Does this sound like your business? You’re growing, you’ve expanded your team, your client base has increased and there are more opportunities on the horizon. It’s exciting times. At the same time your costs have grown – and that includes spending money on travel.
When the business was small it was easy to know who was where and keep a handle on costs, but as you’ve grown your people are travelling more and you’re finding it hard to keep a track of them, and even harder to keep a track of how much money is being spent on getting from A to B and everywhere in between.
And those new employees need to know where they should stay, how they should get there, how much they should spend and what is, and isn’t, okay when travelling.
Spending on travel (and associated expenses) is one of the top 3 controllable annual expenses for many businesses. But, unlike, say stationery, travel isn’t just an expense, it can also impact on your employees’ safety and wellbeing. For this reason, for many large organisation Travel is a managed program, in some cases under its own business unit, with comprehensive policies and procedures and its own procurement category.
Not everyone needs, or can afford, a dedicated travel department, however all businesses can implement a travel program to manage costs, and every business has a duty to ensure the safety of their employees whilst travelling on your company’s behalf.
Where to begin? Here are some basics to get you started on the managed travel path.
1. Data is Key. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you’re using a business travel agency (or travel management company), ensure they’re providing you with regular, detailed and accurate data on every aspect of travel they’re booking for you. If you use multiple booking channels identify other sources of data that contain information on travel such as expense claims, airline business reporting, credit card and/or invoice reconciliations.
Good data will not only tell you how much is being spent on travel, but also on what, where, by whom and if it was the best option. It enables trends to be recognised, savings opportunities to be identified and forecasts to be made and budgeted for.
2. Make it Clear. Document a travel policy that provides your people with clear guidelines and procedures on all areas of travel. How do they book, with whom and for what aspects of their trip? Who approves it? What are the spending guidelines? What should they know whilst they’re travelling? What do they do in an emergency or if something changes? What expenses can they claim and how do they do it?
Make it clear, simple to follow and readily available to everyone. The best policy is one that people actually know about.
3. Duty of Care. It is every employer’s legal and moral duty to ensure the safety of their employees and that doesn’t stop when they’re travelling on behalf of your organisation. You need to know where they are, how to contact them in an emergency and be able to get them to safety. It’s your duty to assess the risks beforehand, and determine if the trip can go ahead or not. You need to equip your employees with the right knowledge and resources to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Build safety and security into your travel policy and ensure you have a traveller tracking and communication process in place. All good travel management companies will assist in this area.
4. Consider Consolidating. If you’re utilising multiple booking channels and finding it hard to keep on top of points 1-3 above, it might be time to consolidate all your bookings with a travel management company who will manage this and other aspects of your program (such as fare and rate negotiations), for you.
Are your people travelling to one city a lot, if so negotiating a preferred rate with a single hotel, based on an agreed number of room nights per year may save you money. Likewise preferred fares and rates can be negotiated with specific airlines and car hire companies.
5. Assign an Owner. Assign someone to take overall ownership of the program, someone in your organisation that keeps an eye on the expenditure, negotiates with travel suppliers, understands, refines and communicates your travel policy and procedures. If you don’t have someone within your organisation that either has the time or knowledge, think about utilising the gig-economy and outsourcing to a specialist.
Managing your business travel isn’t simply about containing costs, and saving money, it’s also about your people’s safety, wellbeing and comfort, and therefore worth the investment in time to get it right.
Like to know more about managed travel? Drop me an email here.
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