Wally Nowacki has worked in the travel industry for more than a decade, and he says more than ever, travel agencies are essential assets to companies’ efforts to save on travel. Nowacki serves on Philadelphia travel boards and keeps a close watch on trends that will dictate a company’s ability to maintain a healthy travel budget without making sacrifices.
Q. Many companies believe travel agency fees outweigh the rates found on online booking companies. Is this an accurate assessment?
No. Travel agencies charge less after the savings they’ve negotiated for their clients on the hotel, car and/or airfare. Agencies work to get clients the best rates and negotiate those rates based on the volume. When something doesn’t go as planned, the agency works to reschedule, whereas the traveler with an online booking ticket will be responsible for finding a new flight on their own in a crowded airport, which would be time-consuming and frustrating.
Q. Are in-house travel managers important to a company’s travel policy?
Yes. Having an in-house travel manager allows all of the information to flow through a single individual. This person may have duties other than managing the travel budget, but they do need to be educated on costs as they pertain to each city traveled to in order to configure realistic travel policy proposals. For example, a company cannot cap the budget at $50 a day for car rental in both Cleveland and Los Angeles if the median price in Los Angeles is $70 a day.
Q. What role does reporting play in the travel policy, and how should it be policed?
An employee may not follow policy because he/she isn’t aware of what the policy calls for in a certain situation. They also may make a judgment call on their own or not give their actions enough thought. Policies on reporting expenses incurred during travel must be mandated in order for them to be effective. The expense reports serve as a testimony to the effectiveness of the policy show that the budget is in check because the employee stayed within the guidelines. Keep in mind that you can’t properly manage money if you don’t know where, when or why it was spent.