How you can build your travel management team

March 9, 2023 | By Martin Go
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Startups and SMEs often underestimate the value of travel management, particularly as they expand their business operations. It is essential to have a staff in place to handle the entire process, from booking flights and hotels to controlling costs and assuring adherence to travel standards, especially as business travel becomes more common. Startups and SMEs that have specialised travel management staff may save time, cut expenses, and increase employee satisfaction.

One of the key problems that startups and SMEs encounter is overlapping roles and department responsibilities. For instance, reserving travel for staff members would be within the purview of an HR employee, but managing travel cost reports might fall under the purview of a finance employee. This may cause misunderstandings, mistakes, and ultimately a bad travelling experience for the staff members.

This article aims to provide startups and SMEs with a step-by-step tutorial on how to create a travel management team from scratch. Businesses can define distinct roles and duties, reduce redundancy, and streamline their travel management procedures by adhering to the given suggestions. This post is a must-read for HR leaders and company owners looking to improve their corporate travel management practices and take charge of their travel management.

Define the purpose of the travel management team

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Identifying the team’s goal is the first step in creating a travel management team within your company. The mission of the team should be in line with the broader travel aims and objectives of the firm. Booking hotels and flights is only a portion of corporate travel management.

Managing travel costs, negotiating corporate travel contracts, and keeping an eye on policy adherence are some of the team’s primary responsibilities. The group may also be in charge of creating and deploying a travel management system that simplifies the procedure for booking and approving travel. You can make sure that your travel management team is on the same page as your company’s travel objectives and is successfully working to achieve them by establishing the team’s mission.

Get clear on core functions and job titles

The following stage is to determine the primary responsibilities and job titles for each team member after the team’s purpose has been established. The efficiency of a travel management system depends on the operators. Job titles could include travel manager, travel coordinator, and travel analyst, among others.

The team’s primary responsibilities may include handling travel reservations, negotiating business travel agreements, controlling travel spending, creating and enforcing travel rules, and making sure regulations are followed. Each team member’s job title should accurately represent their responsibilities and area of expertise since these duties are essential to a successful travel management system.

It’s crucial to understand that creating a travel management team doesn’t always need recruiting additional personnel. It can be important to assign current staff in small businesses the task of managing travel. In this situation, it’s critical to specify the extent of each person’s tasks and responsibilities to prevent duplication of effort or competing obligations.

Decide where the travel management team will sit on your organization chart

Choosing the location of the travel management team on your organisation chart is the next step. The travel management team typically reports to the head of a department, such as the finance or HR department. The travel management staff may, however, occasionally report directly to the CEO or another executive.

Some companies might feel more comfortable putting it under HR or Finance in the first stages and transitioning to a separate department later on.

It is critical to carefully analyse the team’s reporting structure since it will influence their ability to effectively manage travel. For instance, if the team reports to the finance division, they could have more access to information about travel costs and be better prepared to bargain for business travel agreements.

Set a timeline for building the travel management team

Hiring a single travel manager to manage all facets of your travel programme isn’t the best course of action.

This person should be knowledgeable about the various tools and techniques used in the sector and have expertise in managing corporate travel. You could also want to think about employing a travel coordinator or analyst to assist the travel manager, depending on the size of your business and travel programme.

Be realistic about how soon you can employ and onboard additional team members when establishing your timeframe. Finding the best people with the required expertise and experience is crucial for managing your travel programme successfully. The time it takes to fully assemble your travel management team will depend on how complicated your programme is.

In some circumstances, it can be able to use current HR or finance staff to assist with managing travel-related duties while you assemble your own specialised travel team. Yet, it’s crucial to make sure that throughout this phase of transformation, travel management is not disregarded or neglected.

As you organize departments, you might also want to think about partnering with a travel management business to assist manage your travel programme. These businesses can offer a variety of services, such as developing policies and keeping track of compliance, in addition, to travel arrangements and expenditure management.

Implement changes slowly

It’s crucial to go slowly and deliberately when making any changes in your company. This makes sure that everyone on the team is on the same page and that the system is ready for success. Create a plan outlining the adjustments you wish to make and the timeframe for doing so in order to achieve this.

Start by making a strategy that details the changes you want to make and the timetable for putting them into action if you want to do this.

Regular data collection and effectiveness testing of the travel management system is crucial throughout the deployment phase. In doing so, you’ll be able to see potential improvement areas and make sure the team is carrying out the travel-related goals and objectives of your business. 

Use a travel management provider to assist you to organise your travel procedures and improve the effectiveness of data collecting and analysis. Informing all parties involved of the modifications, including financial teams, HR executives, and people who go on a business trip is a further critical step.

This guarantees that everyone is knowledgeable about the functions, guidelines, and regulations of the new system. To assist everyone in understanding the changes and feeling comfortable using the new system, think about offering training sessions or materials.

Lastly, as the travel requirements of your business change, periodically assess and modify your travel management system. Increasing efficacy and efficiency can entail bringing on new team members, using cutting-edge technology, or updating rules and processes.

Collect data and evaluate

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Data collection may be used to spot patterns, trends, and potential areas for improvement in the travel process. For instance, keeping track of travel expenditures might assist find areas where money is being wasted or where cost-cutting measures should be put in place.

Monitoring compliance to travel regulations may assist make sure that all staff members are abiding by corporate policies and can help spot any possible problems that need to be fixed.

The travel management staff should incorporate data evaluation into their daily activities. To gauge how well the travel management system is working, key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics must be established. The frequency of travel-related events, the compliance rates with travel regulations, and cost savings through negotiated contracts are a few KPI examples.

The performance of the team should be regularly evaluated in order to find areas for improvement. For instance, the team may need to focus on enhancing communication and education on such policies if data reveals poor compliance rates with travel policies.

Make travel management easier with TruTrip

To simplify their corporate travel management process, SMBs and startups must first assemble a travel management team. You can make sure that your travel management system is successful and efficient by defining the team’s goal, establishing key duties and job titles, creating a timeframe, and making changes gradually.

Using technological solutions that might help you further streamline the process is crucial as you begin to assemble your travel management team. You can manage your travel programme with ease thanks to TruTrip, a complete travel management software. With TruTrip, you can automate trip reservations, keep track of expenditures, and guarantee adherence to travel regulations all in one location.

To discover more about how TruTrip can help you in creating a successful travel management system for your SME or startup, Book a demo or sign up for our free trial today!