U.S. employees take more than 405 million business trips per year, and corporate travel accounts for more than 16% of all long-distance trips in the country. For many businesses of all industries and sizes, booking corporate flights and travel accommodation requests are some of the hardest parts of getting a business trip off the ground. When you have numerous employees traveling to different locations, you might be concerned about travel budget bloat.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the most common obstacles businesses face when it comes to corporate travel bookings. We will also provide solutions detailing how to book corporate travel while keeping your business running efficiently, within budget, and without sacrificing the quality of your travel content or your employee’s safety.
1. Create a corporate travel policy.
If you don’t have a business travel booking procedure in place, you’re taking a lot of unnecessary risks. When businesses don’t have a streamlined process that employees can use to book travel, then you’re creating a situation where there is a lot of potential for error. It’s expensive to change flights at the last minute or request a seating upgrade a few days before take-off. What to do?
You need to outline a travel policy that’s easy for employees to access and follow. Create an approvals process (or build it into your online booking tool like you can with Deem) and company-approved guidelines for bookings and reservations. You’ll also want to outline a per-diem for in city travel-related expenses.
A significant and sometimes buried cost is cancelled flights. Airlines offer the option of using these cancelled tickets for a future trip, but only if they are applied to a new itinerary before the expiration date. No doubt, your travelers are busy people, and they’re likely to forget they have an unused ticket in the system waiting to be applied. Don’t worry! There’s a simple solution to this problem – automatic ticket exchange. Some online booking tools, like Deem Work Fource, flag unused airline tickets and then apply them to a traveler’s next airline booking – with no hassle for the traveler, no calls to the travel agent and no flight bookings wasted.
2. Negotiate on corporate travel airline flights.
Flying is one of the most popular modes of business transportation. But flights can get expensive, especially if company travel is a large part of your operations. When you have many different employees traveling for work, those costs can get out-of-hand if you’re not careful.
When you partner with an airline for corporate travel, you can save on:
Luggage and overhead fees
Cancellation and change fees
Airline lounge access
Just to name a few. When you start shopping around for an airline supplier, look at it as a long-term partnership. If you can guarantee a particular airline a significant number of passengers and flights per year, the odds are good you’ll negotiate a discount off the items listed above. You may even secure a discount off the retail rate of popular routes.
3. Encourage early booking for corporate travel.
Time is money, and this has never been truer than in the travel industry. If your travelers wait until the last minute to book flights or hotel rooms, your company will end up paying a premium that could otherwise have been avoided. Booking flights and reserving rooms 21 days or less before the departure date will raise your travel costs. Instead, educate your travelers to book their flights and lodgings at least one month - preferably more – in advance of the intended travel date. To avoid change fees on the hotel side of the booking, make sure you encourage employees to book only with hotels that offer generous cancellation and change policies – this will save you a lot of money in the long run.
4. Save on corporate rates at hotels and accommodation.
Does your organization do a lot of business travel to the same place? Airlines aren’t the only part of the travel industry where it pays to negotiate. Consider negotiating with specific hotels for a discount for your frequent travelers. Sophisticated online solutions, like HRS for example, can source the cheapest rates and alert you when there is a significant price drop. You won’t have to spend your time negotiating with multiple hotel suppliers. Instead, you can let software and A.I. do it for you.
5. Set a per diem per city for corporate travel.
Some companies may outline a corporate travel policy where the employee pays for their food and transportation needs upfront, but they will get reimbursed later for their trip expenses. Not only can this seem inconvenient or stressful for employees, but it can also bloat your company’s travel budget. Instead, outline a budget for food, transportation, and corporate car services. Consider giving your travelers a company credit card specifically set aside for travel. Business travel cards offer increased perks and rewards which can ultimately lower your future corporate travel costs.
6. Use an online booking tool to manage your corporate travel policy.
When you create and implement a clear business travel procedure, your employees will know what decisions to make that are compliant with your policies. Online booking tools can help automate this process. With an online booking tool, you can monitor your employee’s bookings and prevent them from straying outside of your company travel policies before an expensive issue arises. Online booking tools present travel policy badges and warnings during the entire booking process, which encourages employees to book responsibly when they are choosing their flights, hotels and ground transportation options.
What’s our bottom line when it comes to booking business travel? When you help your employees, you help your company grow. The less time your employees spend organizing and managing their trips, the more time they spend working.
Booking corporate travel and finding flights and accommodations for your travelers that fit your policy doesn’t need to be time-consuming or difficult. With a well thought out policy, negotiated rates and clear traveler guidelines, you can overcome any business travel challenge. Even better, you’ll keep your travelers happy and productive while they’re out on the road.
Are you a growing company?
If you’re a small but growing company, you may worry you don’t have the budget for the powerful online booking solutions on the market. In a case like this, you should consider a self-service or light weight option for online booking, like Deem Emerging. To learn more visit Deem Emerging.