What services does a travel management company (TMC) provide?

TMC stands for Travel Management Company, and is a staple in the world of B2B. TMC’s serve the needs of businesses around the globe that need to shift people from one location to another, within specific timeframes and budgets. 

For a business, arranging travel can become a time-consuming process. It requires searching for the most cost-effective routes that still allow employees to get where they need to, on time. Accommodation must be arranged too, with the personal requirements of the employee and budget in mind. Further travel arrangements may need to be worked out to transport the employee from their accommodation to their workplace, and there still may be more to do depending on the nature of the trip.

The benefits of using a travel management company are that they handle all of this, from start to finish. Not only are they experienced with handling all of the arrangements for a variety of trips and headcounts, they often have access to discounted rates on travel and accommodation. This means businesses ultimately save money on travel and accommodation, and can rely on their TMC partners to iron out any details, report on expenses, provide risk management and much more.

Why use a travel management company?

The core of what a TMC provides is flight and accommodation planning and booking. While that is simple for an individual to manage on their own in a private capacity, businesses are responsible for the safety of employees and must provide adequate travel and accommodation. This quickly becomes complicated when planning travel for numerous employees with different needs. Existing staff likely have other responsibilities and will not be experts in this field, which is why many businesses contract TMCs to handle all of their travel and accommodation needs.

ACE Travel is a part of the Advantage Travel Partnership, a group made up of independently owned travel management companies. Membership of this partnership comes with numerous advantages, such as personal contacts with major airlines around the world and steeply discounted travel. Being a part of a larger, international group is something every quality travel management company does, as it allows them to collectively seek better prices for clients.

Flights and accommodation are a large part of what TMCs do, but there are numerous ancillary services that TMCs are responsible for too, such as visa procurement, airport lounges, hotel requests, foreign exchange, insurance, leisure travel and so much more, depending on the trip.

Having to manage all of this in-house can be difficult, and this doesn’t cover everything that a business needs when travelling. Not only will staff be pulled away from responsibilities to constantly work on the travel plan, they cannot secure the best rates or speak directly to airlines and hotels to find solutions to unique problems. Ultimately, it costs less to use a TMC than for businesses to arrange and oversee trips themselves.

Developing and implementing travel policies

For any business involved in regular travel, creating and implementing a travel policy is essential. It creates a basic framework that is used to build every trip, cutting down on negotiations and back-and-forth questioning between the TMC and its client. 

Travel policies can be diverse with their terms. They can place restrictions on the type of travel used, classes, types of accommodation, when premium services can be used, whether families can join, and much more. The importance of sustainability in travel is only growing, and many TMCs have integrated sustainable travel into their service by offering alternatives such as rail or coach travel where possible.

Travel expense policies are also important, setting restrictions around what the company will pay for, how many meals a day are budgeted for and other areas that need to be controlled. Effective systems have restrictions in place that do not allow employees to breach the policy, and it takes a travel management company to build out the policy and make sure it’s followed diligently. 

A set of policies creates a transparent system in which everybody understands the restrictions, and potential costs. It limits the possibility of spiralling or unknown costs, and helps businesses to budget well in advance. The benefits of using a travel management company policy is the years of experience that go into creating policies and working with corporate clients. Ultimately, businesses save time and money by contracting travel policy and management to TMCs.

Managing expenses and reporting

Before the advent of technology and computers, TMCs would manage expenses manually. They’d keep records of previous spending and use that to create plans for future trips, however, technology has completely transformed this area of work for TMCs.

Expense tracking tools now seamlessly integrate with booking and financial systems. These tools accurately capture data on travel expenses, including flights, accommodation, transportation, meals, and other related costs. These same tools often include automated expense reporting capabilities that give clients real-time figures. They also have the benefit of creating comprehensive reports that are easy to read and interpret for clients.

Many TMCs employ cost analytics and optimisation tools based on all the data they’ve gathered from working with the specific client and others. By using historical data, TMCs are better placed to identify cost-saving opportunities and trends that allow them to better negotiate with suppliers.

Reviewing travel policies is important to address new priorities or a material change in circumstances for that client. It’s an opportunity to review any breaches of the policy, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

What makes these tools especially useful for clients is having access that allows them to view their spend and policy in real-time – this provides a sense of comfort and ownership that clients need to spend with confidence.

Real-time travel support and assistance

TMCs do plenty of groundwork before anyone takes off or steps on board, but they’re always on-call during periods of travel, offering emergency assistance and advice as necessary. 

Travelling to certain destinations requires a degree of leg-work before any gets to the airport, and that normally involves obtaining visas, and sometimes, passports. TMCs take on that responsibility after gathering the basic information needed for an application, and typically procure visas on their clients’ behalf.

Dedicated consultants are on hand 24/7 to take emergency calls and messages, and deal with smaller issues. More often than not, they tend to have some knowledge of the destination of the trip due to their expertise and experience. These same consultants are on-hand to help deal with ancillary issues like airport transfer and any special accommodation required for individual travellers. 

Client safety is of paramount importance and our consultants are always keeping their eye on the area, informing clients of any issues or hazards that may affect them. TMCs seek to implement duty of care practices and try to minimise risks from the planning journey.

Wraparound care from start to finish

TMCs are a necessity. The world of travel, and all that comes with it has become too complex for individual businesses to tackle without expert support. The chances are that a business will inadvertently spend more than it actually needs a due to a lack of expertise on the best routes, times to book and more.

On top of that, TMCs tend to be members of global businesses or groups such as the Advantage Travel Partnership that a leading travel management company like ACE Travel can take advantage of to secure cheaper rates. In addition to the money saved on travel and accommodation expenses, specialised travel consultants are always on hand to deal with issues in real-time, or facilitate special accommodations.

By working with a business travel management company to establish a robust travel policy, businesses will be able to see travel expenses falling relative to in-house booking, and higher levels of support before, during and after the trip.

Still curious about what a travel management company can do and can offer your business? ACE Travel is a global travel management company with decades of experience under its belt. Read more of our blogs in the insight section, or give one of our team for a no-obligation call about your business travel needs.