The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the world economy with many companies being forced to downsize, lay off staff, rethink business models and, in worst-case scenarios, close down. However, the pandemic has also led to an increase in entrepreneurial activity, business creativity and new start-ups.
Start-ups are different to small businesses in that they aim to disrupt the market and drive top-line revenue at a fast pace. Innovative by nature, start-ups are more geared towards surviving – and even benefiting from – unsettling events such as global pandemics. They are used to pivoting their business models and redirect existing knowledge and skills to new emerging needs within a short time-frame.
Most start-ups will be quick to acknowledge that business travel is an essential part of their growth strategy. While online meetings, web conferencing and video conferencing are great business tools – especially in COVID times – they aren’t substitutes for in-person relationship building that is so crucial to the fast growth of an innovative new business.
However, because start-up budgets tend to be tight and start-up leaders have a natural inclination to roll up their sleeves, most will initially try to handle travel bookings internally. A costly mistake, as it often turns out.
Travel management isn’t as simple as booking a local return flight and arriving at the airport on time. In addition to the minefield of rules that govern travel, from flight change fees to visa and COVID requirements, travel is highly emotive. It also has a direct impact on the traveller’s time, comfort and productivity.
Turning the tide – why are more start-ups looking for a travel management company?
Despite the unprecedented pressure on budgets as a result of the COVID pandemic, Corporate Traveller has seen a considerable increase in new business enquiries on a global level from entrepreneurs and start-ups.
The reason is simple: by their very nature, start-ups are savvy and have a keen business sense. As a start-up leader, you’re used to making quick and smart decisions and know when to outsource services that require specific expertise. Every penny saved can make a difference to your bottom line and, if you charge by the hour, what does it cost you and your staff to manage your travel every month instead of outsourcing it?
One look at the time your team is wasting by searching and comparing airfares and accommodation options and you will quickly realise that a travel expert can save you both time and money.
Consider the time and money lost because your traveller missed a connecting flight as a result of a delay and needed to reschedule all their travel plans. Or the time wasted trying to figure out a more complex travel landscape with confusing COVID-regulations, quarantine requirements and COVID forms.
The cost of getting it wrong is more than the time and money it will take to fix the problem (like paying a change-fee), it’s the wellbeing of the traveller that is affected. This is the person who you’ve entrusted to close that critical deal for the company whose performance and morale is now affected because their travel plans have been disrupted due to unexpected events.
Deciding to outsource corporate travel can be the best way of saving money, whilst increasing efficiency and making sure that your team can concentrate on the most important business in hand: making sure that your start-up is a success.
However, the need for managed travel stems from more than merely time-saving and money-saving considerations. COVID-19 has been a game-changer in terms of duty of care and has shone the spotlight on significant safety concerns.
In a world overrun by COVID-19, business travellers find themselves dealing with heightened
emotions, a fear of the unknown, and worries about their health. Travellers want to have peace of mind that everything is done to help them prevent infection and avoid being quarantined. They want to have the assurance that they will be able to return home in the case of border closures or airlines ceasing flights.
At Corporate Traveller, you have your own experienced travel manager who takes the hassle out of business travel planning and groups all your travel bookings in one centralised place, so you have an overview of where your travellers are at any given time. You will also have a team available 24/7 to take care of any travel emergency.
Corporate Traveller has also worked hard to offer you the best industry technology that will keep informed and up-to-date with delays, changes and problems at all times. Sam, Corporate Traveller’s handy travel assistant app will provide all the information you need: from check-in at the airport to checking out the latest city guides, even storing all of your ticket and booking information in one place. And if issues happen, as they do some times, Sam’s live chat means there’s always a real person to assist you whether you need to adjust or rebook flights or rooms.
What to expect from travel management – the 5 S’s
By partnering with a TMC, you are gaining a team of reliable travel experts that will help you navigate a very new and different travel landscape. This is what you can expect from your TMC:
A TMC will know travel like the back of its hand, just as you know your business inside out. Using a company with travel in its DNA ensures you receive a personal service that cuts through all the complications and complexities that come from moving your team across the world.
Real people who are experts in their field can always be relied on to deliver what you need, even under the greatest pressure or tightest timescales. Knowing you have a team of people behind you, available day and night by email, phone or on the ground offer a reassuring presence amid the daily deadlines and longer-term planning. Working with a TMC is like having an extra team on your side.
Although your start-up team might be small, it is likely also very agile. It can be challenging to keep track of where your team members are as they are travelling across different continents. A TMC can help deliver duty of care through traveller tracking and emergency assistance, as well as by offering your people technology to use while on-the-move and at their destination.
A good TMC has all the right tools and technology to save you money and time and provide a real ROI across multiple bookings. By analysing a wealth of data points identified from your historical and future preferences and spend, it will deliver cost-effective deals, discounts, upgrades and perks that impact your bottom line. Manually searching for short-term savings is replaced by long-term ROI.
TMCs come in all shapes and sizes suitable for all sorts of SMEs and enterprises. Finding one that also has the backing of a global company can offer perks and exclusives along with the reassurance that only a worldwide footprint can bring. Having access to a vast array of content, with the most comprehensive range of airfares, hotels, rail and car hire can bring with it positives you could never access alone.
Six start-up must-haves when travelling for business
A TMC can offer valuable insights and advice on how to streamline your business travels and save yourself some admin. Here are six must-haves that a TMC can offer start-ups:
Today’s modern traveller doesn’t want to sacrifice comfort for cash, but they want to know they are getting the best deal possible for what they spend – and feel like they have been given something extra too for their continued loyalty, whether that’s a discount, room or flight upgrade or a free meal.
In most cases, to qualify for an upgrade at a hotel, the company will need to guarantee they will book at least 100 nights. This can be a tall order, especially for a start-up. By booking through a travel management company with global buying power such as Corporate Traveller, your company could enjoy the same upgrades and discounted corporate rates as the large players in the market.
A flexible travel policy that grows with your start-up
The perception among start-ups is often that their travel spend is not large enough to be managed. However, just because you are a smaller business, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a travel policy. If anything, it’s even more reason to have one. Smaller companies typically don’t have the buffer bigger businesses have when it comes to wastage. A travel policy helps you keep track of what you’re spending on your business travel, as well as putting rules and procedures in place that avoid unnecessary expenditure. A TMC can help develop your travel programme as your business grows.
A real person to speak to
Technology is great, but in a crisis, only real people can help. Technology can’t replace the depth of personal knowledge and expertise you receive when talking to a human being – especially when you can speak to them at any time of the day or night. Real people can offer speedy solutions when things go wrong, crucial and comforting if you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language.
To feel safe and secure
Unfortunately, the world can present different kinds of danger whether you’re travelling alone or in a group. So, it is crucial to know everything you can about the destination you’re visiting, including potential pitfalls, local customs to consider and areas to stay away from. Having someone keep an eye on your journey and movements is also not a bad thing!
Information on the move
Smartphone apps can cause information overload but they are as necessary for travel in the 21st century as a suitcase and toothbrush. Having instant access to your flight or hotel booking as well as boarding passes, itineraries and destination tips ensures life go smoothly, wherever in the world you are heading. Especially if you can download one app, like Corporate Traveller’s SAM, to take care of everything.
Getting down to business
It’s essential for every member of your start-up team to understand what value business travel brings to achieving the company’s goals. As a start-up leader, you’re likely to have adopted a growth mindset when it comes to your profitability, client base, market share and your business. It’s time to adopt the same mindset for your corporate travel requirements.
Innovation backed by human expertise
From blockchain and virtual assistants to Artificial Intelligence and robotics, as a start-up business you are likely to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to innovation.
At Corporate Traveller, we have introduced innovation through a range of cutting edge technologies that take the hassle out of booking travel. Success in a world of innovation, however, comes from ensuring that the technology offered enhances human efforts to create a seamless experience for the customer. Travel bots like Corporate Traveller’s Sam and the Your.CT travel platform enable the TMC to combine human service with technology and create a more advanced level of customer service while cutting costs.
Corporate Traveller believes in a ‘blended’ approach to technology. We understand the nuances of the different business travel requirements for every traveller. That is why our approach to travel management is not only based on the latest technology, but also on small teams of highly experienced travel experts providing personal service, support and guidance when needed.
We get you moving
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that unmanaged business travel can cost businesses a lot more than just money in the long run. From lost productivity to lack of control and compromised duty of care, the risks of unmanaged travel are simply too significant.
Start-ups are the driving force behind our world economy. While you focus on innovation and growing your business in unchartered territories, at Corporate Traveller, we will make sure we get you moving safely and without hassles.