This paper was originally a college project carried out by Anwar Hameed, Esraa Adam, Ashwaq Mohmed and Rahmatu Lawan in fulfillment of the requirements for a Business Communication course at Yanbu University College, Saudi Arabia
The project talked about travel management systems, Seera Travel Company as a case study. The work is introduced by discussing travel and travel management in general, where a lot of important areas of this topic were discussed. Things such as the origin of travel, the importance of travel management companies to corporate and government organizations, how travel management evolved over the years and where we are today were covered in the first part of the project. Then, in the second part of the work, Seera Travel Company was discussed as an example of travel management company. It turns out, as the work proceeds, Seera has a lot of brands under it and all are related to travel. The work looked back to how seera started and the successes it recorded over the years. Then, the reasons why Seera was chosen for this study were also discussed. Then finally, one of seera’s brands, Elaa was picked and discussed in more specific. Elaa is a brand of Seera that deals with corporate travel management, which is the focus of this project.
Conclusively, this project is all about travel management and how huge of an industry it is. Our hope is that this will serve as a steppingstone for future research regarding this topic and will be an eye opener for entrepreneurs that want to explore the industry.
This work is highly recommended for knowledge seekers, travelers and the general public who want to know more about travel management.
Travel and Travel Management
What is Travel?
Since we are going to talk about travel management, it isn’t illogical to begin with the root and understand what the meaning of the word travel is. When you hear the word travel what comes to your mind?
While, travel is defined as the movement of people between remote geographical locations, and it is possible to travel by walking on foot, by car, by bike, by train or by flight. Often, they are one way or round trip. Travel may be local, regional, national, or international.
The origin of the word travel in history was from an old French word travail which means to work. On the other hand, Merriam Webster Dictionary traces the first use of the word travel in the fourteenth century. Travel dates back to ancient times when wealthy Greeks and Romans travelled to their summer homes to spend leisure time. In the Middle Ages, travel was difficult and challenging, but it was important to the economy and society because some merchants at that time relied on wholesale. In the late sixteenth century travel to European cities became important as part of education in arts and literature and is known as the grand tour.
What is Travel Management?
Travel Management or Corporate Travel Management (CTM) is the function of managing company’s travelling needs. Activities includes, negotiations with all vendors, day-to-day operation of the corporate travel program, traveler security and safety, credit-card management and in fact anything that corporate travel requires.
On the other hand, Travel Management Company, otherwise known as TMC “is a travel agent that fully manages the business travel requirements delegated by an individual, company or organization to fundamentally save clients both time and money. A TMC is also commonly known as a business travel agency or corporate travel provider.
The TMCs make travel more simply and offer many things such as, aircraft charter, airport lounges, parking and transfers, hotel bed requests, car hire, chauffeurs, foreign exchange, group travel, hotel bill backs, insurance, leisure travel, marine travel, meal requests, meet and greets, passport and visa procurement, rail tickets, road show services and venue sourcing. They also provide MIS reporting, account management, risk management, cost/expense management, traveler tracking/security and travel policy adherence and all these can be done online using TMC special self-booking tools.
Why Do Businesses Need Travel Management?
It is obvious even to the people that are not familiar with the business world that companies do really need travel management. For as long as business has existed, travel has been an important aspect for business development. Travel could be the reason that many companies expand very quickly and efficiently.
There are many aspects of why businesses need travel management. First of all, work efficiency plays an incredible factor in travel management. It’s logical that as the satisfaction increases, the efficiency of the work also increases. Travel management would improve the satisfaction of the employees and therefore their work efficiency will improve as well.
Another aspect is time management. Time management can save the companies millions of riyals and would also emphasize the company-employee relations. At the end, travel management is needed for any business to increase work efficiency and to improve the time management of the employees. Indeed, the need for travel management of every company cannot be overemphasized!
Written by Esraa Adam
Services of Travel Management
Unlike before, as we may have known travel agencies focus mainly on a few things such as flight bookings, today the business has evolved to providing different services of managing entirely everything travel. They were doing travel trip, tickets selling and car rental. Now, they can compare the prices and offers online services. These are some of the common additional services they provide today aside from their traditional services:
- Passenger assistance: It helps in emergency cases, lost bags and unexpected emergencies.
- Consulting: They provide consulting services to customers that need advice from different things like travel destinations and how people will accept them and deal with tourists.
- Marketing and internal communication: Instead of travel agencies experience for individuals, their services extended from individuals to companies.
- Technology: Now, most if not all travel companies provide technology solutions as a service to their clients or even to some third-party companies.
How Travel Management Evolves Over the Years
Over the years travel management as any other industry or organization has undergone so many rapid changes. From the way they operate and the kind of services they offer, one can attest to the fact that travel management has evolved into a giant force in a business corporate world. Even though, a lot of people outside the business realm would only think of travel management companies as agencies that take care of airline bookings and hotel reservations, travel management as it is today is beyond these two. It’s actually much more than that. With this out of the way, Let see the phases that travel management has undergone over the years and where we are today, perhaps that will make us appreciate the industry and what it stands for and hopefully, that will give us a glimpse of how vital this industry is to businesses nowadays.
Phases of Travel Management in History
Thomas Cook, a cabinetmaker, started what would be the beginning of travel and tourism industry by organizing a one-day rail excursion in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. The excursion was to carry temperance supporters to a meeting 12 miles away because Cook and those supporters had this profound believe that social problems were caused by alcohol. This single act started the Thomas Cook company that went on to become the oldest travel company ever recorded in history.
The actual growth of the airlines – travels as it’s known today – began in the 1920s when Delta Air Lines, and PanAm were formed. Both were airline companies that are part of the history of travels and travel management. for Delta Air Lines, the business began in the 1920s by spraying cotton-gobbling boll weevils and today, as they say, the rest is history.
While, PanAmerica World Airways was founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail and passenger service operating between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba. The company is known for so many new innovations that shaped the airline industry internationally, for example the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems among other things.
An entrepreneur from Omaha, Nebraska in the USA by the name Joe Saunders, started an “Automobile for Hire” business – with his Ford Model T – that is recognized as being the first recorded car rental company. Saunders got the idea to start the car rental business after his car broke down, he paid a friend six cents a mile to use his car to show real estate to clients.
Where Travel Management is Today
Fast forward to this day, travelling companies have evolved to be an all-inclusive of everything traveling requires that business travelers, leisure travelers, tourists of all sorts can ever think of – everything is included. Services ranging from flight bookings, hotel reservations, car rentals, rail, visas, ground transportation, meeting rooms and basically anything a business traveler may need are now done by a single company – Travel Management Company (TMC). As a business today, the most difficult parts of your job for your company’s travel arrangements is to find the right TMC, once this is done, your company’s travels need is completely sorted out.
The Technologies that Travel Management Companies Use
Technology has become very important in the field of travel and tourism, as it is in almost everything nowadays. Therefore, there are notable five trends that some travel companies have started to use. They are:
1. Internet of Things (IOT)
Internet of Things has become one of the most important technology trends in travel and tourism. That includes an internet-based intercom between everyday devices, which allows the user to send and receive data. For example, in the hotel rooms, now IOT is used to provide customers with a device that communicates with everything in the room such as lights, air conditioners, curtains and windows.
2. Recognition Technology
Recognition Technology has now become important in travel and tourism due to its potential for removing friction from purchases and making interactions seamless. It is a technology that recognizes fingerprints and also recognizes the face and facial recognition. The technology can be used in hotels to allow customers to enter and exit their rooms via fingerprints.
3. Virtual Reality (VR)
The technology used as an entertainment product, but now companies are starting to take advantage of this technology, especially with regard to pictures and videos with 360 degree. For example, hotels can use this technology to allow customers to view rooms, reception areas, restaurants, the pool, and other areas within the hotel before booking.
4. Augmented Reality (AR)
Similar to virtual reality and has become a unit of the most important technology trends characterized by being cheaper than virtual reality because it only needs a smartphone or tablet to work.
The field of travel and tourism has become interested in artificial intelligent robots that are equipped with speech recognition technology and are placed in information points. For example, in airports, they can be used to detect concealed weapons, while some manufacturers are also using robotics to create luggage cases that intelligently follow you.
6. Central reservation systems (CRS)
Central reservation systems (CRS) or sometimes are called computer reservation systems are systems that are used to store and retrieve information and conduct any transaction that is related to travels. Things such as flight bookings, hotel reservations, car rentals and so many other activities related to travel are typically done with CRS.
Seera Travel Company
We implemented our topic at Seera Travel Company which was formerly known as Al Tayyar Travel. Seera is a Saudi Arabian company established as a sole proprietorship in 1979 and transferred to a limited liability company in 1997 and to a joint stock company in 2005.
The company started in its travel reservations office in the center of the capital, Riyadh, in an area that did not exceed fifty square meters and with a number of employees that did not exceed four. The capital budget of the company is 2 billion riyals, which is the largest capital budget of a company working in the travel and tourism industry in the whole region.
The successes of the Seera Company continued until it became one of the largest travels and tourism companies locally, regionally and even globally. The company provides all services related to travel, tourism, freight, as well as car rental, and it also provides airline ticket reservations for all airlines. And not only do they provide air services, they also have marine and land services, and transport of passengers within cities and its suburbs.
Seera Company has received many awards, including Best Tourism Operator Award from the Malaysian Government for the years 2004 and 2005 CE at the Middle East level. And the award for the Best Agent for Saudi Arabian Airlines for several years, the last of which was in the year 2008.
Nasser bin Aqeel Al-Tayyar is the founder and vice chairman of the company. Nasser was born in 1957 in Al-Zulfi, in the north-east of the Kingdom, he is a Saudi businessman, who owns 60% of Al-Tayyar Travel Group. In 2004, “Arab Travel News” magazine ranked him as the first strongest Saudi personality in the field of private tourism investment. In 1977, he received a job in Saudi Airlines with the same salary, as his mission was to conduct a census of passengers on board aircraft, but in 2015, Al Tayyar Travel announced the resignation of Nasser Al-Tayyar from his position as Vice Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board .
Prince Sultan bin Muhammad bin Saud Al Kabeer Al Saud is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company. Prince Sultan Al Saud was born in Riyadh in 1954 and is the founder of the famous Almarai Company. He graduated from King Saud University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economic and Political Sciences. Prince Sultan Al Saud’s investments included in the food and energy industry, as well as in communications and banking.
Reasons Why We Chose Seera Travel Company
- Seera is a Saudi Arabian company making it a perfect place for our research.
- Seera is not just Saudi Arabian Company, it is one of the largest travel and tourism companies in the country and even in the region, because of that reason, we thought carrying out our research there will give us ample opportunities to learn from the best and hopefully our findings will help others as well to learn and be inspired.
- The third reason why we chose Seera is because, as the largest travel company in the region, it has a very large number of users and that will help us if we want to clarify some facts to get the required result easily from people.
- Seera has a long history of travel and tourism. Of Course, these records of successes could not come overnight, it has accumulated over the years. Therefore, we wanted to tap into those experiences.
- And lastly, the most important travel and tourism application software here in Saudi Arabia – Almosafer – is owned by Seera company.
How We Implemented Our Work at Seera
We implemented our study by studying all Seera brands in order to be able know for sure what Seera offers to it customers. The brands are:
- Consumer travel: Which has Almosafer and Tajawal, two consumer flight and hotel reservations systems at Seera
- Travel management: Which has Elaa, the corporate travel management brand
- Hajj and Umrah: It has Mawasin, a brand that deals with Hajj and Umrah travelers, both domestic and international. They ensure a more relaxed and enriching Hajj or Umrah experience every step of the way by providing a range of services based on the needs of the pilgrims.
- Hospitality: A brand that deals in hotels and other hospitality business. Seera owns and operates a growing network of mid-market hotels across Saudi Arabia
- Car rental: This Brand of Seera deals with everything about car rentals for travelers and the likes.
- Corporate ventures: A brand that deals with other business ventures of Seera Group. The aim of this brand is to leverage Seera’s legacy investments using the latest research, innovation and technology.
- KSA Destination Management: Discover Saudi, a Seera brand that showcase Saudi Arabia to visitors, tourists and other business travelers in a more enriching way.
Findings of the Implementation
After our research, we decided to focus on Elaa – Seera’s management travel solution brand since our aim is to find out more about travel management using Seera as an example. So, we dived a little deeper, let’s take a look:
What is Elaa?
Elaa is an Arabic word which means trusted adviser. It is the brand name of Seera corporate and government travel management. Elaa is designed to deliver bespoke services to individual companies, government agencies and all its corporate clients – large or small – based on their needs and circumstances. It also offers dedicated cargo solutions to complement the needs of its Corporate and Government (C & G) sector that help to sustain the growth of Seera’s business division.
Since the re-branding of Seera travel management company to Elaa, the brand has managed to launch and continue to grow beyond imagination most especially in the areas of technology. Elaa is believed to be way above its competitors in the aspect of technology. Rehlati, its state-of-the-art electronic travel order platform that offers digital booking system for government entities. According to Seera, Rehlati has won several government entities as its clients since it launched in 2018. It said to be about 300,000 employees of government benefited significantly from it.
Apart from the Rehlati digital booking solution that they offer to corporate and government agencies, Elaa is also providing some really important services in order to make travel management as easy as possible for both the client companies and itself. The additional services include:
Pop-up travel outlet
Once a company entered into a contract with Elaa as it travels management company, a dedicated team will be assigned to work in the client company’s business place in order to attend to any travel needs of the employees there. That team will ensure Elaa is represented well and will attend all employees’ queries and travel needs with due diligence and respect.
24l7 contact center
Apart from pop-up outlet set up in the client place, they also provide a 24/7 contact center for any further client employees travel requirements like bookings, changes, updates and any other queries.
Dedicated account manager
Elaa does not just provide pop-up travel outlet, 24/7 contact center and stop there for client services, they also assigned each client (company/government agency) with a full-time account manager that will oversee the affairs of the Elaa’s employees and client’s superior needs and suggestions.
Full travel itineraries
Above all when it comes to travel, itinerary is the most important thing. Elaa’s team will ensure client employees’ hotel bookings, car rentals, chartered flight arrangements and cargo are all done according to the client’s allowances professionally without any stress whatsoever from the client or its employees.
Finally, travel management is indeed a really huge industry that is so essential in today’s world that one could not have imagined a world without travel management. And, the next time you want to travel, try Seera! If you haven’t already.
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