Corporate Travel Agents as Sales Agents?
An interesting scenario is unfolding in corporate travel management that may have an effect on the type of agents attracted to the profession. I owned and operated a retail travel company for over 20 years. I had a robust leisure department staffed with agents who possessed the ability to paint the picture of the travel experience to the clients with an empathetic approach. The leisure agents who could most accurately describe a travel experience that matched the vision the client had were usually the top producers.
The best corporate agents possessed very different qualities than their leisure counterparts. These people had the ability to quickly determine the needs of the client, seek and find the required travel information from the reservation system and clearly and concisely communicate it back to the client. They live in a no BS environment where speed and accuracy are the two main qualities they are measured.
With airlines un-bundling their services into an a la carte menu of products available for a fee, changes the dynamic of what qualities a corporate travel agent must possess. On Travel Market Report, respected consultant Norm Rose said “The evaluation of front-line agents, particularly in the corporate sector, has always centered on ‘How many tickets can you crank out? How fast are you?’ Merchandising will almost certainly make their jobs more complex. (Corporate) Agents will have to become salespeople. That changes their role. It also changes the economics.”
If Rose is correct, that corporate travel agents must become sales people and merchandisers, I wonder how that will work. The agents that gravitate to corporate travel management do so because they are generally no nonsense people who don’t care for the sales side of the business.
Yet, these Corporate Travel Sales Agents must put on a sales hat because if they don’t Rearden Commerce or another technology based travel management package will.