By Emily Peters
At MTravel, we chat with a lot of people who are interested in starting their own travel business. The vast majority are interested in curating some form of leisure travel (vacations). Yet business travel—or corporate, which is the term we like to use—represents a huge segment of the market.
In 2015 alone, business travel in the U.S. raked in almost $290 billion. With growth a given as we head towards 2020, there’s a lot of opportunity out there—and a lot of confusion about what a corporate travel agent actually does.
What does a corporate travel agent REALLY do?
While leisure travel involves imagination, flexibility and (often) plenty of lead time, corporate travel is a whole ‘nother animal. Among other things, a corporate travel agent has several responsibilities:
- To develop a corporate travel policy. Many organizations both large and small must travel to do business. CEOs may move first class, but most businesses are eager to control their travel spend. A corporate travel agent should be savvy enough to develop a corporate travel policy that allows travel to be booked conveniently yet prevents unreasonably expensive requests from slipping through.
- To identify and create opportunities for corporate rates and contracts. Unlike most leisure travel, corporate travelers regularly visit the same location, use the same car rental companies, stay at the same hotels. That volume has the potential to be leveraged for corporate rates—discounts on preferred hotels, car rentals, or even flights for your frequent corporate travelers.
- To book complex and/or last-minute travel. Not all corporate travel is complicated, but the more lucrative accounts can be. Differing from leisure, corporate travelers are often subject to challenges like last-minute meetings, a switch in travelers (sending the marketing manager instead of the vice president, etc.) and more. Throw in international clients/partners and you’re looking at a need for a skilled travel professional with an obsessive eye for detail.
- To be available during off-hours. Corporate travel is more volatile than leisure. Corporate travel agents are much more likely to get a call at two in the morning to assist with a problem in the eleventh hour. However, that’s also why corporate agents often earn the big bucks.
Is corporate travel for me?
Not everyone is cut out to be a corporate travel professional—but the same can be said for leisure, romance, or any other travel niche. Although your interest in selling travel may stem from your personal leisure experiences, here are a few ways to tell if corporate travel is your true calling:
- The opportunity exists. There are several signs that the opportunity to build corporate travel business is at your fingertips. Perhaps you or a close contact currently work at a company whose employees frequently travel—but no one is overseeing the process. Maybe your company started off having simple business trips booked by an admin—but now you’re growing, and it’s becoming too much for one person to handle. Taking the weight of travel management off of their shoulders could be just the ticket. So go ahead, look around you. You may see more opportunities than you think.
- You’re a “Type A” personality who loves a challenge. Effectively managing corporate travel requires a special kind of intelligence. You have to adore the control of complex projects, flourish as a problem-solver, and be eager to take the lead when others shuffle their feet. If you can complement these qualities with a sincere desire to make others’ lives easier, you’re in good stead.
- You’ve partnered with the right host agency. Corporate travel doesn’t always develop as organically as leisure travel. It involves unique tools, training and highly specialized knowledge. A host agency like MTravel should supply all three and more to train you up as an expert and give you the best shot at success.
Intrigued? Now that you know what a corporate travel agent really does, you’re that much closer to becoming a part of the corporate travel community. Stay tuned for future posts on how to successfully branch into this extremely profitable industry segment. Good selling!
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.