As a tried-and-tested strategy, corporate travel creates opportunities for enterprises to acquire customers, close sales deals, and expand into new metrics. But cost and complexity of the corporate travel management process often make it challenging for companies and startups to increase the ROI of business travel.
Your organization needs a robust strategy to streamline this distinct business process. The strategy should focus extensively on helping each employee accomplish predefined business travel goals. At the same time, it must explore ways to help your company reduce the average cost of domestic and international business trips.
While making the strategy, you must focus on various factors that impact the business travel experience, business traveler safety, and business travel costs. Also, you should strengthen the strategy by adopting several best practices. This guide aims to make it easier for you to streamline business travel by discussing some important ideas and best practices.
10 Best Practices for Streamlining Corporate Travel Management
1. Enhance Policy Compliance
Well-crafted travel and expense (T&E) policies help employees make business travel arrangements, mitigate common travel risks, and reduce business trip costs. But you can ensure policy compliance by communicating the relevant rules and guidelines to each employee.
For instance, you need to define separate policies for domestic and international business trips. Likewise, you should make the policy granular by dividing and grouping guidelines using important parameters like travel destination, project, department, and employee.
2. Accelerate Business Travel Approvals
It becomes easier for your company to reduce costs when employees complete business travel bookings early. But employees can book business trips early only when their business travel requests are approved without any delays.
You should accelerate the process by defining which authority can approve what type of business trip. Also, you need to ensure that an employee can send the business travel request to the approver directly according to the predefined approval hierarchy.
3. Centralize Travel Booking
Several studies have highlighted how an organization can save money by centralizing the business travel booking process. You can centralize the cost-intensive step in corporate travel management by using a reputable travel management company (TMC).
While making business travel arrangements, the TMC will keep in mind the travel needs and preferences of individual employees. But it will save money by ensuring travel policy compliance and prioritizing fully-flexible tickets.
4. Support Self-Booking
You can consider self-booking as a viable alternative to centralized business travel booking. The strategy requires you to implement a robust corporate booking tool. Employees can use the digital solution to access an extensive travel inventory and book their preferred travel products.
The online tool will show and recommend travel products to employees according to your organizational T&E policy. Also, it will help your organization save money by making employees book travel products at lower than market rates.
5. Mitigate Business Travel Risks
Employees can accomplish business travel goals only by managing a variety of travel challenges successfully. You must help employees minimize common business travel risks by sharing elaborate destination information and the latest travel guidelines.
Likewise, you should ensure the delivery of real-time information like flight status and travel alerts. However, your company must create opportunities for every business traveler to get on-time travel assistance by contacting a designated manager or support executive.
6. Invest in Duty of Care
In addition to minimizing business travel risks, your organization must provide emergency assistance to work travelers across destinations. Your organization needs robust duty-of-care solutions to meet this legal and moral obligation.
Many enterprises these days ensure the safety and security of employees by partnering with global health and security risk management firms. However, you also have the option to leverage the duty-of-care solutions provided by a travel management system.
7. Digitalize Travel Expense Reports
While streamlining corporate travel management, you must replace paper-based expense reports with digital expense reports. Expense report digitization will help your company eliminate data entry errors and speed up travel expense reimbursements.
But you must make it easier for employees to generate digital travel expenses by implementing a travel management system. Employees can use the software to generate automated expense reports by scanning various invoices and receipts.
8. Ensure Travel Spend Visibility
Your organization cannot control costs without tracking travel expenses incurred by employees in real time. It needs travel management software that facilitates real-time travel expense tracking by featuring a dashboard.
Your finance team can use the dashboard to track employee-initiated expenses while making budgets or forecasting costs. Also, they can make informed financial decisions by generating various reports based on real-time travel and expense data.
9. Automate the Whole Process
In addition to streamlining corporate travel management, automation helps you control business travel and human resource costs simultaneously. Your company has the option to automate specific travel management activities by implementing a corporate booking tool or an expense management solution.
But you should consider end-to-end process automation by implementing a travel management system. The built-in features provided by the software will help you streamline complex steps in the process like business travel management, travel expense management, and travel data management.
10. Leverage Travel and Expense Data
Travel choices and preferences of employees these days differ according to their demographic characteristics. Likewise, new trends in business travel emerge at frequent intervals. Hence, you cannot streamline an evolving process like corporate travel management without leveraging real-time data.
In addition to collecting and updating employees’ T&E data, you must focus on gaining actionable insights by analyzing the important data. Your company needs data analytics solutions that suggest opportunities to improve business travel programs and control business travel costs using data-driven insights.
While streamlining corporate travel management, you must focus on keeping employees motivated by boosting their business travel experience and safety. Your strategy should focus on helping employees accomplish business travel goals and controlling business travel costs simultaneously.
You should remember that most enterprises these days choose from automation and outsourcing while streamlining corporate travel management. Some companies outsource the complex process to a reputable travel management company, while others implement a feature-rich travel management system.