Every commercial/business account has three key individuals who must be considered by every corporate travel seller: the traveler, the travel arranger and the decision maker. These three corporate individuals have different priorities which may be in conflict with one another. It is up to the travel agency and each agent to balance these diverse priorities when selling and servicing the account.
Decision Maker: The decision maker chooses the agency and decides if it is performing up to par or – hopefully – is exceeding the service expectations from the agency! The owner or sales manager of the agency should know this individual and ought to call on the decision maker regularly to make sure that the company is satisfied with the agency’s performance.
The priorities of the decision maker for commercial accounts are:
1. Price: Purchasing travel at the lowest cost is the top priority.
Information: The decision maker wants regular verification of the fact that the agency is purchasing travel at the least possible cost.
3. Quality: Reassurance that the agency understands the commercial account’s desire for quality travel at all times.
Travel Arranger: Most corporate/business travelers do not work with the agency directly to book their airline tickets and hotel/car reservations. This vital task is the responsibility of the travel arranger at the corporation (typically, it is the traveler’s administrative assistant).
The travel arranger has three priorities, too, but distinctly different from the priorities of the decision maker and the traveler:
1. Responsiveness: The most effective agent is the one who does not cringe when called by the client but instead provides -service with a smile- promptly.
2. Comfort and knowledge: Travel arrangers want peace of mind from the agency. And they want to be kept abreast of industry events and trends.
3. Total Support: when the heat comes down from the traveler to the travel arranger, the arranger wants assurance that the agent would cover for them.
Traveler: The person who takes the trip has three priorities as well:
1. Availability: the agent is available to meet every need (even if they call a few hours before flight time and must get on an overbooked flight!)
2. Familiarity: They expect the agent to remember details – only book an aisle seat, to get them into a queen size bed, etc.
3. Recourse: in case of emergency due to an overbooked hotel, they need to reach their agents quickly to solve their problems, hence the 800#, 24/7.
Also, there are two steps you should take before targeting your corporate travel accounts:
A) Market Definition: It is very important that you target your selling effort by first defining your market.
– Be realistic about your agency’s capabilities versus the account size.
– Your size, number of locations, and chain or consortia affiliations all play an important role in determining your -sales territory.-
– Target corporate accounts that go to destinations that make economic sense to your existing business.
– Your targeting should go as follows: full service then online (self-booking).
– Credit cards are always the preferred form of payment.
B) Product Definition: Present your products by enumerating various service options and how each benefits the corporate client.
Provide your prospective clients with a list of options such as:
– Bundled (full service)
– Unbundled (fee based)
– Additional service
– Information management
– Meeting management
– Travel products
The secret to success is the client’s perception of the unique services you provide. Once you have defined your market, and subsequently your product, you have created an opportunity to compete successfully in an extremely competitive arena. You are positioning your company for success by enabling the client to make choices and obtain perceived value.