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For small and emerging SMEs, travel is often an important part of the growth strategy. Face-to-face conversations are a great way to solidify relationships, secure clients, and help a business achieve its goals. But if you’re going it alone, travel management can quickly feel overwhelming.
Travel management companies (TMCs) are there for a reason and, happily, they don’t just look after the big guys. Corporate Traveller, for example, manages the travel programmes of over 15,000 SMEs across the globe.
Here are 9 very good reasons to bring a travel partner on board:
If you’re feeling overworked and time poor, you’re not alone. According to a 2016 report, rather than delegating, 70% of small business owners in the UK prefer to do everything themselves. But while the responsibility for the success of your business – not to mention the financial risk – might fall squarely on your shoulders, outsourcing certain jobs just makes sense.
At the top of list? Travel admin. Say goodbye to call centres, costly mistakes and unnecessary stress by offloading your travel onto a patient, knowledgeable travel expert. They’ll look after every aspect of your travel programme, including after-hours travel support when needed.
It’s cheaper to book travel yourself, right? In fact, the opposite is almost always true, especially if you’re looking to deliver long-term savings.
Not only will a TMC use their buying power to secure the very best deals on your behalf, but they’ll look closely at your travel goals, book the best airfare types, negotiate favours and waivers, and keep an eye on your travel budget.
Having a formal travel policy in place is still the number one way a business can save money, after all it’s very difficult to keep a handle on costs if everyone in your team is able to book where, when and what they want.
A TMC will help you formulate a travel policy which lays out preferred airlines (for example, low-cost carriers), cabin class, and accommodation suppliers in order to eliminate leakage and keep rogue bookings at bay.
With any luck, a TMC will put a team of people in your corner. For example, Corporate Traveller has an array of experts sitting behind the scenes, from the onboarding experts that hold your hand through the process to the in-house emergency service team and the negotiators that work with airlines and hotels to secure the best possible rates. Choose a TMC that can scale with you, understands your business’s needs and challenges, and becomes an indispensable part of your team.
Today’s online booking tools are quick, easy-to-use, and a must for any travel programme. Even better? They can be customised to your travel policy, instantly presenting ideal options without bookers having to waste time wading through pages and pages of ‘not quite right’ selections.
In fact, Corporate Traveller’s intelligent booking platform, Melon, is so intuitive you can access the best rates worldwide; book travel in under 5 minutes; chat to your travel expert with one tap; analyse your spend; and handle all your travel admin (like approvals and reporting) in one place.
We know that most SMEs are focused on cost saving, and yet the sustainability conversation can no longer be ignored. Does your company have sustainability goals in place? How green is your travel? Are you keen to incorporate sustainability into your travel programme … but not quite sure where to begin? Even taking that first step can feel overwhelming.
A TMC can help you calculate your current travel footprint, look at ways to reduce your impact, green your supply chain (i.e., selecting green-certified hotels, flying with low-emission providers or choosing airlines with carbon-reduction projects), as well as track and report on your progress.
Duty of care is a massive responsibility. One better left to the experts. A reputable TMC will vet your travel suppliers, conduct pre-trip risk assessments, share real-time information and travel alerts – and step in to handle any changes should things go awry.
Look for a TMC who can offer traveller tracking and 24-hour support, because as the old saying goes, emergencies don’t keep banker’s hours!
But it’s not just about getting home safely: health, balance and wellbeing is also important. And yet, for SMEs trying to make ends meet and grow their business, health and wellbeing often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities.
A TMC can help you create a ‘health-centric’ travel policy, in other words, one which supports a happy, well-rested and productive team. Ideas include accepting premium-class bookings for long-haul flights; opting for serviced apartments for longer stays; and negotiating free upgrades and perks (including lounge access). It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep (and even a shower) can achieve when you’re out on the road.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to DIY travel booking, is that there is much more choice on the Internet. In truth, TMCs have access to millions of rates and deals from anywhere in the world, including consumer-facing websites like Expedia.
The latest development in this space is called NDC (or New Distribution Capability), which ensures that all products an airline offers on its own website, such as upgrades, baggage allowances, or priority boarding, are now available in a clear and transparent way to TMCs. Put simply, a TMC will always have the widest range of travel content – and the best deals – at their fingertips.
The life of an entrepreneur is often challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It’s certainly busy. Travel booking shouldn’t add to the load. That’s why we created our free SME Corporate Travel Toolkit. It covers everything you need to build a robust and successful travel programme – one which can take your business to new heights.