7 Best Practices for Small Business Travel Management

January 12, 2023
small business travel management tips

As your small business grows, the problems you face become increasingly complex. One of the toughest challenges a growing business can face is travel management. 

As a business owner, you want to minimize business travel expenses and maximize ROI while giving your employees a seamless travel experience. Therefore, having a well-defined and streamlined business travel management process is imperative. 

Here are 7 best practices for making your small business travel management more efficient.

  1. Draft Corporate Travel Policies Meticulously 
  2. Enforce Travel Policy Stringently
  3. Implement Cost-Saving Strategies
  4. Be Prepared For Potential Risks 
  5. Integrate Your Travel Management System
  6. Provide Round-the-clock Travel Support
  7. Automate Travel Management Workflow

1. Draft Corporate Travel Policies Meticulously 

It’s crucial for small businesses to have a well-written corporate travel policy in place. This document establishes the guidelines and expectations for all employees while they are traveling on business trips. Not having a comprehensive travel policy can put your company at risk in several ways. It can lead to less control over your expenses, less compliance, and difficulties during tax season. 

To draft a corporate travel policy, cover the objective of the policy, guidelines related to the travel booking process, eligible expenses for reimbursement, expense categories (flights, accommodation, ground transportation, meal, etc.), reimbursement process, and information related to support and safety.

Keep the policy terms simple so employees can understand them easily. This way, they can comply with the policy without confusion regarding which hotels or flights they can book. 

It’s also essential to draft a policy that is flexible so that employees can cancel or reschedule tickets without hassle. Furthermore, you can take post-travel feedback from employees into account to modify the policy as needed.

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2. Enforce Travel Policy Stringently

Once you have created a comprehensive travel policy, it is also important to ensure that your employees adhere to it. According to a report, only 50% of business travelers follow their company’s policy. Hence, you must take measures to increase travel policy compliance.

A few ways to increase compliance are:

Communicate the travel policies effectively and make employees more aware of them

You can host engaging training sessions or take quizzes so employees can properly review the policy.

Offer Rewards

People are more likely to follow the travel policy when there is something in it for them. You can offer them rewards for every buck saved on bookings for the company. 

Implement an online travel management system

An online travel management system makes it easy for employees to see which hotel and flight tickets are in-policy in real time, so they don’t have to keep referring back to the policy document.

3. Implement Cost-Saving Strategies

According to a report, small businesses usually end up paying 19.17% more. Therefore, implement effective ways to make sure you are not overspending. A few strategies to save money on corporate travel are:

Book in advance

Last-minute bookings often lead to increased airfare and hotel prices. Hence, you must keep a tab on how many employees are booking at the last minute. You can do this with the help of travel management software that offers last-minute booking reports.

Partner with hotels and airlines

Partnering with hotel and airline companies help you get a discounted rate each time you travel. However, you should know how to negotiate with hotels and flight vendors. Sometimes you might also get additional benefits such as no cancellation fee charge. 

Provide per diems

Per diem is a daily allowance that employees receive to cover their costs on business travel, which can be split into categories like lodging, meals, and transportation. Employees typically stay within the allotted amount of money to avoid spending from their own pocket.

4. Be Prepared For Potential Risks 

As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring your employees’ safety while they travel. Identifying and reducing potential risks is crucial before any business trip. To do this, you can conduct a travel risk assessment. 

This assessment should be done prior to every trip so that you have a thorough plan in case of unexpected situations. Some of the situations that a travel risk assessment covers are: 

  • Location hazards
  • Weather conditions
  • Politic instability
  • Epidemic
  • Travel sickness
  • Transportation disruptions

The assessment considers travelers’ health status, identifies traveler patterns, and checks increased risks due to gender in order to better train employees to stay safe and be prepared for any unexpected situations. 

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5. Integrate Your Travel Management System

Integrating your travel management system with an expense management system is crucial. It helps companies control travel expenses while ensuring the employees have a convenient trip. Some of the ways in which T&E integration can benefit your business are:

Monitoring travel expenditure

A consolidated T&E system offers a complete overview of an employee’s spending habits over a set period of time. This data can be immensely useful for a company’s finance team as it allows them to pinpoint employee spending trends, areas where unnecessary expenditure is occurring, and ways to optimize the travel budget.

If an employee or department is found to be exceeding their spending limit, those in positions of authority can take measures to prevent it from happening again. Ultimately, a consolidated T&E system helps provide transparency and accountability on employee spending.

Analyzing travel-related data 

The analytics dashboard of a T&E system helps you get deeper insights into your travel data. For example, you can see how often employees book flights or book tickets at the last minute, which airline they prefer, how their travel impacts their wellness, and how environmentally sustainable the trip was.

All of this data can help optimize small business travel management. Consequently, it can help you identify gaps in your travel policy, enhancing employee travel experiences and improving the ROI of any trip.

Keeping a check on travel expense fraud

According to a report, organizations lose 5% of their revenue to fraud every year. Hence, keeping a check on expense fraud is crucial. A T&E (travel and expense) software solution can automatically flag duplicate, inflated, or any other out-of-policy expenses.

This way, the manager is more aware of that particular expense report and can check it thoroughly before approving it for reimbursement. Not only will this help to prevent fraud, but it will also save the organization time and money in the long run.

Managing receipts on the cloud

It is a hassle to keep track of paper receipts while on a business trip. However, with an advanced T&E software solution, employees can take a picture of their receipts and upload them on the go. They can also submit their expense reports in just a few clicks. This feature is beneficial both for the employees and the finance team as they can access all receipts in one place.

6. Provide Round-the-clock Travel Support

Business travelers often need help with things related to their travels, be it for upcoming bookings, cancellations, check-ins, visas, or changes in itineraries. Sometimes, business travelers might even need urgent or late-night support.

However, small businesses do not have the resources to answer multiple queries simultaneously. Additionally, it isn’t feasible for in-house travel managers to be available outside of working hours to provide assistance. Consequently, if the travel manager can’t solve the queries, then the business traveler might suffer as a result.

Therefore, it’s best to outsource your travel support. You can work with a travel management company that provides 24/7 business travel assistance via calls, messages, or email. Plus, the software solution they offer should include AI chatbot capabilities so travelers can solve minor emergencies themselves. With this level of support, travelers can focus on their business tasks at hand without worrying about unexpected problems.

7. Automate Travel Management Workflow

Small business travel management can become complicated to manage as the company rapidly expands. In order to keep things running smoothly and efficiently, you’ll need a scalable system in place that can handle all of the additional tasks and volume without any hitches. Not only will this save you time and money in the long run, but it will also help to streamline your travel management workflow so that everything is handled in a timely and organized manner.

For this purpose, you can consider using an advanced travel management software solution. This type of software automates repetitive tasks like searching for travel packages, generating reports, data entry, and analyzing travel spending. 

Additionally, greater visibility into employee travel spending and access to key data related to travel allows you to make more informed financial decisions and identify areas of cost savings. The system also significantly reduces errors, saving money on correction costs. 

Furthermore, business travelers will have a much-improved experience thanks to the convenient auto-booking process and the ability to personalize their travel plans. With a single application, they can track all information related to their trip and modify their itinerary whenever necessary.

Optimize Your Small Business Travel Management

These were the major small business travel management best practices that will help you improve your business travel process and ensure a smooth travel experience for your employees. However, with the help of advanced software solutions, you can manage your business travel without breaking a sweat or emptying your pocket. 

ITILITE is an advanced travel management software solution that empowers your employees to book flight and hotel tickets in just 90 seconds. It also provides 24/7/365 travel support so that your employees can get assistance at any time of the day. With ITILITE, you can configure policies in the system to achieve 100% policy compliance and get real-time insights into traveler spending.

Get a free demo of ITILITE now to try all the features yourself.

Author : Rushmi Behrani
Rushmi Behrani is a content marketer at ITILITE. She specializes in writing content for B2B SaaS, travel and finance. A baking enthusiast by heart, her most cherished memory is opening a cafe during her college days.