Being in the corporate travel industry has always been a challenge, but since March 2020, travel and hospitality businesses have taken a massive hit.
It’s during times like these, however, that you get to know what makes your business a success.
Usually, it’s the relentless dedication of a carefully selected and loyal team of employees.
If you put the time and effort into fostering desirable skills in your workforce, then your business will have no problem staying afloat during unforeseen and challenging times.
With that in mind, let’s explore what qualities or characteristics should jump out at you during the hiring process.
1. Organisational Skills
If there is one thing any corporate travel agency worth their salt should be, it’s organised.
Travel agents are masters of the schedule; slotting clients into flights, hotels, rental cars, and managing payments for all of the above.
Not only are travel agencies expected to manage their own schedules efficiently, but they also need to build comfortable and enjoyable itineraries for their clients.
All while maintaining good administrative relationships with other service providers in the hospitality sector.
This is no simple task. Especially when plans change, bookings get canceled last minute, transport breaks down, details get lost, flights get delayed, and more.
A competent travel agency must roll with the punches, stay organised, and improvise when plans get derailed.
2. People Skills
As any experienced corporate travel agent will tell you, sharply honed people skills are a must-have in the industry.
Corporate travel agencies represent a part of the hospitality workforce whose success depends largely on cultivating mutually beneficial relationships, with both clients and partners.
Travel agents need to work well under pressure, with a smile.
A client dealing with an unfriendly travel agency will not trust them to have their best interests at heart and will most likely take their business elsewhere.
A business partner who dreads dealing with your agents is much less likely to promote your services, or bring you in on lucrative opportunities.
Traveling is fraught with all kinds of changes, many of which are unpredictable or out of anyone’s control.
Travel agencies need to know how to adapt and overcome, and to think on their feet - quickly.
A business could be adversely affected if key stakeholders are stuck in transit or face long delays.
Knowing how to calmly and efficiently respond to missed connections, canceled flights, forced schedule changes and emergencies is essential.
The ability to draw on resources and make alternative arrangements with minimal disruptions is the hallmark of an efficient travel agency.
4. Technical Skills
No corporate travel agency can survive in today’s market without at least being somewhat technically literate.
Long gone are the days of pushing paper.
Today, the necessary tools include a smartphone, a laptop, and a tablet.
It’s vital for travel agencies to know how to navigate specialised software and tools quickly and efficiently, and how to overcome common technical issues.
If your agents are calling the IT department every time they can’t remember how to upload a file or change a booking reference, sooner or later they are going to lose important business.
Plus, they’ll waste an enormous amount of valuable time and resources.
Some agencies take having great technical skills one step further, utilising market leading technology that makes business travel easier.
AlI, cloud-based technology, and customised apps that allow for quick bookings, seamless reschedules, early check-ins and other functionality enhance service, and streamline travel even further.
For busy executives, the availability of this type of timesaving tech is a major advantage.
Corporate travel agents are the faces of their agencies, they deal directly with clients and partners.
It is essential that they present themselves in a professional manner in everything from attire to attitude.
It’s never a bad idea to work with new agencies to make sure that their staff have a professional and friendly manner while talking on the phone, writing emails, talking face to face, or dealing with stressful situations.
When it comes to maintaining a certain standard of professionalism, the little things make all the difference.
For instance, make sure all your agents run grammar and spelling checks on their emails before sending them.
A professionally formatted and well-composed email sends a strong message to clients and partners.
6. Attention to Detail
Handling minor details efficiently and accurately is an integral part of any corporate travel agency’s skillset.
Travel agencies are entrusted with passport numbers, flight codes, precise arrival and departure times, addresses all over the world, client profiles, preferences, and more.
Even the most seemingly inconsequential details can have disastrous ripple effects when they aren’t recorded or communicated accurately.
Your company could be held liable if an error occurs, and there may be financial or legal implications.
A good travel agency should always make it their mission to get the details down properly the first time, and never lose or compromise important information.
They also ensure that high standards of confidentiality are maintained and that all data policies and procedures are adhered to.
7. Consistency and Confidence
Your clients should feel like they are incapable hands.
Displaying confidence in your decision making and maintaining consistent standards of communication and integrity will help build healthy, sustainable, and lucrative relationships.
Nobody wants to work with someone who seemingly can’t trust themselves to make good decisions, or drops off the radar at vital moments.
Remember, your chosen travel agency set the standard for how your clients see your company.
The more they trust your agents, the more likely they are to come back again and recommend your company to their friends.
8. Customer Care
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many travel agencies overlook the importance of cultivating a genuine and empathic connection with their clients.
As mentioned above, clients want to feel like they can trust their agents.
Travel can often be stressful, and an agency who can effectively reassure and calm their clients at critical moments are invaluable assets.
Hospitality is, above all, about people.People, especially those who travel often, have a sixth sense about when they are being patronised or misled.
Encourage your agents to be genuine and compassionate within the bounds of professional conduct, of course.
TheRight Agency For The Role
Hiring a corporate travel agency requires a specific recruitment process that targets a valuable skill set.
The above-mentioned qualities are non-negotiable, and any corporate agency looking to fill the role must tick these boxes, in addition to any others your company requires.
Written by Charli Tanner