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What is business travel management?

Business Travel Management means managing a company’s approach to its employees’ business travel along with the associated costs and duty of care responsibilities. Recent research suggests business travel is a company’s biggest unpredictable cost. This has a direct impact on business growth and is of strategic importance to businesses looking to grow.

Large organisations and enterprises usually have teams dedicated to monitoring and enforcing business travel programmes. In small to medium size businesses, this role often falls to finance, HR and admin teams or line managers.

A business travel management programme should include:

Developing and implementing the corporate travel programme and policies

Looking at the needs of the organisation and its employees, the travel management team will determine the likely kinds of travel needed to support business goals. They’ll set out rules and principles, including spending limits, preferred suppliers, travel classes or modes of transport.

Monitoring business travel and associated spending

It’s not just a question of checking that spending stays within fixed limits. Successful organisations connect business travel spending to projects and accounts, looking at the ROI delivered. Higher travel spending may be needed to bring in new business, for example, if a sales rep needs to travel to an overseas customer at the last minute to secure a contract. Using comprehensive data and advanced analytics through a modern travel management system, the business can estimate the likely spending needed for different types of activity and apply limits accordingly. This means business travel spending contributes to growth as opposed to just being an uncontrollable cost.

Negotiating and managing travel suppliers

This is an ongoing process, to ensure the best options and rates are available to employees. Gathering and analysing data about journeys and destinations can help travel managers spot trends in employee travel and make sure their changing needs are met. For example, strong growth in business in the Far East means checking there are hotels offering favourable rates in the areas where sales reps need to visit customers. Teams may benchmark rates to check they are getting a good deal and seek traveller feedback to make sure accommodation and travel facilities are safe and reliable.

Keeping travellers safe and secure

Businesses have a duty of care (DoC) to employees travelling on business. It’s important to keep a record of who’s travelling where at any time, in case of emergency. That might mean a situation at the destination, such as a fire or outbreak of disease, where the employer would need to alert the employee and advise them on how to stay safe and get home.

Ensuring compliance to policy

Checking and approving travel and expense claims means making sure forms are accurate, supporting receipts and data are complete and employees are using appropriate suppliers. This demands up-to-date, detailed and accurate reporting, so travel management teams can intervene rapidly and take corrective action if spending occurs outside the travel policy. Leading businesses apply dynamic travel policies, with a modern, digital travel management system providing data intelligence that forecasts and monitors ROI on travel expenses.

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