When future generations study the story of our times, it’ll be represented by several prominent economic, environmental, political and social junctures; the war on terror? Possibly? The surge in technological development? Highly likely. A global pandemic caused by COVID-19? Without question.
It was the latter that affected me the most – from a position of relative prosperity in March 2020, to furlough and then ultimately, redundancy.
Despite being employed by one of the world’s biggest Fintechs during the chaos of the global pandemic, for which I’ll forever be grateful, I always knew where my heart lay: in the world of corporate travel. After restrictions were permanently lifted and things started to get back to “normal” I was offered a golden opportunity to work at Traveltrust – a global Travel Management Company known for its excellent quality of service.
I found myself in a situation where I had the chance to dive back into the travel industry following a period of time away – after the world had changed so much – having watched others within my industry retire or embark on new careers in alternative sectors, and I wondered… am I doing the right thing? And my answer then was the same as it is now: 100% yes.
As Sales Director my job and my passion is to grow business and with the global market for business travel recovering impressively –in November the corporate travel industry was forecast to recover to 75% of pre-Covid transactions by the end of the 2022 (i) – what I do is more satisfying to me than ever. So here are three lessons I have learned from the world of corporate travel that have served me well and I believe are key to growing your business in a post-pandemic world.
The importance of technology
The role of technology and data in the corporate travel management sector is pivotal to everything we do. Long gone are the days of ringing around different suppliers to negotiate rates and dates. Advanced systems we utilise today give us immediate access to everything from flight and hotel room availability to individual customer preferences and frequent flyer program details.
A comprehensive technology suite can significantly reduce the costs of business travel too. So engaging a travel management company that is fully onboard with the latest technologies can see those efficiency savings passed on to the customer.
With a streamlined travel management operation, travel management companies can really focus on their clients’ needs. Far from letting the machines do everything, Traveltrust simply embraced technology’s ability to cut out the time-consuming back and forth to make arrangements. With more time to dedicate to clients, they’re getting a far better overall experience.
The rising emphasis on duty of care and social and environmental responsibility
The world has changed. Travel management is no longer as straightforward as getting customers from point a to point b – you need to add value in a responsible, sustainable way as well as make sure clients’ safety and security is a top priority. Whilst some methods have changed in our work, the scope of our responsibility has only increased.
Duty of care has to mean more than simply helping clients through times of crisis or navigating major world events. It’s about having help on hand for smaller, day-to-day problems, ensuring that all staff travel smoothly and being able to advise on the best steps to maintain positive wellbeing.
Traveller safety and security can be nothing less than top priority. At Traveltrust we make every possible effort to ensure that passengers arrive safely and with minimal inconvenience. But all travel management companies should have this same focus. Having travel managers that can draw from many years of experience, sharing their knowledge and insights to help navigate pain points and avoid unnecessary disruption is how businesses like ours provide true value. In such situations there’s simply no substitute for experience.
It’s also vital to monitor political situations, travel route disruption and weather events, and you need to be able to offer the appropriate support and assistance round the clock. This means that no matter where a customer may be in the world, they can always bank on their travel management team being on hand to smooth any possible disruption.
There was at least one positive effect of the global travel ban and that was the good it did for the environment, which has been a wake-up call for us all. It’s crucial that, as an industry, we offset our carbon and grow in an eco-friendly and conscientious manner.
Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk
When you’re offering a very personal service, you’ve got to be wedded to the principle of going above and beyond to deliver for your clients. Empty promises and disappointments are how client accounts are lost, but by building this simple principle into your company DNA, you can ensure your customers keep coming back.
It’s not enough to hype your company’s credentials without being able to back them up. Actions speak louder than words and it’s that dedication to delivering the level of service you know will keep clients impressed that has enabled Traveltrust to not just ride out the difficult pandemic years, but also to come out the other side stronger.
Client retention should always be a key component of your plans for growth so there’s little point in going all out to win new business if you’ve not nailed that strategy to retain it.
We never know what’s round the corner but what we do know is that the robust and reflexive nature of the travel industry and the resilience of the people within it makes us what we are. I’m very proud to be a part of this recovery process and excited for what the future holds.