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We are evaluating managed travel programs with Carlson Wagonlit Travel and American Express. Can anyone provide input to help us in our evaluation? Thanks.

Brenda Mueller's Profile

Answers

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

They certainly serve many large consulting firms and those firms who don't have staff to administer a captive travel system.

Do you want to continue to outsource this or can your administrative staff take on this role? If they can, you can find a system that will allow you to get the same cost deals without the AMEX mark up.

I don't know any names of the top, but they do exist and can't be that hard to google.

One strategy might be to search for Carlson Wagonlit competitors.

Concur is starting one, but I don't know if they are up and running yet.

Anonymous
(VP - Fin) |

AmEx - Or Concur pairs you with a local-ish corporate travel agency that integrates onto their online platform (we use World Travel) and corporate credit cards through your bank; this way you get automated t&e reporting too. If you do, pay the little extra to have their service for reviewing receipts and policy compliance.

Todd Boney
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Xceleration Partners
LinkedIn Profile
(Chief Financial Officer, Xceleration Partners) |

I found a travel agent helpful when you have a large amount of overseas travel. If it's primarily domestic, Concur is your best option. Think about your average domestic ticket ptice - if you pay a fee to the agent for each contact point, how can use of an agent make economic sense. We were paying @$275 to $325 when we evaluated our approach. We found we needed data to evaluate travel patterns to influence employee behavior. Concur's tools will give you the visibility and granularity you and your travelers need especially when combined with the Tripit app. Concur's model will work with any travel agent - they made a decision to work with travel agents and not challenge their business model. The can also refer you to low cost travel agents that they work with.

Scott Turner
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: J.D. Byrider Systems, LLC
(Corporate Controller, J.D. Byrider Systems, LLC) |

If you have a significant amount of international travel, my company uses American Express because they offer 2 for 1 business class airfare travel on most foreign airlines if you have a Platinum Card. This card comes with a $325 annual fee, but the savings from the 2 for 1 business class travel more than offset the annual fee. It is not a perfect 2 for 1 pricing scheme, but in the end you pay less than two full airfares.

Topic Expert
Nicole Lucarelli
Title: Director
Company: Financial Services
LinkedIn Profile
(Director, Financial Services) |

When you are looking at travel agencies, you do want to consider what are your goals and travel patterns. For significant international travel, both of these are strong players and internationally recognized. If you want more personalized service, you can find more regional players that partner with the big mega agencies - so you have access to some of their buying power. You can also go the online route - Companies like Expedia has a corporate travel product as well.

To analyze this with respect to your overall travel program, there are 3 main components to think about:

1. The Travel Agent - depending on what service levels you need, you want to establish a model that is a mix of agent booked and self service. Simple domestic trips should be booked via an automated tool, where more complex trips will need an agent. Evaluate their service model, hours, call center stats, executive support, etc. They should be able to review your travel spend data and provide suggestions for improvements and access to discounts where your company may not have negotiated deals. How important the agent support is will depend on the type of travel and how independent your travelers tend to be.

2. The booking/T&E/Corporate Card systems - The systems are important for efficiency, control, and visibility. You do need to decide if you will keep your system separate from the travel agent (just ensure the agent works with the system you select). I am a fan of keep them separate, which allows greater flexibility should you need to change agents. These provide excellent mechanisms for control as well as visibility and data analytics. Concur is widely used and seamlessly can integrate the booking and expense reporting activities.

3. Policy - This should all support a overall travel policy suited to your business and goals. Are you a cost conscious organization? Is flexibility most important for your company? A policy should be well communicated and enforced. The tools above can be configured to support these guidelines and help you reach your overall goal.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

I had good luck with AMEX in my past corporate lives. Their emergency and executive services were quite good. I also liked the reporting into spend patterns.

I don't recommend an inhouse/admin solution, as people tend to get emotional about travel.

Jeff Taylor
Title: CFO
Company: Communications Co.
(CFO, Communications Co.) |

I used AMEX travel at my last company (4 yrs back) and we ended up moving away from them. May be different now, but we could almost always get a better fare by using Kayak and it ended up being a battle with my business travelers who were trying to get better fares (well trained!) and AMEX who I would have to call and have them match the pricing and give me the runaround on why we couldn't find those fares using their booking tool. Drove me nuts. At the end of the day we a)weren't saving $, and b)were paying their fees on top.

So, definitely shop around. And ask to see and use their online booking tools and compare to Kayak's fares and ease of use. Good luck.

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