Today’s corporate travelers have a lot on their plate. Is the presentation ready? Has everyone reviewed the report? Will the right players be available for this afternoon’s conference call? How can we quickly leverage this data into a positive action for our company? These are the questions the average corporate traveler faces on a daily basis, which is why - given the number of decisions needed each day - it makes perfect sense that travel agencies are still an important value proposition for the 21st Century corporate traveler.
Yes, in today’s increasingly connected, digitized world, access to destination information, travel review websites, and online travel agencies (OTAs) or travel management companies (TMCs) is greater than ever. But as the speed and pace of the corporate lifestyle continues to increase, business travelers find themselves at something of a curious paradox: the speed and availability in ecommerce that makes travel bookings so easy and convenient has actually made it difficult for corporate travelers to tend to these tasks given the myriad of other responsibilities they have day-in and day-out.
As a result, travel agencies - particularly OTAs - have seen a sharp resurgence in recent years in helping the overbooked, overscheduled corporate traveler research and book the right accommodations for the right time to meet often very specific business-focussed needs. And with the emergence of various Asian, South and Central American, and Eastern European markets in the corporate sector, travel agencies could see sustained growth in the corporate sphere. With that in mind, here are 4 reasons why travel agencies still matter for today’s corporate traveler.
1). Time and Money
As we alluded to a moment ago, today’s corporate traveler is in something of a bind when it comes to time - even though travel bookings are easier and more convenient than ever, the demands of corporate lifestyle, large due to technology, have simply outpaced the ease of booking hotels, flights, car rentals, etc. This is where travel agencies need to leverage their ability to reduce the stress and time-constraints on the corporate traveler by providing a quality, agile, and transparent level of products and services to make the corporate traveler’s passage as smooth as possible.
For example, imagine a CEO’s connecting flight is cancelled, stranding him in an unfamiliar airport and city. With a travel agency at the ready, a new or rescheduled flight is booked and the information is provided to him instantaneously, significantly reducing the risk of lost time and resources. In addition, because travel agencies can create packages specifically for the corporate traveler which included lodging and/or car rentals, these accommodations can be offered at lower prices to the corporate traveler who would perhaps otherwise have to sources the bookings from several different providers.
2). Problem Solvers
Let’s face it: Problems or disruptions are a part of the travel industry. Whether it’s lost or misplaced luggage, flight delays, errors in hotel accommodations, or other breakdowns, travel agencies can provide an important layer of problem mediation and solving to the corporate traveler who, as surveys have shown, may require a bit more hand-holding than other breeds of traveler. Because corporate travelers are often in locations for very short spans of time and require specific bookings - i.e. accommodations near airports, business districts, downtown cores, and so on - having the assistance of a seasoned travel professional can be a crucial value proposition for business travelers who can ill-afford complications or delays with their travel itineraries. Plus, when complications do arise, a corporate traveler is not left to his or her own devices to resolve them, which can save time, money, and resources.
3). Preparation Planning
Corporate travel is not the place to simply wing it when it comes to completing bookings and making travel arrangements ahead of time. Deadlines, meetings, conference calls, and a host of other time-sensitive activities demand corporate travelers to secure travel arrangements sometimes month prior to the actual travel date in order to facilitate multiple players arriving and participating from multiple points across the globe. Employing a travel agency allows corporate travelers to tend to the tasks at hand, which significantly reduces the stress and complexity of corporate travel at-large. Additionally, travel agencies will also have a wealth of information about the destination to which a corporate traveler is headed and can often provide recommendations for the most convenient, effective bookings based on the traveler’s needs - and yes, review websites and social media can also provide this level of feedback, but remember how limited a corporate traveler’s time can be and the level of dedication necessary to sift through webpage after webpage of user-generated reviews and recommendations.
4). Meeting Specific Needs
We touched on this topic a moment ago, but corporate travel can necessitate some very specific needs and services. Especially as more and more emerging markets come online in the corporate world, travelers must adapt and adjust to more exoctic, complex destinations with a host of cultural nuances. Travel agencies can provide corporate travelers with peace of mind when it comes to navigating these subtitles with bookings that meet the specificity of their needs. A hotel with the right conference room capacity near an airport complete with multiple dining options on-site that cater to specific diets? This is where a travel agency can function as a knowledge-base for our corporate traveler in helping him or her book a facility that best adheres to whatever criteria is in play.
For those who claim the sky is falling when it comes to the relevancy of the travel agency in today’s travel industry, one must look no further than the corporate traveler to see how travel agencies are still very much a key driver in the travel landscape. With no sign of corporate life slowing down in the near future, it’s say to safe travel agencies who operate as a liaison between corporate travelers and the complexities of global travel will have long-term success in a competitive and diversifying industry.