Do you need a corporate travel agency?
To outsource or not to outsource? That is the question when it comes to managing your corporate travel program.
If you’ve traveled for business in the past, you’ve probably worked with a corporate travel agency at some point. These firms are exactly what you’d expect given their name: travel agencies that specialize only in business travel. Many large companies choose to hire outside agencies to handle all their travel needs, rather than creating an in-house function. Even small businesses sometimes choose to outsource to corporate travel agencies rather than try to manage everything themselves.
But, of course, business travel agencies increase overall travel spend, so they’re not a perfect fit for every company. How can you tell if your small business would benefit by enlisting a travel agency? Or how can you tell if there’s a better option for your needs?
Let’s start by explaining how a corporate travel agency could help your company manage its travel program.
What Can a Corporate Travel Agency Do for You?
The specific activities of a corporate travel agency depend on the big picture of your company — the volume and logistics of your employees’ travel needs, for example. But it also depends on the small details – who travels and why, how travel budget is determined, and more.
In general, the common tasks of a corporate travel agency include:
• Advising you about business travel trends, including the latest digital travel technology options
• Mitigating travel risk
• Creating a travel policy that makes sense for your company
• Negotiating discounted rates for air travel, hotels, and car rentals and manage contracts with preferred vendors based on economies of scale (link to last post talking about this)
• Booking travel arrangements for your employees
• Tracking and reporting on your company’s travel and related spend
• Assisting your employees with travel-related problems (such as last-minute flight changes) and serve as emergency contact in case of accident, injury, natural disaster, etc.
You may not need or want all those services; some agencies will allow you to pick and choose what sort of help you receive.
In short, a corporate travel agency can do everything an in-house corporate travel planner does, and more. They have an advantage, thanks to deeper expertise and experience, and may be able to provide services at a lower cost, thanks to the economies of scale and their vast network of industry connections. Whether this will be true for your business depends on your needs and how you prefer to work. For example, your employees may be more receptive to guidance and assistance from “one of their own.” And you might prefer to have direct access to and control over your travel program, rather than having your travel manager liaise with a third party.
Like all businesses, corporate travel agencies vary considerably in their scope and expertise. Some are large organizations with offices worldwide. Some only focus on a specific region only. Some are generalists, others specialize in serving a particular industry.
Ultimately, the question of whether to enlist the help of a corporate travel agency comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. How much time will hiring a corporate travel agency save your business (in terms of booking managing travel)? And how much money would it save (through access to better airfare and hotel rates)?
Ultimately, whether you decide to utilize a corporate travel agency or not, the goal is clear: to streamline your company’s travel program so you can save time and money and make your travelers as happy as possible.
Corporate travel agencies offer many benefits but they are not always the best option. Corporate travel management software, like Lola.com’s platform, help businesses in many of the same ways as travel agencies — adoption, booking assistance, support — but often in a more cost-effective and agile way than traditional corporate travel agencies.