Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, May 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Earlier this year, the UK-based consultancy The Corporate Travel Partnership (www.thectp.co.uk) was approached by two different companies asking whether it could report on the concept of managing travel without a TMC.
While many brickbats - as well as praise - have been lobbed at agents, their fees are too high or they don't add value to name but two, few have contemplated doing away with them altogether. This is out of the box thinking. But can it be done? Probably not but Robert Daykin, senior partner with the consultancy, said many companies can manage with much less reliance on an agency and in the process save themselves money.Too many with regular travellers decide straightaway that they need a travel agency without fully thinking their situation through, he said. “They go from stage one to stage four in one leap without considering in between what their strategy is or building an infrastructure and six months later they find it is costing them money.”He cited one company which was spending £90,000 a year on agent's booking fees for its rail travel. Further investigation found that an extra sum of around £200,000 could also be saved if cheaper tickets, rather then the fully flexible ones the agent was buying, were chosen.“We would never suggest you would use an agent to book a rail ticket. We believe that the travel agent has some value in terms of complex itineraries. For example with trips around the US or the Middle East we see a need for their skills.“But for London to Manchester by air, there is a choice of BA, bmi and a low cost carrier and you can book quickly online.“We are not suggesting it is right for all organisations. With larger ones it might be difficult but people need to analyse the size and scale of their travel programme and build their own infrastructure to support their travellers.”He advocated what he called a “total, holistic approach of management, purchasing and distribution - the three interlinking strategies which companies must address.”A company aiming to manage its travel would also need access to data and meaningful MI, a travel policy – “the rules of the game” - which laid out process and the need for compliance and communication of the policy to travellers and the support of senior management.“Then if you need a travel agent, use one but decide what you need him for. Define very clearly what you want him to do for you, like complex itineraries. But don't pay him for stuff you don't want,” Mr Daykin said.“Then bring it altogether in a single process. Travel agents are a small part of the travel cake. Many companies think they are the big part but we don't. They have a part to play but it has to be clearly defined. They are not the show, just part of the cast.”Many companies find that outsourcing to an agent or at least have him deal with much of the travel management is the best way for them but Mr Daykin believes that many companies pick it as the “easy way.” “They are often wasting time and costing corporate UK oodles of money, just frittering it away.Most organisations are not approaching travel in a professional way although they think they are because they have an airline deal or a hotel deal and work with a travel agent and they think that is it.“But they have completely missed the boat. They are still standing on the quay. There are some companies with a travel plan working to achieve best practice but they are few and far between.”