Corporate travel agents have a saying:  “Without an agent, you’re on your own.” And that is the truth. Corporate agents do charge service fees, but they are worth every penny when your job takes you on the road more often than not, especially these days when travel has become less than pleasant. As a corporate agent, just when I think I’ve seen it all, I discover yet another unbelievable situation and it’s my job to get my client where they need to be despite the hurdles.

Prior to becoming an agent, I was a director of a high tech company and my job took me all over the world. I had high standards as a traveler as I didn’t have time or energy to waste and I had no patience for dirty rooms or waiting for a 3pmcheck in time when I’d just arrived on an overnight flight and needed to be ready for a meeting at 11am.  In the good old days, the airlines were a pleasure to travel on, and my weekly trip to London on American Airlines had the same crew who always upgraded me to Business at the gate. Sadly, those days are long gone.Back in those days, the airlines compensated agents based on the value of their ticket with guaranteed commissions; they had no incentive to deliver services. They booked you a flight, picked a hotel per the corporate rates available, and that was that, here is your itinerary and paperticket, “have a nice trip.”  Today the paradigm is changed. The services given to business travelers go beyond issuing tickets and reserving hotels.

As a corporate agent, I provide the services and attention to detail that I demanded when I traveled for a living. At FROSCH we have top-tier relationships with the carriers that help us save clients countless hours of navigating complicated itineraries. Especially in the case of disrupted travelplans, we can re-accommodate our clients minutes after their flights cancel andbefore the rush to grab the best alternative options. Our specialrelationship with hotels means that we can provide clients with early check-in,special amenities, and special rates just to name a few. Today we have somany more tools to get things done electronically for our clients, which means faster results.One of my corporate travelers emailed me one night  from her airplane after the captain announced they were short on fuel, and had to land at an AirForce base two hours from DFW to refuel. She was going to miss herconnection and wanted to know if I could get her a rental car from the base soshe and other passengers could drive to DFW and make their flights. There were rental agencies nearby, but no way to get there, so she was stuck, but ifthe refueling went as promised, they should be on their way in time to make the connection in Dallas.

Of course, the best laid plans went sour when she emailed me again; apparently the Captain had reached his flying time limit and had to leave the aircraft. He made this announcement, grabbed his suitcase and disembarked the plane. Apparently they really have to get off the plane, then and there. There was no pilot to get them back to DFW, and no plan.

With this news I quickly got her re-accommodated for the first flight out inthe morning, but she still had to get to DFW. Thirty minutes later, the airlinewas sending a pilot by car, but the revolt on the plane forced the airline tohire vans to drive the passengers the 2 hours to DFW, where they gave them rooms at a 2-star hotel.  My client called me on my cell at 2am, upsetand in tears.  She’d had enough, could I please find her a better room for the few hours of sleep she could get before her 8am flight? Of course I could!  This is the relationship I have with my corporate clients, they know they can call me anytime if it’s an emergency no matter what. It’s not often I get called at 2am, but this law firm has been my client for 6 years now and they know I’ll always come through for them or die trying.  That is how this business is today, built on relationships. With clients, airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, tour operators, you name it.

You just never know what is going to happen, so being “on your own” is not a great option these days with the state of travel being what it is, and having someone that “has your back” is worth the price of the service fees.

By Debra Burman-Gisby