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With the advent of COVID-19, the business travel industry took a hit. However, there was a silver lining during this dull period. It got many companies around the world to re-evaluate their current travel process and identify the corporate travel management challenges.
With the world returning to normal now, the global business travel spend is estimated to touch $1 trillion this year. Hence, it is a good time to find a solution to all the corporate travel management challenges you might be facing as early as possible.
Here are some major corporate travel management challenges and the ways to overcome them.
Not having enough travel options is corporate travel management challenge highlighted by most companies. Your employees might be booking flights, hotels, etc., on the vendor’s website, oblivious to better options. Or, the TMC (Travel Management Company) that you prefer for travel booking might have access to a limited travel inventory.
In any case, if the employees are not getting all the travel choices, how will they choose the best option?
Solution: Choose a TMC that deploys a wide range of travel options for the employees. You should enquire whether the TMC is getting travel inventory from a GDS (Global Distribution System) or not. A GDS offers real-time travel inventory and fares to the TMC. If not, it is highly unlikely that the TMC offers you good options.
Travel approval and reimbursement is one process that companies can surely improve on to optimize their corporate travel management process.
There is a lot of time lag between booking a trip and getting approvals from the concerned authorities. This case even worsens in the case of multi-level approvals (generally, for international trips). Even after a trip, reimbursement of expenses can take days.
Solution: The answer to this issue is simple- adopt travel management software. Travel management software fast tracks the approval flow by sending notifications to the approver as soon as you book a ticket. Moreover, the employees can see the travel policy in real-time, eliminating the issue of out-of-policy approvals.
Cutting down costs is a challenge for most processes. However, as far as business travel is concerned, it is a bit more complex.
A lot of factors lead to budget overspending at your company. Firstly, your employees might not be getting access to affordable travel options. Secondly, even if they get affordable options, they might not be willing to book it. Last-minute bookings and unclear travel policy can be some other reasons.
Solution: You should choose a Travel Management Company (TMC) with access to LCCs (Low-Cost Carriers), so the employee can choose from affordable options. Moreover, you can introduce an incentive program for your employees. Under this program, you can reward them every time they book a cheap flight, hotel, cabs, etc. Drafting a policy for late bookings can also help in cutting travel costs.
Other than that, you can invest in a tech-forward travel management software that offers a virtual travel consultant. A virtual travel consultant like ITILITE Mastermind analyzes historical travel and expense data to provide data-driven insights about the ways in which your employees could have saved more. Hence, you get actionable solutions to control travel costs.
Multiple departments are involved in a company’s corporate travel management process, be it admin (travel manager), finance, or HR. All these departments use stand-alone apps for their process. As a result, data sync becomes an issue, leading to errors and irregularities.
For instance, if a new employee joins your organization, the data is updated in the HRMS system. However, it also needs to be updated in the travel management software you are using.
Solution: Choose a travel management platform that offers plug-n-play integration with all the essential apps. This way, you get a complete ecosystem where data is synced automatically, enhancing the travel process accuracy.
For instance, by integrating the HRMS system with your travel software, you don’t need to add the employee data separately in the traveler database.
According to Amadeus, 84% of business travelers prefer traveling under the right safety protocols.
Business traveler safety has always been a challenge for companies over the years. However, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative over the last couple of years. The travel regulations vary from country to country and keep changing with the situation. Moreover, it is tough to find accommodation for employees with all the necessary precautions.
Solution: Implement a Duty of Care plan to comply with the latest travel regulations. The plan must include:
You can also opt for solutions that track the employees in unfamiliar destinations so you know they are fine.
One of the major corporate travel management challenges companies face is offering employees support on a business trip. Whether the company handles the business travel in-house or a TMC handles it for them, it is essential that the employees get support, whenever they need it.
Consider the situation where an employee goes on a business trip and is denied check-in in the hotel. The employee calls the TMC but gets no response as it is beyond their working hours. Imagine what a disaster that would be for the employee.
Solution: Choose a TMC that offers 24/7 support via multiple platforms, such as call, chat, or email. Also, the TMC should provide a dedicated travel manager for your company who responds swiftly and is well-equipped to handle critical issues.
Every company has a travel policy. However, what travel managers find tough is drafting a travel policy that is both cost-effective and employee-centric.
For instance, if you allow low flight fares for employees, they might not get the best options. Contrarily, if the flight fares are high, it might cost your company heavily.
Solution: You should analyze your current business travel management process to identify the loopholes in the process. Draft a travel policy keeping in mind employee safety, travel guidelines, annual budget, and more. Taking employee feedback will also be a great help in improving the travel policy.
Here is a free template you can use to draft an effective travel policy.
Drafting an effective policy is one thing, but it’s of no use if employees don’t comply with it. In some cases, travel managers are unable to communicate the travel policy clearly to the employees. In other cases, the policies are so impractical that it is tough for employees to comply.
Solution: To achieve policy compliance, opt for travel management software that offers real-time policy visibility to employees. It will avoid out-of-policy bookings as they will get notified at the time of travel booking.
Also, try to understand the employee preferences and try to modify the travel policy around it. You can also introduce an employee incentive program that benefits both.
Travel expense frauds have been a headache for companies for quite some time now. Issues such as reporting duplicate expenses, filing under wrong expense categories, and policy violations hamper your corporate travel process.
Solution: You can control the travel expense fraud by using travel and expense management software that automates auditing and enables fraud detection -any duplicates are notified to the approved in real-time. Moreover, the best software tools also offer receipt scanning, ensuring that employees provide valid proof.
Also, educate the employee about the best practices of travel booking and expense filing.
A major challenge in corporate travel management is keeping business data secure. Managing business travel involves storing and processing a lot of criticial information like employee PIIs (Personal Identifiable Information), credit card information, and travel arrangement. Such data can cause financial losses to the company and threaten employees’ security if leaked.
Solution: Invest in a cloud-based travel and expense management software. Cloud-based data security solutions can help you protect all the travel-related information with state-of-art infrastructure. The data is stored in servers located in safe warehouses that no one can access without permission. Moreover, the information is encrypted in a way that makes it challenging for cybercriminals to access. Hence, with a cloud-based integrated T&E software, you can be sure that your critical data is safe.
A mistake most companies make is adopting stand-alone tools for travel and expense for corporate travel management. In this case, when an employee books a trip, they have to file business travel expenses manually in the expense software, causing irregularities in the T&E process.
Solution: Choose an integrated travel and expense management software with both travel booking and expense filing capability on one platform. The employees can map the Trip ID while filing expense reports and all the expenses will be included automatically.
The dynamic nature of the business travel and expense process of a company requires the travel managers to always be on their toes. They need to focus on streamlining the corporate travel management process to the employees as well as saving costs for the company. Resolving these challenges allows them to do both.
An integrated travel and expense management software like ITILITE helps you resolve most of the corporate travel challenges.
Take a free Demo of ITILITE to experience lightning-fast travel booking, granular policies, custom reporting, advanced analytics, and more.