Businesses have been using corporate travel agents to manage their business programs for many years. Corporate travel agents have been dubbed the personal assistants of the business travel world, creating tailored business trips that suit each company, traveler, and business trip.
Corporate travel agents are popular since they take on all aspects of business trip planning, from organizing itineraries to finding great deals on flights and accommodation. However, with the rise in digital travel management platforms, many have begun to ask how corporate travel agents now fit into the business travel industry landscape.
Here, we give you the answers to the questions “what is a corporate travel agent?” and “what does a corporate travel agent do?”, and explore the advantages and disadvantages of using their services.
What does a corporate travel agent do?
Corporate travel agents are travel professionals that work with companies to manage their corporate travel arrangements. They act as travel managers and take on tasks related to booking flights and accommodation, arranging travel visas, and providing travel support while employees travel for business. Their job is to ensure that all business trips are cost-effective and safe, to reduce any friction usually found during the booking processes, and to ensure corporate travel policy compliance.
Corporate travel agents can be individual consultants or work as part of a corporate travel agency.
Without proper management, business travel booking can become complicated. With multiple different itineraries, travel spend, and travel needs to account for, businesses can soon become overwhelmed, leading to mounting costs and unorganized trips.
Corporate travel agents take all of a company’s travel criteria and create business trips within their budgets. Some corporate travel agent responsibilities include:
- Arranging travel visas
- Making flight bookings and other transport bookings, such as car rentals
- Ensuring duty of care responsibilities are met
- Creating travel itineraries
- Making hotel bookings
- Working finance departments to align on travel expense processes
- Providing assistance for business travelers
What are the advantages of using a corporate travel agent?
Corporate travel agents can make business travel planning processes run smoother, and relieve businesses of the burden of managing all of the moving parts involved. One of the greatest benefits of using a corporate travel agent is the time saved by outsourcing multiple tasks.
Here are a few further advantages of corporate travel agents:
- Corporate travel agents understand travel costs: Their job is to ensure that your travel budgets are respected, by making sure they obtain the best deals possible on transportation, accommodation, etc. They have established relationships with suppliers to get better deals and discounts.
- They manage complex expense processes: Handing over travel expense duties to corporate travel agents relieves businesses of time spent poring over paperwork and reimbursement submissions.
- All of your business travel needs are accounted for: Corporate travel agents are trained in understanding each business and each traveler’s specific needs and adapting business travel for them.
- Provides traveler support: Employees can contact the corporate travel agent directly when they run into issues during business trips. Agents can easily rearrange transportation, advise on safety measures specific to each country, and facilitate changes to itineraries.
What are the disadvantages of using a corporate travel agent?
While they may sound like the golden ticket of global business travel management, using corporate travel agents has its drawbacks.
Let’s explore the limitations of corporate travel agents:
- Businesses can rack up costs when using corporate travel agents: Each corporate travel agent or agency is different, but most charge businesses an annual fee, plus transactional fees every time you use their service. This alone can eat up a large chunk of businesses’ travel budgets.
- They’re working for them, not for you: Since they have established relationships with suppliers, you can’t always be sure that the deal they’ve obtained is the best one for you, or the best one for them.
- Less transparency into travel processes: Whenever you outsource a business process, you automatically have less insight into how and why decisions are made. This gives you less opportunity to keep an eye on your travel management KPIs.
- They may not be available when you need them: Generally speaking, corporate travel agents only work during standard business hours. If your employees face issues after working hours or during the weekends, they’ll be left unable to contact someone for assistance.
Should you use a travel management platform to manage your business travel?
While corporate travel agents have their pros, their cons can have huge impacts on your business and travel plans. Booking tools like travel management platforms are the modern solution for businesses whose employees travel regularly for business.
Travel management platforms, like TravelPerk, remove the need for the corporate travel middle man, by doing everything corporate travel agents can do and much more. Plus, they’re significantly more efficient when it comes to finding cost-saving opportunities, finding great deals on transportation and accommodation, and streamlining the travel expense process.
TravelPerk’s corporate travel management tool can assist you with managing your travel program by:
- Searching, booking, and managing flight expenses all from within the TravelPerk platform. Plus, you’ll have access to an extensive inventory for booking corporate flights to help you find the best rates.
- Booking accommodation from within one platform, by giving you access to an industry-leading inventory for booking corporate accommodation, such as hotel rooms, for the best prices.
- Defining and automating your travel policy guidelines and approval workflow for better compliance.
Ensuring the safety of your travellers with our travel safety solutions that inform travelers of changes, advisories, and disruptions during their trip. Your employees also have a direct line to contact our Customer Care team for immediate assistance, 365 days a year, 24/7.
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