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What is a TMC (Travel Management Company)?

June 19, 2019

Business travel is a trillion dollar industry. With all of the money that is spent on travel every year, it can be a lot for large companies to handle managing all of the trips that their employees take.

Enter the travel management company, or TMC, which can be hired to direct your company’s corporate travel needs.

TMC basics: how it functions, how much it costs & how to find the best one for your company

We’ll go over the basics of what a travel management company does for your company’s business travel, how much it costs, and how to find the TMC that best fits your company.

The role of a TMC in company travel

In managing a company’s travel needs via travel management tools, a TMC will be able to blend the specific travel policies of individual companies with the best available fares and rates on the market. It also can be used as a corporate compliance tool. There are four ways a TMC functions to manage corporate travel.

Enforces a corporate travel policy

Any company that has employees who travel for work needs to employ some kind of company-wide policy to ensure that employees comply with basic standards. These standards can include a specific fare class on flights, a star class for hotels, and a class of rental car.

A TMC helps enforce this policy through guiding travelers to options that are compliant. Often times, a TMC will only display options for travelers to book that are within their company policy. Using a TMC ensures that employees adhere to your company’s travel policy without having to spend extra time and effort to track travel compliance.

Provides systems on which to book travel

A TMC importantly provides both online and call-in systems in which employees can book travel. Online end-to-end booking is a necessity in 2019, especially because to eliminate hassle, booking business travel should be equivalent to booking any sort of personal travel outside of a TMC.

Where a TMC differs in how it provides systems for booking is that you can ensure that it is giving travelers the best rates possible. There are no hidden tricks or gamification strategies involved in booking with a TMC. It is a consistent, reliable platform on which your company receives the best rates regardless of when employees are booking.

Negotiates contracts with vendors for special rates

A key benefit of TMC use is that it can occasionally provide special corporate rates from hotel and car rental vendors for your business trips. These rates eliminate the need for extra work on the part of your travelers, as they have only one place to go for the best rates.

Any online travel site can offer a good sale once in a while, but using a TMC guarantees that you have certified travel professionals in your corner finding you the best options for your bookings.

Provides duty of care support

One of the biggest stressors for travel managers and those pegged with leading a travel program at a company is the safety and security of business travelers. TMCs contain duty of care features that provide real-time communication and information for the safety of travelers in new or unfamiliar destinations. Enlisting the help of a TMC takes the stress off of worrying about employees’ health and safety when they travel for work.

How much does a TMC cost?

TMCs can be priced either based on a fee per travel itinerary or on a monthly or yearly subscription basis. The exact cost will of course depend on the size and geographic scope of your company’s travel needs. TMCs charge fees just as airlines and hotels do when you book directly through them. You’ll also need to take into account that through the special rates they’re able to locate, TMCs find your travelers better fares on average than they would typically find themselves.

It’s hard to estimate an average cost of a TMC because of how dynamic the scopes of different travel programs could be in comparison to each other, but a rough estimate of the cost of a TMC per itinerary booked is $14. Whether you view the trade-offs of sometimes lower fares as valuable for your company is of course up to your discretion. However, most industry leaders suggest that the usefulness of using a TMC exceeds the hassle and potential wasted time and costs of managing your company’s travel autonomously.

Finding the right TMC

Selecting the right TMC for your business should begin not with the TMC itself but your own individual travel policy. Setting out a clear travel policy ensures that the TMC you choose aligns with the exact needs of your company. You should also consider where most of your company’s travel is regionally and what kind of budget your employees have on these trips.

Your industry and size should also dictate the type of TMC you search for. If you are a large company that puts on events and will consistently be on the road, you’ll need a TMC equipped to secure a large number of bookings and adapt to sudden changes in itineraries.

A final key component to finding the right TMC is to make sure that they’re a good cultural fit for your company. They’ll be working closely with your employees and contributing to how their time is spent on the road. If your company values work-life balance or the ability for travelers to have flexible schedules when traveling, you’ll want a TMC that can deliver on that culture.

A live look at the G2 Grid® for this category shows the different travel management products available based on real-time, validated user reviews.

Next steps

Travel management companies help your business book travel for employees, encourage employee compliance to your corporate travel policy, and ensure the safety and security of business travelers. Although they can come at a steep price, many corporate travel departments view the use of a TMC as worth the money for making sure that business travelers are booking reliable fares and conducting their business on the road in ways that reflect company culture.

Looking for more information on corporate travel? Check out the best travel management software.

See the best travel management software of 2019

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