Why ... Was the Button Pressed?
Have all the options been considered? This is looking at how one can get from A to B. I know that in many TMC's a large play is made about offering maybe three "options" for any travel event for the traveler to choose. One wonders, of course, if that really is a need.
Let us look at the process of dealing with a travel request. Anyone who travels on a short haul commuter flight, every week does not really need three (or any) "options"; they just need the bookings made. Of course, there remains the question as to why one has to do such a commute and would a re-positioning of the firm's officer be a better option, but for now, we will just assume that the bookings need to be made. There is no great skill required in doing this sort of a booking and indeed, a self-booking tool is probably the best option in this sort of a case.
Anything else and one needs to employ the agent's skill, this includes most medium haul, long haul, multi-sector trips and any booking where A to B involves C.. What we are seeking here, is the best value option for any travel event - and that is not the same, not the same at all, as "the cheapest". A good agent will already have a feel for what looks like a good price for any given itinerary. A GOOD agent (and I mean the individual, not the firm) is able to look at a cost and decide if the overall cost shown "feels" right. If it doesn't (and invariably, even when it does), the agent checks through a process of benchmarking.
This means taking the cost of the most obvious or direct route and then noting the total fare figure. Then, one uses whatever "flavour of the month" metasearch website to see what options exist. Results do vary from the rather impractical to options which may be a possible, cost-effective solution. Metasearch is used for two reasons, firstly as an indication of where to look and secondly to make sure, as an agent, one has not missed the blinding obvious (you would be surprised how easy missing the blindingly obvious can be). Some options involve too much mixing of airlines, too many changes, passing through countries where a visa may be required and options with long layovers. There is nothing wrong with these options, of course, but one needs to weigh up what does and does not represent "best value".
This means that the agent can assess the findings against the two extremes of fare and decide what is the best solution to offer. This does, of course, have to be tempered with whatever travel policy may exist. Travel policies may do more harm than good in some instances; that one is restricted by cost and class, for example causing a very worthwhile "best value" fare to have to be rejected for a restrictive policy reason.
Of course, for the above to work, you have to have faith in the abilities of your agent, which brings me to my second post "Who pressed the button?"