From efficient technology and communication tools to traveler experience and ensuring compliance, a Travel Management Company (TMC) plays an important role in keeping your travel program running smoothly and driving ROI for your business. Particularly as market demand increases and COVID-19 restrictions ease, there has never been a better time to use an experienced travel partner to help you safely get your team back on the road.
Last week, we shared how a TMC mobile app like Direct Travel's newly updated Direct2U can help keep travelers safe on the road. However, your travel tools and technology need to be backed up by equally high standards of service and account management. The ideal partner should be responsive, ready to fight for your needs, and able to align with your company’s values and corporate travel goals. Here are a few of the qualitative ways your TMC partner should stand out from the competition.
Providing Responsive Support
A commitment to quick and comprehensive support has always been the backbone of a strong TMC, and it has only grown in importance. The level of support you expect of your TMC should go beyond solely customer service.
One of the most common problems experienced at the onset of the pandemic involved the cancellation of flights, which Christine Sikes, Direct Travel’s Executive Vice President of Customer Experience, points out led to stranded travelers and a deluge of unwieldy ticket credits to manage. Companies without a supportive and responsive TMC were left with little reassurance of managing unused tickets. Instead, many had to scramble to formulate a plan to bring traveling employees home. Today, those businesses are working to regain traveler trust, and unused tickets still represent billions in risk and value.
While TMCs were hit on multiple fronts by the COVID-19 crisis, Direct Travel has remained committed to our "Whatever It Takes" level of responsive support. We continue to offer 24/7 traveler support—operated and staffed by our team—to ensure that your employees feel supported on the road and are not met by corporate indifference.
Offering Industry Expertise
In order to provide strong and responsive support, the TMC partner you select needs to have a deep well of industry knowledge to draw on in a wide range of situations. As Direct Travel's Director of Business Development Lisa Shenefiel explains based on her prior industry experiences, the expertise your partner touts should delve deeper than the collective number of years its staff have spent in a particular role.
“Too often, TMCs without a strong level of industry knowledge try to address client concerns with customer service agents—sometimes even outsourced—versus experienced travel advisors,” says Shenefiel. “If a TMC’s frontline support crew doesn’t understand your unique needs and the nuances of the business, routine tasks like processing and crediting a refund properly are going to be challenging.”
When selecting Direct Travel as your travel management partner, our company culture puts leadership close to buyers, giving clients immediate accessibility. Just like our 24/7 support team is comprised of travel advisors focused on delivering more than just customer service support, our account managers are progressive travel program analysts who think outside the box to interpret how industry shifts may impact your business travel. With this mindset, we can pivot quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of clients both big and small.
Committed to Growth through Rebuilding
The size of your business and volume of your travel program may influence your leveragable spend, but it shouldn’t result in diminished levels of strategy and support from your TMC. Regardless of what stage of rebuilding your travel program your organization is facing, you need a travel management partner committed to growing with you and identifying solutions to fit.
For many corporate travel programs, the pandemic has led to leaner teams and less resources available. As Direct Travel’s Chief Technology Officer Darryl Hoover points out, this means it's even more critical that your TMC is providing you with the right product offerings or services--not upselling tools that are poorly aligned with your program and goals.
“Most TMCs have built out their own tech stacks, which can have great value depending on your business size and goals,” says Hoover. “However, the latest gadget is not always going to make sense for all travel programs. Rather than pushing a particular product, our focus is on putting the customer first and equipping our clients with the right tool for their program needs.”
This area in particular is where Direct Travel differentiates itself. Our focus on the mid-market means our travel experts deliver personalized service to every client. While we work with clients of all sizes, we prioritize providing the right tools and types of support to match each organization’s needs. For the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business sector, this ensures the flexibility and transparency necessary to meet both budgetary limits and goals for growth.
The benefits of selecting Direct Travel as your TMC partner make it easier for you to safely resume your corporate travel program and return your top talent to key markets. Finding the right travel partner now saves your company both time and money in the long run.