How to manage your business travel programme in 2023 and beyond | Insights

Business travel is a significant investment for companies, ranking as the second largest expense after employee salaries. However, when managed effectively, it can generate substantial returns. In fact, studies show that businesses can earn nearly £10 or more in incremental revenue for every dollar invested in business travel. But, managing corporate travel is no easy feat. It involves juggling numerous responsibilities, from consolidating travel expenses to creating itineraries and addressing unexpected issues. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of business travel management as well as 5 key challenges, offering practical solutions for modern businesses.

What is Business Travel Management?

Business travel management refers to the strategic planning, coordination, and control of travel activities undertaken by employees on behalf of an organisation. The primary goal is to optimise travel arrangements, control expenses, and enhance employee productivity and satisfaction while aligning with the organisation’s objectives. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 5 key challenges that can arise when undertaking business travel management.

Challenge 1: Balancing Spending with Traveler Welfare

Business travel management poses the challenge of balancing cost savings with ensuring the well-being and satisfaction of travellers. While controlling expenses is important, it’s equally crucial to consider employees’ welfare during business trips. Achieving this delicate balance requires a thoughtful approach that incorporates financial considerations and traveller preferences.

To address the challenge, companies can empower departments for collaborative planning. By involving various departments in the process, decision-makers can gain valuable insights into each department’s unique travel requirements, preferences, and non-negotiables.

Engaging in discussions about travel frequency, spending caps, and performance targets allows for a comprehensive and balanced business travel management policy. Furthermore, considering factors such as when first-class accommodations may be warranted ensures that traveller welfare is taken into account, promoting comfort and productivity during important business engagements.

Challenge 2: Boosting Hotel Compliance

It is not uncommon for employees to deviate from the approved travel policy and book accommodations through unauthorised platforms. This non-compliance often stems from a lack of awareness regarding the policy guidelines and the potential impact it has on cost savings and expense management. Overcoming this challenge and enhancing hotel compliance within business travel management requires finding effective ways to communicate and educate employees about the importance of adhering to the travel policy.

To address the challenge of boosting hotel compliance, companies need to focus on clear policy communication. Upgrading the travel policy is not enough; it is crucial to ensure that all employees are aware of its existence and understand its implications. By sharing the updated policy with the entire workforce, companies can increase awareness and provide clarity on the preferred booking channels and approved platforms.

The communication should emphasise the benefits of booking accommodations through authorised platforms, such as cost savings and streamlined expense management. Employees need to understand that by adhering to the policy, they contribute to overall cost efficiency and help maintain a fair and consistent approach to hotel bookings. Furthermore, the potential repercussions of overspending on luxurious hotels should be discussed, highlighting the impact on the company’s budget and the need for responsible spending.

Challenge 3: Managing Non-Employee Spending

When it comes to business travel management, keeping a handle on non-employee spending poses another significant challenge. We’re talking about those who aren’t officially on the payroll but play crucial roles, like contractors, evaluators, and interns.

Start by offering them adequate insurance coverage, assuring them that you’ve got their back in any emergency situation. Implement protocols to track their safety and well-being during their travels, ensuring they’re never left in the lurch. Remember: treating non-employees with care and consideration is key.

Clearly communicate the guidelines for their travel expenses, reimbursement policies, and any potential travel benefits they may be eligible for. And here’s a game-changer: consider extending some of those sweet travel perks to non-employees, so their experiences align with your business goals. This little extra effort can boost their satisfaction, foster stronger working relationships, and ultimately contribute to the overall success of your business objectives.

Challenge 4: Handling Bleisure Travels

Picture this: employees jetting off on business trips, but instead of simply focusing on work, they’re also indulging in leisure activities. Welcome to the world of “bleisure” travel, a rising trend, especially among millennials. While it’s a great way to boost employee satisfaction, this merging of business and leisure can pose challenges. Safety risks and additional costs lurk around the corner. So, how can you navigate this unique challenge? The key lies in enforcing policy consistency that balances the desire for leisure with the need for safety and cost management.

To conquer the challenge of bleisure travels, it’s time to establish a clear course with policy consistency. Start by requiring employees to book their flights and accommodations through authorised platforms. This not only ensures consistency but also allows you to keep tabs on their whereabouts, even during non-business hours. Safety should always be at the forefront, so don’t forget to include provisions for travel insurance to protect employees and the company from unforeseen events.

Guidelines for bringing family members along can help strike a balance between work and personal life. By setting boundaries and expectations, you can manage potential risks and keep costs in check. It’s about finding the sweet spot where employees can enjoy their leisure time while staying aligned with company policies and goals.

Challenge 5: Balancing International and Local Trips

Business travel in the global arena presents a distinctive challenge for multinational companies: the need to harmonise global rules while accommodating the idiosyncrasies and exceptions of each local destination. So, how do you successfully navigate this intricate web of international travel? The solution lies in the creation of specific policies tailored to the realm of international travel, which empowers employees while upholding a sense of control.

Striking the right balance between international and local trips necessitates a customised approach. It is imperative to develop a dedicated rule book exclusively focused on international travel, allowing for the accommodation of diverse needs and cultural norms across various countries.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to avoid excessive policy creation for destinations where your company seldom operates. Instead, channel your efforts towards areas of frequent travel and establish clear guidelines for one-off trips. This targeted approach ensures a harmonious equilibrium between flexibility and control, granting employees the liberty to navigate the complexities of international travel while preserving consistency and aligning with your organisation’s objectives.

Should I outsource my business travel management?

Managing business travel in the modern era requires tackling various challenges. By striking a balance between spending and traveller welfare, boosting compliance, addressing non-employee travel, handling bleisure trips, and balancing international and local considerations, organisations can optimise their travel programs. Effective business travel management leads to improved cost control, enhanced employee satisfaction, and increased business success. And by implementing practical solutions and clear policies, businesses can navigate the complexities of business travel and achieve.

Here’s where ACE Travel Management UK can help. We couple our extensive global capabilities with tailored business travel management operations to deliver a truly comprehensive strategy built around you. From global and regional solutions to AI personalisations and everything in between, we enable you to travel with confidence. And best of all, we tackle all of these business travel challenges head-on, so you can rest easy knowing that your business travel is being taken care of by experts.

If you would like to know more about what we offer here at ACE Travel Management UK, take a look at our services here.