No two approaches to corporate travel management are the same. You may be a startup business just finding its business travel bearings, with limited budget and limited technology. Or you may be a multi-national powerhouse with complex cost control requirements, duty of care obligations and rigorous travel policy analysis.
However, whatever the size of your business or the complexity of your travel policies, there are a few uniting principles that ring true for every business travel program.
Below we list the 4 Cs of corporate travel management, and outline how businesses should focus on them to get more out of their travel programs.
Almost everything in business boils down to the bottom line, and business travel is no different. So for corporate travel managers, the mission is often twofold:
a) Spend less on business travel
b) Get more ROI from business travel
How this is achieved is unique to every business and their travel requirements. If you’re a small business only travelling domestically, the solution may be leveraging an effective booking platform to secure the best rates. If you’re a bigger company, financial efficiencies may lie in making broader expense management improvements.
According to a study published by the Academy of Management, corporate travel budgets are often the first target for cost cutting measures. So it’s up to travel managers to locate savings where they can to keep the travel miles ticking over. After all, halting corporate travel altogether can cause a 17% drop in profits within the first year.
The involvement of your CFO in your business travel program will depend on your business structure. For the sake of this example, let’s say you employ a travel manager who reports to the CFO on travel policy performance.
As mentioned above, corporate travel budgets can be an easy target for cost cutting measures when company purses become light. CFOs may say to the travel manager “Let’s cut our quarterly travel spend by X”, without a comprehensive understanding of where the travel spend is allocated, and why.
CFOs who are serious about improving their travel program need to get their hands dirty in understanding the technicalities of a travel policy.
Requesting broad cost cuts without granular knowledge of travel policies isn’t a strategic approach. Furthermore, a study by McKinsey & Company found that it’s critical for senior management to lead by example in imposing cost cuts.
“The support of top executives is necessary for cost-management efforts to succeed. If a company announces a new travel policy, senior managers need to set the tone with their own actions,” it reads.
Corporate travel management relies on collaboration. Just like CFOs need to collaborate with travel managers to make strategic policy improvements, individual travellers need to collaborate with travel managers to drive effective change.
We know that employee overspending can constitute as much as a third of a business’ travel and expense budget, but without understanding why travellers are overspending, expense management change can be difficult to implement.
Returning travellers can be a great source of insight into the practical application of travel policies. Further, they can also drive innovation and inspire their colleagues. As such, businesses who promote collaboration between senior management, travel managers and returning travellers can put their policies under the microscope.
A business’ corporate travel culture can be its most powerful asset in making policy improvements. First and foremost, every business needs a culture of continuous improvement in order to hone in on inefficiencies, identify solutions and implement them successfully.
Second, businesses should promote a positive corporate travel culture for their employees. By using an effective corporate travel management platform, businesses can empower their employees with personalised travel experiences. Promoting bleisure travel, for example, can alleviate some of the stresses associated with international travel. 78% of travellers agree that adding leisure days to their business trip enriches their work assignments.
Businesses who understand these benefits know that placing culture over cost is sometimes necessary. However, this is only sustainable with an effective management platform with detailed analysis into policy performance.
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