5 expert tips to help you avoid the ‘potholes’ of business travel

A business traveller working while in transit. Picture: Unsplash

A business traveller working while in transit. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jun 10, 2024


According to business travel experts, Corporate Traveller, South African companies are rapidly abandoning the DIY approach to business travel.

Corporate Traveller GM, Bonnie Smith, said that business travellers are often so focused on their work that they don’t have the time or expertise to properly vet travel suppliers and navigate the complexities of business travel and, due to this, are hitting potholes by going it alone.

For corporate travellers looking to avoid business travel potholes, here are some of the biggest setbacks in DIY corporate travel and how partnering with a professional travel management company (TMC) can help you avoid them.

The lost-in-translation hotel

According to Smith, when it comes to business travel, one pothole you may encounter is that you may think you’ve found the perfect place to rest your head, only to arrive and discover a multitude of issues.

“Perhaps the luxury boutique is really a roach motel, or the city centre location is sidled up to an abandoned amusement park? Or worse, the unbeatable rate failed to disclose the hourly clientele.

“No matter how stunning the online photos are, going discount and unmanaged is a game of accommodation roulette,” said Smith.

She advised that you use the expertise of a TMC with global connections and boots on the ground to physically vet every property for quality assurance.

“They ensure accommodations meet your company’s standards for security, cleanliness, and amenities,” she said.

The missed connection mayhem

Another pothole Smith highlighted is that unmanaged employees often book tight connection times between flights to pinch pennies, however, playing connection contortionist ultimately catches up when flights are delayed.

Smith said that this results in missed connections, re-booking headaches, sunrises spent in airport purgatory, and exorbitant emergency expenses like unplanned overnight stays, clothing replacements, or last-minute transportation changes.

She said that the way to manage this is through experienced travel managers as they are wizards at connection windows.

“They would have booked a more sensible routing, leaving room for potential delays without leaving you stranded in airport limbo,” said Smith.

The rental car roulette

The travel expert also pointed out that after an endless trek from arrivals to the rental facility, you’re hit with a one-two punch of they’re out of cars, or they gave your reservation away because you’re a few minutes late.

She said that either way, you’re at the mercy of whatever is left, which is either a cramped compact without adequate room for colleagues and luggage or a sketchy third-party rental facility they’ve sourced without quality control.

To manage this, Smith said highlighted that TMCs offer negotiated rates and insights and ensure you have a confirmed car waiting or can pivot to alternative transportation if needed.

The surprise fee squeeze

Another pothole to consider according to the travel expert is thinking that you landed an amazing deal on those bargain airfares.

She said that by the time you tack on fees for checked bags, carry-ons, seat assignments and snacks that “great price” has ballooned.

Smith said that to solve this, a TMC can leverage negotiated corporate rates and fare bundles that cover components like checked bags, priority boarding, and seat selection.

“They also stay ahead of the game on new and hidden fees to avoid gotcha charges. Their bulk purchasing power means you enjoy streamlined, all-in pricing,” she said.

The amazing vanishing baggage act

Smith said that you can also arrive at the baggage carousel, ready to collect your belongings and get down to business and find that your luggage has decided to pull off an epic disappearing act.

“The conveyor belt goes round and round, taunting you with everyone else’s bags while yours have somehow escaped into the Baggage Claim Bermuda Triangle.

“You resign yourself to sporting your ‘straight off the plane and loving it’ ensemble for all those important meetings and by the time your rogue bags finally resurface days later, you’ll be an old hat at rocking the rumpled look,” said Smith.

She said that if you use your travel experts advice on luggage logistics to reduce delays and loss, they can leverage travel data to route travellers to more reliable airlines/airports and provide luggage tracking assistance to locate any misplaced bags quickly.

The time zone tangle

Finally, the travel expert said that in your overstressed effort to self-coordinate every last detail, you may not have bandwidth to double-check time zones.

She advised that you use your seasoned travel professionals to cross all the T’s and dot the I’s of your booking, carefully factoring in time zones, daylight savings, and scheduling realities to build efficient itineraries that avoid AM/PM mix-ups.

“The moral of the story? Ditch the DIY stress and bring in the professionals. Managed travel is more than just sourcing rates – it’s a vital insurance policy against corporate travel catastrophes,” said Smith.