Are you looking for ways to align your company’s travel management process with the pandemic situation?
Are you sick and tired of nonstop calls from travellers regarding fund freezes?
Do you spend countless hours during month-end consolidating corporate travel expenses?
As the requirements of modern travellers change, so should your policies. This guide will help you upgrade your travel management efforts to address the ever-changing needs of your employees.
Chapter 1: What Is Travel Management?
“Each business trip is an opportunity to gain cultural intelligence, break out of your comfort zone, and nurture relationships within your business ecosystem.” - Teresa Correa, Professor, Portales University
Business travel refers to journeys employees and entrepreneurs take for work purposes. Unlike other travel types, they don’t include daily commutes, leisure trips, and holidays. Executive travel often involves at least one of the activities below.
Grow Your Network
Despite the rise of remote and hybrid workplaces, going face-to-face is still the best way to meet potential and existing clients. No amount of Zoom videos, emails, and phone calls can prove your sincerity as much as personal meetings can.
If you have the budget to deliver samples personally, we recommend doing it. Explaining your products or services in person helps prospects appreciate your offer more.
Check Various Locations
Executives that oversee people from various locations need to travel occasionally to understand the background and culture in different offices. Also, corporate travel is essential in checking out assets for an acquisition. Assessing these conditions through a flat screen would be a challenge.
Close Massive Deals
Six or seven-digit deals deserve personal visits. Apart from adding a personal touch to the transaction, research suggests potential customers are more likely to sign a contract in a physical meeting than a virtual one.
Some companies offer travel incentives to motivate employees to perform well. Organisations use various incentive types, from international travel to team-building weekends to company retreats.
Business Travel Statistics
Given the beneficial nature of corporate travel, many organisations of varying sizes and industries include it in their annual budget. Let’s look at some statistics that prove how massive this industry is.
- Before the pandemic, 1.3 million people travelled around the U.S. daily for work purposes.
- Almost 20% of all trips worldwide fall under the business category.
- Americans go on over 400 million long-distance corporate travels every year.
- A whopping 40% of business travellers extend their trips for leisure purposes.
- Along with Geneva, Zurich, and Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York have joined the recent top 10 list of the most expensive cities for corporate travel.
- Business travel is on the rise, but only 60% of companies attempt travel management practices.
The Four Pillars of Modern Travel Management
Corporate travel management is the process of managing a company’s approach to travel, including vendor negotiation, employee safety, credit card management, and other similar activities. Without it, companies would find it challenging to track expenses and success metrics.
Below are the four pillars of modern travel management:
The most pressing concern for companies regarding business trips is to manage spending. Decision-makers often use two strategies to address this challenge: Spend less on such expenses or aim for a higher return on investment (ROI). Ultimately, the goal is to cut unnecessary spending without compromising employee productivity or safety.
Corporate travel is one of the most challenging business aspects to justify to a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). For these investments to work, travel managers should work closely with CFOs to follow internal policies and achieve long-term benefits. Companies should find ways to approve or reject proposals based on data and not baseless hunches.
Surveys suggest that employee overspending could eat up anywhere between 20 – 33% of an organisation’s travel and expense budget. For this reason, business travellers should coordinate with travel managers about developing strategic practices. Together, they can decide which expenses the company can sacrifice and which ones need more budget.
Corporate culture plays a crucial role in travel management success. If the members of your organisation work together to achieve continuous improvement, policy changes shouldn’t be too difficult. Innovative firms understand that they sometimes have to prioritise culture over cost control to achieve the best ROI.
Chapter 2: Common Travel Management Challenges and Solutions
“The only thing I hated about the agency business was a lot of business travel. It was the only part of my job that I did not like. I found it very tedious and wearing.” - Donny Deutsch, TV Personality and Chairman Emeritus, Deutsch Inc.
Travel management makes business travel more enjoyable for employees and managers alike. Without effective policies, every part of these trips will feel like a chore. For instance, endless email threads on every flight change, budget request, and itineraries will leave everybody involved feeling drained even before the trip.
Let’s look at some common travel management challenges and solutions. These should help companies address specific concerns.
Challenge 1: Balance Spending with Traveller Welfare
The goal of every travel program should be to minimize spending without compromising traveller employee wellbeing. However, finding the balance between the two components is challenging. While you can save massive amounts by making travellers stay in run-down motels, doing so will affect their productivity and willingness to travel in the future. On the other hand, flying whole departments first-class will impact your budget.
Have your departments work together to upgrade your travel management policies. Discuss travel frequency, spending caps, and targets. Also, determine when you would allow first-class flights and hotels. When you involve teams in the planning process, you will gain a better insight into their non-negotiables and travel preferences.
Challenge 2: Boost Hotel Compliance
Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses companies spend on business trips. However, because of varying preferences, employees sometimes prefer booking their hotels privately instead of going through authorised platforms. So, what should you do if travellers insist on finding separate accommodation during official business trips?
When you finish upgrading your policy, share it with everyone in the company. Sometimes, travellers don’t follow the rules simply because they have no clue what they are. Explain the benefits of booking accommodation through an approved platform, and discuss the repercussions of overspending on unnecessarily lavish hotels.
Challenge 3: Oversee Non-Employee Spending
Sometimes, you have to invest in non-employee travel, including contractors, evaluators, interns, and more. Often, such trips lead to questions about cost allocations, reimbursements, and corporate cards. While you can’t provide them with all the perks of an employee, we recommend treating them as such while their travels benefit your business.
Give non-employees the same respect and care that you would your employees. Remember that it’s your responsibility to provide them with adequate insurance, track them during emergencies, and make sure they are comfortable throughout the trip. You can provide them with the same travel benefits as entry-level employees if your policies allow it.
Challenge 4: Manage Bleisure Travels
Bleisure travel refers to mixing business trips with leisure time. It’s a growing trend in the modern workplace, especially for millennials. After all, they could spend massive amounts on airfare by taking some time off after work-related travels. While allowing such activities will keep employees happy, they come with potential safety risks and added costs.
If you allow bleisure travel, make sure to book flights and hotels using the same platforms as your company does. Doing so lets you keep track of where employees are — not to spy on them, but to know they’re safe even outside official business hours. In your policy, include provisions for travel insurance and bringing spouses and other family members along to trips.
Challenge 5: Find the Balance Between International and Local Trips
One challenge for companies that run multinational travel programs is determining when to obey global rules and allow local exceptions. For instance, following a U.S. spending cap might not suffice for cities like Tel Aviv, Paris, and Singapore. What can businesses do during such scenarios?
We recommend creating a separate rule book for international travel. It’s essential for employees to feel empowered no matter where they are in the world. However, there’s no need to spend so much time on creating policies for areas your departments won’t frequent. If you have a one-off trip to Tanzania and employees are asking for special hotel considerations, let them.
Chapter 3: Travel Management Mistakes To Avoid
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” - John Steinbeck, American Author and 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature Winner
Like the quote says, you and your teams will experience many unforeseen challenges during business trips. However, you can avoid some common travel management mistakes to ensure flawless future travels. Read on to discover some of them.
Mistake 1: Key In Wrong Information
Incorrect booking information is one of the most common travel management errors, but it's also easy to avoid. With various details like personal information, location, times, and routing, it’s difficult for people in charge to keep track of all the data. When in doubt, triple-check the particulars with the parties involved. Doing so will help you prevent messing up entire schedules because of one wrong detail.
Mistake 2: Book Accommodations Last-Minute
If you can help it, avoid booking hotels at the last minute because you can’t control the availability. Ideally, your employees should stay in one place for easier movement tracking. Booking too late might cause difficulties finding hotels with the amenities you need. Such scenarios will lead to higher booking fees, extra-long commutes, or dividing your employees across various locations.
Mistake 3: Spending Above Budget
When employees don’t know their limits, they might end up spending more than the company policy allows. In such cases, it would be unwise to reimburse them for the difference between their spending and budget. To prevent such errors, communicate your policies to all travellers. Doing so helps encourage smoother transactions between departments.
Mistake 4: Ignoring Little Expenses
Corporate travel is full of little expenses like exchange fees, snacks, and parking tickets. At first, it’s easy to approve all such costs because they won’t impact your budget much. However, they can add up to massive amounts over time. If you want your travel management efforts to yield desired results, account for every single dollar your teams spend.
Mistake 5: Not Considering Vehicle Problems
Vehicle breakdowns are one of the things individuals don’t consider when travelling. However, it’s essential to account for such incidents because they can cause safety concerns and schedule delays. The best way to deal with such problems is to work with reputable suppliers who provide maintenance services.
Mistake 6: Not Taking Travel Management Seriously
Once in a while, travellers will encounter scenarios not covered in your company policies. However, it’s best to standardise corporate travel to ensure efficiency. When you have a smooth travel management process, you save money and ensure employee safety and comfort.
Chapter 4: The Shift to Modern Travel Management
“Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.” - Alain de Botton, British Philosopher and Author
For us, this quote from Alain de Botton talks about understanding traveller needs. In this modern day and age, personalisation can transform any travel management program. Read on to discover ways to transform your efforts to address the needs of the modern traveller.
1. Use Game-Changing Technology
Corporations now use various technologies to address different business requirements, and travel management shouldn’t be different. In today’s fast-paced work environment, people will not put up with slow, manual systems. Achieving industry leader status involves working with reliable technology.
Below are some of the functions you should look for in travel management software:
- Automate approvals. Once you have a clear travel policy, you should set the rules for the approval process and leave everything else to technology. With the right tools on your side, you can let employees book for themselves while staying within company regulations.
- Provide more options. The ideal software should grant you access to all the flight, hotel, and ground transport solutions you need and let you negotiate rates from preferred suppliers. After all, booking a business trip shouldn’t be that different from planning a holiday.
- See figures immediately. The right tools should help you make sense of available data. Next-level dashboards can help you find the patterns necessary to make better business decisions confidently.
- Keep travellers safe. Travel management tools should help you track employees and monitor potential disruptions. Find a technology partner that will alert you of any travel risks, updates, and changes.
- Organise travel spend data. Travel management software isn’t solely for the admin team; the finance and operations departments should use it too. When you have accurate and insightful data on spending, you can sort expenses and find ways to minimise costs.
2. Ensure 24/7/365 Support
No matter where you are in the globe, or what time it is, your travel management partner should offer a system for cancelling, rebooking, and changing travel plans.
Since you can’t answer all your employees’ questions throughout the day, it’s essential to choose services that offer 24/7/365 support. This feature allows your officemates to handle cancellations, changes, and other such requests on their own.
Without assistance, travellers can get stuck waiting for solutions, potentially causing businesses time and monetary losses. Whole-day support can be the game-changer you need to elevate your travel management program.
3. Collect Data
Personalization is the secret ingredient that keeps travellers happy. To address their distinct needs, use available data to find patterns and develop custom corporate travel strategies.
With a modern solution, you can track travel frequency, spending, or satisfaction on a granular level. You can break information down by location, date, or team.
Additionally, reporting tools can help you present information to decision-makers and identify areas of improvement in your program.
4. Practice Transparency
A simple mindset shift in your office can do wonders for your travel management programs. For example, you can set travel management goals and make the time to educate employees about travel policies and mitigating risks on the road.
Help individuals update travel profiles, contact details, and next-of-kin information. It’s also best to explain to travellers how you will track them and bring them home safely if necessary.
The modern workplace requires trust, communication, and accurate information sharing. Through transparent practices, you can boost engagement, encourage teamwork, and minimise friction in any work setting.
5. Provide Custom Solutions to Various Problems
There’s no place in the modern workplace for one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t address anything. Instead, we recommend providing teams with personalised answers to their concerns.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we travel. We’ve witnessed countless travel changes, from contactless check-ins to virus screening to biometrics.
Additionally, various states and countries follow different protocols. When choosing the ideal travel management solutions, look for one that will help you adapt to changes quickly.
Chapter 5: Oversee Business Travel With Locomote
“Absolute time saver! Locomote is definitely an absolute time saver when it comes to arranging and rescheduling travel.” - Taylah Alexander, Operations Coordinator, All West
Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far. Business travel is an essential part of operations for many businesses. Whether you want to close massive deals, grow your network, or send samples, these trips will improve your chances of success.
Despite business travel growing in popularity, only 60% of organisations have beefed up their travel management practices. We hope you’re part of the majority because travel management has many benefits, including cost control, communications, collaboration, and company culture.
If you learn to overcome common travel management challenges and mistakes, you can use the power of technology to take your company to new heights. It’s time to use Locomote to elevate your travel management efforts.
Manage Your Travel Program
- Unmatched transparency and cost control
- View, track, and manage your employees from anywhere in the world
- Customisable workflows to address varying requirements
Gain Access to the Best Suppliers
- Edit bookings within seconds
- Personalised travel suggestions for different preferences
- Book your dream corporate travel from virtually any device
Improve Tracking Capabilities
- Predictive reporting based on existing situations
- Apply unused tickets when booking trips
- Receive one in-depth invoice for all bookings
- Manage travel spend in real-time
Groundbreaking Safety Tools
- Local and international safety alerts
- Access to current COVID-19 information
- Traveller tracking and monitoring capabilities
Locomote enables businesses to manage all the aspects of a travel management program — in one easy to use platform. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you transform your corporate travel practices.