The popularity of the travel industry is here to stay, as people continue to embrace the luxury and freedom of hopping a flight (or train, or bus, or…) to experience new parts of the world. The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest in the world, contributing $8.27 trillion USD to the global economy in 2017. That means travel agencies should have a pretty comfortable place in the business world, right?
With the increase in availability to services – such as flight and hotel bookings – online without direct interaction, many travelers are taking it upon themselves to book their vacations from the comfort of their sofa, at all hours of the day or night. This poses a risk to travel agencies who depend upon this business for their livelihood, as many customers have stopped walking through the door or picking up the phone. That’s where corporate clientele steps in to cover the gap.
The needs of individuals can be limited. Travel tends to be infrequent and the opportunity for customer loyalty (not to mention, profit) is lower, as leisure travelers tend to focus primarily on the bottom line. There also tends to be a lot of legwork that goes in to finding the “right” fare or package details, and the risk is high that all of your hard work will be lost should the client choose to book themselves elsewhere.
In contrast, working with corporate clients means maintaining a relationship with a department or individual that represents the company on the whole – one relationship on behalf of many travelers. Travel will be more frequent, and though price is important, they are more interested in the value you bring, such as making their lives easier.
Here are some ways you can work with – and bring value to – corporate clients:
Understand their business
Start by understanding your client’s business, including their needs. This starts with understanding why they travel. Executives flying for meetings? Focus on short layovers, travel times that suit their work schedule, and accommodation with business amenities. Salespeople traveling with product, or for trade shows? Make sure you understand what they’re bringing so you can ensure their baggage is covered, and insured. By understanding the nature of the business – and needs of travelers in various departments – you save your clients a lot of hassle and keep them happy knowing their needs will be met.
Be time sensitive
The old saying “time is money” applies in all aspects of the relationship with corporate clients. Make sure you – or a colleague – are available to answer requests, and provide a timely response.
This one may seem a bit daunting, but it will really change the game for you and your client (and for you). It’s great if you already have a web presence, such as great-looking site to explain who you are, and perhaps social media accounts. The next step is to create an online portal for your clients.
An online login that is personalized to the company and traveler who use your services gives not only an individualized experience, but can take a lot of work off of your hands. Consider easy-to-implement features such as:
- Requests through a form submission
- Basic hotel or travel options with pricing listed within their site login
- A full profile with preferences (such as meals, and rooms)
- Itineraries, travel histories, passport details, and loyalty program information
By empowering the traveler to login and see all of this information in one place – and perhaps even book simple travel at great rates – you reduce some of the busy work for yourself, track their requests and needs with ease. Not only does it make life easier for everyone, it also helps your travel agency compete with OTAs in the online arena.
Consider an app as well, so that your clients can access all of this information easily from any device.
For corporate clients, security is also an important consideration. In addition to managing many travelers personal details, you will (hopefully!) also be processing a lot of financial transactions. Ensure you are receiving and processing payments using a variety of methods to allow your client to pay in the way that suits their business, but also that you are using a secure payment processor to transmit and store these details.