Can business travel agents compete with the rates available on the Internet?

Can business travel agents compete with the rates available on the Internet?
17th November 2016 Vicki Nutbrown

Can business travel agents compete with the rates available on the Internet?

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In today’s world, it’s not unusual for business travellers and travel bookers to search the internet themselves for travel options, even when they employ a travel management company to do this on their behalf. It’s so easy now to search using our mobile devices and tablets for a ‘quick look’ researching possible options. The internet is a wide minefield, and sometimes the price that looks to be a suitable option will often come with hidden charges. Valuable time spent looking for alternatives can also bring frustration, when suddenly the original fare option is no longer available…

To avoid this hassle, here’s some material you can use to help you convince your employees that your preferred travel management company can and does compete with the Internet…

#1 Real life experience can’t always be replicated by technology

Travel management companies have specialist knowledge and supplier relationships that allow them to create savings opportunities for their customers that cannot be found on public Internet sites. For example, a highly skilled and experienced travel consultant will often use creative and inventive ways to reduce the cost of an air ticket. Split ticketing, trip combinations, round the world fares and many more techniques often produce savings that simply cannot be replicated by an online system.

Some business travel agencies will also give you access to global airfares that can’t usually be purchased in the UK market. Having access to all this content is essential to ensuring maximum value from a business travel programme.

#2 Business travel agents leverage their buying power (and ours) to reduce costs

Business travel agents have relationships with their suppliers like airlines and hotels, which means they can negotiate discounts for customers that aren’t available on public websites. Even if you use a smaller travel management company, you’ll probably find they’re a member of a much bigger organisation such as Uniglobe or the Advantage Travel Partnership, which gives them access to the group’s collective buying power.

Travel management companies will also help you secure your own deals by negotiating with suppliers on your behalf and advising you on strategies to maximise cost savings. As well as securing discounts on fares and rates, they build added value benefits into their agreements which can create further savings not always visible by comparing rates alone.

#3 Travel management companies provide access to Internet content too

As well as the specialist content described above, most travel management companies recognise the importance of providing customers with a complete view of the market, and to do this they need to include the web content travellers can access themselves. That’s why most good travel management companies now connect to Internet websites like Laterooms.com and Expedia, low cost carriers and budget hotel chains. By doing so, travellers and bookers get to see and book the rates available on the Internet though their travel management company, safe in the knowledge that they’re complying with the business travel policy.

We hope these tips prove to be useful when asked if your travel management company can compete with the Internet. If you’ve had experience on this topic, please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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