Share post on

Business travel brings plenty of benefits but can be a challenge to organise and manage. There are flights to book, accommodations to arrange, and an infinite list of additional expenses, surprises, and duties to keep track of with employees going all over the world. However, companies have so much to gain through business travel by building strong partnerships, standing out from the competition, boosting the company’s exposure, and delivering top-notch service to clients.

Excellent business travel management is a real need to get the most out of your company travel programme. It helps you stay on top of business goals while taking care of employees on the road. If your company is rethinking business travel and looking for ways to improve travel management, this complete guide is the right place to start.

What is travel management exactly?

Travel management is a function that covers all aspects of business travel for companies including booking trips, duty of care, cost control, risk management, claims and reporting. Because travel fees and expenses can make up a large portion of a company’s annual budget, having a solid strategy in place is essential for keeping the bottom line healthy. Travel management services and policies go beyond booking business trips to ensure that employees’ needs are met and they are supported throughout their business trips.

Who handles travel management?

Business travel can be managed by external corporate travel firms, an in-house travel manager, or an office administrator. Without dedicated travel management, the role of organising, managing, monitoring, and calculating the expenses can fall onto employees on top of their regular job responsibilities.

Travel management is increasingly earning recognition as an important business function to improve the productivity of teams, meet business targets and properly solve unexpected issues. Moving away from micromanagement and improper delegation, companies are now opting to hire travel managers and use a travel management system.

Travel managers aid in the creation of a company’s travel policy, the management of travel plans, the selection of travel options, the organization and monitoring of travel expenses, and the safety of business travellers. A travel manager is also responsible for reviewing data after the trip and applying it to streamline and optimize future travel. They must have a diverse range of capabilities, including great communication and organizational abilities, as well as the ability to think strategically.

Travel management systems refer to all-in-one online platforms that offer extensive travel inventory, automated travel policy, risk management, expense reporting and continuous support for business travellers. Travel managers and travel management systems are not always mutually exclusive. Working together gives your employees a familiar point of contact internally and your company a modern way to manage business travel.

Internal Travel Management Services: Can It Be Done In-House?

When things are handled internally, employees are sometimes in charge of reserving their own hotels, restaurants, vehicle rental firms, and other things which can quickly get tedious especially when they travel frequently. They must maintain track of all receipts and expenses while travelling and subsequently submit them for reimbursement to the proper internal parties.

If your organisation opts to handle travel management internally, it should be decided which department and people will be in charge of policies, processes, bookings, and employee reimbursement. A travel management platform can empower employees to book easily while complying with company travel policy. Traveller safety and expense reporting also become hassle-free when business travel is consolidated on one platform.

External Travel Management Services

While it may make sense for a small, growing firm to manage travel internally at first, as the company grows, travel management can become too cumbersome to remain internal. External travel management services relieve employees of this burden, allowing them to focus on what they do best.

Travel management platforms work as new-age travel agents, getting you the best prices with airlines, hotel chains, car rental companies, and other businesses without lengthy negotiations. Dedicated concierge services also help employees with travel arrangements, hotel lounge access, vehicle service, and other services.

Who is travel management for?

Travel management is not reserved only for large companies and frequent travellers. Organisations of any size and individuals that travel for business, whether first-time or often, can benefit from travel management. Travel management systems are a smart way for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) with fewer employee headcounts to get the most out of their travel programme.

Signs That Your Travel Management Is Broken

How can you tell when your system has started to crumble? Or what are the signs that your travel management system and practices need to be completely overhauled or improved?

When your firm uses a method that just isn’t tailored to the company’s specific needs, what you get is either overly compensated results or little to no results at all. This leaves either business travellers or administrators or both not getting what they need to have productive business travels. These signs may include:

  • Booking travel necessitates lengthy email threads that may get in the way of regular everyday productivity and routines. The admin team is overworked and stressed from dealing with all travel preparations, booking requests, flight changes, and cancellations.
  • The finance department is overworked trying to figure out who is spending money on which trips and why.
  • No one reads the travel policy that the operations staff spent hours creating.
  • The finance department controls every trip booking in order to keep spending under control in the best manner they know how to.
  • Travellers do not have the same ability to choose the exact trip they desire as they would if they were booking their own flights.
  • Travellers frequently express dissatisfaction with the way they are forced to book travel, and they frequently insist on booking online, notwithstanding business policies.

Travel management platforms offer additional solutions that travel agents and online booking tools cannot such as:

  • Policy-regulated self-booking
  • Concierge booking
  • Booking for groups
  • Seeking travel support
  • Putting together travel spending reports
  • Creating travel policies and amending already-existing policies
  • Using tools to track budgets and spending

How Is Travel Management Today Different From Before?

Business travel has resumed, although it is not the same as it was previously. Post pandemic especially, business travel will be critical in building in-person contacts, showing commitment to clients, and even keeping workers motivated as organizations look to thrive post-pandemic. 

An all-encompassing travel management program aims to integrate and meet the needs of a variety of stakeholders. To match with corporate goals, business owners and C-suite executives are making critical decisions about company budgets, health risks, and working styles. At the same time, HR and team leaders must address low employee morale, poor teamwork, workplace enjoyment, and the growing requirement for safety while on the job.

It is more than just getting from place A to B. Modern travel management must keep up with the current needs of businesses and their travellers. These are three fundamentals that should be at the heart of your travel management solution:

  • Collaboration and Trust: Two-way clear communication between your travel management provider and travellers in your company is reassuring and elevates your travel experience. It’s important that travellers feel supported throughout their business trip. Technology can go a long way in giving you transparency when managing travel expenses, and combined with the human touch, you have a powerful travel solution at your fingertips. If you are new in a city and something unexpected happens, having access to a 24/7 support team can relieve an otherwise unpleasant experience. For travel managers, working together with your travel management provider ensures you have all the bases covered including the more critical needs such as traveller safety, expense management, delays and cancellations. 
  • Delivering Impact: Companies are rethinking their business travel programmes and prioritising business trips based on the value they bring in. Business travel is key for relationship building and can be a rewarding investment. The right travel management lets you build your business travel programme to align with your business goals, traveller needs, and company culture.
  • Accountability: Alongside managing travel expenditure, companies are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of business travel. Reducing the carbon impact is a commendable goal and when done right, can improve the financial bottom line. Cost control, sustainability and duty of care are matters that proper travel management help you do better. 

Newest trends in Travel Management

The Covid-19 pandemic compelled an unprecedented global experiment of innovative working habits. The world witnessed the confluence of rapid internet connectivity, high-quality cameras, and online collaboration tools. When the need arose, adjustments were made and work-from-anywhere is now widely accepted. This birthed new trends in travel management, changing nearly everything we know. The major trends include:

  • Unconventional lodgings are in demand.
  • Self-reservation is becoming more common
  • Business travel policies that are more flexible and open to changes
  • Corporate travel is still being revolutionized by technology.
  • Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and intelligent assistants are all on the rise.
  • Business travel and remote working are being offered as perks

Roles of The Travel Manager

Travel managers of today must be ready for a variety of challenges including the following responsibilities:

  1. Booking travelling schedules and other engagements
  2. Defining travel policies
  3. Employing technology and apps to make planning and management easier
  4. Negotiations – costs, services, and bonuses
  5. Risk management
  6. Ensuring safety
  7. Tracking cost and budgeting

How can technology improve business travel and travel management?

Time is money in the corporate world. Nothing, whether a 4-hour flight layover or a stroll to the hotel pool, can make time standstill. We can make the most of our time while travelling for work thanks to the power of technology.

To make every second count, there are hundreds of smartphone apps and cloud solutions accessible. These technological time-savers will not only help you beat the sinking sun, but they will also give you extra time to play with your hard-earned money.

Accommodations: Booking the right hotel or accommodation is much easier with extensive choice offered on travel management platforms. Travel managers or management companies can search for establishments that best align with the company with a single click and make price comparisons.

Automation: Time-consuming and tedious duties can leave employees feeling demotivated. They may skip steps, and break guidelines despite the best of intentions leaving your well-curated travel policy as a distant memory. Automation reduces the workload of manual repetitive tasks. You can incorporate your travel policy into a travel management system, which eliminates the need for anybody to remember it or ask questions. They simply follow the procedure from beginning to end, doing what is needed of them.

Staying connected: Business travel one-ups video calls in creating more authentic and meaningful connections over time. Travel management technology can take away the hassle of researching travel requirements and risk information about a destination, and give travellers all the support they need. You’ll have a more motivated and dynamic workforce in no time.

Risk management: Having the right information at the right time is critical to react to circumstances in a timely manner. Whether these risks are virus outbreaks, political unrest or natural disasters, knowing about them ahead of time helps precautions or actions to be taken. 

Safety: Traveller safety is an important aspect of the company travel policy and communicates to employees how they are protected. Real-time tracking and risk alerts keep travellers safe and help companies fulfil duty of care.

What are the benefits of improving travel management?

1)      Managing crises and challenges through 24/7 support

2)      Travel flexibility – travelling is more open to changes that may occur

3)      Increased compliance to travel policy by automating

4)      More efficiency and productivity. More time for employees to focus on business goals

5)      A vast travel inventory gives you more to choose from within your requirements and price range

6)      Generating savings and return on investment

How To Improve Travel Management

No matter where your company’s travel management is at the moment, there will almost always be something to fix or improve. Although it may not be pressing enough to take urgent action, it is important to be in the know and make improvements with time. Here are ways to improve your business travel management.

1. Assessing your current travel needs & identifying the gaps

The best way to know if you have problems with your travel management is to actually take the time to assess it. Talk to your employees and ask them about their needs. Are transit times getting in the way of work productivity? Incorporating lounge access within your travel policy may help. Do travellers know what to do if they fall sick on a business trip or lose their travel documents? Ensure that your duty of care is well-communicated. Note the issues you identify and begin to work towards scanning for solutions.

2. Scanning for potential solutions

The key to improvement is finding and implementing the right solutions. Scan for all the solutions present, including hiring dedicated managers, going external to find agencies to do the job, opting for finding websites or adopting a travel management software.

3. Knowing which solution is best for you

After identifying the problem and possible solutions, it’s time to choose which solution would be best to address the specific problems and types of business travel to be explored. Weigh the benefits and costs of each and match them against your goals. These are the various solutions and what advantages and disadvantages they may pose.

In-house:

Pros:

●        Working with a trustworthy employee who has been chosen and thus fits the profile

●        Having an employee who already understands how the company operates

●        Saving cost on hiring external parties

●        Maintaining staff size

●        Having someone really available

Cons:

●        Overworking employees who already have jobs outside of travel management

●        Sacrificing expertise and niche-specificity for reduced cost and staff size

Travel Agencies:

Pros:

●        The company gets all travel services in one place

●        Optional expertise in the field

●        All costs are explicit

●        Pattern recording and process tracking is more thorough

●        Management is done more meticulously

Cons:

●        May cost more

●        Availability at all times is not guaranteed

Consumer Websites:

Pros:

●        Increased exposure and reach

●        Automated bookings

●        Quicker payment methods

●        Getting insights into business processes

Cons:

●        Accessibility is not always guaranteed

●        Susceptible to human error

Travel Management Software:

Pros:

●        Automated bookings and other processes

●        Easy tracking and budgeting – cost, itineraries, tasks

●        Saves time

●        Manages overall database

●        Follow-up management

Cons:

●        May take the team some transition time and getting used to

●        Specific problems may need custom solutions

4. Making your plan

After you find the problem, survey solutions and select the one best suited for the management, it is time to put things in place. Return to the root and start drawing up plans that are best designed to produce seamless, safe, and easy corporate travels.

5. Aligning the organization 

Make sure that all employees are on the same page with the plans and the changes you are about to implement. This may take top-down meetings and sessions with clear lines of communication. Keep communication two-way and open for employees to raise any questions or concerns. Take these into consideration and address key concerns before moving forward.

6. Implementing the change

Clear communication is key for any implementation to be successful. For your new travel management system to be accepted, employees must first be aware of it and how it works. Organise demos and ensure process are well-documented for employees to access at any time. Set a launch date and support them through the transitional phase of the new system. Keep them up to speed and ensure that they understand how things work even as they evolve.

7. Monitoring the impact and adjusting

After implementation, it’s time to see if your travel management processes work. This is the stage where you closely monitor and listen to your employees on where adjustments need to be made. This is also the stage where you work closely with your solution provider to ensure that everything is in order and issues can be smoothly rectified if any. 

What To Do When Things Go Wrong

It’s safe to assume that things won’t always go the way you need them to. As such, creating contingency plans and backup plans is a vital allergy of business travel management. In fact, it’s safe to assume that something will not work out the way you have planned. While you cannot always predict what it is, you can prepare for it in the event that anything happens.

Travel issues

These include cancelled flights, expenses and keeping track of them, rigid schedules, and lots more. No matter what’s going on in the world of corporate travel, cutting down on expenses and making wise use of resources available is always a challenge for corporate travel management professionals.

Stay on top of the situation with backup, plug and play software, tracking expenses, securing the best payment options, prioritizing traveller wellness, and getting the best inventory. Discover various compensation or reimbursement systems in the event of cancelled flights, trips, or items on the itinerary.

Develop the right corporate travel booking tool and policy that makes compliance easy for your travellers, helps you secure special rates with vendors that the company can trust, and provides data and transparency to make sound decisions.

Policy & Process issues

Sometimes, some prices, plans, and changes travel managers put in place just don’t work. What then do you do when this happens and threatens the very structure of an intricately built system? Well, first identify where the proverbial chink in the armour has come from. Return to the drawing board and find out why it happened, when it happened, the oversight that allowed it to happen, and then begin to devise a means to address the issue. Policy and process issues could range from misalignment with company guidelines to travellers themselves not following policy. See if you need to better communicate policy and process, or update it based on evolving needs.

Technology issues

Travel management technology is constantly evolving, and it’s a good idea to invest in some of these advances to make your job easier. If you haven’t looked into how your travel program takes advantage of the most up-to-date technology, now is a fantastic moment to do so. Weighing your options for a tech-savvy travel madness personal or company is a good place to start.

As you seek out and investigate your options, keep in mind that you’ll need to engage with a firm that can design corporate travel solutions to your specific requirements while also promising a high level of flexibility and customisation. This is especially vital if you wish to use third-party software, which delivers more insightful data, automates some procedures, and allows for significant cost savings.

When technology fails either via faulty gadgets, crashed said, freaked systems, or buggy programs, it is a travel manager’s duty to stay on top of the situation. Ensure that you always have backup systems set to swoop in and save the day.

Awareness & Understanding

An important aspect of damage control is keeping travellers in the know. They need to be aware of what’s going on, and made to understand why it’s going on, and how travel managers are working to fix it. Communication will always best radio silence or unclear explanations of the situation. Establish clear lines of communication for employees to raise questions when needed and keep up good response times.

Full travel management in easy reach 

Proper travel management can significantly help your company reach new heights and break new records. Keep your team productive with full suite travel management for better cost control, easier bookings, travel safety and flexibility. Book a demo or sign up for a free trial to see how TruTrip can improve your business travel programme.

You also may like