Pick and Choose: Finding a TMC and Sticking To It

The Benefits of a Stable TMC Relationship

It’s hard to turn your back on a good deal. Sometimes it’s as simple as cancelling your mobile phone contract to get a new handset, but the same temptations arise when you spot a flight or hotel with a more attractive price than the one your corporate travel agency booked for you.

Summary:

  • Short-term savings from ad-hoc T&E bookings come at the expense of long-term gains
  • Taking a strategic approach to T&E relationships will save you time and money
  • Choose a TMC that understands your company’s travel habits and needs
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Short-term Thinking

Hong Kong’s SMEs are always hunting for short-term savings, and often this leads to frequent changing of travel management companies (TMC). The highly competitive nature of Hong Kong’s TMC industry makes it all the easier for them to shop around. Hong Kong has 1,754 travel agents according to the Travel Industry Council’s website. They’re all under intense pricing pressure and willing to offer another small sweetener to win your business.

There’s also a growing trend among small to medium sized Hong Kong businesses to book T&E services online in search of the best price on a flight-by-flight basis. It may mean you get this week’s flight to Shanghai a bit cheaper, but in the long run jumping from supplier to supplier or reverting to online booking platforms can cost your business money and efficiency.

Travel is one of your greatest controllable expenses, and it needs to be managed strategically rather than on an ad hoc basis. A consistent, long-term relationship with a quality TMC saves both time and money. There are several key advantages to consolidating all of your T&E activity with one TMC, and sticking with them.

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Long-Term Advantages

Firstly, it creates a body of trackable data on your T&E spending that can help you spot trends, overspending and weaknesses. Such data, for example, can identify which hotels and other services you use on a regular basis or the season trends in your travel, and use those to undercover savings. Consolidating your T&E spending creates transparency, which in turn allows you better control over spending and your travel policy.

Secondly, as TMCs get to know your spending and travel habits they can also help you maximise rewards from your payment solution, assistance you’re less likely to get from an agent who has just lured you in with a special offer on a regional flight. A dedicated TMC will negotiate on your behalf as well as search out deals that fit within your travel needs and habits. They can approach hotels, airlines and MICE venues on your behalf and negotiate return-customers rates or additional benefits, such as free laundry or airport limousine service. Or, they can advise you on how to subtly change your travel habits for significant savings, such as rescheduling seasonal trips or choosing a different airport.

Thirdly, requiring employees to book through a trusted TMC improves oversight and control of employee spending. Using one centralized TMC with transparent operations encourages better employee compliance with your corporate travel policy. In today’s business climate, where budgets are becoming tighter and regulatory compliance has become of paramount concern, having oversight and control over employee spending is worth more than a discounted hotel room.

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Finally, a TMC that knows your company and its employees can also enhance employee security while they’re on the road. It means you know where employees are if disaster strikes, and the TMC can ensure proper visas, medical information, vaccinations and security briefings are provided every time your employees travel.

Choose a TMC based on your most common T&E destinations and preferences. Find someone who can supply what you need at a fair price and who understands your long term budget, employee care and payment solution goals. Your TMC may not always have the best price on every flight and hotel room, but they’ll have your longer term interests at heart.

Ignore that advertisement for the last-minute, rock-bottom deal on a flight you only take once a year. You’ll be glad you did in the long term.