Business travel is a far cry from the concept of leisure travel and is often associated with some severe drawbacks. However, given its importance in circumstances such as closing a prestigious deal or making an impactful presence in a trade show or even building great professional relationships with clients, business travel is generally inevitable and has become a key part of any business or profession.
This multi-million industry alternatively offers a landscape of immense growth potential for travel management companies (TMCs). TMCs have the ability to streamline the whole process and ensure the success of a business trip, but in order to do so, there are key qualities that a TMC should have in order to plan and implement a business travel program efficiently and effectively.
1. Review the travel policy carefully and thoroughly.
When planning corporate travel, this skill is indispensable. Most companies that have employees traveling frequently will have a travel policy in place. This protocol outlines the funds set for each aspect of a business trip, from airline tickets and hotel accommodation to airport transfers and other ground transport options. A careful review of travel policy not only helps you craft an effective, compliant package, but it also allows for significant cost control. In the absence of an official travel policy, ask your clients about their overall travel budget and requirements. From there, you can establish a written agreement that both parties sign to avoid any confusion with regards to the pricing structure or inclusions.
2. Effectively communicate using diverse language skills.
Effective communication is a multifaceted skill that can set a good TMC apart from a mediocre one. Speaking fluently and managing correspondence through a variety of mediums (e.g., email, phone) indicate a team’s ability to handle different languages effortlessly. Developing this skill is essential, especially when you manage different markets or operate globally, since not all clients will know English. When you compose your team into a highly competent, multicultural workforce, it will be much easier for you as a TMC to make your guests comfortable and better understand their travel requirements, demands, and preferences.
3. Know the travel landscape inside and out.
A quality TMC requires a dedicated market study team to analyze the changing travel trends and know about the newest travel innovations. This keeps you informed while giving your team the confidence to cater to the dynamic demands of corporate clients.
4. Be tech savvy.
In this digital era, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the travel industry is immensely tech-powered. Besides a high quality, easy-to-navigate website, any TMC needs to invest in a high-end travel technology. Depending on your company, this may be high performance mobile applications and travel management tools or it could even be an in-house technical team to ensure uninterrupted services across all predictable online platforms. That being said, technological features get more intricate day by day. That’s why it’s extremely important for a TMC to review and update its technology platform from time to time in order to remain ahead of the curve.
5. Be genuine and honest.
Your organization may be technologically advanced with great online presence and have the best communication out of your direct competitors. You may even know the travel landscape like the back of your own hand. And that’s great! But keep in mind that unbiased referrals (word of mouth or otherwise) have always been the greatest form of advertising for any business’ success. Big or small, local or global — make it a point to maintain a high level of authenticity in every step of planning business travel. Be legitimate and upfront when it comes to your business travel packages’ pricing and booking terms.
6. Be able to solve problems on the spot.
Challenges can arise at any stage of crafting the perfect business trip. If anything goes wrong, be analytical and strategic. Pay attention to your clients’ complaints and ask questions to identify the root cause of the problem. This allows you to brainstorm better alternatives and then apply customized solutions to eliminate such obstacles.
7. Be empathetic in unlikely situations.
Even business travel programs that have been planned and implemented with the greatest care and attention can go terribly wrong. Though the reasons for issues happening may be beyond your control (e.g., aircraft delay, baggage loss, weather changes), you can still be your guests’ representative in addressing issues. Be proactive when it comes to getting on the phone with the airline or insurance provider, and put yourself in their shoes — you would want your worries to be met with genuine compassion.
8. Be equipped to handle the toughest of situations.
A professional TMC should be highly proactive and resourceful. Whether it’s an unexpected change in the travel program or an unusual inclusion at the last minute, a TMC and its core team should be able to think on their feet to come up with the most feasible solutions, even in the most demanding situations.
9. Maintain great connections with all parties involved.
Business travel involves a lot of details that should be put together in a foolproof package, like hotels, airline reservations, ground transportation, and more. This is best accomplished by establishing a strong relationship with agents, hotels, and all other relevant suppliers. By maintaining good relationships with these outside parties, you can guarantee both the best services and competitive rates.
A TMC needs all the help it can get to stand out from the rest. From Viator and Expedia to the more customer-focused options like Rayna Tours and Travels, there are many service providers that act as a great resource to piece together all the business travel requirements in one place. With a TMC, you can simplify booking procedures and make business travel more efficient and less of a headache.
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