|ATLANTA, Nov. 4, 1998 - Companies of all types and
sizes usually have one thing in common: they spend a lot of money on travel.
In fact, it's common for travel and travel-related expenses to rank among
the most costly incurred by a company. What most executives don't realize,
according to travel management executive Patricia Stack, is that business
travel can also be one of a company's most controllable expenses.
"Historically, corporations have treated TE (travel and entertainment)
as a fixed and constant cost, like overhead or payroll," says Stack, senior
VP of marketing for WorldTravel Partners-BTI Americas. The Atlanta-based
firm specializes in corporate travel program management.
Luckily, modern travel management companies like Stack's employer have
evolved in their abilities to offer corporations a variety of cost-savings
services. Examples include:
"Agencies like ours now have the ability to help clients get their arms
around their travel programs, identify all travel-related activities, make
informed spending decisions and realize savings never before thought possible,"
says Stack. "The days of dismissing travel expense as merely a 'necessary
evil' are over. If your corporate travel agency doesn't realize this, maybe
it's time to look for a new one."
Negotiated Rates -- Recent consolidation
in the travel industry enables mega-agencies like WorldTravel Partners-BTI
Americas to leverage their combined purchasing power on behalf of clients,
thus obtaining the deepest discounts possible on contracts with airlines,
hotels and car rentals companies. According to Stack, negotiated contracts
can guarantee travel suppliers market share, and may save companies up
to 50 percent on travel spending.
Strategic Purchasing Analysis and Planning
-- Leading travel agencies employ experts in airline, hotel and rental
car procurement, who use existing data and sophisticated models to develop
customized, strategic purchasing plans for client companies. Examining
a company's travel history -- including traditional expenditures (airline,
hotel and car rental) as well as non-traditional ones (entertainment, credit
card and expense reporting) -- reveals potential savings targets.
State-of-the-art Technology -- Like
all industries, technology has permeated the ranks of corporate travel.
As a result, agencies have access to software and systems that ensure fast,
accurate travel reservations and automatically detect the lowest possible
fares for clients. New advances in self-service reservations technology
gives travelers 24-hour access to this automation. Connecting from their
desktop or laptop computers, individuals can plan and book trips at their
leisure, while avoiding costly agent labor.
Travel Alternatives -- Sometimes the
smartest and most economical decision is to not travel at all. To that
end, many travel agencies offer an array of "travel avoidance" options,
including video/audio conferencing, meetings counseling and training/conference
center management to fit the needs (and budget) of every client.