By Ross Fastuca, CIO & Co-founder, Locomote
Corporate travel is an increasingly integral part of businesses of all sizes. With companies doing business with customers all over the world, and global firms opening new offices in cities worldwide, employees need to travel to a large number of destinations. Regardless of the industry, the ongoing challenge of managing corporate travel comes down to user experience, financial savings, operational efficiencies and duty of care.
How do you make the management of corporate travel less time-consuming and more conducive to maintaining business productivity?
Start with a solid travel program that gives your people clear parameters within which to operate. This might include budgets for business trips, according to the number of days away and the type of destination. There are a number of factors involved in the management of corporate travel of which the booking is only a piece — including approvals, health and visa requirements, reports, claims, expense, policy, data and much more — and these are in constant change prior to and during the trip. An effective travel program combined with the right technology enables both managers and travelers to make sure bookings and spend are in line with that set by the company.
Having complete control and visibility over every aspect of corporate travel doesn’t need to be an exhausting and time-consuming task. Smart thinking, a great user experience and streamlined processes help guarantee that every business trip is cost-effective and that employees have a good quality of travel and are always safe.
The importance of being proactive
When it comes to managing business travel, it is paramount to be proactive rather than reactive. If budgets and trips are not aligned with the company’s travel policy, then it’s easy to identify the issue before any money is spent.
Information is the key. The more detail is provided, the easier it is to assess the purpose of every business trip. Detailed descriptions are also useful if a booking is out of policy so managers can evaluate a particular case and approve or reject a travel request — without going back and forth asking and providing more information.
An effective travel policy, for example, takes into consideration the distance between the places, the time it takes to get there and the objective of the trip. Sometimes a GoTo meeting might be a more suitable option than getting on a plane, or choosing a hotel with wifi included — even if it’s more expensive — usually turns out to be more cost effective than considering internet as an add-on.
Streamline corporate travel management using the right technology
Choose to automate your corporate travel management according to the simple or more complicated needs of your business. Implementing an expense reporting software, like Expensify, makes tracking expenditure easier and more efficient. An expense management platform gives companies a 360 view of their travel spend and the real cost of each and every trip. Processing receipts doesn’t need to be the last activity nor to be done only once the traveler is back with a bag full of receipts. Capturing payments data on the go through photos that automatically import all approved transactions into the company’s accounting package, speeds up the whole process, saving time and enhancing productivity.
Using a travel technology solution enables companies to manage every aspect of their travel, including requests, approvals, bookings and duty of care on a single interface. This technology boosts efficiency by shifting from traditional processes of emails, phone calls and manual paper pushing to get approvals and to claim expenses, to an easy-to-use platform that allows travelers and managers to send and receive information on any device, anywhere in the world.
Smart technology improves duty of care and employees’ safety. A corporate travel platform prompts alerts informing users of any visa or health requirements. The system also provides information on the current situation of the intended destination and what measures need to be taken to escalate an approval.
Make sure the user experience is simple and easy
Making travel requests, bookings or approving business trips should be simple. No matter the size of the company, organisations need to make accurate decisions fast. Thus, the selected travel platform should provide a sleek user experience with an easy-to-understand operating system, which will result in a high uptake across the business.
An agile and intuitive technology solution can automatically approve travel requests that are within policy, streamlining the process and saving the company on time and costs.
As businesses become increasingly global, effective management of corporate travel will become a critical tenet in the strategy of every company. Therefore, setting a travel policy and choosing the right technology that works for your business, rather than the other way around, is crucial. The ultimate benefit consists in having control and visibility of your end-to-end corporate travel, preventing any breaches of policy while ensuring employees are offered reasonable flexibility and quality of travel, and making the whole process easier and more efficient.