Booking a journey from A to B and back again is a manageable task, but how about when multiple travellers need to fly into A from D, H and K? And then travel back to Y?
We sought the expertise of a corporate travel expert, Perry Kist, Travel Consultant at ATPI Corporate Travel, who has been booking and managing trips for over 18 years. In this short guide, he’ll share everything you need to know to maintain a smooth and stress-free booking process.
What is the most complex business trip or route that you have ever booked?
"I complete more than 200 bookings per month, so I come across many different trips and routes. It sounds crazy, but sometimes it is the simplest routes that are the complicated challenges. It has to do with the complete package: a flight route, an interesting rate, tight savings and the challenge of meeting the needs of the traveller as much as possible. Of course there are routes that require a lot of creativity, but I always see it as a challenge to solve the puzzle as well as I can. I also sometimes come across special luggage requests, for example, sailors’ baggage, or instruments and equipment for artists or photographers."
What is the trick for booking complex business trips?
"The trick is to come up with creative and "out-of-the-box" solutions. For example, we take advantage of special rates stipulated for ATPI Corporate Travel, partnerships between airlines – and of course our own in-house expertise. Even I don't know everything, so I'm grateful that I can take advantage of our think tank, which, for example, examines the route from a different perspective, and in doing so comes up with even more creative solutions. The constantly changing markets, rates and conditions force us to continue searching and innovating in order to come up with the best solutions over and over again. And we do that with pleasure. What could still be done yesterday, could be a thing of the past today."
How do you ensure that a complex booking is error-free?
"Referring to the quotation clarifies what the desired journey will look like. This is a very important phase in which to learn as much as possible about the specific needs of the traveller and what you have to look for. If you don't ask the right questions, then you'll definitely get it wrong. In addition, we always look for an alternative in order to save costs and/or time. By taking advantage of the expertise in our company, we directly involve their creativity and additional scrutiny to work as flawlessly as possible. In addition, technology gives us access to automated controls that perform searches even more accurately than people."
Travellers’ needs are changing. What have you noticed here?
"Travellers’ needs are continuously changing, some more than others. Whether or not you want to fly with a certain airline, or maybe you have a nut allergy, to the desire to always sit on the left side of the aisle. These pillars guide us towards the ideal picture of how the traveller will experience the trip. Travellers have also become more independent. They know exactly what they want and are also certain about what they don't want. Searching for the best solution on the internet is now also part of that. Because a lot of websites utilise stunt marketing, it is a challenge for us to do the same or even to come up with a better trip offer."
What qualities do you need to have as a business trip booker?
"Communication skills are very important. Understanding one another. This applies to the relationship between the business travel agent and the booker (usually the secretary, but sometimes also the traveller). Working together allows the picture of what the traveller is looking for to take shape. Creativity is a quality that, along with product knowledge, can lead to the best results. Speed is good, but quality is better. The accuracy of the profession translates into satisfied travellers who dare to outsource their needs and requests to the experts of the business travel agency.”