The right fare search can have a tremendous impact on the life of a corporate travel consultant.
For example, low fares must be in compliance with company policies for the travel management company (TMC) and the corporation. What’s more, the lowest fare is only valuable if it reflects a trip the corporate traveler is willing to take. Have you ever tried sending an executive from Dallas to Detroit to Miami? It’s the cheapest fare but the traveler experience is terrible. The executive is simply not able to perform as well as she could have been with a more direct routing.
Working as a corporate travel consultant these days can be a juggling act, balancing many competing imperatives at the same time. Consultants must possess the knowledge and expertise required to book often complicated and frequently changing itineraries to comply with a company’s travel policy, while trying to satisfy travelers who increasingly come to them with pre-researched ideas about the airlines, routes, and fares they believe are best for their journey. So what can consultants do to continue proving value to their clients?
The consultant advantage
A recent study from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ranked travelers armed with information from online searches as one of the most significant challenges faced by TMCs.
While a certain level of self-service can be challenging, informed travelers actually provide corporate travel consultants with an opportunity to highlight the value of their expertise. What the consultant brings to the relationship is the ability to balance an individual’s preferences with corporate travel policies, while also identifying and explaining choices, conveniences, and unanticipated costs that might not be apparent. For a traveler focused on getting to and from an important business event, this extra knowledge is immensely valuable.
A recent Twitter poll conducted asked the top reason why travelers value the services of a travel consultant. Each of these reasons are compelling cases for using a travel consultant, for both conserving resources and enhancing quality.
18%: Increases quality of trip
25%: Saves time for planning
23%: Avoids costly mistakes
34%: Finds the best deals
Bringing the trip together
Most frequent travelers have actually experienced the inconvenience of booking the lowest available fare and having to deal with added and many times unexpected costs to purchase a better seat and checked baggage. So how can you help your travelers have all the travel details sorted in advance, especially when they are going on a long business trip involving multiple connections?
Sophisticated low fare search is a powerful tool to help corporate travel consultants manage travel complexity. In part, low fare search can uncover far more than what its name implies.
Beyond ticket price, low fare search combined with air merchandising offers amenities and add-on costs such as baggage, access to an airline’s executive lounge, upgrades to premium seats, and early boarding — items that are both important to a traveler’s overall experience and have a cost that might not be understood by an employee doing an online search.
Corporate travel consultants can also use low fare search to inject helpful flexibility and ease into a business traveler’s journey. For instance, because the schedules of executives and managers who travel regularly can be fluid, a powerful low fare search engine will ensure they find tickets that can either be refunded or changed without incurring a big penalty. Similarly, savvy corporate travel consultants have insight into additional variables, like fare range, and how to sequence a multi-stop trip in a way that reduces hassle and stress for the traveler — all considerations that can drive a purchase decision.
The combination of the best low fare search engine with the right itinerary and the right amenities will help to drive more sales and make you stand out.
This article is part of an ongoing series on travel retail. To explore more about low fare search, read the full results of the independent Fried + Partners Low Fare Search study.