Dennis Karn owner of Travel Polaris, a Carlson Wagonlit agency, the largest travel consortium in the world has been in the travel business more than 15 years. He caters to the business traveler and has kept abreast of the economy’s impact on the industry as a whole and on the concerns of businesses that rely on travel.
Q. Why should a company use a travel agency as opposed to an online booking company for travel needs?
Most CEOs want their employees to adhere to a specific policy, and that can be arranged with an agency. Each planned trip will stay within a specified budget. Using an agency also allows the employer to insert the level of authority they want to maintain over an employee’s travel arrangements and doesn’t deduct from their staff’s time.
Q. What would you say to CEOs concerned about the fees attached to a travel agency’s services?
Everyone charges fees even if you are using an online booking agency; fees other than the basic ticket price are involved. Oftentimes, fees for online booking are higher and attached to more services than with a travel agency. There’s also the benefit of talking to someone who will be working with you for a variety of travel needs and not just selling you a ticket and ending the correspondence. The benefit to a travel agency, despite the fee, is that they have made the investment in software tools and have acquired skills to utilize the software to find the best rates. The rate finds far outweigh the agency fee incurred.
Q. Do you recommend a company have an in-house travel manager regardless of its size?
Yes. The economic situation is very real and very scary. Even if the person assigned to the task isn’t full-time, companies need to have one person responsible for acting on their behalf, relaying their wants and needs to the travel agency in order for the best communication and to get the best results. Some businesses haven’t been hit hard just yet, but travel management could have a significant impact on the savings and way businesses choose to travel. It’s always the right time to be spending money in the best way.