Let’s face it — startups have a lot on their plates to begin with, and while travel is central to growing a business, it’s easy to let travel management slip under the radar and move forward as an organization without a centralized process. This pitfall can be treacherous because unmanaged travel leads to higher costs, which adds up especially fast for startups and small businesses.
Unmanaged travel results in higher overall costs for the business for a few reasons, the main being limited visibility into what’s best for the traveler but also most cost-effective for the organization. Without a proper policy or program in place, employees understandably book travel with their preferred airlines and hotels, even if it might be more expensive. This results in surprise costs that companies did not anticipate or plan for, and on top of that, without the proper reporting to capture trends over time. Having visibility into these costs and behaviors matter when companies need to grow and scale –– which is why it’s critical to know when and how to develop a managed travel program.
Migrating from unmanaged to managed travel solves for these issues –– first through setting policies and implementing technology that work for the company. When considering your travel management options, it’s important to align with your company’s cultural philosophies around booking flexibility and traveler support on-the-go.
Platforms must present extensive inventory for travelers with clear indicators of whether or not these options fit within company policy. The least expensive option isn’t always the best choice because it might not be suited to the employee’s travel preferences. From inconvenient red-eye flights to hotels in obscure parts of the destination city, cheaper options are often harder on the traveler. Managed programs provide some guardrails so road warriors can see which options meet their needs, be it their favorite airline or hotel group, that are also cost effective for their company. Travelers want to feel supported by a corporate platform that considers their wants and needs when it comes to freedom of choice, inventory, and availability. Companies have the confidence that travelers will choose options that fit within policy. It’s a win-win for both.
But it’s not enough to implement a solution — a travel platform that employees actually want to use is a must for startups and small businesses. When it comes to understanding the success of a business travel program, employee adoption is the #1 metric to follow. If and when employees book outside of your corporate program, you’re in the dark about their booking and spending until expense reports roll in, which could lead to unwelcome surprise costs for the organization. With managed travel and strong employee buy-in, business leaders will have tighter controls over what their travelers are booking.
TripActions held a recent webinar to help address this pain point as well as others that startups and small businesses face when it comes to business travel. It covers best practices for managing travel including:
Managed travel spend is no longer exclusive to large organizations. It's crucial for any size business to start thinking about travel management as soon as your company starts to grow, regardless of how early that might be. If you’re struggling to manage business travel at your small company, you can view the webinar on demand.