Worldgo Introduces Jessica Bentley
Jessica was born and raised in British Columbia and has a love the mountains, the forest and the ocean. At the age of 20 she decided to do a working holiday in Australia and it was this decision that propelled her into a lifelong passion and career in travel. Starting with Flight Centre in 2007, Jessica was promoted to a store manager in 2008 after a strong first year. In 2009, she opened and led one of the first Flight Centre Business Travel teams in Canada.
Over the next 6 years she was involved in the rapid growth of this business and the training and leading of many business travel agents until leaving Flight Centre in 2015 to join Worldgo. At Worldgo today, Jessica loves working with our fast growing client base, taking on challenging projects and sharing her knowledge and experience with the next crop of corporate travel experts.
We sat down with Jessica to get to know a bit more about her role, her experiences and tips for clients.
A Q&A with Jessica Bentley
Worldgo: Jessica, can you please tell me about what you do at Worldgo and what that entails?
Jessica: I’m a senior corporate travel manager at Worldgo, which means I’m involved in the day to day booking of our clients’ travel. I look after a team of corporate travel managers as well, so I help them with their work, I do a lot of training.
We have a collaborative team setup, so we all work together on a portfolio of clients. I also will go on client meetings and do reviews with our existing clients, see what’s working, what’s not. I also go out to meetings with prospective new clients to get to know them and see if we would be a good fit for them. I also do a fair bit of prepping of our training documents, training worksheets, and modules. And some of the internal documents that we use like our manuals and guides. And I think that’s pretty much my day-to-day.
Worldgo: What’s your favorite thing about working at Worldgo?
Jessica: I would say it’s probably the way the team is set up for portfolio sharing and the collaborative working. We’re able to pick up each other’s work, so if somebody is sick, or gets called out to a meeting, or needs to drop everything for a big project, we have it set up so it’s easy for someone else to step in, take over, and it’s seamless for the customer. It takes a lot of the stress out of doing this job when you know you can trust your teammates and that your teammates can always find all the information that you need, and that you can always find the information that you need, it makes it really cohesive. It also means we’re always interacting with each other and we all get to interact with different clients, so it makes it fun and social, too.
Worldgo: What is the one thing you do differently that makes your clients’ lives easier?
Jessica: It’s really hard to pick one. I think if we’re gonna specify one, it’s the anticipation. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I can (sort of) smell ahead of time what a client might ask, or what a client hasn’t thought of yet, that should come up.
As an example, I’m sending you over a list of flights to Toronto, they’re all the same price but my eyes pop on the fact that one of those flights is on the brand new 787 Dreamliner. I’m going to draw your attention to that one and say, “Hey, this is the brand new aircraft that Air Canada has.” You might not have even known that you wanted it but I was able to anticipate that you might like knowing that.
Also, there are the common bumps that come up. Maybe a particular airline often has a problem with their seat selection, I’ll head things off at the pass, and anticipate what might come up for my client, or what they might ask me before they do. That’s anticipation.
Worldgo: What makes for a good travel management booking experience for a client?
Jessica: I think there is two key components. The first one is that it has to be better than booking yourself online. So for somebody to be like, “Yeah, I really liked that booking experience” it has to be easier and feel as good as going on to a website, looking through the list, figuring out what you want, clicking on it. Your credit card number is already auto-populated in your browser and ‘bam’. Your flight is booked and they send you an email. It has to be easier than that.
I think the other key element is, that there has to be trust. In order to be a good booking experience for the client, they have to fully trust that you have their best interest in mind, that you are making the best choices, that you’re offering them the best options, that you’re looking out for unforeseen issues and opportunities that they might not be thinking of. I think it boils down to that it needs to be easier and more trustworthy than booking online.
Worldgo: What travel management advice can you give a small business?
Jessica: For a small business, the main thing I usually like to see is, whether you’re planning on growing really large or not, its important to set up an actual travel policy now. Set up some guidelines, and it doesn’t have to be 30 pages long, but set up a plan, decide how you want to handle things and do it now while you’re small before it becomes unwieldy. And even if you’re not planning on growing large, having at least some basic, clear expectations for your team to follow and some guidelines to guide the decision making process for everyone on your team will be really beneficial. I’ll stop myself there, but that’s important.
Worldgo: If we were to flip that around and say, “Well hey, what travel management advice can you give a large business then?” What would you say with scale as the difference maker?
Jessica: I think that a large business absolutely, should have a good travel policy in place, I think the biggest thing would be to really make the most out of your reviews. Actually take the time, at least once a year, to review your travel program. There are a lot of moving parts, you’ve got a lot of employees, different levels of supervision, a lot of different things you’re spending money on, and probably a quite of bit of money. So to take that time, at Worldgo, we do annual and semi-annual reviews where we will print out all the reports that you might be interested in and we’ll come and meet with you in person and take time to identify where we could save you costs, what’s working, what’s not. I think that’s a really key component in a large organization.
Worldgo: What’s the most important value for your corporate clients? Would it be saving them time, saving them money, or having better reporting?
Jessica: It’s an odd question because they’re all important in different ways and to different people. We often see a company wanting to save money, or looking for the bottom line, cheapest fares. But their employees are then spending more days out of the office because they took the cheaper flights. They can end up spending more money in wages than money that they are saving in travel. Savvy corporate clients realize this, and I think they’re so interrelated, that it’s actually quite difficult to answer that question.
Worldgo: Where do you see the travel management industry going?
Jessica: Better technology and integration. I don’t think the human aspect of it will ever go away. I think you’ll always need a person on your side whose job it is to take care of your travel and be that expert, but I do think that the apps are gonna get better for managing your flights and the delay notifications, and making instant changes and that’s going to integrate better with your travel management company. Right now our systems are already sophisticated enough to integrate with popular travel management apps, but I think it’s only going to get more integrated.
Maybe one day, you’ll be able to just instant messenger me from your Worldgo phone app, and it’ll pop up on my computer screen instead of having to call me or email me. But I think we’re just going to see faster technology and more fusion with your smartphone.
3 Question Rapid Fire
Worldgo: What’s your favorite leisure destination to recommend to your clients?
Jessica: Hawaii. I think there is an island for everybody, it’s not a long flight, the weather is beautiful the spirit of Aloha is a real thing and you know if you’re an adventurer or a hiker or you’re a clubber, or if you’re foodie, or if you just wanna lay on the beach, there is something for everybody and it’s such a pleasant place to go.
Worldgo: What is your favorite destination that you’ve traveled to?
Jessica: I would say Romania. It’s so underrated, everybody should go, it’s so cool. I was blown away when I went. It’s like a step back in time to Medieval Europe. There is a lot of old traditions still living strong, and there is a lot of wild wilderness. They have wolves and bears, which don’t exist anywhere else in Europe. They are amazing, friendly people. There is hearty food, delicious cheese, and it’s really, really affordable. Beer is about a dollar. And the other thing is, they have a rich history from Roman ruins to churches, to castles and it feels like there are no tourists there yet.
Comparatively, if you go to a castle in Germany or in Switzerland, you’re gonna stand in a long lineup and you get in there and everything is behind glass, but in Romania, there is nobody there. You can just walk into these castles for a small admission, and have the place to yourself and take pictures for a whole afternoon. And there are seemingly thousands of them.
Worldgo: If you had to leave right now and you only had three days, where would you go?
Jessica: I’d actually go to Palm Springs because I really want to experience Joshua Tree National Park. I would stay in Palm Springs, get some sun by the pool, rent a car, and drive up to Joshua Tree, stay past sunset, to view the Milky Way. I’d do some hikes, there is also the San Jacinto National Park, which is another cool place for experiencing nature, and is close to the Sultan Sea – which I’ve always wanted to go check out.