Travel management companies for sports tours
During my years in travel, the industry has changed a great deal. The internet, along with the numerous low-cost airlines and operators, have revolutionised how people research and book their journeys. I believe though that there is also a downside to this.
People to some extent have become blinkered into thinking that they’re making guaranteed savings by booking online and there’s a common misconception that using a travel management company (TMC) ultimately increases costs.
Part of my role covers client liaison and sourcing new business. One of the questions that I’m most frequently asked is, "why book with you, I can book cheaper online"?
The answer to this question is simple. The role of a good TMC is not to profiteer; it is to become a trusted partner to you and your organisation by delivering cost and time savings, with the very best service.
Traveleads for example are devoted to helping each and every one of our clients, large or small, and today are the trusted partner to over 40 national governing bodies of sport, armed forces sport and countless individual athletes, including many of Team GB’s Olympic medal winners.
We cannot always guarantee to be the ‘cheapest’ option – take for example a Ryanair booking where the price is the price – however there are a large number of advantages to booking with a TMC, some of which I would like to share with you.
‘Knowledge and experience’
There is a distinct benefit to using a TMC opposed to shopping on the internet, and this is the knowledge and experience that you can tap into. Our consultants, for example, are experts in their field and have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience.
They’re excellent problem solvers and negotiators in driving down costs. Most agents are also impartial, meaning that you’re provided with the information and costs that best suits your needs.
‘Not everything is on the web’
There are many deals, especially for sports teams and competitors that for one reason or another aren’t advertised or bookable via a website.
As an example, our British Airways sport fares offer up to 75% discount from standard published and UK Sport discounted fares.
That said, a good TMC can also check the low-cost options and some may have negotiated exclusive deals for teams travelling with low cost airlines. That may offer a range of benefits such as flexibility with naming or excess baggage offers.
‘Savings through time’
Another point often made is "TMCs charge a service fee. I can do it for free". Since airlines stopped paying travel agency commission we do have to levy a fee, however TMC negotiations and special fares mean the actual cost payable is often less than you would pay online. I’m also keen to stress that your (or your staff’s) time isn’t free.
For instance, a quick call (or email) to us takes on average just a few minutes. If you were to calculate the cost of the time spent during working hours searching the various websites for a flight, hotel or hire car, making a booking, the cost of the ‘credit card fee’ applied at the time of booking and the amount of administration work required afterwards, including reconciling the credit card statement at the end of the month, you may be surprised that this cost would usually exceed an agency service fee, and often offer you a cheaper deal too.
‘Avoiding the pitfalls’
There are areas that aren’t always considered when booking direct. A recent example was when I was contacted by a team manager who I’d visited to try and secure their business.
He hadn’t enquired or booked his team’s travel with us, but was asking for our help. He’d sourced and booked his own flights online, and the following morning contacted the airline to advise them of his team’s luggage space requirements.
He got a nasty shock when the airline told him that they were unable to guarantee carriage of any of their equipment, as the aircraft operating the flight, due to its size, had limited hold space.
This is one of our standard checks and the potential problem would have been spotted by us before any booking had been made. Whilst we weren’t able to progress the issue with the original carrier, we were able to source an alternative option that offered a cheaper fare and waived the cost of all the team’s equipment too.
Baggage is only one of the common pitfalls, however there are many more.
‘TMC added value’
Whenever you make a booking TMCs also add a lot of value, as you have the benefit of the costs being billed to your account, plus TMCs provide you with management information data for reporting at a later date.
With Traveleads you would also have access to a 24 hour emergency service. This service, operated by our own staff, offers the peace of mind that there is someone available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help if something were to go wrong.
In addition you would also have the benefit of free access to our Sports Portal, offering live information on all group projects. The portal is designed with business efficiency at its core and provides cash flow and Management information data.
This tool, I feel, will greatly assist NGB’s following UK Sport’s announcement of the need to improve governance during the next Olympic cycle, or face funding cuts.
Traveleads quotations are provided free of charge and so you have nothing to lose by giving us a try. The next time you have a travel requirement why not give us a call?
Our telephone number is 0113 242 2202, or alternatively drop me a line direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the blog writer: Eric Edwards has worked within the travel industry for 23 years, 16 of those at Traveleads. During this time he has progressed from travel consultant to departmental manager, and now to his current position as director of Sports and Groups. He heads a department of 15 very specialised and highly motivated members of staff, specialising in travel for sports teams and competitors.
Both images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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