We’ve all heard travel horror stories – missed flights, endless queues and frustrating helpdesk calls, all of which cost businesses time and money.
Grant Avis, general manager of Gilpin Travel talks about the business benefits of engaging a corporate travel agency.
Although booking online has become the norm, it’s not necessarily the best option for all types of business travel.
“For example, booking long-haul direct on airline websites is not only risky, it’s false economy – any traveller knows all about helplines when things go wrong,” Grant says.
When valued staff are travelling, organisations want them focused on business, not travel issues. When problems arise, they need to be fixed quickly and that’s where a corporate travel agency adds value.
“We’ve had clients who have booked online for long-haul flights and then come to us when there have been issues around visa’s, flight connections, weather disrupts and global events. One of the key benefits of a corporate travel agency is the seven-day 24-hour service.”
In terms of what size businesses benefit from a corporate travel agency, Grant advises; “If you are an SME, it’s often better to book domestic/short haul online because there is a cost for both parties to set up a personalised online booking tool – but use us for the difficult stuff.
“Long haul travel is different and using a corporate travel agent can add real and tangible benefits.
“If you’re not using one, you’re wasting time and money. “Remember, this is our day job and we do nothing else! We also get to know you as a client and your preferences, making the travel experience seamless.”
Grant shares an example where Gilpin added value; “A family of five with connections to a valued Gilpin client, were travelling from Jamaica to attend a funeral in NZ and were not able to board a flight, being told they’d have to wait four days.
“Our client advised us and we got in touch with the airline and were able to get them out the next day. They arrived to find their next flight also delayed, which would cause them to miss their next connection. We again contacted the airline and had them booked on a new flight with airline staff to meet them at the door on arrival to provide a VIP escort through baggage claim, transit and onto the new flight. All arrived home safe and sound.”
Tips for engaging a corporate travel agency:
Ask for a testimonial from an existing customer
Take time to meet your consultant and/or business owner
If you put your corporate travel out to tender, do your homework first and only invite agencies that have a good cultural fit with your business – after all, the service that your consultant will provide is largely based around relationships, trust and integrity
Travel is dynamic – if you find a good travel provider stick with them.
In the future, Grant predicts there will be more consolidation of travel companies and travellers will do everything on their mobile phones.
“Travel technology for both the client and agency will continue to change and grow so travel management companies must be willing to embrace this in order to be successful. Good service will never die!”
Grant Avis – General manager of Gilpin Travel, which specialises in corporate and business travel management, events, conferences, incentives and group travel. Grant recently won Best Corporate Travel Agency Manager in the 2017 New Zealand Travel Industry Awards. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gilpin.co.nz.