Business travel management has become more challenging after the recent pandemic. COVID-19 has significantly changed the corporate travel landscape, bringing in new difficulties and unknowns while the usual demands of the job remain everywhere. Though we cannot predict the future, there is no-doubt that pandemic will have a long-term impact on the corporate travel experience and business plans.
Most companies are now prepared to be flexible with travel and expense policies for the safety of their employees. According to a recent study, around 65 percent of companies said they had modified their travel safety and security policies. Around 55 percent of companies said they have set up new procedures and technologies. Also, unnecessary business travel is being restricted, and companies have made business travel approvals more stringent.
However, the ‘next new normal’ will be completely brand new; often, it may increase the focus on areas that businesses were already working on. In this article, we present a few tips for addressing some of the main issues affecting business travel management – not just now but also in the future.
Dealing with Canceled Flights and Refunds
With corporate travel ground to a halt in the wake of pandemic and a return to previous levels may take several months, you’ll need a solid strategy as soon as possible for dealing with this problem.
A single canceled trip can cost you a lot, mostly because refunds are never used for future trips. This opens the door for huge amounts of lost money – an alarming prospect for companies of all sizes. Implementing a refund policy tracking system helps you get the real-time reports that track unused tickets, and make a plan for recovering that money.
Controlling Business Travel Expenditure
No matter what is happening in corporate travel, controlling expenses and making better use of resources is an ongoing challenge for business travel management teams.
A robust travel and expense management system make compliance easy for your employees, helps you secure special rates with hotels, and offer real-time data and transparency to make better decisions. Latest cloud-based systems, which are easy to implement, can take your corporate travel and expense management to the next level, providing tools to customize your operations.
Airfares are the major portion of travel spend, so it essential to reduce these costs and get the best fares possible. But, that is not easy to do in these unprecedented times – with fewer routes, more border closings, and ever-changing government legislation – airfares have become hugely unpredictable.
This messy situation makes it difficult to be sure your employees are getting the lowest fares. Without the right corporate travel management system, you will almost certainly end up paying too much for airfare. Implementing advanced tools like airfare price tracker can help you monitor changes in fares and get the best rates.
Secure Payment Methods
When examining your business travel program as a whole, it is crucial considering whether the payment options you are currently using offer the kind of fraud protection, flexibility, and transparency you need to make your operations more efficient.
In the last few years, virtual payment cards have been largely implemented in business travel. The central billing option of this payment method eliminates the risks and inconveniences of the typical business credit card. You can set up a virtual payment card for specific uses, vendors, and locations, reducing the chance of fraudulent activity. Reconciliation is also easy when these controls are in place.
Mainly, enabling business travel booking with a virtual payment card eliminates the problem of credit limits due to the card’s centralized nature and freedom from any individual card or account. Also, airfare price tracking can look for cheaper flights and rebook them automatically. Without the restriction of credit limits that might usually create a barrier for this process, your travel management system can rebook flights and make better savings.
Make Better Use of Travel Data
As corporate travel begins to bounce back, there may be dozens of employees planning, booking, and traveling on business trips at any instance. With a lot of bookings happening at once, it can difficult to get a clear picture of your travel program.
When your travel and expense management system allows you to run reports, look at reports, and analyze specific trends, you have a better chance of correcting any issues and capitalizing on any opportunities. But, make sure that your travel and expense management solution empowers you to make better use of travel data and strengthen your decision-making.
Prioritize Traveler Wellness
Though employee needs can be easy to ignore sometimes, it is a crucial element to your corporate travel management operations. Even though you are in pursuit of saving money and making your travel program more efficient, investment in workforce wellness is always money well spent.
No matter what you are trying to accomplish through business travel management, be sure to prioritize policies and practices that consider the employee experience. Because extra stress, loss of productivity, and time away from family negatively affect employees – and finally, your organization. Conversely, when your employees know their wellbeing is a concern, they’re happier, more productive, and more likely to stick with the organization even through hard times.
A well-developed employee wellness program that considers factors such as flight delays, cancellations, lounge access, middle seats, and more is essential to provide a rich picture of an individual traveler’s wellness at a given point. An advanced travel and expense management system can offer necessary tools for improving the employee experience and avoid dissatisfaction and burnout.
Developing a Post-COVID Business Travel Policy
Covid-19 has made a lasting effect not just on the travel industry but also on the way people connect around the world. The things that business travel managers once took for granted – the ability to network, conduct meetings, and travel at will – have been affected. The business travel policies that worked in the past are now outdated. Despite this, recovery will take place, though it may be slow and incremental.
As businesses slowly reintroduce travel, you need to be sure your corporate travel management policy takes the new reality into account. For beginners, you should re-examine how to balance providing a duty of care with keeping within tight budgets. It is also essential to stay up-to-date on changes in travel restrictions and automate as much of your policy as possible to replicate the ever-changing situation. Also, the changes in airfare prices – whether due to increased flexibility – are always a smart thing to monitor.
No matter what modifications are required to be made to your corporate travel management, make sure that your travelers have reviewed and know the new rules. Ask them to update their contact details, book within your policy, and keep you informed of any inconveniences the new policies might cause. Having an up-to-date and transparent travel policy makes all the difference in meeting your business travel and expense management goals.
An Integrated Technology to Reflect Your Travel Policy
By investing in an integrated travel and expense management system, you can reduce delays as well as pain points, enhance productivity, compliance, and your overall bottom line. The online solution offers everything that your employees need, from flights and hotels to trains and cabs. With online travel and expense management, you can set better cost control and streamline processes, as well as employee care. Also, with an intuitive travel booking experience on a mobile app, employees will be able to search, book, modify itineraries and submit expenses on the go. Managers can review and approve employee travel expenses with just a click of a button.
Centralized Systems are Important to Manage Travel across an Organization
Today, companies are favoring global business tools for travel and expense management instead of decentralized systems, with multiple and disconnected solutions. Having a centralized system ensures that data will inherently be accurate and standardized. For instance, if a change in travel and expense policy is decided, travel managers can quickly and easily deploy the new strategy and settings. For organizations with multiple business units, you will only have to change the policy in one place, and it will be replicated for all employees across the world.
Travel, digital transformation, and business sustainability will continue being important on agendas for companies as they resume activity. With digital transformation at the top of mind as business priorities, travel will re-emerge as more resilient, more sustainable, and more digital than ever before. Technology, therefore, will play a crucial role as an enabler and accelerator of recovery. With the right travel policy, the development and implementation of new technologies will accelerate to reduce risks, fraud and improve employee confidence.
The goal of digital transformation is to create a company that is more responsive to change – not as an event but as an ongoing reality. An online expense management solution with an integrated travel management system can enrich your business trips and respond effectively to new requirements.