This blog post is part of a TMC Preferred Partner blog series, a series of posts guest-written by bloggers from a variety of Concur’s thought leading TMC partners. Learn more about the Preferred Partner program benefits and how you can get involved. By: Mike Cameron, Christopherson Business Travel
There’s no doubt the role of the travel management company has changed significantly in the last twenty years. With online booking tools, commission caps and more, travel management companies have been challenged to stay valuable to travelers.
As an industry, we have to evolve in how we manage travel in order to stay relevant. Here’s what Christopherson Business Travel is doing differently and our take on new ways to service travelers.
Connecting all the Data Dots We’ve been working with Concur since August 2003, and were the first TMC to fully integrate with TripIt. With our own core developers, we created multiple proprietary technology tools that streamline the booking, management and reporting processes for our corporate travel clients, travelers and agents.
We realized early on that connecting all the right data was crucial to giving our clients ultimate service – whether it’s through booking, client reporting or services for travelers on the road.
Managing the “Unmanaged” Although we were skeptical at first about the open booking concept, we’ve come to see it as an asset to our service as a travel management company. When Concur changed the name to TripLink it helped us embrace the concept. While “Open booking” had an “agent bypass” feel to it “TripLink” has a “complete the data in the trip” connotation.
To explain further, we have been booking “passive segments” for clients for many years, especially with the large percentage of clients who book air with us, but book their hotel off-line. This is not uncommon for business travel.
Many of our clients are attending conferences, meetings, training and other events where the hotel booking is part of the meeting registration. In these cases, there is a need for the traveler to have their hotel included in their itinerary for duty-of-care tracking purposes and for itinerary convenience.
We’ve always embraced the idea of including everyone’s information completely in the reservation. Up until TripLink, it was a very manual process. Our agents had to ask travelers where they were staying, and not only that, but confirmation numbers, rates and all of the basic information included in the reservations.
Simplifying the Process – Adding More Value With TripLink, a traveler can enter their information on their end. The clunky manual process is now automated and digitized.
When travelers do this, their information is automatically in the Concur tool, in our proprietary AirPortal® database and in TripIt – the mobile tool we use for our travelers. It saves time and allows us to offer a better quality of service for our clients – which is the key to staying relevant as a travel management company.
Open Booking Creates New Opportunities
By linking unmanaged bookings into a managed environment, it gives us an opportunity to give service to those customers on those bookings. Agents will be focused on helping to book more complex travel plans, as well as offering assistance and support to travelers that are stranded or disrupted.
We are looking at leveraging TripLink to develop additional technologies to help travelers get a better rate than they booked on their own.
It’s about evolution, and there will always be an opportunity to provide better value and help travelers and travel managers save money.
About the Author:
Mike Cameron is a CPA and the CEO and co-owner of Christopherson Business Travel. He is the father of four children and has six grandchildren.
He currently serves on the Advisory Boards of BCD Travel Affiliates, Delta Air Lines, Travelport, and ASTA Corporate Advisory Council. He was previously the President of the Utah Business Travel Association.
He and his wife bought Christopherson Business Travel in 1990 when it was a $1 Million company with two agents. They now have 325 team members and support more than $380 million in annual travel spend for more than 900 successful companies.
Christopherson is ranked #11 on the BTN list of travel management companies. They have a robust software development division which has developed and supports their AirPortal 360® travel management platform.