What is business travel management?
Travel is an integral part of every business. As companies grow, the number of travelers increases. Employees travel for work, whether it is sales events, client meetings, customer interactions, or conferences.
Besides preparing for travel, employees must also worry about booking their tickets and planning their stay. Business travel management helps you plan, organize, and execute your travel.
As the need for better travel planning increases, business travel management becomes critical for every organization. Many companies opt for custom-created tools and processes or employ additional people to smoothen this process. However, you must ask yourself if
- The processes are cost-effective
- Employee experiences are superior
- These are the optimal solutions
Also, Read: A Guide to Corporate Travel Management
Business travel management and challenges
Organizations require corporate travel management; they must facilitate business trips for their employees smoothly and efficiently. The role requires planning business trips end-to-end. Such planning may include booking train or flight tickets online and finalizing accommodations as convenient for the employees.
The challenge for the corporate travel management team is to accomplish the same without jeopardizing business objectives, ensuring compliance (travel and expense), and staying within a specified budget.
1. The size of the inventory
Many organizations face the challenge of the non-availability of travel options. Whether you have a travel desk or use a business travel management company, the available options will depend on the inventory that is accessible. So, your employees can only choose the best option from a limited number of choices.
How do you resolve this?
To overcome this hurdle, you must consider employing the services of a business travel management company that offers several options. Always check if they access a global distribution system (GDS) for their inventory. A GDS provides many possibilities in real-time, making it the best way to enhance your employee’s travel experience.
2. Business travel management and rising travel expenses
There may be several reasons for rising travel costs. You may need to consider all those reasons to bring your costs down. However, not having good options as your employees book their travel may be a strong contributor.
Another contributing factor may be last-minute bookings or vague travel policies. Both lead to employees picking less than-ideal (in terms of cost to the business) choices.
How do you address this?
To overcome the problem of choices, you can pick business travel management companies that allow you to pick from numerous low-cost carriers. A minor adjustment to your travel and expense policies that reward employees for choosing the lowest fare options will be a great incentive.
Click here to learn how travel management companies (TMCs) can help your business.
Another excellent option is to consider Happay’s integrated expense management software. Happay offers an exceptional solution that simplifies the trip planning and approval process. Employees can use custom travel requisition forms to initiate a travel plan and use a self-serve travel booking portal (that integrates with existing TMCs offering the best corporate fares and benefits) to pick what works for you and them.
3. Business travel management is all about airtight travel policies
Travel and expense policies are like the foundation for good expense management. Creating an employee-friendly, cost-effective policy for your business is ideal. However, this may not be as simple as it sounds. If your policies are not airtight, then it is bound to become a challenge for you.
Can you overcome this?
It is possible to overcome this task, but it must begin with you assessing the travel and expense management process. The next step is to pinpoint the loopholes and rework them. The most important factors to consider as you design (or redesign) a travel and expense policy for your business:
- Consider your budgets
- Think about employee safety and any guidelines
- Set up an employee feedback system so you can assess these policies on and off
4. Ensuring compliance with travel and expense policies
It is common to see businesses draft precise and comprehensive travel and expense policies. However, the challenge is always in compliance with those rules.
If your expense management system is manual, chances are that these expense reports are submitted after the trip. Therefore, finance and accounts teams begin the process of authentication and approvals long after the conclusion of the business trip.
Another challenge is in the communication of your policies. It may If your employees are completely aware of the policies or are unclear about them,
Is it possible to change this?
There are several ways to achieve policy compliance. It begins with employing customized and well-designed corporate business travel management software. Happay’s expense management software system offers robust and intuitive insights into your expenses. It leads to better visibility and control over your spending.
Spend analysis will give you a clear picture of where you need to place better controls. The system can customize according to your policy guidelines, eliminating non-compliant bookings (when an employee attempts an out-of-policy booking, the system flags it off), and assuring 100% policy compliance.
5. How integrated are your processes?
Corporate travel management requires coordination between several departments and functionalities in an organization. So, as travel desks receive travel requests, respective managers get involved for approvals.
Finance teams and human resources authenticate expenses (there’s a ton of back and forth as they verify compliances) and coordinate settlements. Thanks to so much coordination, employees are bound to deal with delays and errors affecting employee experience.
As businesses grow, the need for business travel increases, and so does the need for travel management. With this demand comes the need to digitize processes. Companies adopt procedures, stand-alone applications, and other software to make day-to-day workflows faster. However, this may lead to silos as the different applications do not work well.
Can you remedy this?
Happay’s expense management software for enterprises gives you a single source of information-complete, precise, and in real-time. Further, the flexible business travel management system integrates seamlessly with your existing systems (ERP, Project management software, TMC, Hotel chains, vendors, HRMS, etc.) and preferred partners.
Since there is a two-way integration (between Happay and ERP systems), GST and forex data, employee reimbursement and settlement data, and other verified expense data stay updated in real-time.
Also, Read: Travel Policy for Employees in India
What are business travel management systems?
Business travel management systems offer complete integrated systems or platforms that help users or travel managers plan, book, track, record, and analyze business travel expenses.
Some of the features that business travel management systems must offer
1. Travel and expense policies are in-built
Irrespective of who takes care of travel planning and booking, it is essential to have a system with the entire guidelines so it is a checkpoint and an easy reference.
2. Workflows for approval
The guidelines for approvals vary from business to business. Therefore, travel management systems must offer customizations for approvals. For instance, you may want to include bulk approvals for a specific travel expense category or an additional approval level for expenses over a particular amount.
3. Sizeable inventory
Travel management systems must offer a sizeable inventory of low-cost carriers, options for comfortable but low-priced accommodations, and extensive cab services.
4. Spend reports and analyses
Business travel management software can help in spend analysis as you get access to numerous customized reports that contribute to better business decisions. Further, these reports can help you modify the policies, making the process more structured and straightforward.
5. Self-booking tools
If you are planning to use a business travel management system that allows users to plan and book their own business trips, consider the Happay Travel app. The app offers a self-booking tool that provides a single platform for flights, hotels, trains, cabs, policies, workflows, and GST reconciliations. In fact, you can bring all your vendors together to curate your business trip and get a unified view of the T & E solution.
Differences between travel agencies and managers
Everyone has heard of travel agencies at some time or another. For the longest time, businesses have relied on such agencies to help manage their business travel. These agencies offer numerous advantages, including
- Expertise that is a result of years of experience in the industry
- Personalized service
Over the years, online booking tools and business travel management software systems have emerged, offering rigid competition to these agencies.
Travel managers are individuals who specialize in the field. For instance, your travel manager helps coordinate travel logistics as employees plan their business trips, book tickets, negotiate fares for accommodation, and organize forex (if it is an international trip).
The most significant difference between travel agencies and managers is that while you employ a travel agency’s services, managers are your company’s full-time employees. As part of the job description, travel managers must assist employees during and after a business trip.
How to make corporate travel management hassle-free?
It is simple; if you want business trips to be stress or hassle-free, plan it!
It may sound simple, but when you are juggling several other things, it requires a little more than just planning. So, let’s look at how you can make business travel management hassle-free.
1. Pick the right business travel management software
First, note down all the features you need in the corporate travel management software. Contact the best vendors and ensure you schedule demos to understand the prospective products. Choose what works for you and your business, integrates effortlessly with the existing applications, and promises to scale up as your company grows.
2. Organize efficiently
Happay Travel is a spend management automation partner offering a self-booking tool for corporates. It allows companies to control the entire corporate travel process through a single platform. It is built on a new-age platform offering complete trip management and real-time information.
The tool is intelligent enough to provide users with fare protection and a trip-cost optimizer. It combines intuitive MIS, reports, and analysis to help you manage the process more effectively.
3. Instantaneous capture of expenses
Expense capture is one of the pain points in the business travel management process. Most often, employees file their expense reports upon trip completion. They must preserve the receipts until the submission of the expense report.
However, with automation, this process is quick and instantaneous as employees need to capture an image of the receipt through their mobile devices, and the app does the rest.
The next stage eliminates paperwork, as everything is compiled easily through the app and filed away until the finance team reviews it. The expense approval process and subsequent reimbursements are quicker as everything is automated and online.
4. Reconciliations are a breeze
One of the other challenges that most businesses face is reconciling expenses. In manual processes, the approval and verification process is time-consuming.
It leads to long delays in the claim settlement process too. With well-designed software, you can configure simple or multi-level workflows based on your business requirements. Further, since your employee, booking and payment data are easily accessible online, the reconciliation process is far quicker and error-free.
Travel management services take care of trip requirements as needed by an individual or a company. These services may include booking tickets for flights or trains and accommodations for a stay outside the city of residence. Travel management companies, agencies or managers (in a company) perform these services.
Corporate travel management has huge benefits for the organization and the employees. The employee’s experience with expense reporting, approval, and reimbursement improve dramatically. Companies can enjoy error-free efficiencies and time and cost savings with such digitization.
Planning is an essential part of travel. Whether the trip is for business or leisure, start by planning well. It will ensure you can travel well within the budget set out for you.
According to sales numbers (2020), the Expedia Group is the largest travel management company in the world.
A travel management system is software or a platform that allows users (travel managers or employees) to browse, compare, book, record, and analyze any company’s business travel and expenses.