When it comes to your company’s bottom line, saving money is a good thing, right? So if you want to cut costs, look no further than the experts at AAA Corporate Travel to help manage your travel expenditures and help you save. But what makes AAA the best in the business?
“Our customers would say it is because they trust that we have their back and we have their best interest at heart,” said AAA Corporate Travel Director of Account Management Kim Collins. “My Account Managers know the travel programs of their customers even better than the customers do, and that is what the customers value most about what we bring to the game. That translates into savings for them and a better overall experience.”
Tailoring the AAA approach to each client
Managing travel spend is one of the most important topics for our clients, but finding the best ways to save can vary.
“We do not have a cookie-cutter mold,” Collins explained. “We look at each customer individually because all customers are different and their circumstances are different based on the type of industry they are in.”
A big part of the Account Manager’s responsibilities is identifying the savings opportunities for each company. They are really the quarterbacks of the team who discern where the customer can drive savings and what the client’s goals are based on the company’s culture.
Once the company’s goals and needs are determined, they are programmed into our systems so that our experienced agents, and the online booking tool reflect the company’s expectations for their employees, so they stay within those preferred channels and earn point of sale discounts.
“It is not unreasonable to save 50 percent of your travel costs, but there may be some pretty big changes a client needs to make,” Collins said. “A lot of that revolves around making sure all travel is coming through the Travel Management Company because if it is not, they may be losing out on those point of sale discounts.”
Booking through the TMC and point of sale discounts
According to Collins, the ability to track production is lost when travelers book outside the TMC. Even if a client reaches the threshold to obtain a point of sale discount, if some of those bookings were done outside the appropriate channels, those bookings won’t factor into their overall totals. Sometimes suppliers will grant allowance for a missed production goal, particularly if they have a multi-year relationship, but sometimes there is no flexibility and a contract can be lost immediately.
“For most companies, there is a process to procure something the company considers to be of value,” Collins detailed. “Yet in many cases it is acceptable to go outside the channel for travel.”
Collins said most companies do not allow individuals to just go order a printer online for $200. They have to go through the company’s preferred vendor to ensure product quality, viability and the negotiated discount. Travel, which can be far more costly, should be the same way. Staying within those preferred supplier channels means garnering valuable point of sale discounts.
And those discounts are important, because that means automatic savings off the front end whether it is for an airline ticket, hotel room or car rental. Dealing with back end programs is a little more difficult because someone has to manage those programs and determine who gets the perks – often it is not the traveler flying the most who gets the free ticket or the traveler with the most room nights who reaps those rewards.
Other ways to save
“Travel may not be our primary contact’s only responsibility,” Collins said of our clients. “But it is ours, so we handle everything and take the worry out of the equation.”
AAA’s reputation in the travel industry is proven, and the relationships we have developed with suppliers are invaluable. When the pandemic hit, our Duty of Care was unparalleled, and we secured over $1,000,000 in refunds for otherwise nonrefundable airline tickets for our customers based on those relationships, so no money was lost. Additionally, we have an abundance of unused tickets from the pandemic that will not expire until 2022. We make sure our customers have options on how they may use the tickets based on their needs and we manage that process at no additional charge.
“Using those tickets can be a complicated process,” Collins noted. “We own it and take responsibility to make sure we get those tickets used so no funds are lost and there is no stress for our clients.”
The AAA Account Management Team is proactive, always watching the market through the lens of the client’s data by running regular reports with our business analytics tools. These tools allow Account Managers to see where customers are meeting their goals and where they have areas in need of improvement, essentially giving their clients a report card. They review categories of spend including air, car, hotel, corporate dining, corporate credit card programs, rideshare contracts – everything related to travel. Account Managers can then customize programs based on cost-saving opportunities and by utilizing leading technology solutions for clients.
AAA is part of the team
“One of the best compliments I ever got came from a customer who said they viewed my Account Manager as an extension of their team and they couldn’t do what they needed to do without them,” Collins said.
There is no better testimony to our expertise in the business than when it comes straight from the client. At AAA we are not just providing a service, we are truly a valued extension of our clients’ team and a management partner who works hard to get the most for every dollar our clients spend.
Do you want to learn how to get the most savings out of your travel program? Current clients should reach out to their AAA Account Manager. New or prospective clients can contact us here or call us at 855-226-8398.
That complexity and the risks that accompany it will be the core story for travel management throughout 2021.
About 39 percent of the travel managers and procurement professionals polled by GBTA indicated that corporate vaccine mandates before employees travel would be good policy.