Travel management is more than just booking flights, cars and accommodation, then saying goodbye at the departure gate…not that Travel Managers ever accompany you to the departure gate!
Travel Managers also organise travel partnerships with hotels, airlines, car hire companies and other relevant services; create and update the travel policy; ensure employees are safe while on the road; plan meetings and schedules; ensure the travel experience is as productive and valuable as possible; and make sure staff adhere to the travel policy among other tasks. It’s a big job that requires a combination of expert training, attention to detail and people management skills.
Experience in this field, as in any area of most professions, will develop certain tricks of the trade that can be applied to the travel planning process. If you’re scheduling your own travel plans, here are 12 travel management tips you should know to ensure your trips runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Book early
Some business trips come up at the last minute, so it’s not always possible to book early. However, the earlier you book, the cheaper the costs will be and the more choice you will have.
2. Review the travel policy
Spend 15 minutes and read the travel policy. You’ll get a thorough understanding of the businesses expectations, and if you think it needs updating, let the Travel Manager know.
3. Plan your trip thoroughly
Once you’ve booked flights, accommodation, cars and other services, any changes can be expensive. Take the time to plan what you need before launching into the booking phase.
4. Make the most of your time
If you’re travelling and you’ve only got one meeting, try and incorporate other business related activities into your trip. Can you see other clients? Can you visit potential new clients? Can you add another leg onto the journey to get more business done?
5. Use an online travel management tool
Online travel management tools can save time and money for businesses and employees alike. It ensures preferred suppliers are used, approvals are given where necessary, communication is streamlined, expenses are captured, and reports are easily created. It’s the easiest way to ensure travel policy compliance.
6. Ask the Travel Manager for some travel perks
Airlines, hotels, car hire companies and other travel service providers often give companies perks to become their preferred supplier. These include frequent flyer miles and free hotel stays, so if you travel a lot for your company, ask the Travel Manager if they can give you some as a bonus for your next holiday.
7. Sign up for loyalty programs
You’d be amazed at the potential perks you could enjoy just by signing up to hotel, airline and other loyalty programs. You don’t really have to do anything, but when you ask for an upgrade at the check-in desk, being a member might just get you a positive response. Other possible benefits could include free breakfasts, late checkouts, and a bottle of wine waiting for you on your bed when you arrive!
8. Be prepared
Make sure your phone has every phone number you could possibly need while on the road. Need to contact someone at the office straight away? Make sure you’ve got their number. Need to find the car service you’ve booked because they’re MIA? Make sure you’ve got their number. Need the hotel to do something for you at short notice? Make sure you’ve got their number. You get the drift…
9. Download apps from the airline you’re flying with
Before you leave the hotel, check the airline app to see if your flight has been delayed or the boarding gate has changed. Better to be stuck in your hotel room for a few hours than at the airport.
10. Leave a detailed schedule with people who matter
This rule applies for any travelling you do. To ensure family and colleagues know where you should be at all times, leave a detailed schedule with them. That way if anything goes wrong they can contact you immediately.
11. Check your travel insurance
You should never travel without insurance because anything can happen. You might get sick, luggage might get lost, or any one of thousands of other things might happen that could end up costing a lot of money. Check your travel insurance policy and make sure you’re covered for where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.
12. Prepare to minimise jet lag
Business trips are usually on a tight schedule, so the last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination unable to do your work because you’ve got a bad case of jet lag. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and coffee, and get enough sleep on your flight so you’re fresh when you land. This could be one of those times when spending a little extra on a business class seat will be more than made up for in greater productivity.