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May 8, 2019

The Corporate Travel Program Checklist Every Business Needs

There’s little doubt that corporate travel is a major lever in powering company growth — 90% of travelers would agree. But ensuring that the positive impact of business travel actually influences your bottom line, while also taking care of your travelers, means implementing a corporate travel program that checks all the right boxes.

Choosing a corporate travel program that meets the ever-evolving demands of doing business in 2019 is easier said than done — but it’s far from impossible. Whether you’re setting up a corporate travel program for the first time, or you’re a long-time travel management veteran looking to upgrade your program, our five-point checklist for an optimal corporate travel program will help you cover all the fundamentals.

Inventory Selection That Gives The People What They Want

Traditionally, corporate travel programs were used as a hammer, designed to pound travelers into submission in the name of cutting costs by any means necessary.

Today, more organizations are recognizing that happy employees help drive happy customers, achievement of business objectives, and bigger profits, and that a modern corporate travel program can play an integral part in enhancing employee happiness and productivity. Employees who travel for work feel more empowered, engaged, and energized in their jobs, so when they do hit the road, giving road warriors more choice and control amplifies the positive impact on employees.

We’re not suggesting a free-for-all (Sorry Tom, but a stop in Vegas on your way from L.A. to San Francisco isn’t part of a “business trip”). What we are suggesting is loosening up traditionally restrictive policies and surfacing all available inventory along with your policies so travelers can choose what’s best for them and your business.

For example, making sure a traveler can stay at a hotel that’s closer to his meeting if he’s feeling stressed about getting around a new city, even if it’s not a pre-selected corporate hotel. Or letting a road warrior fly back on a preferred airline so she can earn loyalty points, even if the flight isn’t the least expensive option available, but still within policy are win-wins for the employee and organization.

Every employee is different — empowering your travelers to book the corporate travel options that best suit them while also making sure they understand what’s in and out of policy sets everyone up for success.

Technology That Makes Your Corporate Travel Program Smart and User-friendly

Due to a serious lack of inventory, no personalization, and a sub-par user experience, it often takes the average traveler over an hour to book a business trip on most legacy corporate traveler systems. Think of all the other higher priority work, projects and proposals your employees could be doing with that time.

Luckily, in the ever-evolving digital era, it doesn’t have to be that way moving forward. Modern travel tools powered by AI and machine learning technology can use past search history, loyalty programs, and other information to quickly learn a traveler’s preferences and surface the results they’re most likely to book. They can also calculate and surface the median price per search, along with other automatic indicators of what’s in and out of policy, to ensure your travelers are making the most responsible decisions for the business without sacrificing their needs.

And in an age where many road warriors use their phones throughout the entire end-to-end travel experience — whether booking a hotel, boarding a flight, or hailing a ride — your corporate travel program should provide a mobile-friendly tool that works seamlessly across devices.

Complete Visibility Into Corporate Travel Spend and Trends

You can’t manage and optimize what you can’t see, which is why having complete visibility into traveler bookings and spend is a must-have for your travel program.

You should be able to quickly generate reports that give you a holistic view of all the costs incurred by your corporate travel program, and be able to break it down by suppliers, locations, specific travelers, departments, and other factors so you can gain better insights and make more informed decisions around how to allocate budget.

And true visibility goes beyond spend — in order to provide duty of care, you need to know where all your travelers are in the world at any given time, and be able to locate and contact them at a moment’s notice in the case of an emergency.

Keeping track of and reporting on your corporate travel spend will allow you to make better decisions around policy, and show the rest of your organization that your program is a reliable driver of revenue and growth.

Integrations That Tie Systems Together Seamlessly

Your business is already complicated enough without adding a completely independent travel program that doesn’t jive with the rest of your business operations technology stack. Instead, it’s invaluable that you choose a corporate travel solution that integrates easily, quickly, and completely with all of your other tools.

For example, if your corporate travel solution doesn’t seamlessly integrate with your existing expense solution, you’ll end up buried under a mountain of Excel spreadsheets and hours of extra reconciliation work, quickly canceling out the benefits the tool may have provided.

It’s helpful to make a list of all the internal tools that will need to integrate with your travel program (expense management, people management, etc.) so that you can ensure whichever solution you choose will seamlessly fit into your ecosystem.

Traveler Support That Doesn’t Quit

From the joy of closing a big deal to the pain of a cancelled flight, everything that happens to a road warrior is an extension of your company and your employee experience — which means offering the right support at every step of the way is paramount. Unfortunately, 64% of business travelers feel they have to handle everything, from rebooking cancelled flights to sorting out hotel reservation mixups, when travel doesn’t go as planned.

In an era when everyone can be constantly connected through either desktop or mobile, it’s important to offer 24/7, 365 support through a variety of channels, whether a traveler wants to call, text, or chat with an agent within the mobile app. And plus one if the solution can offer proactive support to alert travelers to problems as they arise, and even automatically solve them. Imagine the sigh of relief as your traveler sees the text saying her flight has been delayed, but she’s already been booked to get home on the next available flight.

A Corporate Travel Solution That Checks All The Boxes

To learn more about how TripActions can help you check off every item on this list, get in touch with one of our corporate travel experience experts.