An administrative professional’s job is never an easy one, but even more so when their duties include wonder-worker travel booker and securing your first choice of flight at the best price.
“Even if you plotted every last detail of the trip, there is still no guarantee that there won’t be any travel snags, especially when it comes to budgets and securing the best airfares,” says Ryan Potgieter, Flight Centre Business Travel GM.
“There is nothing worse than finding that perfect airfare but being held back by approval processes and red-tape… and when you go to book, the airfare is no longer available at the same price and so the search process starts all over again,” he adds.
With a bit of smart planning and assistance from a professional travel agent, booking business travel process for your executives can be simple. Try this airfare checklist compiled by Flight Centre Business Travel.
Surprise, it’s more than just an airfare
Booking your co-worker’s flight is really the end of a process. First, consider these three steps:
Research. Gather information about the business traveller’s destinations, schedule and travel preferences. This will give you a better understanding and guideline as to which flights are suitable and what approximate costs would be.
Finalise. Make the reservations and buy the tickets but also be sure to construct a complete travel plan that coincides as closely as possible with the executive’s schedule and preferences.
Be prepared. Plans change and changes to a booking can mean additional charges. Choose semi-flexible fares over fixed fares to save on the costs of unplanned changes and cancellation fees. Don’t make the mistake of booking your cheapest-price fare and forgetting the fine print.
Consider booking accommodation and car hire at the same time. By booking these travel arrangements at once, you can take advantage of package deals and savings.
You will often find that working with a travel management company will offer you several benefits such as easy packaging solutions. FCBT, for instance, offers business travellers the option of enrolling in its SmartSTAY programme, where they can enjoy exclusive value-adds, such as free Wi-Fi, early check-in and late checkout, at no extra cost
Types of airfares
There is ongoing debate as to which fares offer the best value. Is it one-way, round-trip or multi-city?
One-way tickets refer to a point-to-point journey, which starts in one place and ends in another. For example, a flight between Johannesburg and London. Round-trip fares cater for the return leg of a trip, either direct or via another city, while multi-city tickets refer to a journey that lasts longer than 24 hours and includes stops in more than one destination. For example, Johannesburg to London via Dubai or Abu Dhabi, including three days stop-over and a week in London.
While it is wise to check with your business travellers which option they prefer, return fares are very often better value than a one-way ticket. In some cases, return fares can also work out cheaper.
It pays to be loyal
Consider joining your preferred airline’s loyalty programme. There are benefits for the traveller and the company.
By including your loyalty programmes and preferred airlines on your travel policy, you can also ensure travellers take advantage of free upgrades, lounge access, fast check-in and other perks, while the company accrues points.
Call in the business travel professionals
Don’t waste time searching the Internet for the cheapest fare. By working with a Travel Management Company, you can save time and money and rest assured that your trip will run smoothly.
Working with a dedicated TMC can offer the following benefits:
- A dedicated account manager, who will get to know your business on a personal level and ensure that travel arrangements are booked efficiently and cost-effectively.
- A TMC will keep a record of your preferences and ensure loyalty programmes are always maximised.
- Your TMC will be able to offer you the best options at the best value due to its buying power.
- Ask your account manager about creating a traveller profile, so you don’t have to keep going back for details.
Flight Centre Business Travel has just released a comprehensive Travel Bookers’ Guide to Airfares. Click here to download a free copy.