News flash: there’s a lot more to managing corporate travel than booking tickets. A comprehensive solution tackles the job from many different angles - financial responsibility, risk management and employee productivity. Because travel management is a complex beast, it should be treated as such for your company to gain the most advantages from your contracted partner.
It all comes down to visibility - you hear that word often, but what does it truly mean? In a nutshell, visibility consists of the details you need to broadly see and analyze the totality of your travel program. Some visibility is provided by spending metrics - knowing who’s on the receiving end of your travel budget. Other requirements come from a higher realm, giving you the information you need to focus on the big picture. This guide highlights those pieces of the visibility puzzle, the ones that your operations and finance teams need to know in order to work with your corporate travelers more successfully.
Travel booking is simply moving an employee from point A to B, and providing food, transportation and lodging while there. Travel management is the art of making those bookings both easy for the traveler and cost-efficient for your company. Its role in your company’s overall financial health should not be taken lightly. Travel expenses are often overlooked as opportunity for real cost savings. Having an experienced travel management team negotiate and manage your travel services, along with monitoring and analyzing expenditures, not only creates cost-cutting opportunities, but also maximizes them.
Travel management is the art of making those bookings both easy for the traveler and cost-efficient for your company.
How does this happen? First, after a corporate travel management team determines a company’s total travel needs for the foreseeable future, they negotiate preferred rates and discounts with travel suppliers based on that expected volume. Then, the more a company utilizes these in-policy travel partners, the more value they deliver on the contract.
A key visibility detail to know is how many of your employees are following guidelines and booking within the policy. Surely some bypass your in-house booking agent or travel management company (TMC) when they’re in a hurry, or they prefer other suppliers, or they see a deal that’s too good to pass up. But as tempting as that deal might be, employees need to know the real deal - booking with a negotiated supplier provides your company with more value over the long-term. Occasionally saving $100 on a ticket or room might end up costing you thousands if you don’t reach certain benchmarks with your preferred suppliers.
“Risk Management” and “Duty of Care” are common phrases you may have read about, and while many people use those phrases interchangeably, there is a small difference. Duty of Care is the promise a TMC makes to look out for the safety and well-being of your travelers. Risk management is how they fulfill that promise.
Risks come in all shapes and sizes. Some of which are better classified as annoyances, such flight delays or cancellations, that can derail a business trip before it begins. Other risks pose a more immediate threat to the traveler, including severe weather, civil unrest, violence and disease. And let’s not forget security risks that could happen when your travelers take laptops loaded with intellectual property into unsecure areas.
Occasionally saving $100 on a ticket might end up costing you thousands if you don’t reach the benchmark with your preferred supplier.
A low-cost hotel room might actually mean low-rent security. What happens to productivity or to intellectual property when a laptop is stolen from a hotel room? The employee might not be physically in danger, but there is risk and cost involved. How big of a bargain is that discount hotel room if a laptop containing sensitive documents goes missing, or even worse - your stolen laptop is the one responsible for the hack into your company network?
From a visibility standpoint, it’s important for your operations team to see and understand just how a TMC tracks travelers, analyzes potential risks, and then reacts when travelers and risks collide. For example, when a flight is cancelled, the traveler must know what steps to take to make it to the meeting - do they rebook another flight themselves or contact their agency? Likewise, when travelers are in perilous conditions, decisions to reroute them must be made and enacted swiftly to get them out of harm’s way.
A productive employee is a happy employee. But how productive can one be when he or she is wasting time online trying to make their own travel arrangements? A TMC that makes travel booking easy encourages employees to utilize their services more instead of going rogue, thus increasing compliance with your travel policy and generating greater financial savings.
The key is having the visibility to know which employees are using the TMC or inside travel manager and which are not. By zeroing in on those who book their own travel and educating them to the benefits of using a preferred channel, you can save both their time and the company’s dime.
The True Value of Managed Travel
When determining the true value of a travel management company, it’s imperative to look at the big picture. And in order to look at it accurately, your travel program must have consistent and comprehensive visibility. Not all TMCs provide this level of informational clarity, but Travel Leaders Group does. In fact, we focus on delivering our clients the accurate data they need to be both financially and personally responsible.