The definition of a business travel agency

Image by Pablo; Flickr.

As the world gets smaller and communication technology brings people closer, businesses are branching out all over the globe. International business travel has become a necessity of business.

Corporations can take on the expense of creating an entire travel department, but most opt to outsource the task to a business travel agency.

Business travel

Business travel extends the job duties beyond the normal workload and commute. The business foots the bill or reimburses the employee. Business travel agencies help by selling a complete travel package that includes accommodation on the trip, transportation to get to business meetings, group packages and holiday incentives for employees. While on a business trip, you are expected to conduct yourself as if you were in the office. On trips, you represent the company.


Operating on behalf of airlines, hotel and hire car companies, commercial travel agencies sell packages as a third-party provider. For every booking, the airline or hotel will pay the agency a commission percentage. Commissions can range from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, depending on the agreement with the service providers.


Business travel agencies must be certified, receive formal approval from legislating agencies and prove financial stability. For example, before agencies can work with airlines they must be approved by the International Airline Travel Agency Network. Typically, at least one of the managers must have experience and certification as a certified corporate travel executive.

Incentive travel

Business travel isn't always used for meeting clients. It is also used as a method to reward employees for going the extra mile. Corporations hire commercial travel agents to create travel gift programmes. In the book "The Tourism System," Robert Christie Mill states, "Corporations pay for the incentive travel service either through a mark-up on the incentive package or on a fixed-fee basis."

Corporate benefits

Travel agents have working relationships with travel service providers that can translate into financial savings. Businesses save time by leaving the calling, negotiating and co-ordinating to an agent. Agents have knowledge about the destination, when the business traveller often doesn't. One disadvantage is that some agents work under exclusivity contracts and don't shop around for better deals.