Don’t wait until your employees are already on the road to think about business travel management.
Long before a Traveler passes through airport security, the travel management process has started. If you want your company’s travel program to thrive, and if you want to maximize the ROI your company enjoys from business travel. Here are 5 key things you must address before trips begin.
Here’s a look at those 5 travel management tasks that must be completed before your Travelers hit the road for work.
1. Select a Travel Management Company
Travel management companies, also known as TMCs, exist to support organizations with outside expertise and services that they could never hope to replicate in-house. While companies may have a dedicated Travel Manager or others on the team who focus on business travel. Effectively managing a travel program would require a team of employees who are thinking about it full-time.
That’s not possible for most companies, which is why they hire TMCs.
TMCs are working day-in and day-out with businesses around the world, providing services and making recommendations. That generally ensures that travel programs are delivering the return that businesses expect. A TMC can provide support for everything else on this list. Which is why choosing a TMC sits at No. 1. TMCs are also known to provide significant savings, ranging between 5% and 50% depending on your program’s volume, versus self-managed travel.
There are tons of different TMC options available. Find the one that best matches the unique needs of your organization.
2. Create a Travel Policy
A travel policy is a document that outlines how your travel program should run from start to finish. When creating a travel policy, focus on being comprehensive without being long-winded. After all, you’ll want your employees to be able to skim the travel policy to find the information they need at any given point.
Your travel policy should be a reflection of your company’s values and its business travel objectives. And, as noted above, a TMC can help you craft a travel policy that is ultimately effective. But remember this as well: A travel policy is a dynamic document. Expect it to evolve and change as the travel environment changes and as your company’s travel objectives change.
For example, the travel policy that supports an organization of less than 100 employees will likely not suffice for an organization of 500-plus. If your company grows, or if there’s a merger, address your travel policy in a way that supports the new realities of your business.
3. Choose Technologies
The more manual and analog your business travel processes and tools, the harder travel management will be for your organization. Modern technologies exist that can streamline and automate your travel program so that it requires less attention from both Travel Managers and Travelers.
Again, your TMC can help you select the right travel technologies for your company’s size and its business travel needs. Common travel technologies include a booking tool and an expense platform, though there’s a universe of technology options you can explore when getting started with your travel program. Collaborative technologies and tools are known to increase efficiency within an organization by 131%, which empowers all team members to do more while working.
And, once you choose travel technologies, you’re not necessarily stuck with them forever. As your business grows or as its needs change, you can update your travel technologies to meet your current situation.
4. Establish Workflows
How does the travel process work at your organization? Before employees start taking trips, answer important travel-related questions like:
- Who approves business trips?
- When and how do proposed trips gain approval?
- When and how are budgets set for business trips?
- When and how do employees book their trips?
- What support is in place for employees should they need assistance during a trip?
- How are expenses filed after a trip?
Many of these questions can be answered in your travel policy. And the workflow itself that facilitates the business travel process can be empowered by the technologies you selected in No. 3 above (a booking tool, expense platform, etc.)
5. Manage Risk
The business travel industry is buzzing about risk management, which is how an organization lives up to its duty-of-care responsibility to keep employees healthy and safe while traveling for work. A TMC can help you establish a risk management system and then execute on risk management activities. In 2022 and beyond, duty of care (and related risk management tasks) is expected to grow an importance — especially for small and mid-size businesses.
To properly manage risk, your organization must assess the risk of visiting any destination before Travelers leave home. It must also have in place means of communicating with Travelers, no matter where they are in the world. And it must have a plan for getting Travelers home safely should circumstances pose a threat to health and/or safety.
Maximize Your Business Travel ROI
Business travel should help your organization better serve customers, build relationships, connect with prospects, and scale for the future.
It should not create a lot of extra work that chips away at the return you enjoy on your investing in business travel.
At JTB Business Travel, we work with organizations large and small, providing them with services that help them maximize their travel-related ROI.