What To Look For In A Travel And Tours Franchise

If you’re looking for franchising opportunities in the travel sector, you’ll want to make sure you find the best possible holiday company. In order to decide which one is the right one to choose, it pays to spend a little time researching your various options by seeing what competing providers have to offer you.

As with many things these days, the best place to start looking for a successful travel and tours franchise is online. Perhaps you’re looking for an agency that will enable you to compare the prices of the world’s leading holiday companies? Or maybe you’re in search of a company with many industry contacts around the world, offering the most exclusive deals?

Perhaps one of your requirements is that they sell package holidays to a particular destination, such as the Caribbean Islands? Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’re bound to find a good fit by searching online, as the opportunities are practically endless.

Don’t forget you can always get in touch directly for a quote if the website’s pricing isn’t clear. The company should have a customer service team available around the clock – whether this is over the phone, by e-mail or through an online chat facility.

Different agencies will likely have varying specialties, such as all-inclusive packages or the best knowledge of Sandals resorts, and which one you choose may come down to personal preference. If you have a particular destination in mind, use the search bar to scope out the options for flights and accommodation relevant to this area.

However, in order to find the best travel and tour franchise you will need to track down the company that offers the widest choice of holiday destinations, both online and by phone. It may be worth contacting the company directly to discuss the different options they have available, or you can simply spend some time looking through their website.

Another factor to take into consideration is the price of these holidays compared to other leading providers. Do they have access to the most exclusive last minute deals? How many international flight and hotel providers do they have in their database? Look out for collaboration with major holiday brands like Virgin and Western Oriental.

Be sure to check to see if the agency you’ve chosen is part of a bigger group. You may not realise it, but they could be part of a larger independent buying group – a detail that could just swing your decision in their favour. If they have an affiliate company, spend some time researching them, too.

It is vital that the company you choose is a member of the ABTA and that the holidays they sell are fully protected by ATOL and Flight Plus schemes. This will ensure (more than great customer testimonials ever could – although these are important too) that they are a trusted company that travellers continue to use with confidence.

If you’re satisfied that the company you’re researching is a trusted and acclaimed travel provider, it’s time to spend some time browsing through their travel and tour options to make sure you like what you see.

You should find a vast range of worldwide holidays, cruises, city breaks, ski and snowboard packages and – most importantly – tailor made packages. These packages may be all-inclusive, inclusive or allow clients to choose their flights and hotels separately, whilst still remaining under the company’s financial protection.

Offering bespoke travel packages will set your agency above other competing companies in the industry. Not only will this option allow customers to choose the most convenient flight and hotel options, but they will also be able to curate every detail of their experience from scratch – resulting in a holiday to remember.

Wine Travels And Tours – The Pastime of the Ages

As history continues to be made each day, leisure activities such as the ones associated with wine travels and tours continue to increase in popularity. These are not the type of activities that came from today’s society.

Wine travels and tours were more likely part of medieval society. While the assortments of wines were less prevalent, individuals continued to travel and participate in buying their favorite wines. Numerous people would take tours around the tasting facilities that would create their favorite brew.

Because of this tour tasting, many wine lovers possibly ended their day with a great deal of pain or possibly even death on the field of the jousting. Wine tours and travel is therefore a whimsical term that describes folk’s efforts in the eternal hunt for their favorite wine travel and facilities that make it.

The Wine Tour – Selection of Grapes

In truth the best part of wine travels and tours is the wine tasting. That’s when you really get to taste the wine that you did all your traveling for. Hopefully this will have been a good experience. Only sometimes, regrettably, the wine that you end up tasting is not worth the travel time.

Then you hope that the other aspects of your wine travels and tours will have prevailed. This elements focuses on the process. Maybe it starts with the selection of grapes, the collection and transportation of them to the processing site. Today, the site is where the majority of the latest technology is being utilized.

Wine Tour Stage 2 – Processing Plant

The processing plant, which is used in many of the larger “jug” wineries is really interesting. If you have an orientation in engineering , it could actually make your wine travels and tours worthwhile. Big, maybe even massive, steel containers for fermentation of wine are seen everywhere in the world.

Thousands of gallons, perhaps more than an average wino consumes on average in their life, surround the enthusiastic tourist. Even if the wine is terrible, it can make the trip worthwhile, and you will continue your wine travels and tours to additional destinations.

Better wine is usually created in small batches and in wooden barrels often with infrastructure that may be less sophisticated, but more rigorous, for the wine maker. As you grow in your wine travels and tours, you will find the wineries that you seek out and the amount and sampling of the wine you consume make the sophistication of the plant seem irreverent.

The Trip Home

All good things must end. Traveling back to your home is the last component of wine travels and tours. This can be either a time of great celebration or total despair.

If you have expended your life savings on travel and participate in wine tours, I hope that you have selected well. It is also hoped that the wine touring project developer who designed your holiday interpreted your needs to your satisfaction.

Nevertheless, a life of wine travels and tours, it kind of like a game of golf. In golf, if you have a good shot you can come right back for more. Based on your experience of wine travels and tours, a single good bottle will allow you to keep the search alive for that one bottle of wine that defines your life.

India Travel and Tours – A Pleasant Experience of Lifetime

India is the land of diversity and its diversity can be seen in its culture, tradition, languages, geography, etc. And it is its diversity which makes it one of the most popular travel destinations of the world and makes different form other countries. There are a lot of options to do and see in the country which deserve the attentions of tourists for India tours and travel from all around the world. Unity in Diversity truly goes well with India. One cannot find such amazing diversities and paradoxes as India has. Where one can find perfect blend of tradition and modernity except India?

There are 29 states in India and every state has its own charm and something for every tourist. In whatever region or state of the country you will travel you will find unique tours and travel experience. Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc are some well-known states of India which play great role in the boom of India tourism. During your India Tour you will have wonderful opportunity to explore all these famous destinations which will surly to enable you to get mesmerized with various tourism options such as cultural tourism, wildlife tourism, adventure tourism, historical tourism, heritage tourism, green tourism, beach tourism, eco-tourism, etc.

It is said that a country is known for its civilization and India has a great civilization. The country is dotted with copious monuments which show the rich culture and history of the country. Visiting monuments on India tours gives you opportunity to see and observe rich culture and history of the country. You can see cultural heritages of the country while you will travel to Rajasthan as a part of incredible India tours. In whatever parts or regions of the Rajasthan you will travel you will find several magnificent monuments inviting tourists. Exploring Rajasthan gives you a mesmerizing cultural experience of India travel and tours.

India has home to globally known places. The Taj Mahal (one of seventh wonders of the world) is India’s star attraction. It plays a vital role to boost up India Tourism . Built in white marble it is perhaps the most beautiful monuments in the world. In fact, its beauty is beyond description. No one can describe it in few world or pages. Visiting the Taj Mahal provides true essence of incredible India. One cannot think about complete India travel and tours without paying a visit to Taj Mahal.

Rich flora and fauna, beautiful hill stations, Himalayan peaks, beautiful beaches, lush green landscapes, etc also grab the attention of tourists from all around world for India tours. There are several India tours and travel packages available which enable you to enjoy India tourism services in more and more convenient ways. One can customize India tour package according to one’s need and preferences. Customized India tour packages make you enable to fulfill all your desire according to your choices and preferences.

Experience Comfort and Leisure at Fair Price at Gracious Angeli Travel and Tours Hotel in Baguio

The Gracious Angeli Travel and Tours Hotel in Baguio is meant for those who want to experience comfort and leisure minus the exorbitant expenses. It does this very nicely and in more than an adequate manner.

Rooms and Rates

There are 35 rooms available for guests at this beautiful two star hotel, with the rates beginning at Php 1,200 and not higher than Php 4,500 for the higher end types. Regardless of which you choose though, every single one of them comes with the necessities that you will need. These include tables, chairs, cozy beds, TV with cable, and showers equipped with hot and cold water.

Amenities and Accommodations

The Gracious Angeli Travel and Tours Hotel in Baguio has several amenities that visitors and guests can partake of, not the least of which is the KTV bar. This is the ideal place to hang out with your friends if you enjoy listening to music while having a few drinks. The wide selection of beverages available is another plus for this service.

Another one of the facilities on tap is the function hall or multipurpose room, which is aimed for groups that need to hold conventions, seminars or conferences of some sort. Of course, given its name, one of its specialties is providing its guests with trips around the most interesting parts of the city. If you would like to go out on your own, you will see that it is also near banks, grocery stores and diners.

Location and Contact Information

The Gracious Angeli Travel and Tours Hotel is accessible from the 25 Abanao St. in Baguio City. If you are traveling in your own car, just look for the Maharlika Livelihood Complex or the Abanao Square.

The hotel will be right there. If you are coming from Quirino Street, it is a stone’s throw from the police station, and about three blocks from the bus terminals and other public utility vehicles. Thus, if you ever feel the need to go around, you need not go far to get a ride. The fact that it is located very near to these places is an added attraction not to mention convenience.

Travel and Tour in Malaysia – Tourist Destinations That You Should Not Miss

One of the best reasons why you should travel and tour in Malaysia is the fact that the country is a great holiday destination all year round. The weather in Malaysia is consistent all throughout the year. It may get rainy sometimes but even that cannot dampen your spirit when you see the awesome sites in the country.

When planning tours in Malaysia, it is best that you decide what kind of experience you wish to have. You can visit the lush tropical forests and mountains or the pristine beaches of the country. If you are an adventure seeker and you love nature, try trekking at Malaysia’s rainforest, which is considered the top of the 10 most beautiful rainforests in the world.

For beach lovers, there are a lot of options to choose from including, Tanjung Rhu Beach, which is located in Langkawi;Kampung Juara, in Tioman Island; and Cherating, which is known for windsurfers. These beaches offer a gorgeous stretch of white sand and crystal clear waters.

Moreover, you can enjoy the high class accommodation of Malaysian hotels and visit the different party venues in the city. Either way, you will have a blast considering travel and tour in Malaysia will open your eyes to a different culture, climate, and environment.

Tours in Malaysia usually consist of travel packages and themes that you can choose from. For instance, you can experience Malaysia through the street food in Kuala Lumpur. You can go for a historic visit to the Batu Caves and other temples. You can learn how to make Malaysian handicrafts in Penang.

If you carefully plan your travel and tour in Malaysia, you can expect to have a great time in the country. They take pride in their tourist destinations and continuously provide importance to their tourism sector, which has generated a substantive amount of employments and earnings. This means they take good care of their tourists so that you will find yourself wanting to extend your visit by the end of your tour.

Tours in Malaysia are loved because they serve as a stress antidote. If you want to relax or get a spa treatment, there are plenty of resorts in Malaysia that will give you just what you want. On top of this, you get to breathe the fresh air of Malaysian beaches and resorts.

Just because there are plenty of tourist destinations to choose from, it is important that you carefully plan your tour in Malaysia to ensure a hassle-free travel. For short trips, themed tours are recommended. Depending on what you like, you can hit the beach, immerse in a cultural tour, cruise, or explore Malaysia’s mountains and forests.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.