Betty the company travel agent has failed me

There are some things I just dread these days. Not so much because of the event itself, but more the process leading up to the event. I understand why we implement certain processes in the way we do things – process leads to efficiency; efficiencies lead to cost savings; cost savings lead to profits. And, in today’s world more than ever, saving money and making profits are…well, saying they are important is a severe understatement. It seems businesses either have way too much process or way too little. In fact, have you ever heard someone say their company has just the right amount of processes?

Despite the necessity of them and the logic for them, there is one process that I both dread and for the life of me can’t understand.

That is the process of booking business travel.

I remember my early days of business travel. There were the short trips – maybe an hour or two flight. There were also the exotic trips – that last minute plea from the boss man for me to go to South America for a week. We all know that the actual act of traveling, for business or pleasure, isn’t what it used to be. People used to dress up. Now they dress in an effort to get through security quickly and easily. Slip on shoes are key. People used to say to me that they were actually jealous that I got to go travel once or so a month for work. I’ve got to admit that getting out of the office for even only a couple of days does feel good sometimes. But, all things equal, traveling is a pain in the ass.

Yes, security lines suck. Losing baggage sucks. Starting your day with a breakfast meeting at 8 am followed by 9+ hours of working only to be topped off by a working dinner is exhausting. But, for me one of the worst parts is booking my travel.

You’d think this would be pretty easy. After all, there are countless ways to book your travel – Expedia, Travelocity and the airline directly are just a couple of examples. However, our company requires that we use the company contracted travel agent.

Really? It’s the 21st century…there still are travel agents? Sure, back in the 1980s pre-Interwebs what choices were there? You could call 1-800-AmericanAir and they’d tell you what they had for options between here and Chicago. Or, you could go to some strip mall to a place with a sign that read Two Birds Travel Co where Betty and Sally would gladly book your flights, cruise or full family vacation to Hawaii. They had all the connections. All the recommendations for the right hotel for your needs. But, why are they needed now? We have tons of sites and the all-knowing Google to do our research.

Our Chief Money Bags (aka CFO) mandates we use the company travel agency, because they get the best deals. First off, they are a web site. They are the equivalent of Expedia only with our company logo on some funky American Express branded website.

But, hey it’s all in the interest of “saving money” so fine I’ll play the game. So, I log into the site (yes another friggin password to remember). Now let’s see, I need to go to Miami which is cross country. A direct 5 hour flight sounds way better than a layover in Dallas or Denver dragging that 5 hour flight out to 7+. But, hold your horses (which would probably be faster) because those direct flights are way expensive.

Stop! Do not proceed! Your choice is outside of company policy. Please choose a flight that meets your company’s travel policies.

Sonofa…OK, times are tough. Gotta do my part to save money. Fine, I get it. Anyway, the people watching in Dallas is always enjoyable (bear with me here, I’m trying to convince myself).

OK, let’s see I need to be there for a meeting at 8 a.m. the next morning. Since it’s cross country, from west to east, I’ll loose a whole day. But, with the time changes, I could get in around 9 p.m. the night prior (6 my time) and still be good to go. Clickity, clickity, click…Oh this flight looks promising.

Stop! Do not proceed! Your choice is outside of company policy. Please choose a flight that meets your company’s travel policies.

Wait, what? This flight is too expensive still? In reality isn’t that bad for a round-trip cross country flight these days. But, per my “agent” there are cheaper flights within policy. OK fine, what are they Betty?

View into CV: I name my technology and I was always fond of Betty. I always thought Barney married way up. Back to reality.

Betty shows me that there is one option that’s about $120 cheaper. They always say, “spend the company’s money like it were your own.” Makes sense.

Hmmm, still goes through Dallas (people watching plus). It get’s in about an hour later…not too bad still given the time changes. But, wait…what the f**k do you mean it has a 3.5 hour layover?! Seriously, that’s jacked up. 3.5 hours for $120. Ok that’s saying my time is worth less than $36 an hour. That’s bull shit. Screw that. Betty you’re failing me.

You know what? I’m going to check out Travelocity. Clickity, clickity, click and woooah hold the horses again! Direct flight, get’s in at 9:30 p.m. AND is only $440? What the? Oh I see, it’s not on one of our “approved carriers”. Whatever. And, the beauty of it being direct, I could actually sleep in at home go to the office and accomplish tons of work before going to the airport.

Screw Betty, I’m going with Tina Travelocity. Hey Tina…how you doin?

Flight’s booked. 4+ weeks in advance to do my best to save money and I’m good to go. Not only did I save some money and do I get to put in more hours in my bed the office before going to the airport, but I also have the coveted direct flight.

But, not everything is all roses, rainbows and unicorns. See, we have to use our own credit card (really, you don’t think I have a corporate card do you?). Therefore I’m floating the company a loan as I can’t do my expense report until after the actual travel.

Seriously, I really do understand processes. But, there are countless websites which can do the same job as this so-called travel agent (btw, do they even have real people at these American Express corporate travel sites or do they just put excessive rules in and send it off to a rebranded Expedia site? Hmmm?). AND, those mainstream sites ALWAYS have flights cheaper than the company site. So, I ask.

What. The. Hell. Is. The. Point?


P.S. And, even though it’s still 4 weeks out, I already know that I’m going to get stuck between a sweaty 300 lbs guy and the lady who carries her little, in desperate need of a diaper change, Johnny in her lap for 5 hours.

P.P.S. In my experience, roughly every 2 years Chief Money Bags will send out a company email stating that we’ve switched company travel agents again all, because new faceless travel agent will give us better service with lower prices. Yeah right.

P.P.P.S. All of this happens BEFORE our uneducated, highly untrained and unmotivated guardians of the great blue yonder, otherwise known as TSA, grope me.


About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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5 Responses to Betty the company travel agent has failed me

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