There are over 400 million business trips every year in the U.S. The vast majority of these trips are long-distance, which shows there’s a big market for travel companies that focus on corporate travel.
As a B2B travel company, your primary goal is to plan and facilitate travel on behalf of other organizations. The good news is most companies typically turn to a travel agency instead of hiring an in-house travel agent.
The bad news? Running a B2B travel agency isn’t all rosy. There are various challenges you’ll encounter along the way, and it’s important that you know how to tackle them.
Continue reading for an overview of some of the most common challenges and their solutions.
1. Strong Competitive Environment
Your travel agency needs a steady stream of corporate clients to stay in business. In the past, this was easier to achieve since there weren’t that many B2B travel agencies.
Today, the market has changed. There are more than 425,000 B2B travel agencies, and more are setting up shop every day.
What’s more, large, well-established travel companies, most of which offer both B2B and B2C travel services, dominate the market. They’re in a better position to attract clients because they have the financial capacity to offer great discounts or promotions.
As a small B2B travel firm, you have to find innovative ways to stay ahead of the competition. Carving out a niche for your business is one way to do that even though corporate travel is already a niche market by itself. For example, you could focus on corporate travel for startups and small businesses.
Having a niche target market sharpens your focus. You’ll have a detailed understanding of your ideal client, information which you can use to develop more effective targeted travel marketing campaigns.
2. Price Transparency Issues
There’s a notion that corporate travel clients don’t give a hoot about the cost of travel, accommodation, and related services. After all, it’s the company (employer) picking the tab.
Well, there’s some truth there. Organizations can certainly be wasteful, but that’s also becoming a thing of the past. The modern organization is financially savvy, which means it has people whore in charge of ensuring financial prudence.
It’s not uncommon for a client to ask for a complete breakdown of the prices before authorizing an agent to proceed with the booking. This shouldn’t be a problem in most industries, except that the travel industry is plagued with price opacity.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you must have been caught unawares by new prices even after you’ve had your booking confirmed. As a travel agency, failing to deal with price opacity is a sure way to lose your clients.
Unfortunately, offering great price transparency isn’t easy. You’re dealing with third parties, such as airlines and hotels, in which you have no control over how they price their services. They can increase prices without consulting anyone, meaning the risk of giving your clients incorrect quotes is always there.
The best solution here is to try and partner with service providers you can count on. If a hotel has a reputation for changing their prices frequently, for instance, it might be in the best interest of your clients to avoid it.
3. Unforeseen Events
The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of how an unforeseen event can kick you out of business. With many countries prohibiting international and even unessential domestic travel, travel agencies bore the brunt of the pandemic, and many closed down.
While this might have been a once-in-a-lifetime event, there are several other events, including natural disasters, that can disrupt travel, and consequently, your business. What are you doing to protect your travel agency from the financial consequences of such disruptive events?
There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent these events, but there’s something you can do to shield your business. The best move is to purchase adequate business interruption insurance. This insurance policy kicks in and replaces your lost revenues whenever there’s an event that disrupts your operations.
Staying abreast of what’s happening domestically and around the globe also goes a long way. You won’t be caught off-guard by events that can affect your business.
4. Decreasing Client Loyalty
It costs about five times more to acquire a new client than keep an existing one. Naturally, you want the clients you already have in the bag to keep coming back.
In the past, offering excellent service and great discounts was enough to earn your customer’s loyalty. In today’s environment, loyalty isn’t guaranteed.
It’s primarily because customers have way too many options. Even if you’re offering the best services in town, most clients want to try other service providers and find the best fit for the company. At the end of the day, its company money, and experimenting with various providers is allowed.
Just like doing business in a competitive environment, it’s your job to find new ways to increase client loyalty.
Besides offering personalized services, focus on improving your corporate travel agency’s digital presence. Your clients rely on the internet to find new providers. If they bump into your company whenever they’re searching for new travel agencies, they may have one less reason to use another company.
Implementing a B2B SEO strategy is an effective way to expand your agency’s online presence.
Grow Your B2B Travel Company
Starting a B2B travel company is a smart move. There’s strong demand for corporate travel services. However, the industry isn’t without its fair share of challenges.
With this guide, you now know some of the challenges to expect and what you can do to beat them.
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