Micro-enterprises and SMEs: Travel Manager or TMC: which is right for you?

What is the best, most cost-effective and financially viable solution for small companies to manage business trips?

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Digitisation has completely overhauled the way we manage business travel. In small and medium-sized businesses, the choice is often between going through a travel management company (TMC) or using the services of an individual working in-house who is dedicated to this function (such as a facilities management assistant), or even enlisting a travel manager for large business accounts (i.e. companies that spend more than three million euro on travel). Read on for our tips to help you make the right choice... 

The function of corporate travel manager first emerged in large companies in the 1970s in response to the complex and time-consuming reservation procedures. This led to the creation of business travel agencies, or travel management companies (TMCs). But now, with the help of digital solutions, booking a flight, train ticket, hire car or hotel room can all be done in just a few clicks. These new tools have been a boon for SMEs as they can use them to find more cost-effective solutions.

According to a survey conducted by Egencia, a travel management solution provider, 85% of SME travel managers cited this as one of their three main objectives for 2018. Quite naturally, we might wonder then whether in this era of digitisation, will this line of work soon be a thing of the past for small businesses?  

Which type of organisation is right for your company?

This all depends on the nature and number of business trips that a company schedules and its size. These criteria will influence which organisation is best to implement. In the white paper, 'Structuring Travel Management in SMEs and Small and Medium-sized Industries ' (Structurer le Travel Management au sein des PME-PMI), the AFTM (the French Travel Management Association) recommends creating a travel manager position when the company's travel budget exceeds 500 thousand euro. Having a professional perform this "travel" function has proven to be a good short-term investment if they can find ways for your company to save on purchasing (by negotiating flight fares, hotel rates, etc.) and on processes. Their ability to anticipate and manage security and social risks – something that managers in SMEs, small and medium-sized industries and intermediate companies are not always aware of – can also help avoid the costs these might incur down the line. Armed with their knowledge of the company, it will most likely be the travel manager who will come up with the most appropriate solutions.   

The pros of permanently monitored travel

TMCs have certainly not been made redundant. TMCs have adapted quickly to the demands of companies by constantly developing their solutions and tools, spanning custom reports, traveller monitoring, training, assistance in negotiating with suppliers, market knowledge, and much more. SMEs now expect their business travel agencies to provide them with detailed reports, in-depth expenditure analyses and a positive return on investment.

What's more, new operators, new technologies and new rules crop up every day in the travel sector, which is a fast-evolving industry. It is in travel managers' best interests to stay informed and up-to-date to be able to continue to operate effectively. This is why training and/or exchanging with peers through professional associations and events organised by TMCs is so important.  

Tailor-made travel management

Be it decentralised via a TMC or centralised in the form of an in-house, full or part-time travel manager position, the travel function within a company can generate a worthwhile return on investment thanks to the expertise of travel professionals. Micro-enterprises and SMEs would generally be well advised to assess what their needs are, as there are also a variety of cost-effective solutions that tourism professionals can provide to efficiently and effortlessly arrange business trips for these types of companies. One such solution is the AccorHotels Business Offer. A tailor-made arrangement at negotiated rates gives you access to a wide range of hotels covering all tiers, from Fairmont to Ibis Style to MGallery by Sofitel to Pullman to Swissôtel, as well as an array of other international hotels. 

Published by Thi bao on 03/04/2019 Photo credit: © shironoso

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