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The Travel Column 2002-6-27

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We are pleased to bring you The Travel Column, written fortnightly for "The Trinidad Guardian"

Take Control of your Company’s Travel …

Let’s suppose there are members of your staff out of the country on business and a travel emergency occurs. You need to confirm if they are on board a particular airline … how would you know? How quickly could you find out? Could you inform a family-member that an employee of yours isn’t on board? Would you have to make just one quick phone call to obtain this vital information, or would you be caught in the web of the airline’s answering service? You would be very surprised to learn just how many company owners and managers don’t even know which travel agency their employees use to make their travel reservations, or if they even booked directly with the airline.

Does your company manage its travel?

In any travel-related emergency, many companies scramble to locate all their travelers in the field, unsure of their flight arrangements or even the hotel at which they are staying. Unfortunately, travel incidents and emergencies do sometimes occur, and when your employees are travelling on business, you need to know that the proper procedures are in place so that you can contact them as easily as possible. This is where the services of a well-established Travel Management Company can be of invaluable assistance. Knowing where your employees are, or making sure that they have procedures to contact you in the event of an emergency, is just one small aspect of proper Travel Management.

Do you actually have control?

Without an effective travel policy and up-to-date, accurate information, you lose control. Your employees may use unauthorized agencies or turn to a higher priced airline, hotel or car rental company for the frequent flyer miles. Developing, implementing and updating an effective travel policy will help stop the leaks, give you control and save your organization money. Your Travel Management Company should work with you every step of the way to develop a policy for your company, and ensure adherence to it, to result in cost savings to your bottom line. By consolidating all your company’s travel expenses through one travel company, they on your behalf, may be able to negotiate your own discounted rates that fit your unique travel needs especially with hotels and car rentals. Think about it; you have ten employees who attend meetings in Miami once per quarter. They each book with their preferred travel agency and stay in their preferred hotel. How do you know who’s staying where? Not to mention who’s spending what? Consolidate this travel through one company and they negotiate a preferred business rate for your travelers at one particular hotel whose rate falls within your travel policy’s budget. Obtain quarterly reports from your Travel Manager at your agency so you know at a glance what your travel expenses have been, and voila … that’s Travel Management! And in case of any emergency, one phone call to an assigned Travel Manager will tell you exactly whose staying where and which flight they were really on!

Are you saving money?

With your daily demands, you don’t often have the time to step back and analyze your business travel. And each day that you don’t … is another day of missed opportunity. Use your agency to seek out problem areas and implement recommended solutions. Whether the recommendation is more advanced purchase airfares (limit those last-minute instant ticket purchases!) … or using San Juan instead of Miami for a cheaper fare … the results are the same, more cost savings that go directly to your profit line. If your company’s travel volume is considerable, then you should have a Travel or Account Manager assigned by your travel agency specifically for your company. This person will get to know you, get to know your business, and ultimately help you to manage your travel costs.

Whether your business is large or small, a good travel management company will work with you to tailor their services to match your business travel needs. Expect "World Class" service, not a "One-Size-Fits-All" approach. The company you book with should know your travelers; things like preferred seat assignments and special meal requirements are very important to frequent flyers. The company should know your Travel Policy; such as which hotel, which car rental is your preferred supplier. The next time you speak with your agency, ask them to update your contact information; for you and all your travelers. Telephone numbers; home, office, cellular. Uncertain times in the airline industry mean an increased possibility of flight re-routing, cancellations, and other changes. Make it easy for the airline or your agent to contact you should they need to get information to you urgently. Here’s another tip … try using an agency that’s affiliated with an international travel network. Not only will you benefit from any pre-negotiated worldwide discounts at hotels and car rentals, but also you will be assured of the convenience and security of knowing that you can expect service while you’re on-the-road, away from home.

Do you have the tools to take control and save money?

Part of developing an effective Travel Policy for your company, is knowing that your Travel Management Company can provide you with the necessary technology to make your travel planning as smooth and hassle-free as possible. Because each company is different, you should have the tools to best meet your needs and the needs of your travelers. Can you send a reservation request via fax or e-mail, or via their website, or speak one-on-one with your agent? Whichever you prefer, you should have the choice. Can your agent provide you with meaningful management information on a regular basis? This is a critical component of an effective travel policy. Be sure you can obtain back-office travel management reports that help you understand and proactively manage your travel spending. Remember … you need to always know who’s spending what and where!

Whether your business is large or small, if you partner with an experienced Travel Management Company you are sure to reap the rewards.

Melanie Waddell, Director
June 27, 2002


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The Travel Centre Limited
16 Damian Street 
Woodbrook, Trinidad, West Indies
Phone: (868) 622-0112 or (868) 622-AMEX
Fax: (868) 622 0894

Independently owned and operated by The Travel Centre Ltd.


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