According to USTravel.org, almost $300 billion dollars were spent on business travel in 2015. Made up of over 450 million trips, the business travel industry and the “Road Warriors” that support it are big business. While there are a number of different websites and tools available for vacations, booking business trips can be a challenge. Executives, assistants, and resources on the ground at destinations often find themselves hopping from site to site, trying to compare prices, proximity, and perks to find the best options. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help make the business booking experience better for everyone.
Understand scheduling limitations or flexibility
Typically, planning a vacation is easier than planning a business trip. Travelers have fewer time constraints and obligations, so they can simply shop around for the best deal. When you’re dealing with business travelers, their time is not their own. They may have immovable client meetings or obligations to their company. Delays are costly, both to passengers and to the travel industry. One estimate from Airlines For America estimates the cost to be over $100 per minute, with around 40 percent of that being absorbed by the traveler (or in the case of the business traveler, their company.) The first step to ensure a stress-free booking is to know what the travelers limitations are so you can plan to prevent any delays or unplanned expenses.
Know your priorities
Once you know the traveler’s flexibility, it’s important to understand their priorities. In many cases, the road warrior will be giving up precious time with family, so efficiency will be important. Of course cost will be an important factor for the company that’s paying the bill. Often proximity of the hotel to event space or corporate headquarters may be a factor. Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine revealed the following priorities from a recent study:
- Safety and security
- Ability to communicate with family
- Low likelihood of delays
- Reduction of business travel outside working hours
- Transportation options and proximity
- Ability to experience culture
Once you understand what’s important, you can help your clients prioritize that in their business bookings.
Keep it simple
With all of these factors, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s important to focus on what’s most important in terms of schedule and priority and then keep the booking itself simple. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can take the stress out of the process for you and your clients.
- 1. Use travel agency software. There’s no reason you or your clients should have to bounce between different airline and hotel sites to book one business trip. Using travel agency software allows you to maintain a customer profile and quickly categorize all of the options in one easy place.
- 2. Consider travel insurance. With safety as a top priority for most travelers, this affords an extra layer of security.
- 3. Stay informed. Stay abreast of conference and convention capabilities so you don’t have to research every single request from scratch.
As you can see, business travel is big business. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Solid planning prior to the booking process can save time and energy for both the people creating the bookings as well as the travelers that will road test those bookings. Be sure to understand the traveler’s flexibility and priorities in advance and then keep the booking process as simple as possible. In the end, it will result in a great experience for everyone.