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Sep 19, 2019

Business Travel Policies That Benefit Finance Teams

The TripActions Team

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Business travel is likely one of your organization’s largest expenses. It is for most enterprises, and for good reason: It is a strategic lever for company growth, At the most successful companies, travel enables employees to build relationships, close deals, and drive growth. But when you’re focused on the bottom line, business travel can be a thorn in your side. It shouldn’t be — and it doesn’t have to be.

If visibility into travel spend is murky, actionable reporting becomes a chore and tracking and optimizing spend is even harder. And while you certainly don’t enjoy being the “bad guy,” strict spend limits and ironclad travel policies may seem like the only way to keep costs under control.

However, a new era of corporate travel management solutions designed with better visibility and cost control in mind has arrived, and by combining this new technology with some key shifts in your travel policy, you can save time and money, while reducing effort. Here are three ways to optimize your business travel operations to deliver all three:

Shift 1: Create a Dynamic Travel Policy

If you believe that an inflexible travel policy is the only sustainable way to keep costs in check you’re right; or rather, you were right. But new booking tools that run on machine learning can now automatically calculate a median price based on real-time market data for every individual search, unlocking savings opportunities that just weren’t possible before.

For example, let’s say your limit for a hotel in New York City is $300. A traveler discovers that booking at that price during peak season is nearly impossible, forcing them to either book outside the system or involve you in a lengthy approval process. Or on the flipside, if the market was slow you wouldn’t want that traveler to still spend $300 when comparable $200 hotels were available.

But when you know with confidence that you really are seeing the best price for each and every booking, you can ensure the right policy’s always in place every time, and that adds up quickly to big savings.

That’s just one small example of how dynamic travel policies can generate savings while also decreasing the number of trips booked outside the company’s provided solution, which in turn will increase your visibility.

Speaking of which...

Shift 2: Increase Adoption to Increase Visibility

Those who’ve lived on the East Coast of the U.S. or in Nordic countries have likely gone to their car in a snowstorm and been so cold they’ve only scraped off the minimal amount of ice and snow they need to drive safely...fingers crossed. It’s far from ideal, but it’s better than nothing, and certainly better than going through the pain of clearing the entire windshield.

That’s what travel spend visibility is like for most people in finance, particularly in an age where approximately 50% of travelers “go rogue” and book outside the company tool. You know there’s more out there than just the small window you’re seeing, but when you’re already working hard and putting in long hours on a variety of finance-focused initiatives, increasing visibility into business travel can slip down the priority list.

The solution is to actively drive your employees’ adoption of your travel solution.

Travelers don’t inherently want to book outside the company tool, but when accustomed to the agility and elevated user experience of consumer travel sites and then confronted with an outdated business travel booking tool and a rigid policy, they feel like they have no choice.

But by implementing a travel management software that employees actually enjoy using — and that has the inventory they are looking for at the prices they see on consumer sites, leverages AI to make the booking experience easier and faster every time, and proactively supports them through the entire work trip instead of just the booking — you’ll see your adoption (and as a result your visibility) skyrocket. Pair that with automated, robust reporting and you’ll be able to gain the kind of macro and micro insights that will help you realize significant savings.

Shift 3: Make Friends with Traveler Rewards

Instead of viewing travelers as adversaries in the battle to control costs, a new, more effective approach is to empower travelers to make decisions that align their own financial interests with the company’s.

Once again, new, smarter technologies are the driving force behind this change in thinking. When every employee books on a single platform that can automatically determine potential savings, companies can reward employees by giving them a piece of the savings they generate for the company. These rewards can take the form of Amazon gift cards, personal travel credits, upgrades, and more.

We know shifting from hard spend caps to rewarding employees for booking the most cost-effective travel is a real change in strategy for most, but as more companies deploy the practice and more data emerges, it’s becoming clearer that companies who utilize rewards realize significant savings.

Historically travelers and finance departments haven’t always seen eye to eye, but business travel rewards are helping tear down those barriers down for the better.

Now What?

Let’s get to the bottom-line: For too long, business travel has been painful for both travelers and finance departments, but times are changing. There are now solutions that can transform how you handle business travel while paying very real dividends.

With 90%+ traveler adoption and 93%+ traveler satisfaction while delivering up to 34% savings on lodging alone, we believe that there’s no better platform than TripActions to help drive that transformation. We invite finance professionals to learn more about how TripActions can help drive down costs to make business travel a more effective lever for business growth.

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