Business travel has been made more complicated by the many misconceptions and myths that have developed over time.
Some think business travel is all glitz and glamour, with paid-for trips and champagne in first class. Others will tell you that business travel means long days, burn-out and loneliness. The truth is probably found somewhere in the middle.
Andrew Grunewald, Brand Leader Flight Centre Business Travel, explains many misconceptions and myths concern the process of booking travel. He debunks the three most common and stubborn falsehoods for corporate travellers.
Myth 1: The only way to get good rates is to book in advance
There is no doubt that booking flights in advance is a smart way to save. Intel gathered by Flight Centre Business Travel shows that companies can save up to 21% of their travel spend by booking flights in advance, and those business travellers who book just one day before departure could end up paying as much as 200% more for an airfare.
However, booking in advance is certainly not the only way to get good rates. A professional travel consultant will be able to tell you that you can decrease the cost of your tickets on long flights by booking different cabins for various legs of your journey, for example. Return flights are also often better value than one-way tickets. In some cases, the return fare might even be cheaper than flying one-way.
Grunewald adds: “Hiring a Travel Management Company (TMC) means you benefit from negotiating strength and global buying power. With access to great deals and discounts, as well as strong partnerships and industry relationships, your TMC can provide you with competitive rates, saving you money on flights, accommodation and even car rental.”
Myth 2: Conference calls are the cheapest way to connect
Undeniably, a Skype call costs less than sending a business traveller halfway across the world to meet up with a client in person.
While technology is a convenient alternative, some meetings are better face-to-face. An Oxford Economics study recently revealed that companies see an average of US$12.50 in additional revenue and US$3.80 in new profits for every dollar spent on business travel. The return on investment is compelling.
The same study also mentioned that both executives and business travellers estimate that 28% of current business would be lost without in-person meetings, and both executives and business travellers estimate roughly 40% of prospective customers are converted to new customers after an in-person meeting, compared to 16% without the meeting.
Myth 3: It’s easier (and more affordable) to book domestic flights yourself
Would you balance your accounts just because you know how to use Excel? You might, but it will take a great deal longer than paying an expert to do it for you and, you could spend hours reconciling accounts and finding that missing R10,000 in July’s figures.
Of all the great dangers SMEs face to save a few rands doing it themselves, lousy travel experiences rank among the worst. Just ask any jetlagged traveller who has been stranded in an airport for eight hours waiting for a connecting flight. Or the PA who received a panicked call in the middle of the night to try and rectify your booking gone wrong.
Says Grunewald: “There is a misconception among many SME businesses that if they book their business travel themselves, it will be quicker and cheaper. In most instances, this isn’t true.
“Travel management isn’t as simple as booking a return flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town and arriving at the airport on time. In addition to the minefield of rules that govern travel – from flight change fees to visa requirements – travel is highly emotive. You’re dealing employees’ time and comfort, and their productivity, as a result, may be impacted negatively.”
These three myths can definitely play havoc with your business travel plans. However, Grunewald explains that by working with a knowledgeable TMC like FCBT, savvy companies and consumers can save both time and money.