Tommi Mäkinen Racing is a rarity among Finnish companies. It represents Toyota Motor Corporation in the International Automobile Federation’s World Rally Championship, and it is the first Finnish company to build Toyota a new car for the next year’s main series. The new car has undergone some 10,000 km of test driving, and it will participate in the 2017 World Rally Championship already in January.
(Photo: (c) Tommi Mäkinen Racing)
The development of the car and the rallies will naturally take Tommi Mäkinen Racing abroad. – Right now, we have some 20 people travelling to various administrative meetings and test events, explains Sporting Director Jarmo Lehtinen. – Next year’s Championship will feature eight rallies in Europe and five in far-off destinations. The Championship will have a team of some 70 people travelling, including drivers, mechanics, engineers, catering personnel, administrative personnel and PR specialists.
Usually, the team travels by plane or, in Finland, by train. From the airport, the team often takes rental cars. Tommi Mäkinen Racing is headquartered in the municipality of Puuppola, near Jyväskylä, but many participants start their trip at various locations around the world. Therefore, Administration and Travel Assistant Pia Turma stays in control and uses SMT Online and SMT’s service team for travel bookings.
– It is essential for the arrangements to serve the team that works under a tight schedule, Pia emphasises. – We favour connections that we can reach from Jyväskylä by plane or train. The less we have to wait during the trip, the better. It is important that the drivers get to the destination well-rested. We want to have our drivers and mechanics arrive at far-off destinations 24 hours in advance so that they have time to adjust to the time difference.
Many people might wonder why a rally team needs a travel agency, but Pia and Jarmo have a clear answer to this: – Concentrating purchases saves our time and effort, both of them say.
– First of all, it makes the booking process much easier, says Pia, who has worked in a travel agency herself. – If I used airlines’ booking systems, I would have to browse on lots of different websites looking for the best connection. At SMT Online, however, I can see all the available options at once and can choose the ones that suit our schedule the best. Sometimes, plans may change and, in my experience, I can get a new connection easier from SMT instead of queuing at the airport’s service desk.
– We are also using a travel account which provides a monthly invoice of our travel-related purchases. This saves a great deal of time and effort in invoice processing, Jarmo says. – SMT provides us with reports that enable us to track and trend costs. And SMT’s 24-hour service is always there to help us with urgent matters despite any time difference, so Pia does not have to stay up all night, he continues, laughing.
Here are Pia’s tips for making bookings with SMT Online:
- Make use of the traveller profiles and use them to store as much relevant information as possible.
Passport details, for example, should be kept up-to-date in the profile because many countries require them already at the time of booking the trip.
- The travel arranger’s calendar view is especially convenient when booking travel for many people at once. It makes it easy to keep track of who is travelling when and where.
- You should also utilise the details of service team bookings at Online. Tommi Mäkinen Racing has activated a service that displays any bookings made via the service team at SMT Online. This also makes it easier to keep control of everything.
- Think creatively.
Sometimes the best rate for a complex route can be found by making several consecutive bookings. But remember that, in this case, the airline will only check your baggage for the leg specified on an individual ticket. At times, you should not hesitate to ask SMT’s service team for help – they can save your time and help you get the best connection.
- Remember the additional services.
You can also pre-book a seat and get airlines’ other additional services directly from SMT Online. This way, you can get your entire trip sorted out at once.