If your organization isn’t quite large enough for managed travel yet (or if that’s just not a priority investment for executives at the moment), you may find yourself instructed to simply manage travel yourself.
If that’s your case, here’s what you’ll need to ensure the best travel experience possible for both yourself and your team.
1. A Travel Policy
If you’re a travel arranger putting together a travel plan for a group, a travel policy is key to success. Even if, up until this point, travelers have been booking travel on an individual level, you still likely had some loose guidelines and rules about how the booking and traveling process is intended to work. Now’s the time to solidify those guidelines and rules.
Discuss your group’s travel habits with both decision-makers and travelers. Learn what policies would be most beneficial to both the company overall, as well as travelers. Then, create a series of travel booking and traveling guidelines around those needs.
Many of the below additional “needs” for managing travel yourself would typically fall under a company’s travel policy.
2. A Preferred Booking Platform
It can be difficult to compile necessary travel data for your travelers if everyone’s booking travel in different ways.
If at all possible, decide on a preferred booking platform (like JTBMarketPlace.com). Then ask travelers to book through your chosen platform exclusively. This will help streamline record-keeping while also negating the need for travelers to bounce around from platform to platform, shopping for the best deals or their preferred options.
3. Travel Partnerships
If your firm or organization books a large amount of travel, you may be able to form travel partnerships with brands that are heavily concentrated in the areas where your company travels most frequently. These partnerships can result in lower booking fees for your travelers and sometimes even extra amenities for those travelers (such as free WiFi during their hotel stays).
Of course, these partnerships do come with conditions. Sometimes, for example, you’ll need to commit to booking a certain number of rooms per year. This ensures the travel brand will still benefit, even though they’re giving your organization lower costs than you might be able to book otherwise.
4. A Budgeting Tool
When you manage travel yourself, a lot of work goes into budgeting. Not only do you have to ensure that travelers don’t exceed their travel budgets, but you also have to track individual spending and itemized costs. You’ll find a range of budgeting tools available to you and your team, both online and via apps, and often for a minimal fee. Popular options include Wanderlog, Tripcoin and Trip Expense Manager.
Once you’re able to glean data from your budgeting tool, you can gain greater insight into where your travel budget is going and then make decisions accordingly. For example, is the company spending an exorbitant amount on flight upgrades or excess luggage? Or dinners out with clients in foreign locales? It might be time to see how you can cut back on such expenses.
5. Company Cards
It might seem inconsequential, but the difference between having and not having a company card can mean major headaches (or a lack thereof) for traveling employees and those who are managing that travel.
Company cards reduce the need for claiming reimbursements and expense reports, which can be a pain for both travel arrangers and employees. Company cards streamline the entire traveling process for less work, paperwork or otherwise.
6. An Itinerary Builder
Building out an itinerary for every single trip that your company takes (or that even you alone take) can be a time-consuming task.
You can remove this task from your plate when you enlist the help of an itinerary-building app or service, like TripIt by Concur, or a similar AI-powered tool. These tools can scrape your documentation or communication for information regarding flights, hotel check-ins, meetings and more. Then, they’ll provide you with a robust itinerary in minutes. Later, that tool can continue updating your itinerary as needed. It’s one less thing for you to worry about.
7. Emergency Assistance
What are you going to do if something goes wrong during a work trip? Once an emergency occurs, it’s already too late to invest in emergency assistance. The time to make that investment is now.
Whether you go with an emergency assistance provider that’s dedicated to removing employees from dangerous situations, one that specializes in tracking their whereabouts or one that just helps you with less-dire situations like flight delays or cancelations, it’s important to have that plan in place. You need to know (and all traveling employees need to know) what’s going to happen when things don’t go according to plan.
8. A Sustainability Plan
Last but certainly not least, consider incorporating a sustainability plan into your travel management. More and more, employees are demanding companies reduce the carbon footprints of their business trips. As Business Insider reported last year, surveys have found that nearly 90% of surveyed employees want to reduce the environmental impact of their business trips. How do they plan to do so? Ideas have included taking fewer but longer trips, staying in greener hotels and using public transportation in business trip destinations.
Incorporating sustainability-focused efforts like these into your travel management process can show employees that the company truly cares about its carbon footprint while boosting employee trust, morale and culture.
Sound a Little Daunting?
We get it — even with everything you need to manage travel yourself laid out like this, it can still seem a little daunting, or even a lot daunting. There are many pros and cons, if you choose to manage travel yourself.
On the pro side, you’re not spending money on the upfront cost of managed travel. Plus, if done correctly, you’ll retain a greater level of personal control over your company’s travel habits.
On the con side, though, if you manage travel yourself incorrectly, you could run into duty of care and traveler safety issues that could turn into legal issues. Additionally, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the influx of information and constant tracking of spending, traveler whereabouts and other need-to-know info. This can morph into incorrect data tracking and reporting, leading to improper budgeting and other business decisions. The good news? JTB Business Travel can take care of it all. Check out our robust catalog of corporate travel solutions and see what might be a good fit for your travel needs and those of your organization.