Saving valuable time and cash are some of the advantages, writes Andrew Dale, chief executive of travel management company Atlantic Pacific American Express.
Organising international and local travel is a time-consuming but necessary task for any small business owner with big aspirations. In some cases, however, it is more efficient to outsource the job and get on with working on your core business.
Many small business owners organise their own corporate travel. What can a corporate travel agent do that they can't?
One of the greatest advantages is the amount of time a small or medium enterprise (SME) will save by going through a corporate travel agent. A business trip usually takes about three hours to plan and research, which no business owner has time to do. If any changes need to be made to their booking, only one, instead of numerous calls, needs to take place to suppliers.
An SME would also have access to consultants who are able to advise on the smartest and cheapest fares and arrange any special treatment or trouble-shoot any issues such as delayed deadlines and passport issues.
Corporate travel agents can also monitor the business's travel expenditure to ensure no over-expenditure.
In what dramatic situations can a corporate travel agent help?
The many natural disasters in the last 18 months have allowed travel management companies to truly demonstrate their value.
Atlantic Pacific American Express has representatives in most countries, allowing us to locate travellers, arrange emergency evacuations and change travel arrangements ahead of major disruptions/strike actions.
The company is always taking the pain out of losing a passport or the impact of having a wallet stolen.
What are some things to consider when booking a multi-city business trip?
There are many things to consider when booking multi-city trips. Examples would be visas, time zones, public holidays, connecting times, multi-airline or hotel combinations as well as the likelihood of change.
Another thing to consider is that if the SME were to organise the bookings themselves, there would be separate itineraries for each.
The corporate travel company weighs up the traveller's business requirements against value and budget, with more than one option being presented so the traveller can make an informed decision.
If you know you are going to be visiting particular cities or countries numerous times during the year are there savings to be made if you inform the airline of this?
A travel management company will do this with a proven network of suitable suppliers across airlines, hotels and car companies to create the best service/convenience to budget combination. We can hunt the best one-off bargain but also secure multi-use/best fit solutions.
There are SME loyalty programmes, and we have many clients using them if it's right for their business.
We also use our multi-supplier buying power and expert travel consultants with many years of experience.
How useful is it to join clubs like the Koru club for SME owners?
A club membership can be useful when travelling for business as you can use the meeting rooms in airport lounges to meet with customers or suppliers.
Depending on your status with your club, you can take in one or more guests, and this can be a productive use of time.
Other benefits include the ability to continue business with hot desks and internet connections, networking in lounges, baggage allowances and earning points to re-invest in the business.
Although memberships can be useful, you should also be aware of other flights which could save your business money by using another airline outside of membership.By Gill South Email Gill, Andrew Dale