In-house versus external travel management companies: weighing up the costs and benefits
Globally, corporate travel is on the rise, and for most companies it is still a major investment to have their employees on the road. Travel management companies are focusing on ways to increase cost saving and better reporting to help companies curb expenses while ensuring that their travellers are safe, that their travel policies are complied with, and that they are getting value for money when it comes to the travel services they pay for. Here’s what you should consider if you need to choose between having an agent on-site, and appointing an external travel management company (TMC) like Corporate Traveller.
Proximity to your travel booker
Having an in-house travel manager could be very useful when you need to ask a question and get a quick answer – especially when it comes to reporting. But let’s face it: who walks over to anyone’s desk anymore. With electronic communication the norm in corporate and social contexts, your travel expert is just a click away whether they are in the next room, or in the next town.
True cost of travel
Consider whether your travel is consistent year-round, or whether it’s seasonal. Also, are there enough travel bookings to justify keeping an agent on-site, in an office, with all the related expenses. The problem is, that if your travel is seasonal, you’re left paying their salary and the office space anyway.
In addition, TMCs who provide an onsite agent often work on a fixed retainer and may therefore not be motivated to find the best travel deals for the company, so the chance of overpaying is higher.
Make sure that you are not locked into a long term contract which would prevent you from switching TMCs if you find that they are not a good fit for your company. We at Corporate Traveller, for example, do not require a contract in order to retain our services.
Travel Policy compliance
Compliance with travel policies is one of the most important (and difficult) aspects of travel management. As with most policies they are often not read, or employees try to find creative ways around them. It may be easier for an on-site agent, who has befriended the other employees, to be persuaded to make exceptions for a ‘friend’ when booking travel. Although it is important to foster close working relationships with travel managers, it is always better to keep those relationships professional.
On the job training
Agents benefit from being part of a team and sharing knowledge and expertise. Colleagues who work together in the same space often learn tips and tricks from one another, and share best practices.
Whether it’s about the best way to manage multi-leg journeys for large groups, or what the latest customs and visa requirements are, travel experts learn from one another all the time. Isolating an agent at a company robs them of this continuous development opportunity, and the company loses the benefit of the knowledge pool. On-site agents would need to take leave in order to attend training events.
A dedicated team of travel experts
In-house agents often work solo, so when they are not available the company is left to deal with its own crisis. Or worse – the traveller is left without assistance.
There is something to be said for having a dedicated team of Corporate Travel experts on-call 24-hours a day, who know your company and your travellers. If an employee should run into some difficulty while travelling – whether it be lost luggage or hospitalisation in a foreign country – a team member should be ready to assist no matter the time of day.