DIY Business Travel: Avoiding Potholes

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4 min read

JOHANNESBURG – South African companies are rapidly abandoning the DIY approach to corporate travel, realising that sending employees off into the “wild” without proper guidance is akin to sending them down Johannesburg’s notorious pothole-infested roads in a vintage Beetle. Corporate Traveller reports that over 50% of their new clients previously booked travel themselves in a haphazard, “hope for the best” manner.

“Business travellers are often so focused on their work that they don’t have the time or expertise to properly vet travel suppliers and navigate the complexities of business travel,” says Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Traveller.

And hitting potholes is inevitable when you go it alone in the corporate travel game. Here are some of the biggest craters in the road of DIY corporate travel – and how partnering with a professional travel management company (TMC) like Corporate Traveller helps you avoid them, according to Smith.

The lost-in-translation hotel

The pothole: You think you’ve found the perfect place to rest your head, only to arrive and discover a multitude of sins. Perhaps the “luxury boutique” is really a roach motel, or the “city centre” location is sidled up to an abandoned amusement park. Or worse, the “unbeatable rate” failed to disclose the hourly clientele. No matter how stunning the online photos are, going discount and unmanaged is a game of accommodation roulette.

The managed travel solution: A TMC with global connections has boots on the ground to physically vet every property for quality assurance. They ensure accommodations meet your company’s standards for security, cleanliness, and amenities.

The missed connection mayhem 

The pothole: Unmanaged employees often book tight connection times between flights to pinch pennies. However, playing connection contortionist ultimately catches up when flights are delayed – that 45-minute layover window simply doesn’t allow for enough breathing room. The result? Missed connections, re-booking headaches, sunrises spent in airport purgatory, and exorbitant emergency expenses like unplanned overnight stays, clothing replacements, or last-minute transportation changes. Good luck getting reimbursed for those fresh socks and toothbrush from the only open shop.

The managed travel solution: Experienced travel managers are wizards at connection windows. They would have booked a more sensible routing, leaving room for potential delays without leaving you stranded in airport limbo.

The rental car roulette

The pothole: After an endless trek from Arrivals to the rental facility, you’re hit with a one-two punch: they’re out of cars, or they gave your reservation away because you’re a few minutes late. Either way, you’re at the mercy of whatever is left. Maybe it’s a cramped compact without adequate room for colleagues and luggage or a sketchy third-party rental facility they’ve sourced without quality control.

The managed travel solution: Negotiated rates and insights c/o your TMC ensure you have a confirmed car waiting or can pivot to alternative transportation if needed.

The surprise fee squeeze

The pothole: Thinking you landed an amazing deal on those bargain airfares? Not so fast. By the time you tack on fees for checked bags, carry-ons, seat assignments, snacks, etc., that “great price” has ballooned.

The managed travel solution: A TMC can leverage negotiated corporate rates and fare bundles that cover components like checked bags, priority boarding, and seat selection. They also stay ahead of the game on new and hidden fees to avoid “gotcha” charges. Their bulk purchasing power means you enjoy streamlined, all-in pricing.

The amazing vanishing baggage act

The pothole: You arrive at the baggage carousel, ready to collect your belongings and get down to business. But what’s this? Your luggage has decided to pull off an epic disappearing act! The conveyor belt goes round and round, taunting you with everyone else’s bags while yours have somehow escaped into the Baggage Claim Bermuda Triangle.

You resign yourself to sporting your “straight off the plane and loving it” ensemble for all those important meetings. By the time your rogue bags finally resurface days later, you’ll be an old hat at rocking the rumpled look.

The managed travel solution: Your travel experts advise on luggage logistics to reduce delays and loss – like sticking to non-stop flights where possible and building adequate connection windows. They leverage travel data to route travellers to more reliable airlines/airports and provide luggage tracking assistance to locate any misplaced bags quickly.

The time zone tangle

The pothole: In your overstressed effort to self-coordinate every last detail, who has the bandwidth to doublecheck time zones? Certainly not you – at least not until you show up for that 9am client meeting only to find an empty conference room and a sheepishly realise you confused EST and PST. Oops.

The managed travel solution: Your seasoned travel professionals cross all the t’s and dot the I’s of your booking, carefully factoring in time zones, daylight savings, and scheduling realities to build efficient itineraries that avoid AM/PM mix-ups.

The moral of the story? Ditch the DIY stress and bring in the professionals. Managed travel is more than just sourcing rates – it’s a vital insurance policy against corporate travel catastrophes.

For more information about Corporate Traveller, or to interview Corporate Traveller South Africa GM Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email dorine@bigambitions.co.za.