Managing corporate travel means focusing on an infinite number of logistics and the big picture. Your role involves wearing hundreds of hats and not allowing any of them to hit the ground.
It’s complicated but satisfying, especially when you pull everything off for a trip without a hitch. Your investment returns increase the company’s network and credibility, and your staff is back to work with new momentum.
If that doesn’t sound like the typical results of your business trips, your corporate policy needs some revamping. Check out this guide to travel management in business, and learn how you can have a (mostly) seamless workflow.
1. Recognizing and Overcoming Challenges in Business Travel
The role of management always involves smoothing out bumps in the road as jobs are completed. In business travel, this means you need to recognize the challenges you’ll face from start to finish of each trip.
Those will be the focal parts of your travel policy — the sections you’ll know to spend a little extra time clarifying the processes to simplify them as much as possible.
For most companies, these include categories like:
- How to handle large numbers of bookings
- Who employees should contact regarding questions and changes, and how they should submit these queries
- How staff should submit approvals, and who approves each request
- How the travel budget is planned and enforced
- Which parts of the trip employees can handle, and what the travel manager must do themselves
These planning challenges are part of every business trip, so they’re worth spending extra resources upfront to put a strong system in place. Keep your rules clear and limited, and make each step as straightforward as possible.
Try to automate wherever you can, and make the process intuitive. Anything that makes an employee question the next step is going to stop them in their tracks. They’ll naturally reach out to you for help, which is what you’re trying to avoid.
2. Implementing Travel Management Systems
Making travel planning simple means using the right tools and systems. The problem isn’t finding help. It’s the fact that there are now so many options to choose from, and it can be difficult to find the ideal one for your business.
Instead of looking for an all-in-one management system, consider using specialty platforms. These are designed by experts who know how to make their part of planning efficient and cost-effective.
For instance, when you have to book several people into a hotel, an all-in-one system limits how many rooms you can book and pay for at a time. A lodging performance network like Hotel Engine simplifies this task, letting you schedule as many rooms as necessary, then pay for them all in one monthly invoice.
The time savings alone are worth switching to Hotel Engine. Even better, though, are the discounts the platform affords by shopping around for you and negotiating the best deals. No more searches for the lowest corporate discount codes!
3. Handling Expense Management
Your policies are in place; your systems are streamlined. What’s next?
The final essential piece of corporate travel management involves how you track and record expenses. When employees use per diems or their own cash to make business purchases, they file an expense report. How do you store, analyze, and record all of these receipts?
What a Strong Expense Management Tool Does
Your expense management tool is integral to this workflow. It will be used by staff, you, and your finance department, so it should be customizable. Give each level of staff the necessary credentials they need to handle only their tier, and you’ll avoid a lot of overlap and unnecessary complications.
When employees can log their expenses while on the road, they have to submit the final report when they get back. The finance department is aware of expenses in real-time and can step in if anything is flagged as not reimbursable.
Reimbursements become simple when the hard work is done before the trip is over. And since receipts and expenses are tracked in the system, transferring the computer records to your accountant is a breeze.
Handling any management role involves a top-down look at each position. When you know the ultimate goal of the job, you can create processes that get you there without detours.
In corporate travel management, setting up your policies to ensure a positive, low-stress business trip is the preferred result. Pay attention to these three factors, and they’ll help you reach that destination every time.