It’s no secret that business travel is one of the highest expenses in any corporate budget. How can you reduce the costs while improving productivity? Where can your organization make the booking and actual travel process easier to save time and money?
There are numerous challenges to your travel budget. Ancillary airline fees, lack of an updated online booking and payment system and disruptors like Uber all contribute to unpredictable costs that can add thousands of dollars to the T&E line item in the budget.
So what’s a CFO to do? Luckily, 2016 business travel trends offer insights that can help improve travel management. Once you analyze current corporate T&E you’re in a better position to see where the gaps are, project upcoming expenses and consolidate business travel for maximum effectiveness. These corporate travel trends will act as a guide to help you control expenses for an improved bottom line.
Focus on These 5 Business Travel Trends and Rein In T&E Spending
- Value -- This is a nebulous word that means different things to different people and sometimes depends on context. What does “value” mean in your organization? Is it synonymous with buying the lowest price airline coach seat -- no matter the time of day or number of connections, or does it mean buying comfort and less wasted time with a business class seat on a direct flight? Do you have guidelines clearly outlined in your travel policy?
- Access -- Who in your organization handles expense reports, company passwords and online reservations? What about approvals outside of policy or other questions around corporate travel? You can alleviate confusion when you have clearly outlined contact information and processes in your corporate travel policy.
- Process -- From booking travel to processing reimbursements to handling crises- clearly defined travel management processes will save time and money. When analyzing your travel policy, note any confusion or lack of efficiency to address. For example, if employees are unclear when (and how) they should use the corporate credit card, then that needs to be addressed in the policy.
- Safety -- No matter where your employees travel, safety is of paramount concern in today’s world. What safety precautions does your corporate travel policy address? You’ll want it to include guidelines for everything from mobile apps that allow emergency service notifications (like TripCase) and ETA (via apps like Uber), to what employees should do if an unsafe situation erupts in the country they’re traveling in. Consider if your employees book travel outside of the TMC (Travel Management Company), do you still have a way to track them in case of emergency? We recommend having your HR and legal teams review as well.
- Preferred Suppliers -- Using preferred vendors can give you the opportunity to save money via negotiating a better contract in exchange for lower prices and incentives. To ensure the highest benefits for the organization, preprogram preferred suppliers into your online booking tool. It’s a good idea to address who these vendors are and why you use them in your travel policy as well as when employees can go outside of these suppliers.
- Data -- How do you collect your data? Are there particular codes your employees need to attach to a trip? If so, are they fully aware of these and how to use them? Part of making business travel more cost effective includes good data management which helps with budget reconciliation. Luckily, today’s technology can easily streamline this to save time and money.
As payment systems continue to evolve, it’s possible to centralize and in some cases, even prepay some expenses ahead of time. That makes every aspect of business travel easier as it simplifies access, process, safety concerns, preferred suppliers and data collection for ease of reimbursement.
A TMC can offer guidance on modern-day travel policies as well as time and cost-saving tools such as a simple, online reservation system to consolidate travel management. Another way you can improve your travel program is by addressing safety concerns and that your employees have the support they need no matter what may happen on the road.
An exceptional travel policy should be up-to-date and easy to understand as well as budget friendly. When was the last time you reviewed yours? Share your questions or experiences in the comments below.
Download our 2016 Whitepaper Trends in Travel and see how you can better address inflated travel expenses in your organization.