Let’s be honest. Managing a large corporation’s travel program can be taxing and a corporate travel manager can use all the help they can get. More specifically, business travelers can use all the help they can get, especially on the ground while they’re out on the road. That’s why putting together a Squad of Corporate Concierges can be a splendid way to help inform, assist and save the bacon of travelers who might find themselves in a travel fix.
We’ve helped a number of global corporations set these up and with a few simple steps you too can insure future problems at a distant office can be headed off before they happen. Here’s what you should consider…
What Do They Do?
Corporate Concierges are the local expert at each of your firm’s satellite offices. Usually an Executive Assistant or Receptionist, this individual should have a firm grasp of your company’s resources at the local level. This includes everything from what it takes to reserve a conference room, to the best way to commute from the airport to the best places to take a client for drinks after dinner. They should be available to help an out-of-town employee with whatever they require to have a successful business trip.
How Many Do You Need?
This one’s easy. How many offices do you have? Ideally, you should have one for each city. Obviously, it’s more important to have one in Calcutta, than it is to have one in Chicago, with so many more things different and unfamiliar in the foreign destination. But once you get to the stage of making out a list of questions for your team (more on that later), you’ll see how every city has its own peculiarities which are good to identify.
How Much Time Will They Need to Invest?
This is a critically important question because it’s important at the beginning to have everyone involved understand that the answer is actually quite small. Some of these folks (like the admin in Boise) may never get a call from a traveler. Gathering the information about their office is the important aspect, and that only takes about an hour, so it’s not like you’re going to be taking them away from their current duties.
What Do You Need to Ask Them?
Put on your thinking cap and come up with a complete list of inside information you’d like them to assemble for a visiting employee. Once you get it right you can just email them all the same copy. (Okay, you’ll need two, one for domestic and one for international.) So what should you ask them?
- What hotel is closest to the office, and what’s the best way to get there from the airport? Do they have a negotiated rate at the hotel or other benefits like free breakfast, WiFi or shuttle service.
- What other hotels are nearby and would be good alternatives if the first is sold out?
- Should they rent a car, take taxis or call Uber/Lyft?
- If they’re renting a car, where should they park and how much does it cost?
- Do they have established relationships with trusted taxi companies, and limousine suppliers?
- What restaurants or bars nearby are appropriate for taking a client to dinner?
- What office resources are available for their use? Conference room, projector, guest desk?
- Are there gyms, drug stores, grocery stores, and dry cleaners available nearby?
- What should they do about changing money?
- What local customs should they know about?
- Are there things they should avoid, like certain areas near the office, or taking a cab from an unknown driver at the airport?
Once you have distributed the list of questions you may need to follow up to get more complete answers. Make sure you list bus/train numbers, subway station names and the address/phone numbers for the hotel properties.
Who Else Should You Get Involved
You’ll want the buy-in of appropriate senior management before you start. A VP, Administration or Shared Services Director, or Human Resources Director are places to start. These folks would also be helpful in identifying the right local contacts. Other key allies include whoever maintains your company intranet (where you’ll store your office profiles) and your TMC Account Manager who should go over your list of suggested hotels and make sure they’re all included in your online booking tool as preferred suppliers.
Finally, you’ll want to communicate the existence of your Guide to Company Offices, and the Corporate Concierge Squad to the travelers themselves. Send them an email (with a link to the guide) and have your TMC add a link to all itineraries.
A little bit of work on the front end can save you a lot of trouble down the road, and hopefully, make life easier for your travelers!