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Nov 19, 2019

Biggest Challenges Facing Corporate Travel Buyers

Sarah Ramos

Insights & TrendsReturn to blog

As the role of today’s corporate travel buyer evolves, they increasingly face the challenge of selecting and delivering solutions that help finance, operations, HR, procurement, C-Suite execs, and the broader traveling employee population achieve their goals. As a result of the broad impact of the corporate travel manager role, one in four travel buyers who started in the travel department now sit in other departments.

The continued evolution of the corporate travel manager role doesn’t look to slow any time soon. Three in four travel buyers expect increasing technology to have a significant impact on the role moving forward. In this new era of tech-forward travel management programs, travel managers have an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership, using technology and the data they collect to inform and make strategic decisions for the betterment of the business and its employees.

That’s easier said than done. Today’s travel managers must implement and manage more flexible travel policies that address broad and often competing priorities of many different departments, and balance their organization’s goals around spend visibility and savings with their employees’ individual travel needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind as your role as a travel buyer continues to evolve (and your programs and policies evolve with it).

Evolving Travel for Business Growth

It may come as a surprise that when it comes to finance, the modern travel manager’s role is not purely about cost savings. Saving money is always a priority, but putting the traveler — and the business they do on the road — first will lead to better business outcomes in the long term.

When you establish a central travel booking and expensing platform that’s both user-friendly and technologically robust, employees will actually want to use it. When you increase usage, you’ll get better insights and reporting. And if you implement a platform that also accounts for travel policy, your employees will book travel that’s compliant without even having to think about it. It’s less about straight savings, and more about a long-term strategy.

To truly understand how business travel is affecting your bottom line, use data.

Data helps you understand the role travel plays in your company’s growth and whether in-person meetings are moving revenue up and to the right. Leveraging the data you have will enable you to understand where travel spend is going and will also prevent travel spend from varying widely month to month. A travel platform that collects data and shines light onto the operations of your organization is a platform that adds value to your business.

Evolving to Meet the Needs of Employees

Travel can and should be at the forefront of caring for your employees, especially as business travel becomes core to company culture, growth, and employee engagement. Employee satisfaction and adoption of travel tools are becoming critical metrics that corporate travel leaders use to gauge programmatic success. Employees who are happy with the travel program are more likely to use it which drives greater adoption, giving finance leaders and travel program managers greater visibility into spend and insights into ways to optimize the program and spend. What’s more, employees who are happy and well cared for on the road are more likely to have successful business outcomes while traveling. And then there’s the impact of employee satisfaction with the travel program on engagement and retention.

While keeping your employees happy on the road is an obvious step for talent retention, it’s important for human resource leaders to understand what “happy” looks like for today’s business traveler. To keep and maintain exceptional talent, a seamless travel experience is no longer an option, but a must-have.

Travel policy is increasingly becoming an opportunity when it comes to employee satisfaction and retention. There are a few key pieces at the heart of this people success issue:

  • Bleisure: More and more, travelers are extending business trips into long weekends and that requires proactive outreach on the part of the travel manager.
  • Generational differences: Millennial employees tend to see less distinction between work and personal lives, which means technology expectations for corporate tools must match what employees get as consumers of their favorite apps.
  • Duty of care: Travelers need and deserve to feel taken care of on the road, especially as the inevitable disruptions occur whether as a result of small issues like flight delays or major disruptions like natural disasters.

Addressing the above opportunities before they become issues among your employees will not only drive satisfaction and retention, but compliance of the travel program and policy, giving your employees the experience they desperately want while also allowing you to deliver on duty of care, and attract and retain great talent.

Evolve as a Corporate Travel Buyer

Whether your role centers on finance, operations, HR, or procurement, if you’re involved in buying or managing a corporate travel tool, the process of consideration and selection of a corporate travel management platform is likely to be influenced by all other areas listed -- and your role as a corporate travel program manager is likely to continue to evolve in the near term. That’s why TripActions partners with users, whether travelers, EAs booking travel, or in this case finance, procurement, HR, and travel program leaders, to help them leverage the latest technology to deliver world-class corporate travel programs.

To learn more about evolving your travel program in tandem with your specific role, download the ebook The Evolution of the Corporate Travel Buyer: A guide for finance, HR, and operations leaders.

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