Travel management company or travel agency: which is best for you?

Kiran Sidhu
Kiran Sidhu
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A form of ‘revenge travel’ is ongoing. Individuals and businesses are booking more trips than usual to catch up on lost opportunities while the pandemic rates were high, and restrictions were strict. 

Of course, these days, the travel process is much easier since the entire affair is just about digitalised. Anyone can book trips and plan itineraries from the comfort of their home. However, several occasions call for hiring help, especially when an organisation needs to streamline their travel planning, or a sole traveller needs expert advice on tour and accommodation options. In this regard, not all trips are the same and the clear distinction means that distinct types of help are required.

When it comes to travel, the most popular types of experts include travel agencies and travel management companies. However, these two categories seem way too similar, and many people cannot tell the difference. To whom do you go for which kind of travel? This guide will help you unblur the lines and see which one is best suited for your needs

What are corporate travel management companies?

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Corporate travel management companies (TMCs) specialise in booking business trips and keeping track of travel expenses for companies. Unlike travel agencies, they focus more on larger clients or corporate companies (organisations of various sizes) than individuals and typically offer more options than a traditional travel agency.

Beyond making bookings and keeping records, travel management companies have responsibilities such as creating travel policies, scheduling events and meetings for clients, providing concierge services, customising an online booking tool, and engaging in risk management before and during trips, among others. In these days of technological innovations, many travel management companies even have comprehensive software solutions that they provide to clients to ease business travel planning and ensure flexibility. A travel management company can provide any service that a travel agency can offer; however, the former goes further in its offerings, and that is discussed in the following section. 

What services do corporate travel management companies offer?

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  • Automation of your company’s travel policy Corporate travel management companies can help your company create and automate a comprehensive travel policy that is incorporated in every business travel, keeping everyone in adherence.
  • Integrated booking and travel requests platform: Once business travel is approved, employees can easily book on their own using the same platform. This platform clearly outlines who is allowed to travel, where they can stay, what expenses are covered and what documentation is required. 
  • Concierge Services: A concierge service provides 24/7 assistance for booking flights, hotels, meeting rooms, events place and other business travel-related needs as well as helping with last-minute changes to plans to boost efficiency and reduce travel costs. When your employees need assistance while travelling, they can call the customer support team of their corporate travel management company at any time during the day or night to get answers to questions about their itinerary or booking process.
  • Travel Data Insights: A corporate travel management company will compile all data related to employee travel so you can easily identify trends that affect your business’s bottom line. Not just that, you can generate a travel risk and safety report depending on the employee’s travel destination.
  • Data-driven Budget Tracking and Reports: Make post-travel finance reports easy. With this, the finance team, and even HR can see travel spending real-time and can incorporate their corporate cards safely within the platform. A good corporate travel management company will provide you with data-driven reports that help you understand your spending and identify any improvement areas.
  • Corporate travel management system: Corporate travel management software solutions offer various features such as expense tracking, expense management, and reporting capabilities. They also provide centralized booking with a single access point for all employees, eliminating the need for multiple apps or websites to access travel solutions.

When is a corporate travel management company good to have?

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Engaging a corporate travel management company is the best value option for an organisation with employees who travel for business regularly and need a single solution to manage trips all year round. Such a TMC will work with the organisation’s HR and finance departments to plan travel logistics and ensure that all trips are in line with set policies, strategies, and budgets. Unlike travel agencies, TMCs take over everything from booking flights and hotels to coordinating reservations, providing concierge services, and even helping with reimbursements after the trip is over. 

What are travel agencies?

Travel agencies are companies that offer services to help you plan your business or personal trips. They also help book flights, hotels, car rentals, and other travel-related services. A travel agency’s responsibility is to act as a go-between between travellers and the services they may need. 

They often have access to exclusive deals that are unknown to the public, but which can save their clients a lot of money. This is because travel agencies and agents often have well-established relationships with their local airlines, hotels, tour guides, and more. Individuals and groups planning to travel, for leisure, or some other purpose often go to a travel agency since their needs are limited to bookings and reservations. 

However, a travel management company makes an enormous difference at the corporate level because its services are broader and more integrated into a company’s strategy. Before discussing travel management companies, let’s consider some of the major services travel agencies provide. 

What services do travel agencies provide? 

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  • Flight booking: Travel agents are experts in booking flights. If you don’t want to spend hours online searching for flights, then a travel agency can help you find the best prices and schedules for flights within your budget. They can advise you on the best times to travel and the availability of seats, as well as help you with any last-minute changes.
  • Lodging reservations: Travel agencies can make all sorts of lodging reservations, including booking hotels, motels, and even Airbnbs. If you’re planning a vacation or business trip, the agency can help you find the ideal accommodations at a reasonable price.
  • Providing advice on destinations: Travel agents are experts on destinations around the world and are often familiar with local attractions and events going on during your stay. They can provide tips about things to do in various cities.
  • Selling tour and vacation packages: Travel agencies often sell all-inclusive tours that include airfare, hotel accommodations and transportation between cities. These packages are convenient because they allow travellers to book everything through one company. 
  • Car rentals and local transport: The agency can arrange for car rentals and airport transfers. A travel agency can book car rentals or arrange ground transportation with taxis, buses, or trains. Local bus schedules and train schedules can be obtained from the agency as well.

When are travel agencies good to have?

Travel agencies are great for one-off personal or group trips such as vacations and tours. In such cases, most people only need booking and reservation services to ensure that their stay is comfortable. Such trips also usually take a few days or some weeks. Essentially, a travel agency is a great option for small-scale travelling, and they can offer useful advice and expert consultations. However, as a business leader with employees who need to take several trips representing your organisation, travel agencies cannot cater to those needs. 

Streamline your corporate travel strategy

While travel agencies are great for personal and small group trips, a TMC provides the best value for continual travelling within an organisation. To experience how TruTrip as a travel management company can streamline your corporate travel strategy,  book a demo or sign up for free trial