In conversation with Jasminder S Brishan (Jassi) – Business Travel Expert, Industry Veteran

Indian Travel Challenges

We reached out to Jassi, a seasoned business travel professional, to gain insights on the latest trends in the industry. Continuing our conversation from Part 1 let’s dive into the more interesting aspects of business travel.

IL: Do you think approval systems in companies are being considered more seriously by the new-age solutions?

JB: When it comes to approval systems, I believe that they have progressed in the new age of tech solutions. In the past, the process of getting approvals for travel was quite tiring and time-consuming. But now, with the increasing amount of dedicated solutions to our approvals, we have seen a significant improvement and upscaling.

However, it is important to note that the value of the approval system depends on the specific needs and requirements of each corporate travel program. For instance, in my organization, we have adopted a system where the approximate cost of travel has to be approved by the manager. This ensures that the process is simplified and saves time for both the employee and the approver.

In the future, I believe that approval systems will continue to evolve to become more personalized and tailored to the needs of each corporate travel program. With the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can expect to see a more automated and predictive system that can anticipate the needs of the traveler and provide real-time approvals.

IL: What role do reports play in travel management? What sort of reports do you benefit the most from?

JB: As a travel manager, I can confidently say that reports are a crucial aspect of managing travel expenses.

The reports I find particularly valuable include information on our top ten travelers, the top five hotels we book, and the airlines our employees prefer. We also keep track of our car rental expenses, including the average spend per day and total mileage traveled.

I have always made it a point to review our reports every month, providing my team with actionable insights that could improve our booking process. One important area of focus for us was understanding why some travelers were booking through agents instead of booking online. By following up with these individuals, we were able to identify pain points and make necessary improvements to our system. All of this and more can only be possible through hyper-focused reporting systems.

Overall, our approach is one of collaboration and transparency. We aimed to provide everyone involved in the travel process with the information they needed to make informed decisions that aligned with our policies and budget.

IL: Do you think managing travel worldwide is challenging concerning the booking habits of travellers in different parts of the world? How do you deal with this?

JB: Managing travel worldwide can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. As we have seen during the pandemic, it is possible to negotiate rates and manage travel from anywhere in the world. It’s all about how you sell the idea to the management and get their buy-in.

One of the biggest Indian travel challenges is convincing travelers that they can receive the same level of local support, regardless of where the travel manager is based. There may be cultural and location-specific differences to consider, but with frequent interaction and communication, we can bridge these gaps and build trust.

For example: recently, a female traveler faced an issue while checking into a hotel with her virtual card payment. My team member, who was working the night shift, escalated the issue to our company. I happened to wake up at 3:34 am by pure coincidence and saw the email. I immediately messaged the traveler and her manager, offering a quick solution. I provided her with an alternate card number with which she could complete the transaction. The next day, she expressed gratitude for the assistance. We need to be there for our clients in their time of need, even if it’s outside of regular working hours.

Time zones also cause Indian travel challenges, but we can offer solutions to ensure that travelers have access to support whenever they need it. By being available during their time zone, we can ensure that we are there for them every step of the way.

IL: Do you think change management hampers a company’s ability to onboard better solutions? How have you dealt with a challenging change implementation?

JB: As a manager, I understand that change can be met with some resistance. However, it’s important to push through and embrace the new tools and processes that are being implemented. It’s natural to feel comfortable with what we’re used to, but change can often lead to better outcomes and improved efficiency.

In my experience, I have found that focusing on training and communication, tracking milestones in tech adoption, and rewarding the change champions are key to a successful change management implementation. By ensuring that everyone is up-to-date and informed about the new tools and processes, we can all work together towards a common goal.

About Jasminder S Brishan (Jassi):

Jasminder S Brishan is a professional with nearly 20+ years of experience in corporate world of Operations – Strategic Sourcing, Procurement, Global Travel, Mobility, Administration, Event Management and MICE. She has a global experience in enhancing processes and reducing costs; accomplished in using optimization models to determine least cost efficiency and maximizing customer experience.