How to Save Money on Business Travel in the UK
Navigating the current business travel landscape is difficult, but there are opportunities available today that did not exist a decade ago. Corporate travel managers, finance leaders, and HR professionals no longer have to choose between making their business travellers happy whilst driving adoption or crafting a policy that protects the bottom line. The two intentions complement each other beautiful when positioned within a well-crafted policy and smart travel management software.
When embraced companywide, corporate travel policies give travel managers visibility and better control of how budgets are spent. They enable finance and procurement leaders to monitor everything about the performance of their travel programme so they can identify trends and easily optimise for savings. Greater spend visibility provides better clarity when working with suppliers on preferred corporate rates.
Step One: Empower your business travellers.
Business travellers are your partners in this journey, and there are several best practices that get them onboard with an optimised travel policy.
Make it easy for them to stay in policy. Business travellers shouldn’t have to guess which flights are in policy or refer to the policy document every time they are ready to book. The best way to implement gentle guardrails is to make it clear through the corporate booking tool what is and is not in policy.
On TripActions, travellers can clearly see which flights and hotels fall within their company’s corporate travel policy. There are small reminders such as “Book two weeks in advance to stay in policy” that give business travellers the information they need to do good by their employers. TripActions also uses machine learning so the software actually becomes smarter every time that a business traveller uses it. By placing the flights that align with the travellers’ preferences and fit within the travel policy, everyone wins within a quick booking window.
Another way to get business travellers on your team is through incentives. When it comes to getting people to change their behavior, giving them a reward for doing it is always going to win out over punishing them for not following the rules.
By introducing the right booking incentives into your travel programme, employees can earn personal rewards and save the company’s money at the same time. For hotels, one of the best ways to encourage good behavior is through “price-to-beat” incentives that are driven by your dynamic policy. That is to say, you’ll set your target hotel price based on the average prices in the destination city during the given timeframe. And then you can offer a reward to the traveller for beating that price.
Through support and empowerment of your travellers, the travel and finance teams become their partners — enabling them to do the things that drive company growth and save money in the process.
Step Two: Be prudent when designing the policy.
A poorly designed travel policy or outdated travel management solution can end up ultimately costing a company more money.
Whilst these strict policies seemed to lower travel costs by forcing employees to spend within policy, they often actually achieved the exact opposite as a result of primitive or overly rigid platforms. Employees felt trapped in a system that caused them frustration and delivered a negative experience when traveling for work. When employees do not adopt the current solution in place, they find ways to use alternative sites and book outside the system.
The goal is to develop a corporate travel policy — and set per diem — alongside a technology provider that helps business travellers not only get where they need to be, but become partners in making the policy work.
Step Three: Select the best corporate travel platform.
One way to drive adoption and combat leakage is through a corporate travel platform that provides an experience that’s equal to or even better than what travellers can find elsewhere with consumer-like ease of use, complete inventory, and machine learning-driven personalisation. It should also offer all the right and relevant inventory for your travellers so they don’t feel compelled to look elsewhere--even using machine learning to surface the flights and hotels they’re most likely to book, which makes for an even better process.
In the past, companies struggled to reconcile the often contradictory demands of traveling employees with the cost and policy goals of their company. The future of business travel will focus on convenience and choice. By putting the needs of travelers first and foremost, travel managers will drive adoption so that their companies benefit from the resulting spend visibility, savings, and ability to fulfill their duty of care.
Happy travelers means high adoption, which brings full visibility and control for companies. Ultimately, happy travelers make for happy, thriving companies. All of this is done in alignment and partnership with suppliers and airlines. It is the ultimate win-win-win.