What’s caused the rental car shortage? Can I still rent a vehicle?

Let us start off by saying yes, you can certainly still rent vehicles – ground transportation is just experiencing it’s own challenges at the moment. No different than any other part of our industry, or the rest of the world for that matter.As with anything in life, you have to ask yourself why? Unfortunately there’s no one answer where we can point and say, “this is the reason”. However, we have collected the top contributing factors for us to better understand what our partners in this area are currently up against.

Fleet Downsizing

With the initial signs of the pandemic alerting a near full stop to the travel industry, our rental suppliers were forced to sit on their inventory. Without much in the way of reservations in the foreseeable future, many made the tough decision of selling off parts of their fleets to save on maintenance costs and reduce potential losses. 

This would’ve included the larger sized, non-typical rentals, which is why we are seeing mid-sized and compact cars with the best availability.

Supply Chain, Microchip Shortage

Yes, the supply chain issues of our very connected world are persisting. With large amounts of their make-up being electronic, the new vehicle backlog really is stemming from the microchip shortage as it’s a key ingredient to their production. 

Coupled with rental companies only keep their vehicles for 1-2 years before replacing them, this is likely going to be prevalent for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

Increased Demand, Same Supply

More people are back on the road again, with numbers reaching pre-pandemic levels since restrictions began to ease. For some, travelling by road was the only option for more than 6 months, which took would-be air customers out of the sky. This, coupled with the previous points, highlight the somewhat “perfect storm” of the rental vehicle market right now.

Like all other areas of travel that are feeling the effects of increased demand, there are, of course, ways for you to mitigate the challenges you may experience. We’ve outlined 5 things you can do when planning your next trip:

  1. Book ahead where possible

This is the number one approach across the board, especially if you will be travelling during a high season or to an area with any large events. Reserving ahead of time is the best way to ensure lower pricing and availability of your desired vehicle.

  1. Be flexible on vehicle type where possible

We all have our preferences, especially if we travel frequently – we know what we like. Though right now, rental companies have limited supplies of “less typical vehicles”. Intermediate or mid-sized cars are what we are seeing the best availability for, whereas SUVs and trucks are harder to come by.

If you have the ability to size down, go for it – you might save a bit on fuel anyway!

  1. Avoid One-Way drops

One way drops occur when you pick up in on location and drop off in another. This may seem like a simple process on the surface, wouldn’t the 2nd location just start using that vehicle now? Unfortunately it’s more complicated than that. 

Often times the initial rental location requires that vehicle back, so this process usually involved flying or transporting a representative from the rental company to drive the vehicle back to their store. This is why you will see a larger price tag attached to these types of requests, to recoup some of the costs.

  1. Airport locations for pick up

Another area where we’re seeing greater availability is at airport locations, which makes sense since this is where most of the demand is coming from. Those properties also have longer hours, which allows for more flexibility when you need to pick up or drop off during outside of those “banking hours”.

  1. Car service is an option

Just like with air travel, many individuals have been electing to go the private route with hiring a car service. On the surface it may sound more expensive but depending on your actual transportation needs and frequency with which you need to get around, pricing comparison might surprise you!

Whatever your reason for needing ground transportation, know it can be done just with a little extra thought and attention to elements of your travels. Being prepared for what might come is important, as this allows us to have a back up plan and mitigate any delays to our travels.

One of the best ways to be prepared is having a dedicated expert, such as Elite Travel, in your pocket. Whether you need help during or after hours, our team is there for you every step of the way. 

Have more questions about your rental car program? Let’s chat!

Why are so many flights being cancelled? What can I do?

Labor shortages, specifically pilots and airport staff (baggage handlers and security). These positions are obviously crucial, and when executed perfectly they go unnoticed, but their lack of presence is certainly being felt by all right now. While these areas are actively hiring, in the case of pilots, this isn’t an immediate fix. Largely due to the number of training hours it takes for them to become certified and deemed experienced enough to operate commercial flights, which at 1,500 hours we’re okay with because safety first! In fact, across all airlines reports are showing they plan to hire some 12,000 pilots this year – so help is on the way.

Many of us, though, need to travel and want to do so with as little interruption or headache as possible. Which still does happen of course, those smooth trips just don’t make the headlines. There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the current state of travel to lessen the risk of you, or your luggage being stranded. 

Check-In and Arrive Early

Flight check-in opens 24 hours prior to your departure, the earlier you check in the less likely you are to be bumped from your flight. This is a first line of protection for you to mitigate delays in your travels. Now that you’ve completed that, arrive to the airport early, earlier than you think you need to! 

With fewer trained staff on hand at airports, processes like security will take longer. It will be a better travel day if you arrive three hours early and end up having extra time on your hands VS missing your flight due to long lines.

Carry On is King

Wherever possible, pack light and simply travel with carry on luggage. If you arrive to the airport and discover your flight has been severely delayed or cancelled, you can quickly pivot to booking an alternate flight or other travel methods. Whereas if you arrive, check in your luggage, and then find this out you’re really at the mercy of the airlines/ baggage handlers. 

We’ve all seen the horror photos of thousands of bags piled in warehouses or at the carousels, save yourself from this scenario and leave that extra item at home if you can.

Travel Insurance – Trust Us

Surely we’ve all bypassed the use of travel insurance at one point or another in our lives, but in today’s world we really cannot recommend it enough. Not even just for medical or health purposes, but specifically for luggage loss and trip interruption/ cancellation. If you are embarking on travels that do require you to check luggage, then you will likely be in a tough spot if you do get where you’re going and have no personal items! 

Further to that, trip interruption is almost a guarantee at some point in your journey right now. We promise, your future self will be thanking you for making the small investment ahead of time.

Be Mindful of Carriers and Routes

Reading the headlines this past week, you may have seen there were some 10,000 flights delayed in just one day around the world. While it can be comforting to know it’s not an isolated experience, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. 

Certain carriers are seeing greater affects than others, this can be attributed to advanced planning by adjusting summer routes ahead of time. So there are fewer last minute cancellations or delays because the staff are there to support the flights sold. Also, certain hub airports generally see more traffic than others which means the ripple effects felt are likely worse due to the sheer number of travellers.

These are a few key pieces of the travel puzzle to keep in mind when booking your next business or work-related trip. We all know there’s still a while to go before travel looks like it did prior to the pandemic. Though if you’re aware of the situation and keep the above points in mind this will allow you to plan ahead in what is a challenging situation for all. 

Travel can be stressful, knowing you have a dedicated person to call when things don’t go to plan can help reduce that feeling. Interested in learning how we can be your dedicated travel partner? Let’s get started!

Why do airlines have such long hold times? How can I avoid them?

Most of us have had to call a major airline recent enough to remember the sinking feeling when we hear the hold time from the robotic voice on the other end. You sigh, put your phone on speaker or pop in your headphones and just accept it OR you hang up in frustration. Both are entirely valid responses. 

In this moment we’ve all asked ourselves the question, why are hold times so long? There are many reasons, but a few specific ones worth noting. Let’s shed some light to understand what our friends in the airline industry are going through.

Fewer Trained Staff

We’ve all seen the headlines, touting labor shortages around the country, and airlines are no stranger to this. While the whole industry is on the road to recovery, the air side is a unique one in that there are great amounts of information customer service reps need to be trained on; which takes time. Due to this, each phone call will likely take a bit longer as the new team members learn the ropes and become more comfortable with the countless rules in their field. 

Our partners will get there, we’re happy to be patient as they recover.

Cancellations/ Schedule Changes in Greater Numbers

Slightly stemming from the previous point, with larger numbers of cancellations and schedule changes comes more individuals who need to call in for assistance. Sometimes your newly suggested flights are acceptable which can be taken care of online on your own. 

Other instances though, when you’re delayed by days or just all together cancelled, you need to enlist the help of experts. If a whole flight is cancelled, that means 200+ people may be looking for assistance, and with hundreds of those taking place you can quickly see how the phone lines get busy.

Pend up Demand

With the above two points, coupled along with the fact that more people are now travelling again, for business and leisure alike, this results in simply more people needing assistance than in the past year and a half. Travellers hitting the road again, or for the first time, have more questions than before because, well, things look much different now. 

Now for the big question, how can you avoid these long hold times? While it’s something we’ve all come to accept as a part of the travel world in the near future, there are a few tactics you can use.

Schedule a Call Back 

Book it and continue on with your day; most airlines allow you to schedule these directly on their website. This service is a great way to ensure your time is being used effectively. Rather than listening to the repetitive hold music/ messages, you can carry on as usual and focus on important tasks at hand. While this won’t result in an immediate response from the airline, call back times vary by carrier, you can know that you have a place in line. 

Self-Service Tools Online

Depending on the nature of your needs, there are great resources to use online such as the Chat feature. Which can assist you in a number of ways, including basic changes to your flight, providing additional details and more. Keeping in mind, of course, that all technology has limitations so situations where payment is needed will need to be carried out with a representative.

Call the Priority Line

Having status brings more perks than just lounge access and priority boarding. Depending on the level you hold with the airlines, you are able to connect with them through an alternate Priority Line number which typically has shorter wait times and more direct access to a representative. 

Use an Expert

Our number one suggestion in avoiding long hold times is using an expert like Elite Travel –we take care of everything for you behind the scenes! No waiting on hold, going back and forth with an airline customer service rep – you simply call or email us and continue on with your day while we get to work. Often being able to access your airline tickets from the backend of our system, our team can typically adjust your travels far quicker than direct with the supplier. In certain instances, we’ll utilize our personal industry lines to adjust your tickets with our own dedicated representatives.

At the end of the day, regardless of where you’re going or how you’re getting there all travel plans will require a little more patience and flexibility. Having a team of experts behind you when things don’t go to plan is the peace of mind you need on your next business trip. 

Interested in learning more about how Elite Travel can enhance your program? Let’s get started!

Why is the Cost of Travel Rising? How Can I Avoid Paying More?

At this point we’ve all went to price out an upcoming trip only to find the number on the screen is a lot bigger than we were expecting. You might be thinking: “But my trip last year was half the price!” or “I’ve stayed at that hotel dozens of times, it’s never cost that much.”

While there are many complex reasons why the cost of nearly everything is increasing, there are a few specific to travel that are worth understanding and how they affect your bottom dollar.

  1. Fuel Prices are Rising

This comes as no surprise to us since the value of fuel affects most aspects of our lives. Just like the prices at the grocery store increase due to higher costs for freighting, the same applies to travel.

Concerning flights specifically, the price of jet fuel has already increased about 50% this year which is the highest we’ve seen in over a decade. Analysts have predicted a 4 month delay for fares to catch up to these rising costs. With that in mind we can likely expect to see prices continue climbing through the first half of 2022.

  1. There is a Pent Up Leisure Demand

After many long months of lockdowns and tight restrictions, it’s safe to say the majority of us want to get the heck out of the house and see more than just the view from our living room. Whether it’s visiting family out on the coast or finally booking that dream trip to Spain, people are going places this year.

Up to 70% of leisure travellers across the globe have stated they are willing to spend more on their vacations this year, this will in turn affect those who need to travel for work. The age old balance of supply and demand will come into play heavily here.

  1. Many Cancelled Routes Haven’t Been Reinstated

If you or your employees frequent those “middle of nowhere”, rural destinations then you will likely continue to see higher fares. Not so much due to leisure travellers but rather as a result of route suspensions not yet being lifted. In fact, further schedule adjustments were just announced at the end of December, so that, coupled with increased fuel pricing, will mean more stopovers in addition to higher ticket costs.

Those looking to return to international business travel, though, will be eager to see many airlines now reinstating previously suspended routes.  

  1. Higher Targets to Make Up for Lost Time

Every area of the travel industry was seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With seemingly the worst of it behind us, everyone is looking to move back into the green. 

Along with the above factors, this too will shape pricing for most travel related products. Nightly hotel rates, for example, are forecasted to continue climbing up roughly 23% through to the end of 2023. The industry expects hotel increases to somewhat lead the charge as they look to regain lost revenues.

While ground transportation costs, such as rental vehicles, are predicted to only rise by about 7% through 2023 there is still the challenge with limited supply of new vehicles.

With these factors in mind, you’re now likely thinking “how can I mitigate the increased cost of travel for our company?”

Our team at Elite has a few suggestions to get you started.

  1. Book Further in Advance Where Possible

We understand business travel is never set in stone, but since the industry is forecasting costs to continue rising through the year, you’re more likely to capture lower pricing the further out you book. In general, as well, prices rise the closer you get to your travel dates.

We always recommend booking options with greater flexibility so if you do need to adjust, it comes with a smaller price tag.

  1. Review Your Company Travel Budget

Just like with your personal budget, if you only allot $100 a month for your groceries but are actually paying $400, you’re going to feel as though you’re falling behind.

Now that we are nearing the end of Q1 in 2022, it is a great time to revisit your quarterly or annual budget for employee travel to ensure you’re accurately in line with the current climate.

  1. Partner with a Travel Management Company

Whether you halted exploring this service through the pandemic or haven’t thought of it before, now is the perfect time to begin.

With greater access to airline contracts, increased buying power with hotel properties and unmatched rental supplier relationships, Elite Travel Management will bring great value to your travel program. Regular reporting for increased visibility and implementing unique cost saving strategies is just the beginning.

While no one can really say when travel prices will actually begin to level out, realistically there will always be something happening in the world that has an affect – that’s just the way it is. But what we can do is prepare.

Do you have questions? Maybe you’re eager to get started. Let’s chat!

Airline Credits. When will they Expire? Can I get a Refund? What do I do?

Over the past two years nearly everyone has had some sort of plan affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions have come and gone and then returned again, leaving us all uncertain of when we should look at rescheduling our delayed travels. 

In general, airline credits expire 1 year from the date of purchase – not when you cancel. Airlines recognized early on that there wasn’t a definite timeline on when we would all be in the air again. Due to this, many of them gave an automatic extension for all purchases affected by the pandemic. 

Now, though, we are nearing the end of those extensions and many of us are left with the question: what do I do now?

My credit was extended before the COVID-19 pandemic, but I still can’t travel – now what?

If your credit is nearing expiration and you still can’t travel, then there are two options we would suggest to you.

  1. Check the transferability of your credit, someone you know may be travelling soon and would be able to utilize it. This way there would be just a small fee attached and the whole value of your ticket won’t be lost.
  1. Apply for a refund on the taxes, if you can’t travel and don’t have someone hitting the road soon then at the very least you could apply for a refund on the taxes. This way you’re at least regaining something from your initial investment.

Can I refund my credit?

The initial response to this question is it depends on the fare class booked. Higher fare classes generally come with greater flexibility, such as Latitude on Air Canada which is fully refundable. Whereas Standard fares are more restrictive in that they are non-refundable and have a higher change fee attached.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic there have been a large number of asterisks attached to each booking. Airlines have come out stating if you purchased your ticket between certain dates, it could be refundable. Most airlines have these details outlined on their website now for quick reference.

As a general rule of thumb, if the airline has cancelled your flight, your eligibility for a refund is higher.

Can I transfer my credit to someone else?

Transferring your credit to another person is a great way to ensure your credit doesn’t go to waste should you be unable to use it prior to expiration. 

Certain airlines are more flexible than others when it comes to flights within Canada and the US. 

Canadian carriers provide this option to their customers who purchase a Standard fare or higher. Tickets with American carriers, however, come with greater restriction as they are non-transferrable. Though if you have purchased a high enough fare class you could be eligible for a refund.

When considering international travel, it again will depend on a multitude of factors – such as if your flights are all on one ticket, your destination country, fare class, etc.

Can I refund the credit back to our company?

Applicable credits can only be refunded back to the original form of payment. So, if your company purchases all employee flights on the corporate credit card then you would be able to have the fare refunded back to the company.

Though if the credit is not eligible for a refund, it cannot be transferred back to the company but rather only stay in the traveller’s name or, if applicable, be transferred to another employee.

Can I use my large credit on several different flights?

In short, no. While it would be great to divide your credit and apply it to three individual short haul flights, airlines treat their credits as a “one time use”.

 When you have a larger credit on your hands this is where we suggest you do a bit of forecasting; “Will this trip be rescheduled so I can use the credit? “, “What type of travel is on the horizon for me?”.

If travel simply won’t be in the cards for you before the expiration date, this is when we would begin looking at the transferability to a colleague or other traveller. 

When all else fails, always consult an expert! 

Will airlines extend my travel credit again?

At this time, we don’t foresee any further extensions to travel credits due to most countries opening their borders again and travel ramping back up.

For many, managing airline credits can feel cumbersome and likely overwhelming. 

At Elite Travel, airline credit management is built into your program, and we are committed to 100% airline usage, wherever possible. So, you can feel confident in knowing an expert is keeping track of your investment.

Do you have a question about your current credits? Let us help!

Why an online booking tool and a behind-the-scenes expert are a winning combination

Plus the options and benefits of each, simplified by Elite Travel Management.

Managing a corporate travel program on your own can be a costly endeavour, both in time and money. From reconciling various receipts or folios, to keeping track of those booking outside of your travel policy, we can understand why you’d want more time for the other tasks on your plate. As the saying goes: Work smarter, not harder!

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you’re curious about consolidating your travel to one central place. After a few internet searches, you might also be asking yourself “How do we incorporate an online booking tool for our company?”

The benefits of an Online Booking Tool (often referred to as an OBT)

Facilitates simple itineraries

Does your company travel point-to-point? Primarily domestic and/or transborder? If so, an Online Booking Tool could be a great fit as this technology works optimally with what we would consider simple travel.

To go one step further, Elite Travel Management programs your preferred airlines and fare into the Online Booking Tool’s portal. This means that when your team is booking their flights, only routes that meet those requirements will appear. It also removes the need for things like following up with Jane on why she booked a Business Class ticket with ABC Airline.

Provides booking flexibility 

Do you have one or multiple individuals who currently book travel on behalf of your employees? Maybe everyone books their own travel as necessary. In both cases, an Online Booking Tool will complement your current processes nicely by continuing to give your staff a direct hand in reserving their travel.

We understand that many industries require travel plans to be made outside of the regular 9 a.m. to 5  p.m. window. An Online Booking Tool solution allows for trips to be booked 24/7 with no additional costs when reserving after-hours via app or desktop.

Allows streamlined approval 

Many organizations work into their travel policies that employees require manager approval for all trips. Often, this can result in emails lost in the shuffle or delayed responses, which leaves the manager asking, “Who sent Jane to Singapore?”

This painstaking process can be eliminated with the use of an Online Booking Tool. The platform automatically sends an approval request to the appropriate manager when an employee submits a tentative booking. Before this reservation can be completed, the designated approver must sign off. No more accidental trips to Southeast Asia for Jane!

The benefits of agent assisted offline bookings 

Facilitates complex itineraries

A complex itinerary constitutes anything that includes an international segment, multiple connections, or the changing of carriers. All of these factors amount to a more involved booking process, which can be simplified with a call or email to one of Elite’s Travel Associates.

From the benefits of using creative ticketing techniques that lower the overall ticket cost and processing exchanges, to assessing international cancellation penalties and restrictions, leaning on a expert is worthwhile!

Allows for VIP/high touch travel

Your CEO can only travel to Boston if they can be booked in a waterfront, King Suite at the Boston Harbor Hotel. When you click to reserve, it says they no longer have any rooms available for Friday. What do you do now?

Special requests such as the one above is where our Travel Associates truly shine. With a reservation system that is loaded with thousands of industry-negotiated rates and numerous brand-specific connections, a roadblock such as a sold-out hotel can be navigated rather swiftly. The same can be said for all other corners of the travel industry, whether it is a certain seat on a flight to Tokyo or car service in Austin, TX. The knowledge and human connection of an experienced Travel Associate simply cannot be beat!

Simplifies rotational travel 

Coordinating travel to a destination for 10 people can sometimes be a challenge, but what about 50-100 people who are on a constant work rotation? To even the most seasoned travel coordinator this can increase stress levels. Enter your trusted Travel Management Company.

The resources we have at our fingertips can take any mountain and make it into a mole hill! We have a direct connection to the inventory of every airline – even those that are region specific. So, you don’t have to worry about booking the first 15 members of your crew just to discover the rest of the flight is sold out. Elite’s Travel Associate will be able to proactively monitor the number of seats left on an aircraft and adjust where necessary!

While getting there can be half the battle, you also must consider staying there. Having a Travel Associate negotiate your group booking rates and organize payment prior to employees arriving will not only save you money, but countless hours in your day!

Our number one recommendation?

Get the best of both worlds, customized to your needs.

Empower yourself with the combination of an effective Online Booking Tool and a trusted Travel Associate. While this will (and should) look different from one company to the next based on unique needs, it ultimately equips you to handle any type of travel requirement and scenario – at any time.

Contact us to discuss the needs of your organization today – no strings attached!

We at Elite Travel Management understand that no two travel programs are alike, and we develop solutions on an individual basis. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.

Are RFPs the best method for evaluating Travel Management Companies?

Key questions and considerations from your industry leaders at Elite Travel Management.

Evaluating company RFPs to explore or select a new Travel Management Company (TMC) can be a very intensive and expensive process. In many cases, an organization with a preferred partner will do so to determine who else is out there and if they’re getting the best bang for their buck. But is it worthwhile? 

We’re here to identify the pros and cons of conducting an RFP related to your company travel program and when it’s truly worthwhile.

Key considerations: 

Does our company travel spend warrant an RFP?

In most cases, TMCs will not consider a formal RFP unless the entire  travel spend exceeds $2 million annually. A TMC evaluates spend based on total airline, hotel, and car rentals your company books.

Who will our RFP attract?

A travel RFP that is posted on sites such as MERX and Purchasing Connection will attract any agency set to receive a notification if they key word “travel” is triggered. In many travel RFPs, we see more than twenty companies bid, whereas in the corporate travel industry there are 4-5 main players.

Why might a TMC choose not to bid on our business?

Like all companies, corporate travel providers consider a bid or no-bid process. Just like the time and resources that go into a bid process to create and evaluate an RFP, a significant amount of resources go into a quality travel RFP from the TMC. A TMC may consider some of the following questions before determining if they want to bid on your travel business:

  • Do we have an existing relationship with the company? Have they met our TMC in the past?
  • Have we bid on their business in the past and how long have we been in touch with them?
  • Are the outlined legal requirements industry-aligned? If not, it’s a no-bid due to the requirements of your organization and the completed forms.
  • Is it strictly a bidding war? A race to the bottom on service fees, with heavily weighted scoring on fees, can scare away potential TMCs.

ELITE INSIGHT:  A TMC is accustomed to hearing questions about fees first. Industry insiders involved in corporate travel know that fees are not the real areas to save money.


  1. Provides a black and white comparison.
  2. Requires a commitment to the process. It allows you to determine who is willing to go through this process to earn your business!
  3. Uncovers new initiatives. Even the TMC you do not pick as the winner may uncover new ways of efficiencies, technology, savings, or service throughout the process.
  4. Keeps incumbents on their toes. It’s important to keep your current provider honest and on top of the latest systems and best fees.


  1. A significant investment of your time and internal company resources is required to to create and follow the RFP process.
  2. Attracts vendors who are less than ideal, but still require equal time and consideration to determine if they are the right fit.
  3. Some TMCs will no-bid. In most RFPs, we see TMCs that decide not to bid on the business simply due to the RFP process in travel, which can reduce your options for consideration.
  4. Often, RFPs contain generic questions that may or may not be relevant for a TMC.

A final word on RFPs:

In our experience, the most proven process when evaluating a TMC includes

  • Reaching out to five key TMCs who specialize in business travel. They can be found by word-of-mouth or a simple Google search. 
  • Asking each of those TMCs for a brief 15-minute introduction meeting to determine the best three potential fits as a TMC partner. If a TMC will not meet you in person during the proposal stages, it’s a good sign your review meetings might be missed too.
  • Requesting those three TMCs prepare a proposal, rather than an RFP (after providing the TMCs with a detailed breakdown of the specific needs of your company so they can best deliver on their proposal).

Want access to our list of top questions for TMCs? Just ask!

Remember: Not all corporate travel programs are the same. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.

Saving money on business travel: Is there a better way? Where do I start?

6 actionable strategies from your Cost Savings Experts at Elite Travel Management.

Do we really need to spend this much on travel? You’re not alone in wondering. Oftentimes, business travel is one of the top three line items against a company’s bottom line, so it’s a valid area to focus on. Why has your company not looked at your $200,000, $500,000 or $5,000,000 corporate travel program and evaluated to reach better savings? Why is there an approval process to purchase a new office desk, but a $2,000 company business trip can take place based on the preferences of a single employee? It’s likely that similar questions have led you to this article. 

With many different suppliers involved with your company travel program, like airlines, hotels, car rentals, AirBnB and car services (just to name a few), determining where to begin can be a daunting task. 

So, what can you realistically save on?

First thing’s first: Defining savings isn’t as clear cut as it may seem. Many individuals will immediately focus on hard dollar savings solutions. For example: “How much can we save on a hotel room?” or, “what discount will we receive on a flight”? And hey – those are very valid questions. We’ll break them down a little later, but let’s start with the areas of focus that will lead you to surefire success. We’ve even ranked them in order of % of savings opportunities: 

1. Uncover and intervene on traveller behaviour 

Understanding the patterns and approval process used by your employees will help you pick up on some travellers booking whatever they want, and others spending money as though it’s their own. Our number one savings tip is to implement (or review) a company travel policy that outlines guidelines for booking travel. From there, ask your Travel Management Company to report back on who’s booking outside of the policy, and why. Often, when travellers encounter new travel policies or are required to state why they have booked outside of policy (through automation), it prevents them from booking more expensive suppliers. When paired with the right tools, this understanding of traveller behaviour unlocks the number one savings opportunity for your business. 

2. Consolidate your internal resources

Travel is a complex area of your organization as you do a lot of it. We’re here to save your company money, and internal resources dedicated to travel is often one of the major costs. Time is money! On top of your company’s corporate travel line item are all the wages that go towards supporting it. When adding up the salaries of all those who book travel, negotiate corporate rates, chase up hotel invoices, reconcile statements and more, it becomes clear how many internal departments are a part of your company travel program.

How about travellers who book their own trips? Did you know the average traveller spends 2.5 to 3 hours researching and booking company travel? At their hourly rate, it’s easy to do the math and realize this soft dollar savings quickly amounts to real money.

We’re not saying to remove any jobs here! Our suggestion is simple: Consolidate all duties to one internal employee at your company who works with one Travel Management Company. When we get to Travel Management providers and the anticipated fees, you will see the savings are undeniable.

3. Take full advantage of your company’s airline credits 

How much does your company spend on airline travel? Of that, how much is lost each year in expired airline credits? On average, companies that do not monitor airline credits lose 15% annually of their total air travel spend. When airline credit is available, is it being used to its maximum value? What happens when an employee leaves the company with a long list of unused airline credits?

Let’s be honest: The airlines will not be calling you anytime soon to make you aware of a credit that is about to expire. To make the most of your company’s airline credits, implement a program that proactively advises each traveller on available flight credits along with a company-wide monthly credit report. 

4. Use a trusted expert to rise above corporate rate myths

Are you surprised it’s taken this long to bring up corporate rates? It’s true: The most common misconception in corporate travel is to start with corporate air, hotel and car rental rate programs.

Use an expert in corporate rate negotiations. You likely have an IT department or a service provider that specializes in IT. The same goes for HR, finance and sales. So, why put corporate rate negotiations in the hands of someone who doesn’t live and breathe business travel?

If you currently work with a Travel Management Company, are they negotiating the best possible rates? Even when using an expert, ensure it’s a brand and team you trust. If you already question whether your existing corporate rates are truly the best available to your organization, you’re likely on to something. 

Did you know the best possible corporate rates are based on your individual company travel spend, and not from what a Travel Management Company may sell to you as “exclusive” savings? The fact is, suppliers that work with one Travel Management Company want to work with ALL of them! Don’t be fooled by “global airline rates” and “tens of thousands of hotel property discounts.” For the best possible savings, work with a Travel Management Company you know and trust to follow through on rate negotiations.

To get even more specific:

Airlines: Choose one preferred airline, and aim to shift market share to that one provider. Airlines often provide increased corporate rates based on % of market share increase, rather than airline revenue commitments alone.

Hotels: Involve a Travel Management Company early in the process when negotiating hotel rates. By using the expertise of a third party, they will operate in the best interest of your company. With many properties, your Travel Management Company can benchmark based on other client rates earned for similar spend. Hotels may ask you to contact them directly to avoid owing commission to a Travel Management Company. However, that is a step in the process you are looking to get rid of!

5. Ask your expert for proof of savings 

A supplier or Travel Management Company will commit to (for example) 2%, 5% or 15% of savings – the numbers will vary. Ask your provider to clearly prove these savings after the first six months of working together. As the client, you deserve proof of walking-the-talk when it comes to your bottom dollar.

6. Understand the realities of Travel Management Company service fees

Organizations often focus on a Travel Management Company’s booking or service fee first. We’re here to de-myth service fees:

Service fees: Service fees will typically equate to no more than 2% to 3% of your company travel spend. On a $1,000,000 travel spend, that’s less than $30,000 per year.

Hidden fees: Are there hidden fees? Not all, but some Travel Management Companies and Travel Agents will mark up your travel and offer less in fees. Do your research!

Low fees: Much like vehicle makes and models, not all Travel Management Companies are created equal. Low fees could indicate that your provider does not have staff to be available when you need support most. As the old line goes: You get what you pay for. This is especially relevant in corporate travel. 

Ready for your free company travel audit?

There are many moving parts to driving down your company’s travel spend. At Elite Travel Management, we’re experienced in doing just that – with commitment to business with integrity every step of the way.  Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.

What is Duty of Care? Why is it crucial to your company travel program?

8 essential tips from your Duty of Care Experts at Elite Travel Management.

Now more than ever, business travellers will depend on their employer to determine when and if it is safe to travel. Employers have a significant level of responsibility to ensure the well being of their travellers before, during, and after business trips. With the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization’s Duty of Care due-diligence is under the microscope. 

1. Always know where your travellers are 

It’s time to take the Duty of Care component as a necessary step in your company travel program. So, how do you go about protecting your travellers and organization through Duty of Care?

Companies who do not yet use a Travel Management Company (TMC) – and even some who do – are unable to locate their travellers in the midst of a major event. This could include new pandemic restrictions, an act of terror or a natural disaster – just to name a few. Elite Travel Management provides peace of mind by consolidating all of your organization’s travel to one central reporting system that locates your travellers in real-time, at all times. 

2. Empower your travellers with education 

With endless online availability of articles and resources on travel and trip preparation, it’s important that business travellers have one central, consistent and trusted resource to turn to. From vaccine requirements, to locally vetted in-destination hospitals, traveller education is a checkmark every organization should complete.

3. Remember that business travel is truly 24/7

Even if typical office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your region, you might have employees in-destination at all hours of the day. With all that can go wrong when travelling for business, employees feel empowered when a TMC is in place to ensure that regardless of the hour, someone is available to help immediately. 

ELITE INSIGHT: Ask your TMC to confirm response times after hours. The last thing a traveller wants to do is wait on hold for hours at 2 a.m. in the midst of a stressful situation or last-minute change. 

4. Don’t underestimate the importance of travel insurance

“I have travel insurance on my credit card and our company has a blanket travel insurance policy for travel.” Sound familiar? You may think you have an adequate business travel insurance program in place, but do you want to wait until travel insurance is needed to determine what it really covers? It’s important to consult with your TMC and determine if enhanced insurance should be purchased. It’s an investment you won’t know the true worth of until it’s needed!

5. Establish a process for all travel approvals 

Wait a minute – Bill is overseas right now? Who approved this? If this also sounds familiar, it could be time to implement a travel approval process to ensure that all travel is approved by the appropriate stakeholder(s). Your TMC may even be able to offer an automated approval system that documents reason-for-trip and who approved it!

ELITE INSIGHT: Implement no more than one level of approval with your company’s online travel tool. A multi approval level has appeal, but by the time several people have approved a trip, it could be days later!

6. Recognize that individual travellers have individual needs 

Business travel is a breeze to some and more worrisome for others. It’s important to ensure that those who represent your company worldwide feel safe at all times through Duty of Care. For example, Duty of Care programs can provide guidance on accessing an in-destination pharmacy in the event an employee’s necessary drug is lost, stolen or forgotten. How about local LGBTQ+ guidelines? Recommendations for transport from meeting to meeting? What in-destination areas are more susceptible to crime than others?

ELITE INSIGHT: We advise you consider this section in further detail based on where your company is required to travel for business.

7. Implement a traveller waiver 

“I feel comfortable travelling for business,” is different than, “I acknowledge in writing the risks associated with travelling for business at this time, including but not limited to COVID-19.”

In a world where paper trails can make all the difference, it’s time to consider a waiver for your business to ensure travellers have accepted the associated risks when travelling. These waivers can be built on a per trip basis, through automation.

ELITE INSIGHT: Like any formal document, we suggest running this one by your legal council or seek third party advice before implementing. Ask us for a template to get you started: [email protected] 

8. Be aware that not all Duty of Care programs are created equal! 

Saying you have a Duty of Care program in place is like saying “I drive a vehicle.” Is it a car or SUV? Is it a two seater or a seven seater? Does it have airbags? What’s the safety record? Is it a Ford or an Audi?

The point here is that you can pick a low-priced or “free” Duty of Care program, but nonetheless it’s important to know what it truly covers. Like travel insurance, Duty of Care often comes into play when you need it most – and that’s not when you want to find out the vehicle you drive is a dud.

ELITE INSIGHT: Consult with your TMC about the “included” Duty of Care programs they provide, and ask for their advice on the enhancements your company should consider adding on. In many cases, the Duty of Care program is separate from your TMC, but the TMC should be able to confirm who is the Lamborghini.

Have a question related to Duty of Care? Another topic?

We are here for you every step, drive, train, or flight of the way. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource. We use our global reach to find answers to your questions as soon as possible.

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