Elisa Yarkony, Divisional Manager, Statesman Travel Limited
Clients who come to a travel agency for their corporate travel do so because they truly understand the value of their time, and want to ensure that they get the best possible fares and services.
I can talk from personal experience having been in the industry for 30 years of which for the last 9 l have been working as a Joint Venture and deal with my own client base.
My objective is to offer a comprehensive quality driven “one stop shop” service featuring the best available booking solutions which allows my customers to choose the extent they wish to be involved with the reservation process. By coming through an agency such as myself my clients are guaranteed a single point of contact, which enables me to manage the relationship between our two organisations, as well as allowing them access to a service that ranges from the traditional to the technically advanced, where my clients are able to choose the configuration that best suits them.
Any Travel Agency worth its salt will give its clients this kind of flexibility. By coming through an agent you are not actually losing control but you are empowering yourself to better understand your company’s travel needs and adhere to travel policies.
An agency such as myself will offer a comprehensive travel management service which includes some of the following benefits:
This is something that by going online to book you will not get. Travel Agencies such as mine offer our clients a 24 hour point of contact, so no matter where the client is or in what time zone he is able to contact his agent and ensure that he/she receives the service required.
This is never more apparent than when a disaster happens such as the eruption of the Volcano in Iceland.
The benefits of going with an agency is that in addition to a “traditional “ personal service where you will be able to talk to a real person with a wealth of knowledge and experience, most agencies now offer a “technical “ online service as well, this can be tailored to the individual’s clients requirements.
The concept that it is more expensive to book through an agency is really extremely short sighted and misguided. True when you book through an agency there are some fees involved. But go onto any online booking reservation system on the worldwide web and you will see that they too charge a booking fee and on top of that a credit card fee. The difference being that they will sell you a simple point to point ticket – for example – London / Paris / London. There will be no human interaction, if there is a problem you need to call expensive 0800 numbers where you are charged at anything from 50p per minute – and are kept on hold for a very long time. To be told by someone with little or no travel experience that nothing can be done. So at then of the experience you have:
- Wasted your time and your money as you are not paid to be trawling through the internet
- Not really offered the best solution, after by combining trips you may have got that trip cheaper but lack of human interaction and knowledge resulted in a straight there a back ticket.
- You were charged a fee in any event added to the time you spent doing the research the maths speaks for itself.
- When you needed to change you were again charged and kept holding for long periods of time.
By booking through an agent, this could all have been prevented, a knowledgeable agent would have taken your call or email, and they would have asked relevant questions and then gone off and booked what you needed. Advising you of the best fare options, and any special promotions they airlines have in place, which a machine will not do. If you had to change someone is there to take your call or email and advise you of the changes quickly and efficiently 24/7.
Agents also have the benefit of having access to many specially negotiated fares which you cannot find online, as well as being able to negotiate corporate deals with hotels / car hire companies etc. for their clients.
A travel agency is a tool, and like any tool if you use it correctly it will bring untold rewards, the internet is great, there is no denying it, but do you really pay your staff a salary so they can spend the best part of 2 to 3 hours a day looking at websites trying to find the best possible fares, or do you put in one call or one email to an experienced knowledgeable and highly trained agent, who can do that for you, thus freeing your member of staff to do the job they are actually employed to do.
My clients know for sure which they would rather do, and that is call me and free themselves to do what they do best.