Corporate travel management can be an entire department unto itself. The endless surge of tasks, from booking flights to arranging accommodations and overseeing the costs, can take up so many of your resources.
Fortunately, you can streamline your corporate travel booking process through automation. There are plenty of digital tools available to help you manage all related information and keep track of your employees’ itineraries.
Here are four ways you can maximise automation for your corporate travel booking process:
Create a Standard Booking Sheet
Make a standard booking sheet that contains the necessary information for corporate travel management. This includes personal data, like the employee’s legal name, contact numbers, address, and passport details.
You can fill in the sheet yourself to ensure the accuracy of your records. Alternatively, you can make your life easier by creating a form that employees can fill in.
Take note that the data should automatically be exported to your booking sheet. Google Forms is an ideal tool for this process because it automatically transfers the data from Forms to the sheets.
A standard booking sheet is crucial for corporate travel management. You can manage a large number of requests and track approvals as well as expenses with ease.
Consider an Automated Corporate Travel Booking Tool
Aside from a standard booking sheet, you can also invest in automated corporate travel booking tools. There are companies that serve as one-stop shops for corporate travel. With just one platform, you can check different airlines, hotels, and trains for the places you need to visit.
Notably, Airbnb has a corporate version of its consumer tool. Airbnb for Work offers the same seamless process for booking accommodation, with a few key differences.
First, bookings are linked to the company profile. This way, your finance team can get a copy of the details and invoice when your employees book a place, eliminating the need to pass information over manually.
Aside from overnight accommodation, you can also book spaces for meetings and conferences. There are temporary offices for rent as well in case you need to do a deep clean or major renovation on your current office.
Your finance team will thank you for investing in a centralised tool that automates the expense report process. Users can easily screenshot receipts for transportation and accommodation, which are automatically matched to your company card’s transactions.
Go Digital With Your Itinerary Files
Additionally, you should reduce paperwork by opting to go digital with your itinerary files. In this day and age, you no longer need to print out flight tickets and hotel bookings. You can just collate them into one document and give them to the travelling employee.
You can find plenty of templates online. The important thing is that you can easily edit and share them with your employees.
Ideally, this should contain everything your staff needs to get to their destination. It should also state the purpose of their travel.
The itinerary must have sections for the flight details, transportation, accommodation, and activities. It should provide information on the employee’s departing and arriving flights, including the dates, times, airport, airline, gate, and confirmation code.
For car rentals, you should include the company name, pick-up and drop-off dates and times, as well as pick-up and drop-off locations. In terms of accommodation, include the hotel name, address, room number, and check-in and check-out dates.
Lastly, make sure to include information on the business activities they should be attending. For instance, if the employee is joining a conference, include the dates, times, places, and activities where they should be present.
If you need to provide more itinerary files, it’s best to create a folder where you can share all the necessary information for business travel. It’s helpful for boosting transparency and accountability in the workplace.
Avoid the Pitfalls and Have Your Employees Book Their Own Travel
To reduce the burden for yourself or your admin and finance teams, you can have your employees book their own travel. This is ideal if your company constantly sends employees to different places for business.
Just make sure that you set clear business travel policies. Lay down your rules and procedures on how your employees can have their proposed itineraries approved.
It can benefit your employees by giving them flexibility and autonomy over their travel approach, even if it’s for business. On your end, you can promote a positive company culture without compromising your budget and limited resources.
Your business travel policy should have guidelines on lodging, travel and entertainment, and business class bookings. It should also include rules about business frequent flyer miles usage.
For lodging, you can set a maximum hotel star rating or room rate, which employees shouldn’t surpass. It’s also common for companies to limit rooms to standard types and restrict bookings for deluxe suites or higher.
Be clear on what you will and will not reimburse, whether it’s room and dry-cleaning services or the use of hotel amenities. Take note of seasonal fluctuations in accommodation prices as well.
State your rules for spending limits on meal expenses, especially when they’re using the company card to entertain clients. Provide clear instructions on where they should send original receipts and other documents to process reimbursements.
Right at the start, you should be clear on whether employees can or cannot book business class flights and if there are exceptions. Business-class bookings may be cheaper once you’ve considered baggage fees and in-flight meals in the calculation.
Lastly, you should include a section about business frequent flyer miles for personal use. Some businesses offer it as an additional perk for the employee and allow them to use it for personal travel. Others, though, clearly stipulate that the miles should be used to save money on future business flights.
Improve your company’s booking process in a few easy steps. Maximise standard booking sheets, digital itinerary files, and dedicated business travel apps to streamline the process.
Through corporate travel management tools, employees can also book on their own as long as you set clear policies and procedures.