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Business Travel Spend

3 ways to improve your business travel spend in 2019

Travel spend is difficult to control for a number of reasons, including inconsistencies within travel policies, program leakage, frail supplier relationships and a lack of transparency into traveller habits.

Establishing processes to control spend at the beginning of the new year empowers travel managers to uncover new opportunities for addressing their organization's bottom line while improving traveller experience and satisfaction. Additionally, a managed travel program needs to align corporate goals with employee needs to gain their support in reducing unnecessary or wasteful spend.

Here are three things you can do to improve your business travel spend in 2019.

1. Let your TMC conduct the cost comparisons

According to the Global Business Travel Association's annual Global Travel Forecast, in 2019, hotel prices are expected to increase by 3.7 percent and flights by 2.6 percent. Air, hotel and ground transportation costs fluctuate frequently as suppliers try to maximize their revenue generation. As global travel costs continue to rise, the ability to see and compare all possible pricing options is essential for your company’s bottom line.

However, trying to do so on a trip-by-trip basis is too resource intensive for organizations to secure this level of visibility. Not to mention, the amount of time spent checking multiple websites can have a significant impact on your employees’ productivity. With the resources to search hundreds of sources simultaneously, a travel management company (TMC) supports your program by offering your travellers in-policy options at the time of booking, ensuring the lowest fare is offered.

Additionally, a TMC further supports your organization by helping you identify savings opportunities across the entire program. This can include consolidating spend, gaining visibility through reporting, securing supplier discounts, and improving your company’s negotiating position.

2. Use technology and programming to increase program transparency

Program Transparency

Travellers need to know what they are supposed to do when it comes to travelling for business. With the right technology in place – and programmed specifically to support your organization’s policy – your travellers receive proper direction, guidance, and support. Without it, your travellers may be opting for travel options that fall outside of your policy parameters, which can lead to unnecessary costs and reduced program visibility, while compromising the objectives of your travel program. Even if these travellers have the best of intentions, quite often a disconnect exists between traveller behavior and program goals.

In fact, a recent GBTA survey of travel managers and business travellers explored this disconnect between program goals and traveller behavior. In one example, 79 percent of travel managers said their program requires employees to use preferred booking channels, but only 34 percent of the travellers said they are required to use preferred channels. Similar disparities appeared on a variety of questions regarding policy on rate maximums, accommodation types and advanced booking. These results indicate that travellers are unfamiliar with key details of their employer's travel policy.

"These results indicate that travellers are unfamiliar with key details of their employer's travel policy."

An experienced TMC partner can support your corporate travel program by auditing your current suite of technologies and making recommendations for improvements, either through the addition of new tools or customizing your existing ones to better reflect your policy. Strategically implementing new technologies can also reduce travel program cost structures over time.

Furthermore, working with an experienced TMC to review your travel program and your travel policies can pinpoint organization-specific challenges and create new efficiencies.

3. Identify opportunities to optimize processes

Taking the time to review and optimize your program processes can be another impactful way to improve your business travel spend this year. Travel stakeholders should consult with a TMC to identify unique opportunities for creating cost-saving efficiencies throughout their program. For example, adopting and integrating an online booking tool can reduce your program’s cost structure without a huge outlay of capital.

Other opportunities to optimize business travel processes may include:

  • Support expense allocations through detailed reporting, capturing payment information and organization-specific coding. This can improve the integration of travel budgets to meet your organization's broader financial management goals.
  • Integrating virtual card technology. This provides several benefits, such as a reducing the risk of fraud, improving hotel payments for travellers, capturing client-coding and consolidated invoicing.
  • Take advantage of automated unused ticket tracking, limiting lost revenue and curbing program leakage.
  • Consider automated trip approval to increase visibility and introduce a degree of control often lacking with manual approval forms, a process which takes considerably longer. These delays can lead to missed opportunities to confirm the lowest available fare.

All of these processes can be highly complex and difficult for a single manager to organize and monitor internally. An experienced TMC can handle the hard work on the organization’s behalf, freeing internal stakeholders to focus on growth in other areas.

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Gaining control of your organization's travel spend is a complex challenge with many factors. For more information about how you can improve your spend this year, check out our Business Travel Savings Guide.