Recent research has found that, on average, 60% of business travelers follow their company travel policy all or most of the time – including booking though their nominated TMC. But what about the other 40% And what about the 60 – 70% of business travelers outside the U.S. who don’t follow policy? Why do they do this?
In the U.K. and parts of Europe, 94% of non-compliant travelers book outside policy to minimize any negative effects on their health and well-being. A similarly high percentage book outside policy because they – mistakenly – believe it saves their company money. Of course, compliance predicates itself upon having a clear travel policy that is effectively communicated. That’s pretty much the case here in the U.S. but less so in Asia and Australia.
The number one rule of any effective travel program is for travelers to always book through their TMC. Here are ten reasons why…
1.) Your security – most TMC systems have built-in traveler tracking software, so they know where you are when you’re away on business. This ensures they can keep you informed about disruption to flights and any other incidents that might affect your journey. And if you fi nd yourself in a travel hot-spot, they can get out – quickly
2.) Your productivity – everyone knows that, if you look hard enough, you can find a cheaper deal somewhere. But consider how much time it takes, and the cost of that time. Your TMC takes inventory from thousands of websites as well as traditional travel distribution systems, so you’ll be wasting your - and the company’s - time searching.
3.) You can’t save what you can’t see – If you do your own thing, your company can’t see what it is actually buying. In the same way, if you book at the hotel down the street from the company’s preferred hotel because it’s got a comfier bed, your company cannot leverage that spend against a better rate at the preferred hotel. So money is actually lost.
4.) TMCs don’t know everything – if you know a really good hotel near the client’s offi ce, or that’s better than the preferred hotel, tell your TMC. They will then see if that property can be added to the program, and then everybody wins. It’s called communication.
5) Avoid hidden costs – you’ve found an unbelievable deal that’s cheaper than the in-program alternative. You book it but your plans change so you need to amend or cancel it, but can’t. TMCs negotiate special terms and conditions with airlines and hotel groups because they know the unexpected happens, especially in business travel.
6.) TMC understand your needs – it’s tough to build a rapport with the internet, and whilst you don’t need to speak to a human for most bookings, there are those which aren’t as simply as click and confi rm. Your TMC has built up a deep understanding of the company’s travel program and will make the recommendations that best suit you and the company as a whole. You’ll also be treated as a person, not a booking reference number.
7.) TMCs can hold airline seats without committing to buy them - Instead of buying straightaway on-line and then being tied into various restrictions, TMCs can hold seats within their systems so you can change or cancel flights right up until the fare expires, so you can make adjustments to your trip without penalty.
8.) Alternative travel modes – when it comes to traveling between cities that don’t restrict you to one means of transport, the TMC can give you an immediate comparison of the available options, such as renting a car or using a train.
9.) Added value – TMCs secure extra benefits for travelers as part of the preferred partnerships they negotiate on behalf of your company. Free WiFi in hotels, complimentary lounge access at some airports are both examples of services you’ll receive automatically when you book through the TMC.
10.) They listen – you might ensure a sleepless night in that hotel you spotted on line. But once you’ve complained, will the problem be resolved? TMCs have clearly laid-down processes for ensuring that traveler feedback is actioned. After all, a travel program that doesn’t meet your needs is not in anyone’s interest.
So there it is. But before we go, consider this. According to the Global Business Travel Association, travelers booking outside of policy on average spent $2,881 more per year than did in-policy travelers. Take that number and multiply it by your number of travelers in your company. It’s a very big number.