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What is a corporate travel agent?

The job of a corporate travel agent is to help companies organise travel arrangements for their employees. This can include transport, accommodation, local services and helpline support. Corporate travel agents work to make sure business travel is safe, efficient and cost-effective for the organisation.

A corporate travel agency is an organisation that must have relevant accreditations that authorises their agents to sell and ticket domestic and international travel. These accreditations include IATA (International Air Transport Association) and ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation). Full accreditation allows corporate travel agencies to issue everything from airline tickets to hotels.

Newer technologies are changing the role of a corporate travel agent in today’s business world. Modern travel and expense management systems offer intelligent trip search and direct booking with the airline or hotel, as well as ticketing, so it’s not always essential to use an agent.

These systems use existing customer and revenue data to recommend travel itineraries that are personalised for the traveller but cost-efficient for the business. Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) enhances this by analysing data to predict travel routes, locations and preferences based on previous bookings.

Leading organisations today use the latest travel management technology combined with expert management by a corporate travel specialist. Using insight from the system, the corporate travel manager can develop and refine a company travel policy that meets the particular needs of the organisation. There may be different policies for different teams or individuals. For example, a high performing sales professional may need to spend a large amount on flights, hotels and client entertaining in order to secure high value sales contracts. The travel management system connects travel expense data with sales and business data to show that this level of spending delivers a strong return on investment, for that particular salesperson or project. It’s therefore a good business decision. But the same may not apply for managers travelling to a regional meeting: there’s no need for them to have a high budget for eating out or staying in a luxury hotel.

A corporate travel specialist can work with information from their travel management system to agree the best supplier deals for travel and expenses, negotiating hotel and transport rates for services that meet business needs. When expenses are higher than planned, they can find out why and adjust policies and available options to optimise value.

Skilled corporate travel managers can save employees time and effort by recommending the best routes and itineraries for trips. Now travel and expense management systems can offer the same level of service, cutting down on the time employees spend researching or providing details of their travel needs. Systems may offer the three best alternatives, based on previous trips and taking into account company policy on spending and suppliers.

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