Business Travel: It Only Looks Easy

Some of you may not realize this fact (since I rarely address the subject in this blog) but in addition to making your vacation dreams come true,  we are also very good at managing corporate travel.  We have an entire second website devoted to business travel.

Since by now you are familiar with my embarrassing displays of immodesty from time to time, I don’t mind saying we are pretty darn good at it.  Which, I suspect,  might lead you believe that arranging business travel is quite easy.  Keep reading and you will soon be disabused of that silly notion!

View from airplane windowA lot of things in life look deceptively easy that really aren’t.  Take golf.

Just for the record, this is not Ernie Els.

Just for the record, this is not Ernie Els.

Tune into a PGA tournament on TV this weekend and watch Ernie Els hit a golf ball.  He seems to expend virtually no effort with his legendary, lackadaisical swing and yet the golf ball explodes off the club face like it was shot out of a cannon. His iron shots pepper the flag stick and his putts curl into the cup with monotonous regularity. As a golfer myself, I only wish it were half as easy as Ernie makes it look.

But it isn’t just golf. Whether you are talking about cooking a gourmet meal, playing a violin or adding an entertainment theater to your house,  professionals are paid huge sums of money to make their finely honed skills appear routine and commonplace.

Booking corporate travel is no different. The advent of online booking tools only reinforced the notion that booking an airline ticket, a hotel and a car could be done by a chimpanzee trained to hit three buttons in the proper order. And, in point of fact, a reasonably bright monkey probably could be trained to book a reservation.

But here’s the rub. The airfare might well be $400 higher because the monkey had no idea that a flight into John Wayne airport was significantly cheaper than LAX. The hotel might well be twenty miles and 45 minutes from your meeting place and the car might be booked for the day after you arrive. Sound familiar?

When a company starts spending significant sums on travel, rest assured some well-intentioned executive will pop up with the not so revolutionary suggestion that since we travel so much, we should just handle it ourselves. They will quote the low transaction fee of an online agency as justification for making this precipitous leap. That is analogous to an inexperienced sailor becoming fixated by the tip of an iceberg and ramming the ship into the ninety percent of the ice flow below the waterline.

Frustrated at keyboardIs it realistic to expect an administrative assistant, however bright, for whom travel is just one of many responsibilities, to book travel with the same speed, accuracy and creative faring as a professional corporate travel agent who has been doing this task all day, every day for fifteen years? It makes about as much sense as hiring some fresh-faced newbie and explaining that their duties will entail answering the phone, doing some filing and, oh by the way, performing a little brain surgery. “Don’t worry, after a few stabs at it (pun intended), you’ll catch on.”

In a blog post this short there simply isn’t space to explain all the thousand and one ways in which booking corporate travel is complex, complicated and convoluted (none of which is it reasonable to expect an admin to know). But then again, if you have any personal experience with the “do it yourself” approach to managing travel, perhaps you don’t need a lot of convincing.

I’m not saying that booking corporate travel is rocket science. I’m just saying it’s pretty darn close. At Travel Leaders we make corporate travel management look easy . . . perhaps even a little too easy.

If you would like to discuss travel management for your company, CLICK HERE.

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