5 tips for improving your business travel program.
Without a travel policy that reflects your current business needs, Corporate Traveller GM Simone Seiler says you could be losing valuable dollars every time your staff take off.
Costs for a simple interstate trip can spiral out of control without some basic rules for making bookings, choosing fare classes and selecting preferred suppliers.
Not adhering to a solid travel policy hurts your balance sheet because you risk:
If you’re currently booking flights, accommodation and car hire through separate suppliers, chances are your bottom line is absorbing admin fees, merchant fees and service charges from different companies every time you travel. Undisciplined bookings also diminish your ability to reap the benefits of leveraging long term partnerships with travel suppliers.
Travel plans can change rapidly when you’re on a business trip, especially if you’re on a tight schedule between take-off and landing. What happens if you miss a flight and need another at short notice? Or a client cancels a meeting and you don’t need to stay overnight? Without a system for activating unused credits, forfeiting or changing flights and hotel bookings can result in a premium-priced hit to your bottom line.
Travel suppliers are more inclined to reward loyal customers with value-adds and discounts in the long term. Booking with a mix of airlines, hotels and ground transport suppliers might seem like a good idea for picking up a quick deal but you’ll reduce the availability of upgrades and extras that come from consolidated bookings.
Reconciling your travel expenses is much more difficult when receipts and accounts are spread across a variety of suppliers. The wider your accounts are spread, the greater the chance of misplacing booking records, failing to allocate them to the right cost centres and ending up in the red, not to mention the sheer effort involved in travel administration and accounting processes.
For businesses that book multiple trips, these costs can add up significantly over time and represent a considerable and unnecessary overhead. When advising our customers on creating a travel policy, each situation is different but here are some hot tips that can benefit most businesses:
1. Set a benchmark - Analyse your recent travel patterns and set a target for reducing your overall costs.
2. Start simple - Set some basic rules, then you can adapt your policy if travel patterns change.
3. Target low-hanging fruit - If your people regularly travel to a particular city, start by selecting a preferred accommodation supplier in the right location.
4. Manage staff expectations - If your travellers have personal preferences for particular suppliers, you may need to offer options within your policy, or convince them that setting standards is for the greater good.
5. Review/refresh: Your travel policy should adapt to your business needs so regular reviews and collection of feedback from your travellers will keep it relevant.
Remember, when creating or improving a travel policy, you can always get expert advice from a Travel Manager with experience in managing and reducing overall costs.
About the author
Simone Seiler is the General Manager for Corporate Traveller Australia.