After Lord knows how many months of asking people whether they can hear us, see us, and mute themselves, it’s time to finally pack our bags again.
In-person meetings are making a comeback, which will make things a little easier in specific industries.
But we’re all a little rusty when it comes to corporate travel. The big questions aren’t even whether you should fold or roll your shorts: it’s about the whole itinerary. Who’s in charge of that, after months of not needing this?
We say: your corporate travel manager. If you’re thinking: ‘but we don’t have one!’, then this article is here to give you 6 great reasons why to partner up with one, so you can focus on charming clients in your meetings.
What does a corporate travel manager do?
There are people who are great at organizing trips, and then there are those that get to the airport with a bag packed by their spouse, unsure where they’re going—but just happy to be involved.
That’s endearing in private situations, but dangerous in business travel. A business travel management company takes the hassle out of organizing business-related trips. Depending on what you need, your corporate travel manager, or managers, if you’re on the go a lot, take care of things like:
- Booking and organizing trips: does an employee need to go from A to B? Your corporate travel manager makes sure you get the tickets for the trip that makes the most sense, at the best price. This doesn’t stop at flights or trains: they make sure you get a cab or rental car if needed, too.
- Provide travel support: before, during, and after the trip, the corporate travel manager is there to assist travelers in whatever obstacle they run into on their journey.
- Help track and analyze travel spending: an important thing corporate travel managers do is help people and teams keep track of what they spend on travel, so you can create better budgets.
- Select and negotiate with travel vendors and hotels: they know the market well, so trust your corporate travel manager with picking a vendor that has what you need. They also make sure you get the best deals in hotels and other travel-related places.
You can have an in-house travel manager, or outsource it to a corporate travel agency that jumps in whenever you have travel needs.
Many agencies in the travel management industry also let you leverage their strength by giving you access to a corporate travel platform where you can easily make requests and keep track of your expenses.
Challenges of corporate travel
Organizing business travel is a lot different from organizing a weekend getaway. However, since everyone will have booked a flight or hotel at least once, we all assume we can take care of the business trip as well.
That often results in companies using processes that aren’t optimal for what you require for business travel. It’s hard to track expenses for instance, or communicate who is going where and what airport they need to go to. Don’t even get us started on making sure you get the invoices you need to actually claim expenses.
If employees are in charge of booking their own flights, you won’t always know whether they get the best deal, or the most comfortable seat, so they can work or rest to prepare for their meetings.
Then there’s the back and forth between admin and whoever is booking something to get everything accounted for. It’s easy for communication or receipts to get lost in email threads, which could blur your vision of your actual spending.
If travel is a common thing in your organization, for instance, if you’re also managing an offshore location, it will save you a lot of time and money hiring a corporate travel manager, or finding a platform that suits your needs.
You want your business trips to be an accelerator of success, not a painful process that just slows things down and costs unnecessary amounts of money. But there are plenty of other benefits.
How corporate travel management transforms your trips
There are quite a few benefits to using a travel management company instead of keeping your efforts in-house. Ready to explore them?
1. Travel and work more efficiently
Let your employees focus on their core competencies, and let a corporate travel manager take care of the rest.
One of the biggest benefits is that a corporate travel manager lets you get back to work and do what you do best. Let’s be honest: organizing a good trip takes a lot of time, and that’s simply not the thing you hired your well-paid salespeople to do.
A dedicated corporate travel management platform cuts the time spent on organizing these trips down drastically.
2. Get expert advice on business travel
What’s the place to go? How do you get the best rates, the best perks, and how can you cut down on your travel expenses?
Business travel is a professional sport, so get an expert on board who has the experience and access to get you the best deals.
3. Have someone on standby 24/7
When employees leave for a trip, who’s in charge on the ground for their trip? That’s right, probably nobody.
A lot can go wrong on a business trip, beyond missed or canceled flights. With time zone differences and employees back at the office having to deal with their own workload, it’s nearly impossible to appoint someone who takes care of the traveling bunch. A corporate travel manager can function like that always-on support, so your meetings can go on.
4. You have risk management covered
What about insurance, when someone is on the other side of the world—or even just in a café two cities down south?
Risk management is one of those factors that often get overlooked when business travel is managed in-house, but it can lead to some costly mistakes if you’re not on top of it.
A corporate travel manager keeps tabs on everyone at all times and makes sure you’re covered.
5. Improve the ROI of your business trips
Want to both cut travel costs and optimize your travel expenses, while making money on those important meetings? Corporate travel management could help you do that.
Yes, the tools and platforms cost money, but they pay themselves back in focus, time saved and expenses controlled and optimized. After the initial cost of onboarding, you immediately get insights into what your travel spend really looks like, so you can start making better, data-driven decisions right off the bat.
You save on flights. Make sure every last receipt is accounted for, and your corporate accommodation is arranged for the best price.
These are all things that would take an atrocious amount of time to arrange yourself if you don’t have the experience or capacity, and connections.
6. Be compliant, wherever you go
What do your travel policies look like? If you’re not sure what we’re referring to, then we’ve hit the nail on the head: like with anything in business, compliance is crucial. This is also something to take care of when your employees work while traveling. Your corporate travel management can advise you on that.
Choosing the right corporate travel management platform
Our tip? Think about what you need first, before you go surfing all the solutions travel management platforms offer. Then cross-check which ones are hitting most checkmarks, and make a selection of the ones that fit the bill.
If you’re not sure what to look for in a business travel support partner or platform, here’s what we would personally put on our wishlist:
- Ease of use: this is the main reason you will partner up, so make it the top priority in your search. How easy is it to use the platform or communicate with the travel agents? Does this fit in your business and way of working? How big is the learning curve?
- Transparency: another big point is learning more about how much is really being spent on travel within your organization. Look for a platform that gives maximum transparency and shows you everything you need to know.
- Support: when push comes to shove, and that might be at midnight, you will want to talk to a real human, not to a bot—let alone an FAQ page. Select a travel support platform that gives you access to a support team that works in a language you speak and that can quickly act when there are any issues.
So… where to next?
If you have the time to look for a corporate travel agent before your next business trip takes off, then take that opportunity. It’ll transform the way you and your employees prepare for a big trip, meeting, and presentation massively, which you’ll see in the results.