Five steps to the best travel management process flow

By Mona Lavare posted May 15, 2021 03:11 AM


If corporate travel management is a section of your daily grind, then you receive dozens of emails with travel requests, questions about programs, last-minute changes, and a whole slew of scheduling complications, particularly when it comes to group booking.

Rather than answer a million emails, why not move workflow management outside of your email inbox collectively?

Why not track it—as in, see what tours need to be booked and settled, which ones are continuing, which have passed, which team members are going and when etc.

It turns out, there are better alternatives to manage business travel than with email. Read on for the 5 levels it takes to improve your travel management method.

Determine priorities for administrators, managers and travelers

Business travel is one of the most challenging expenditures of any business. Each journey has different goals and purposes, and each person associated with the trip has different preferences.

  • The business tourist wants an itinerary that doesn’t cause unnecessary sleep-loss, a comfortable room with WiFi, and maybe an additional day to explore a new town and turn a business trip into personal travel – a.k.a a “bleisure” trip.
  • The office administrator needs a travel policy that works and a travel management solution that does not take too much time away from other duties. They shouldn’t need to open numbers of tabs with various booking sites or contact loads of travel experts or agents.
  • And lastly, the finance manager needs immediate access to all travel spending to make budget decisions in real-time and optimize cost savings.

These preferences and concerns are a given. Depending on how your company goes, you may have extra factors to keep in mind. When making modifications to your business travel management process, start by listing out all of these factors in detail.

Use a booking program that allows tourists to book for themselves

Taking care of your business travelers is the solution to a successful travel management plan. If your team isn’t satisfied, then the method isn’t working.

One idea that travelers love is the ability to book for themselves, especially without having to double or triple check business policy. Why? Well, lots of ideas:

  • No need to bother the office administrator or travel expert
  • No need to write difficult emails or fill out forms with many itinerary options
  • They can take the itinerary they need
  • They can select the flight carriers and lodging they want

Finally, self-booking allows travelers to save their own time, their administrator’s time, and to get the choices they want within the pre-determined travel resources.

Use a booking platform that automatically permits travelers to book within policy or to save desired trips that an administrator can then end if you need more control. An office manager or travel manager can study this way inside the platform, which asks for bookings that are incomplete. No more email!

Streamline your systems and approvals method

Of course, when you use a corporate travel booking service, you want the travel policy and approvals inside your tool to fit the way your organization travels, not the other way around. Here are some points you’ll want to set and refresh as needed:

  • Payment guidelines based on the town of destination
  • Instruction based on traveler group
  • Essential level of control 
  • The person who is allowing each traveler/team (the team lead, project lead, or travel administrator?)

Some businesses choose not to be strict at all, allowing every operator to book out of policy if they need to, and just let the admin know via notification. Then there are organizations, mainly in traditional industries, that prevent booking outside of policy, and in those situations, they have the admin book it for the tourist just like a travel agent.

You need your booking platform to include the full spectrum, so you can do what works for your business culture and unique travel needs.

It’s smart to constantly assess your travel policy using data picked up by your corporate booking instrument so you know how well your policy is being followed. If too many bookings are being asked outside of policy or if the nature of travel has drastically modified, you should make modifications to your written and booking platform-based travel system.

Help travelers access direct support

As a travel administrator or office manager, you’ve unquestionably received calls and emails outside of regular business hours from travelers who encounter problems during their journey. It could be lost confirmation numbers, the opposite room type… anything.

Being effective for all of these incoming support queries doesn’t make travel management easy for you or for tourists. They might hesitate to contact you and not get the help they require, or on the flip side, they could be disappointed if you don’t answer on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s a much better practice to give business tourists direct access to a travel support team. One idea that businesses often solve is to work with a travel company, but this doesn’t provide for the self-booking process tourists love. Instead, it indicates they have to talk to a different intermediary to book.

It is reasonable to outsource travel support without having to sacrifice self-booking. Use a booking service that includes quality 24/7 support for every journey, and you (and your travelers) will breathe more relaxed. Sadly, the vast majority of legacy corporate booking instruments, travel agents, and travel management firms provide very low-quality customer support that has been outsourced. Look for an instrument that has invested in training in-house support representatives who are available around the clock.

Optimize your travel spend immediately, monthly, and quarterly

Because company travel is such a complex expense, it’s become widespread for administrators and managers to have ultimately no knowledge of its current costs.

A CFO or finance administrator might know the exact travel spend three months down the line, but understanding what’s going on today? Really tricky!

But, not knowing the current state of driving isn’t good.

The finance company can’t make immediate budgetary choices and is always playing catch-up, trying to cut expenses after the fact.

Any tour agent or TMC will send you monthly records, but without the immediate ability to login and review spend, the finance unit is always in the dark. Having quick insight into travel can help the finance team track spend, but it can also support receptionists to better welcome incoming travelers from other offices and travel administrators to safely track travelers’ whereabouts.

Of course, monthly and periodic reviews into travel are still necessary. Finance and services will want to review the impact and worth of various trips and the program as a whole.

Instant visibility isn’t the only factor that provides for informed finance decisions. Granular information is important as well.