Follow this travel management workflow process to maximize the return on your investment in business travel.
Business travel exists to deliver results for the organization: more clients, more sales, a higher level of collaboration, etc. But too many companies get bogged down in a travel management workflow that isn’t efficient and doesn’t support business travel objectives.
To make the most of your travel program, you need to create a travel management workflow that actually works. How do you do that? Here are 5 steps you should take to ensure that your organization maximizes the benefits of business travel.
1. Define Your Top Priorities
What are your top priorities? Before you answer that question, keep in mind that the travel process includes various stakeholders with different priorities.
For example, Executives want business trips to deliver a strong return on investment, while Travelers want comfortable arrangements that allow them to be as productive as possible. As the Travel Manager, one of your top priorities is likely travel policy compliance.
These various priorities should drive the creation of a travel management workflow. You won’t be able to meet all stakeholders’ priorities all of the time. But an effective travel management workflow allows everyone involved in the business travel process to feel as though their needs are being considered.
2. Allow Controlled Self-Serve Booking
If you don’t allow self-serve booking, you are way behind the times. The benefits of self-serve booking are plentiful.
First and foremost, Travel Managers or third-party agents don’t have to get involved in the process. This is especially important for rather straightforward domestic trips that Travelers can easily handle on their own. Self-serve also allows Travelers to choose their preferred vendors and travel times, etc.
What about travel policy compliance? Not to worry: Most business travel booking platforms allow administrators to configure settings that prevent Travelers from booking out-of-policy. You don’t want to create an onerous travel policy that makes it hard to find a compliant flight or hotel stay. But you also want to prevent Travelers from spending twice as much as they need to just so they can fly on their airline of choice or stay with their preferred hotel chain.
3. Make Navigating Policies and Approvals Easy
As mentioned above, your travel policy should live inside of your booking tool. Travelers booking their own trips should not have to constantly refer back to the travel policy.
But what about approvals? Your organization should have in place a streamlined trip approval process that allows booking to move forward swiftly.
Identify who is able to travel and for what reasons (which may require your team to define what essential travel means within your organization). Also, determine when trips need a pre-booking approval. You may want to pre-approve all trips or just trips of a certain length or price. And, finally, choose the point person for approvals. Should it be department managers who approve travel? Or maybe Travel Managers? In smaller organizations, it might even be a COO.
No matter what your policy, and no matter who is approving travel, make it easy for your Travelers to navigate the process.
4. Provide Direct, Accessible Support
Make sure your Travelers have access to the support they need before, during and after their business trips. When you work with a travel management company (TMC), it should provide some level of support to your Travelers as needed.
Direct and accessible support is even more important in the modern age. The business travel industry is talking more and more about the duty-of-care responsibility that organizations have toward their Travelers. Living up to that duty-of-care responsibility requires organizations to be in touch with their Travelers, no matter where they might be in the world.
The best way to keep tabs on Travelers is to make support available through online booking tools and mobile devices. For example, we provide JTB Marketplace to give Travelers more autonomy, help them book within compliance, and to provide the services they need. When you can put access to support in the pockets of your employees, you give them easy access to support — and you’re better able to live up to your duty-of-care responsibility.
5. Optimize Spending Continuously
There’s a greater emphasis on business travel ROI now than ever before. Businesses are spending significant dollars to send their employees on work trips, and they want to see a commensurate return.
If you’re using modern travel technologies, calculating your spending on a consistent basis should be relatively straightforward. You can track spending week over week to make small optimizations, and you can also look at the numbers monthly or quarterly to ensure you’re on track for the year.
Again, if you are not using business travel technologies, it’s more difficult to create a travel management workflow that addresses the needs of all stakeholders. It’s more difficult for Travelers to book the itineraries they want. It’s more difficult for Travel Managers to enforce policy compliance. And it’s more difficult for Executives to see the ROI they want from business travel.
Identify and implement the right travel technologies for your business if you want a streamlined management workflow.
Get Support Creating Your Workflow
Creating the ideal travel management workflow can be tough — if you’re trying to do it on your own.
At JTB Business Travel, we help organizations build and implement effective workflows. We provide support creating travel policies. We make travel technology recommendations. And we assist organizations in living up to their duty-of-care responsibility. Behind everything we do is a common-sense approach to business travel.
Are you ready for a travel management workflow that works? Get in touch to find out how we can help.