Back on the road – Why post-Covid business travellers need a travel management company, and how to choose the right one
Finally, light at the end of the tunnel. The UK economy will grow 8.2 per cent in 2021 and another 6.1 per cent in 2022 as the vaccine overcomes the virus, according to the Confederation of British Industry.
Demand for business trips among companies hungry for expansion is expected to soar once the UK government finally loosens its leash on travel. But when that moment comes, you have a choice: do you book through a professional travel management company, or take the do-it-yourself route?
The answer is simple. Even if your company makes only a handful of foreign trips a year, using a TMC is faster, cheaper and, above all, safer.
“The number one conversation every new client wants to have with us, regardless of size, is about duty of care,” says Matt Brown, Head of Sales and Service for corporate travel at Travel Counsellors. “Going through a travel management company mitigates liability, keeps travellers safe and is the only reliable way to manage the sheer volume of information sourcing and bureaucracy that’s now part of every trip.”
What does a TMC give us that we can’t get by booking direct?
Looking after your travellers pre-booking
Meet Joanne Thorburn, one of our Business Travel Counsellors. When clients ask her to book a trip, she doesn’t just get back to them with proposed fares and hotel rates. She also provides a full run-down of everything else they need to enter the country they are visiting.
Joanne keeps track of her clients’ documentation, so her checklist includes passport and insurance validity checks, plus any requirements for a visa or additional inoculations. And for the foreseeable future there are all the Covid precautions too, which vary country by country and change constantly. Joanne checks three independent sources to obtain accurate, up-to-the-minute information on all the requirements and restrictions for each destination, airline and hotel company.
Looking after your travellers post-booking
Joanne’s service doesn’t stop once a trip is booked. “I check Covid requirements again seven days before travel and a second time three days before departure to make sure nothing has changed,” she explains.
Very often, something has. One of Joanne’s clients travels frequently between the UK and Zambia. Initially, the Zambian embassy required visitors to test for Covid seven days before arrival. Then it suddenly switched to three days before. Joanne immediately alerted her client to get tested again. “If I hadn’t made that second check, he would have been denied boarding at the airport,” says Joanne.
Looking after your travellers on-trip
Travel Counsellors for Business remains available for travellers 24/7. That’s not just a theoretical “nice to have”. On the day of departure, it’s all too frequent that business travellers miss departure or their flight is cancelled.
If that happens then, like every Business Travel Counsellor, Joanne uses her direct access to airline reservation systems to rebook flights long before DIY travellers can. Or sometimes travellers experience problems at the check-in desk. “When that happens, they call me and I ask the client to hand their phone to the check-in agent. Between us, we’re often able to sort out the issue right away,” she says.
Faster + smarter = savings
Yes, you have to pay a fee to book through a TMC. But the value of a Business Travel Counsellor like Joanne to step in when things go wrong is hard to put a price on. And with so many new hoops to get business trips organised in a post-Covid world, it is far quicker to hand the task over to a travel professional.
Time saved for valuable business people equates to a massive, but sometimes overlooked, cost-saving in its own right. But there is far more. TMCs can access specialist private fares and hotel rates and find even deeper savings by using clever fare construction techniques for journeys involving three flights or more.
You’ve convinced me: I need a TMC! But how do I choose the right one for our business?
It absolutely pays to shop around. Not all TMCs are alike. Get to know the options on the market. When you compare TMCs, here are some key points to look out for:
What kind of service do you want?
Do you want mainly online booking, where you are likely to be routed to an anonymous call centre should you need more assistance? Or would the Travel Counsellors for Business approach fit better, where you will work with a dedicated, expert Travel Counsellor as your point of contact before, during and after your journey?
Who do you want to look after you?
All Business Travel Counsellors, for example, are self-employed business owners with deep industry experience who like working with regular clients. It gives them both the motivation and the know-how to go that extra mile.
See what others think
Check the TMC’s reviews on TrustPilot (Travel Counsellors’ is 5* in case you were wondering). A shelf full of awards is a pretty reliable guide too (and yes, Travel Counsellors has plenty, including from Money Saving Expert). If you can, try to speak to existing clients as well before making your decision.
Is it the right size?
If you choose a mega-TMC whose clients’ travel spend is measured in hundreds of millions of pounds, their eye may not always be on your ball. On the other hand, very small TMCs may not offer all you need, like 24-hour international assistance, or competitive fares and hotel rates. Think about the future too. If your business gets bigger, does your TMC have the bandwidth to scale up with you? At Travel Counsellors for Business, we’re small enough to care but big enough to count.
Is the ‘fit’ right?
This isn’t very scientific, but long experience shows that you’ll quickly figure out when you’ve met the right TMC. Follow your instinct. It’s nearly always right.
If you’d like any more information about Travel Counsellors for Business, get in touch with us to discover how we can get your business back on the road.