Today, a company travel agency cannot concentrate solely on booking tickets and accommodation, but rather their services need to be much more extensive, diverse and comprehensive, covering wide-ranging areas such as consultancy, passenger assistance, cost optimisation, internal communication and technological aspects.
Historically, travel management agencies engaged exclusively in the management of the aspects related directly to the organisation of travel, which practically came down to transport ticket reservations and the search for accommodation.
However, in recent years, the development of the Internet and online platforms has radically changed the way we understand and carry out travel and business relations in general. This has caused a major expansion in the role and functions of corporate travel agencies.
Today, when a company requires the services of a travel management agency, it not only seeks someone to manage its travel arrangements, since this can be done internally without much trouble using online tools, but also has other needs and expectations.
An agency of this type needs to take on the role of an authentic partner within the travel structure at the companies which it serves. To do this, it has to work closely with the Travel Manager or the person responsible for travel within the company
The role of most agencies has been diversified into a series of services that can be divided into six main areas:
1) Travel Management
This would be the core function and the one which agencies engaged in organising business travel have always performed. This area of services would include the management and reservation of transport tickets, searches for accommodations, car rentals, etc.
Although it is the function that has been performed for the longest period of time, new technologies have significantly changed the way these tasks are carried out, with aspects coming into play such as price comparisons or strategies for obtaining deals and discounts.
2) Passenger assistance
On a trip there may be many unforeseen problems and issues which need to be resolved: repatriation due to illness, accident or emergency, lost luggage or documents, etc.
Consulting services include a large number of aspects which are related, more or less directly, with travel: information of interest for the traveller (customs of the country of destination, recommendations on behaviour, etc.), cost optimisation and control, advice on travel policies, etc.
4) Marketing and internal communication
Due to its experience, a travel management agency can be very helpful in preparing travel policies for companies (rules regarding expenses, management of per diems, etc.), as well as its proper and effective communication to the employees.
The proper and constantly updated use of technology is vital, not only for the requesting and comparison of travel services (tickets, accommodation, etc.) but also for such diverse aspects as billing management or locating travellers in extreme situations.
6) Leisure Services
In some cases, some travel management companies offer direct discounts or improved conditions on travel and leisure activities for the employees and their relatives at the companies for which they work.
With the comprehensive management of corporate travel, travel management companies achieve the goal of giving added value to their service, which is essential in order to meet the current expectations and needs of companies.