5 New Challenges Travel Managers Must Be Ready For

Kiran Sidhu
Kiran Sidhu
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Change is inevitable, and there is hardly an industry left untouched by the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Business travel is resuming once again, but it isn’t the same as it was before. As businesses set their sights on growth post-pandemic, business travel will be important in establishing in-person connections, conveying commitment to clients and even keeping employees engaged.

But what changes do businesses undergo and how does this affect travel managers? Business owners and C-suite executives are making important decisions about company budgets, health risks and their ways of working to align with business goals. At the same time, HR and team managers have to solve for low employee morale, poor collaboration, happiness at work and the increased need for safety while on the job. 

With business travel back on the agenda, travel managers are suddenly faced with rising pressures from all aspects of the business and must be solution-ready. This is on top of increasing travel complexities and business traveller demands.

travel managers
Travel managers face rising pressure and must be solution-ready

For businesses, there is a lot to gain whole from travel managers overcoming the many new challenges thrown their way. What exactly are these new challenges that travel managers must prepare for? Here, we compiled five main challenges and give some tips on how travel managers can overcome them.

Challenge 1: The future of business meetings is changing

Virtual meetings have kept us connected for long enough but, for business travellers, nothing beats the ease and flow of in-person connections. However, with increasing travel risk and complexities, companies are more likely to assess each business trip for its necessity and value. How often will business travellers hop on a plan if there are quarantine measures to and multiple swab tests to think about?

Business travel will be prioritised for more critical reasons such as fulfilling contract commitments, site visits or repairing items of equipment. However, with an increasingly remote workforce, business travel will also present in-person bonding opportunities for colleagues and trips as job perks. There will also be an inevitable shift towards more hybrid meetings that bring together the best of both worlds – physical interaction among team members with virtual capabilities to connect to others.

For travel managers, these changes mean you need more creative and suitable travel options. As the travel industry adapts to these changes with more innovative offerings, travel managers too must rethink the best fit for their employees and new ways of working. 

Challenge 2: Budget & cost pressure from management

Businesses have had to make tough decisions when it comes to budgets, expenses and cost-cutting measures. Leaders are rethinking business travel post-pandemic and it is no surprise that travel programmes will bear the brunt of budget cuts. However, even with virtual meetings, business travel still remains key to relationship building domestically and internationally.

Non-essential travel will be put on hold for the time-being, but especially for companies dealing with equipment delivery, consultancy, maintenance and support and field engineering, travel is a core part of business. Travel managers may find themselves in a negotiating role for excess inventory and volume-based contracts. And as travel costs increase, travel managers need innovative ways to stretch budgets. 

The key is to push for business growth through travel while aligning to the financial capacity of the business. It is a unique role of supporting business travellers while maximising cost savings for the company. 

business traveller demands

Challenge 3: Changing demands from business travellers

Being able to manage travel via mobile devices is now an expectation for business travellers for more efficiency and ease when travelling. Ideally, savvy travellers want booking business travel to feel the same as booking on consumer platforms. This shift in behaviour to embrace digitalisation is beneficial for company and business traveller alike by streamlining the booking process. 

But in addition to technology expectations, there are also the more unpleasant issues for travel managers to solve. Business travellers can end up spending long durations in transit and away from loved ones. On top of that, the new travel complexities and health risks from Covid-19 only adds to the stress of travel. 

There are many reasons why business traveller well-being is important. Healthy happy employees bring your company the most value. As travel managers, it is important to understand business traveller needs, purpose and behaviour. By engaging with travellers through open communication channels, you’ll be better equipped to find a customised solution. 

Challenge 4: Low employee morale and poor collaboration

The pandemic has challenged the need for offices and business travel. Do we really need to meet in-person when technology allows us to connect virtually? However, working remotely in isolation for over a year can take its toll, and there have been reports of burnout and low employee morale

This may hardly seem like an issue for travel managers to solve. But considering the change in work dynamic and environment, business travel programmes can add real value. As travel picks up again and employees hit the road, travel managers can brainstorm ways to motivate employees and pay close attention to their needs. 

Your business travel policy is an effective way to communicate to your employees that they are taken care of. Moreover, empowering employees to book their own travel arrangements within the confines of the company travel policy can go a long way in establishing two-way trust and loyalty.

Challenge 5: Need for better duty of care and risk management

With the ever changing travel restrictions, ongoing COVID-19 conditions and the challenging entry requirements to many countries, there is the need to keep business travellers safe and to manage their travel risks. This story of how three travel managers guided their travellers through flight cancelations, curfews and border closures describes both the reality of today and new expectations of your role.

The pandemic, however, is apt timing for travel managers to rethink company travel policy and improve duty of care practices. Business travellers will need support to fully comply with travel rules and regulations. With changing travel requirements, there is also an increased need for flexibility in case of travel cancelations for whatever reason. 

travel managers

How can TruTrip help travel managers?

The right travel management solution can go a long way to address the new challenges of today. We’ve built TruTrip with the new travel landscape and modern business traveller in mind. If you’re keen to solve the challenges listed above, here is how TruTrip can support you:

  • The future of business meetings is changing

TruTrip has partnered with FlySpaces for flexible workplace solutions across Southeast Asia. For business travel abroad and long-stay accommodation needs, we have partnered Agoda and AltoVita. You are sure to find great options that fit your travellers’ needs and company budget. 

  • Budget & cost pressure from management

TruTrip’s inbuilt smart policy feature allows you to set travel budgets within the platform. You will also be able to set different rules across employee groups. Automating your travel policy means better compliance, cost savings and quicker travel approvals. 

  • Changing demands from business travellers

TruTrip is highly customisable based on the needs of your company and business travellers. Our digital platform is built with a traveller-first approach for easier one-stop bookings.

  • Low employee morale and poor collaboration

Your business travel programme can be a great way to offer incentives and support your employees. TruTrip’s focus on traveller safety with 24/7 support and up-to-date travel alerts gives employees the confidence that they are taken care of. Our one-stop shop also presents a variety of travel options to bring employees together and foster collaboration. 

  • Need for better duty of care and risk management

Our traveller dashboard for real-time monitoring, Covid Entry Check, TruFlex and 24/7 support are all dedicated to keeping travellers safe. 

Are you looking forward to business trips and in-person interactions once again? Book a demo with us or sign up for a free trial (no credit card required) to find out how TruTrip makes business travel better, easier and safer for your company.