Arguably the area in which the TMC provides greatest value to its customers lies in helping them to fulfil their duty of care to their employees by supporting travellers, 24x7. A TMC will know where travellers are at any time and will notify them of changes, alerts, or emerging risks.
Although the primary function of a TMC is to arrange business travel, the value of working with a TMC goes far beyond the functional. A TMC can provide the same level of knowledge and expertise as a lawyer or accountant does in their professional field. And with travel usually ranking amongst the biggest three items of company expenditure, the case for working with a TMC is a compelling one.
Find out if a TMC is right for your business
The FCM team is committed in supporting you to elevate your corporate travel performance, and are happy to walk you through the process, share our insights or answer any questions you may have. Get in touch today!