Complex Corporate Travel Problems Solved

September 14, 2021

A corporate travel manager’s job is rarely, if ever, easy. Travel managers must navigate changing corporate policies, a renewed focus on duty of care and the overall health of employees, fatigued and anxious travelers, and unpredictable budgets, while still optimizing an organization’s travel operations.

Requirements often vary widely across company’s organization and supporting the needs of multiple traveler types continues to cause major headaches for travel managers. 

“All industries can relate to these organizational challenges,” said Tim Ring, Deem senior manager, solutions consulting. “In higher education, for example, travel booking requirements can vary widely for faculty, staff, student affairs, cabinet-level executives, and development. In consulting firms, road warrior consultants have vastly different needs and rules than the tax accountants.”

Even with newer technology, managing multiple business rules unique to specific groups can be onerous. Corporate travel managers must contend with employees limited to economy flights and cars, executives with first-class permissions, and guest travelers with yet a third set of rules.  

More often than not, widely used technology solutions still require separate, siloed sites to support disparate business rules for each distinct group. This creates unnecessary workflow redundancies that eat up time and resources.

What is Single Site Builder?

To overcome these challenges, corporate travel software must mitigate the need to manage multiple sites and facilitate different business rules for different travelers across complex, even global, organizations. “For corporate travel managers who are juggling myriad business requirements for multiple traveler groups, the holy grail,” noted Ring, “is to be able to do it all on a single site.”

Deem’s corporate travel management platform, Etta, offers just this. Etta’s technology infrastructure includes a back-end Single Site Builder feature that allows travel managers to administer multiple user groups in one site. That includes unique policy requirements, payment types, and targeted communications to specific users or across groups.

“Corporate travel managers don’t need to be versed in the mechanics of the Single Site Builder to feel the full impact of its capabilities,” continued Ring. “The end result is happier, more informed, and more productive travelers.” 

Etta product teams simplify processes from the get-go, mapping out tailored environments for corporate travel managers’ unique requirements. The end result is a customized, one-stop shop where travel managers can fully serve and maintain all unique group requirements at once, but with unique views for each.

Efficiency in practice

In larger organizations, complex travel business rules vary by department, business unit, country, traveler type, and more. With common, legacy booking tools, each requirement needs its own setting, built out over many steps. That means travel managers must maintain multiple, separate sites to manage each unique configuration, and duplicate manual tasks for every update or change.

The unique Single Site Builder feature in Etta approaches configuration requirements very differently. Rather than creating separate configurations for each user group, Etta’s unique configuration sets can be created once and applied to multiple user groups that share the same requirement. “If a travel policy changes,” explains Ring, “policy updates will be applied automatically to all user groups the policy is associated with, even across departments or groups.”

Expanded stakeholders

Streamlining back-end management processes certainly makes the lives of corporate travel managers easier. Etta’s benefits also extend to travel arrangers, empowering them with self-service functionality.

Alternative multi-site environments require arrangers to operate in the same configurations as the travelers they support. An arranger for a VIP, for example, can only support that VIP and not a traveler under a different policy. With a single-site approach, arrangers can support multiple traveler types in one, central location.  

This extends a new flexibility to arrangers around whom they can support and how. What’s more, employee profile changes are automated in the Single Site Builder, so that when a traveler receives a promotion or moves to another area, she is automatically placed in the corresponding new group for a seamless change.

Thinking beyond travel policy

“When considering any booking tool,” explained Ring, “travel managers need to look beyond just how policy and content are represented. It’s equally important to consider payment functionalities, ease of maintenance, and communication and messaging capabilities.” 

While payment, in particular, can be an afterthought in the context of booking tools, it is something that greatly impacts travel managers, finance professionals and the organizations they serve. For instance, companies that use business travel account (BTA) cards — also known as ghost or lodge cards — are often challenged with how to associate these BTA cards with the appropriate travelers.  

When different business units each have their own cards, the process to manually upload the card information and match it to individual users is time consuming and error prone. Managing cards at a site level, however, allows travel managers to build specific payment information into each group.

“This is probably the most unique benefits of Single Site Builder,” noted Ring. “Ghost cards don’t have to exist in a traveler’s profile. If a company has one site card, we can include it at the site level where all airline tickets can be charged. If a company uses ghost cards at a division or department level, we can include it at the user group level. Any user associated with that group will have access to that payment type. This can be the only allowed payment type or an option for the traveler.  

“What’s more, payment rules can vary for air, rail, and hotel,” he continued. “This approach to payment in general is much more flexible, allowing payment support to vary by user groups. This way, groups can choose between BTA cards, the VIP’s own card, or even a virtual card for hotels.”

Easy maintenance and communication

Easier travel and expense management brings sighs of relief to travel and finance managers. It also speeds implementation of the booking tool. In a multi-site environment, companies with, for example, five different BTA cards, five traveler types, and one policy would have to build at least five sites, rebuilding the same policy each time.  

With Single Site Builder, Deem builds one site and applies the policy, payment options, custom fields, tailored site messaging, and even unique fulfillment requirements to each of the five groups accordingly. Should the common policy change, the update happens just once at the site level, then is automatically copied down to all the different groups.  

Should site messaging need to be updated, it can be updated once and applied to all user groups. Ongoing site maintenance becomes manageable, more efficient, and ultimately more effective.

And in our current context, tailored communication is more important than ever before. Ensuring duty of care, for example, can mean destination-specific messaging around Covid-19 measures that can vary from New York to London to Beijing.  

Using Single Site Builder, corporate travel managers can easily distribute messages to specific groups. Travel managers can also send a single update, such as an airline strike notice, to multiple user groups at once.

A better way

Corporate travel management is not short on complexities in today’s world. What can make the road less bumpy is a travel management platform that offers users customizable dashboards with features such as the Single Site Builder that can facilitate administration, maintenance, payments, communication, and more across multiple groups from one place.

As the travel landscape and business policies continue to shift, tools that make life easier for travel managers, arrangers, and travelers themselves can rebalance under-resourced teams and provide the agility necessary for quick change. Optimizing resources and streamlining processes is the way forward for smart corporate travel in this era of challenge and beyond.

Author

Meredith Trimble
Senior-level Content Creator & Communications Pro

Meredith Trimble is a senior-level content creator and communications professional specializing in topics relevant to the public sector. A former municipal official, her background also includes posts in federal and state-level government agencies: as the Associate Editor of the Federal Election Commission’s FEC Record; and the Director of Education and Communications for the Connecticut Office of State Ethics. Trimble’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Hartford Courant, Hartford Business Journal, and a variety of special interest and industry journals and publications.

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