No company or startup can manage a complex business process like corporate travel without deploying skilled professionals. They need travel professionals to simplify business travel bookings, ensure travel policy compliance, meet the duty of care obligations, and control business travel spending.
Organizations these days employ corporate travel consultants to get higher ROI by managing their business travel programs efficiently. Some organizations hire corporate travel consultants, while others implement virtual travel consultants.
Both corporate and virtual travel consultants perform similar duties and responsibilities. But a corporate travel consultant (CTC) manages business travel programs using human intelligence, while a virtual travel consultant (VTC) manages business travel needs using artificial intelligence.
Hence, they differ in several aspects despite performing similar duties and responsibilities.
Corporate Travel Consultant
The primary responsibility of a corporate travel consultant is to plan business trips and make business travel arrangements for clients. Most CTCs manage the business travel needs of clients as external consultants. They simplify business travel booking by providing relevant information and recommending the right business travel products.
Also, they help employees manage flight delays, flight cancellations, and similar business travel risks by providing real-time support. At the same time, CTCs keep the client’s business travel spending under control by making flights, accommodations, and other business travel products available at lower rates by negotiating with suppliers and vendors.
Most CTCs these days simplify business travel management activities through automation. For instance, they allow employees to book their choice of travel solutions by providing self-booking tools. Likewise, they use data analytics tools to share actionable insights with clients.
Virtual Travel Consultant
A virtual travel consultant automates corporate travel consultancy using cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. A business can use the VTC as a special-purpose software application. It helps users control business travel costs.
A virtual travel consultant recommends the best travel products and services to an employee according to organizational policies while considering his booking history and travel preferences. Also, the software helps employees book flights and accommodations at lower rates using predictive analytics.
At the same time, virtual travel consultants boost the performance of business travel programs consistently by providing data insights. They gain actionable insights by analyzing real-time travel and expense data of employees. Hence, users can get higher returns and curtail costs by making data-driven decisions.
Corporate Travel Consultant vs. Virtual Travel Consultant
Both CTCs and VTCs help businesses streamline corporate travel management by simplifying travel booking, ensuring policy compliance, enhancing traveler safety, and controlling travel expenditure. Also, they provide actionable insights that help businesses get higher ROI on business travel investments. But every business should consider these major differences when choosing between a CTC and a VTC.
Real-Time Information Delivery
During business trips, employees need a variety of information to manage travel risks and stay safe. They have to contact the CTC by phone or chat to get relevant information or assistance in case of emergencies. But they can access a VTC in the form of a chatbot. They can interact with the chatbot using smartphones to instantly access information or get support. Hence, VTCs deliver information and support much faster than CTCs.
As mentioned above, CTCs use human intelligence, while VTCs use artificial intelligence. CTCs need more time to recommend the right travel products and services to employees. Likewise, they spend time on negotiations to make travel solutions available to clients at lower rates. Hence, VTCs make recommendations and suggestions faster than CTCs.
Most CTCs, like lawyers, chartered accountants, and other professionals, charge fees on an hourly basis. Also, some CTCs charge upfront fees to plan and book a specific business trip. Hence, enterprises have to pay a hefty fee to avail of the professional services provided by a CTC. But they can leverage a VTC as a core feature of travel management software. They only need to invest in travel management software.
Both CTCs and VTCs help clients optimize business travel programs by sharing actionable data insights. CTCs analyze an organization’s travel and expense data using data analytics tools. But they do not analyze organizational data regularly. Hence, they share actionable insights periodically.
On the other hand, VTCs make travel and expense data analytics an ongoing process. They are designed with the capability to analyze large volumes of data automatically. That is why; VTCs share actionable insights with users more frequently than CTCs.
Quality of Data Insights
CTCs differ from each other in the category of analytical skills. Some CTCs are more efficient in resolving organizational data and finding rational solutions. Hence, the quality of data insights provided by CTCs differs.
But VTCs analyze data and gain data insights without human interventions. They are more effective than CTCs in providing better-quality actionable insights than CTCs.
Most organizations these days monitor and measure the performance of their business travel programs using various metrics. These business travel metrics help them detect opportunities to make business trips successful without escalating costs. At the same time, many organizations find opportunities to improve by comparing these metrics against other businesses from the same industry.
Most CTCs lack the skill and expertise required to compare business travel metrics of similar companies and startups. Hence, they do not recommend the ideas required by businesses to get higher returns. But VTCs help users outperform competitors by providing deep insights based on real-time data.
A surge is being noticed in the number of organizations preferring virtual travel consultants to corporate travel consultants. In addition to curtailing costs, virtual travel assistants help businesses ensure travel policy compliance and personalize travel booking.
However, many companies need to bridge the gap between corporate and virtual travel consultancy by implementing new-generation travel and expense management software. The software comes with built-in AI-powered virtual travel consultants.
At the same time, it allows employees to interact with the travel support team by phone, chat, and email. Hence, it becomes easier for businesses to boost the business travel booking process by combining human intelligence and artificial intelligence.