Travel managers and decision makers in organizations often come across this question of investing in travel management – be it in setting processes, buying technology or other tools. People are often unaware of the many benefits in getting their business travel procurement more organized and manageable. A well formed travel management framework is sure to bring great savings while making the trip booking and communication processes easier for everyone involved.
From having your organization’s corporate travel policy to investing in tools that helps ensure better compliance, investment in travel management can come in many forms. A balanced and well thought out investment plan will help ensure that you get the best returns from it. Let’s start with understanding the top five components of what makes a great travel management possible.
1. Company Travel Policy
Having a well defined company travel policy in place is perhaps the best. A good policy sets the right trend for the travel and entertainment (T&E) culture in the organization. It helps employees understand the ‘why’ of your business travel and goes on to lay down ‘how’ it should be done and ‘what’ can be expected. For more tips on how to create a travel policy that works, you can check out our white paper by the same title here. You could also hire travel management consultants to help with this. Their experience and expertise could bring different views and solutions to the table.
2. Education and implementation
Having a detailed company travel policy is great, but getting it to work is the bigger challenge. The first and perhaps the most important step to that is to get everyone on the same page. That’s where defining the procedures and educating the employees come in. Once a new travel and expenses policy is in place, merely sending a copy and inviting the employees to read it doesn’t help much. Here are some tips from our many interactions with experienced travel and procurement managers:
- Hold department-wise explanation sessions to help employees understand the company travel policy. Include a FAQ session as well to address and concerns. Be open to feedback in these sessions.
- Conduct separate sessions for frequent travelers (like sales staff who travel at least twice a month).
- Senior managers and line managers in charge of trip approvals also require separate session to understand the importance of travel policy compliance and how it can affect the travel budgets.
- Share the travel policy with the employees along with a summary and quick infographic explaining the major points.
- For departments with more members, you could also customize this summary to highlight points that affect them.
- Make these and any travel guides easily accessible to people by including them in your intranet, slack or other internal sharing platforms.
3. Reports and Analytics
Having access to reports and analytics are crucial for decision makers, especially for travel managers and finance head. It’s always recommended that you invest in technologies that enable this. Accounting systems often give these, but the data included are limited. The more data you have in there, the better the analytics and the more you are able to understand the trends. Another important thing to consider is the dependency on travel agents to get the reports on monthly or quarterly basis. Real-time reports take this to an entirely different level. Having the most up-to-date data at your fingertips allows for better control. They also enable you to make corrective measures early on compared to old ‘dead’ data that merely tells to what happened.
4. Travel Team
If you have a large workforce and frequent one-off trips, it would be good to invest in hiring talents in travel management. A proactive travel team can ensure better implementation of travel policies and procedures. Many mid to large firms hire experienced travel consultants and tap into their experiences to manage suppliers and find ways to reduce costs. They also bring with them their knowledge of countries, cultures and travel formalities such as visa requirements, customs, etc. that they can then help their colleagues with.
However, they very often get stuck with countless email and calls and all the clutter in communications. They struggle to stay organized. Investing in tools that help the travel team stay streamlined and organized is just as important. Good tools can help them stay more productive and handle more stuff with less hassles. Investments in right tools can significantly reduce the investment needed in talents which if often more expensive.
5. Travel Technology
From online booking tools (OBTs) offered by various travel agents and even suppliers like airlines, to travel expense reporting softwares offered by fin-tech companies there is a broad range of technology on offer. While checking out a software or tool, perhaps the most important thing to consider is how it can work in line with your business demands and policy requirements. How easy is it for people to adapt to it and adopt it.
Technology spend is a critical part of doing business these days, however you should be careful not to spend too much on it but don’t fall far behind either that you end up loosing out on the benefits of new hardware, software, or delivery platforms like SaaS. Compared to talent acquisition or process management, an investment in technology has a very different profile. The initial costs may be high but decline significantly over the months.
Before you start it’s recommended that you assess the level of investment that you are able to undertake and create a list of goals that you can track. Having these in place will help you in deciding where and when to make the investments. They also help weight the various options in people, processes and technology that are available and what outcomes can be expected.
BizTripz helps you achieve all these and more. As a travel management system that is exclusively built for the corporates, it lets you simplify the entire process of procuring and managing travel while helping you reduce the costs and stay in control. Like to know more about us and how BizTripz can help you? Let’s Talk.
Biz Trips are now picking up. It will be useful for travel managers.