Trade Your Travel Management Software for Streamlined Hotel Trip Management
Juggling expenses, record-keeping and travel management aren’t the same today as they were a few years ago.
Now travel policies adapt to include action plans for remote workers, and extra flexible or hybrid trips.
So: with staff frequently rotating between business events, working from home, and various work locations, how do you simplify your trip management?
Until recently, if you wanted to book a hotel room for business travel, you probably used travel management software. These paid software services help coordinate business travel but cost a pretty penny — and their systems are often outdated. But the alternative — doing your own research through on Online Booking Tool, doesn’t provide the deep-level of support travel managers need: follow-up, monitoring, reporting, and other essential parts of the job.
Not to mention that the platforms can be confusing.
In today’s competitive digital hospitality world, there are better options.
In this article we’ll walk you the key features you should look for in selecting the right booking option for you — and show you what these alternatives to corporate travel management software could be doing for you.
What to look for in the right booking tool
The point of corporate travel management software is to make travel management easier. You pay a high cost to have access to tools designed to make business travel booking easier.
But what if you can’t afford that travel management software — or would just like to save that money?
You could go to an online booking tool — but for business travel, you really need more than the average booking platform offers.
Fortunately, there are other options that help you plan, book and manage business trips all in one place.
The right tool will have key features, like:
- Easier booking
- Streamlined billing
- Better check-ins
- Custom reporting
- Great (human) customer service
- Loyalty points and rewards
- An easy-to-use platform
Ask yourself: With your current system, how many tabs do you have open at a time while you search for the best deal or more variety?
If you don’t know, you might need a new travel solution.
But if you’re thinking of hiring a travel management company to do the research for you, it’s not necessary.
Hotel Engine is a free-to-use booking platform that provides you with one easy place for business trip management. With Hotel Engine, you can:
- Filter your searches
- Find savings, variety, and quality
- Bookmark your favorite properties
- Save your staff as regular guests
- Hide properties you don’t like from your results list
And because travel policies can enforce your budget, you could delegate the task of booking a hotel to your staff. Simply set up custom spending limits in your travel policies, and Hotel Engine will filter the search results to rooms within your price range. You can even set different limits for different employees, with tiered policies — all included with your free account.
Travel plans are never set in stone. Weather, illnesses, and many other variables play a role in whether your travelers make it to their hotels on time or not. Your booking platform should understand this and include flexible options.
Find a platform where you can book rooms for employee travel that can be canceled or rescheduled at no charge.
Better yet, use a platform like Hotel Engine, where you can make any booking a flexible one.
How? If you book with Flex, you can cancel your booking anytime before noon on check-in day, or get reimbursed if you shorten a stay — even you booked a “nonrefundable” room.
And, if you’re coordinating a complicated trip for a large group, you’ll be assigned your very own Account Manager to source and book the right stay — and they can make those changes for you as they come up.
What’s your current process for reconciling corporate lodging expenses? If you use an online booking tool, you’ll have to manually reconcile your charges for each traveler — which is why a lot of businesses pay for travel management software.
But that’s not the only option.
Hotel Engine offers all those features with your free account. Streamlined billing features include custom fields where you can insert job numbers, staff codes, and other factors to make reconciliation easier. Direct billing makes for convenient payments — with invoicing on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
Better check-ins (and incidental coverage!)
Some booking platforms make check-in a breeze for your travelers. Hotel Engine, for instance, calls the hotel the day before check-in, to confirm guests’ reservations.
And, rather than requiring employees to provide their own credit cards at check-in and wait for reimbursement, platforms like Hotel Engine can cover incidental deposits for you, adding any finalized charges to your Direct Bill.
And, since you will also have instant access to hotel folios, this free-to-use booking platform removes the worry of overspending — without any cumbersome expense approval workflows.
Your business isn’t one-size-fits-all, and your reporting features shouldn’t be, either.
Great trip management software has options like:
- Simplified tracking and actionable data
- A custom dashboard to highlight what matters most to you
- Downloadable expense reports that you can utilize for spend management knowledge and improve your budget over time
Reporting features should be beneficial to you and customizable for your specific business travel management needs. Otherwise, a booking tool won’t be able to adapt with you as your business and travel budget change and grow.
Great (human) customer service
Emergencies aren’t conveniently timed. They don’t confine themselves to the 9 to 5 schedule, and neither should your booking software’s customer support.
Otherwise, your travelers could be stranded without help.
To avoid this, look for a platform with real assistance reachable online or over the phone 24/7.
Nowadays — it can be hard to find.
With many travel management software solutions and online booking tools, you’ll be limited to certain business hours, or redirected to call centers that aren’t manned by employees of the company you’ve been working with.
You might end up on hold in the middle of the night.
In critical moments, it’s essential that your travelers can reach help quickly.
Ideally, the platform will take care of potential issues proactively, engaging in actions like calling the hotel ahead of time to confirm check-in or to field special requests.
Hotel Engine has just that kind of proactive support, as well as 24/7 US-based live support (and live chat). Every person in Member Support is an actual Hotel Engine employee, knowledgeable about how to advocate for our customers with hotels. Their job is to provide you with the best possible service..
Plus, when you’re booking an extended stay or a large group trip, you’ll automatically be assigned a dedicated account manager to provide you with white-glove support — at no additional charge.
Price is factor in every business transaction, and corporate travel management is no exception. There’s often a precarious balance between quality lodging, simplified trip management and staying within budget.
Travel management software might provide you with quality lodging and simplified trip management, but their contracts are costly, and often come with high minimum requirements and fees.
On the other hand, typical online booking tools are free to use, but are designed for individual personal travel — so they don’t simplify corporate travel or billing at all.
Only Hotel Engine gives you all these qualities (and more) — with your free account.
Loyalty points and rewards
Unfortunately, it’s rare to find a platform, agency or software that can provide you with all of these benefits as well as rewards. Typically, hotel loyalty points can only be earned if you book with a hotel directly.
Hotel Engine is the exception.
When you join Hotel Engine, you can opt into HE Rewards and earn loyalty points with every stay — redeemable later for room discounts or free nights.
And when you book an eligible room, you can also earn loyalty rewards from 15+ top hotel loyalty programs (like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors) at the same time.
An easy to use website or platform
Last (but certainly not least), your booking solution needs to be easy to use. Navigating online booking tools can be difficult, and it’s one of the reasons why some companies pay for expensive travel management solutions.
But they don’t need to.
Platforms like Hotel Engine are intuitive to use, and come with onboarding support to explain the ropes.
Hotel Engine has great, intuitive features that let you book, modify, cancel, and extend your own stays without picking up the phone.
What the right hotel booking tool could be doing for you
Travel management software offers several benefits. Let’s look at some.
Simplifying the life of your travel manager
It might not be their job title, but there’s someone in your company responsible for making sure your travelers get where they need to go — and have a place to sleep when they get there.
It might even be several people, or differ based on who is traveling.
No matter what, the right tool should reduce the amount of time your staff spends booking and confirming travel arrangements — while maintaining duty of care standards.
When you pick a tool that simplifies booking, makes changes flexible, streamlines billing and reporting, comes with world class support — and is free to use — it will definitely simplify your trip management as a whole.
Improving the ROI
Studies show that for each dollar you invest in business travel, you should see a return on that investment (ROI) of $12.50 in incremental revenue. Ultimately, the overall return is $3.80 in profits after all applicable expenses. Who wouldn’t want a 380% return on spending?
But some people forget that spending — of time as well as money — also affects your ROI.
Paying for an expensive travel management software, and meeting their minimum requirements in a new, post-pandemic world, becomes a factor in the budget.
And the time your travel coordinators spend working with a TMC, or going it alone on an online booking platform also has financial value.
A new booking system could streamline your tasks, and ultimately improve your ROI.
A dedicated hotel booking system like Hotel Engine provides:
- Better expense management
- Easily filterable hotel searches
- Personalized hotel recommendations for group or long-term stays
- Exclusive savings and negotiated group rates
- Travel policies and custom fields for delegating booking within budget
- Custom reporting dashboards to view spending trends and get actionable data
- Serious time (and money!) savings
Optimizing your processes
A TMS helps travel managers book, track and analyze business travel data.
The right TMS can automate processes, monitor spending in real-time, and keep tabs on your staff from anywhere in the world.
An optimal management process consists of multiple experts who produce software that goes in-depth on one functionality, such as booking or lodging.
When you use tools that specialize in transportation or lodging, you have a system that does everything you need and integrates together in crucial ways.
Your TMS can minimize your role in redundant tasks by automating parts of these processes for you.
Travel management software and online booking tools can record travel inventory, take into account your company’s travel policies, and use auditing tools to ensure everything is on point. And, as long as you’re utilizing the updated features in your TMS, the changes should reflect the latest federal guidelines and regulations in the travel industry.
The benefits of Hotel Engine’s booking solution
Hotel Engine specializes in booking great corporate lodging, so the free-to-use system has everything you need for better business bookings. It simplifies the search, streamlines the trip, and provides valuable expense insights to keep your budget on track.
Hotel Engine’s tools also allow you to set up your own travel policies and spending limits, making it possible for employees to book their own accommodations and removing the need for a single person to maintain everything.
You can even set those travel policies to reflect the GSA’s rates, so they’ll stay up to date when policies change.
And when your employees are on the road, you can count on easy access to tools to make modifications or special requests, which can be done online or through our mobile app within seconds.
After your stay, you and your finance team can view data on how your business travel program generates profits or needs work – with just a few clicks. Plus, consolidating expenses with our Direct Bill program (and creating your own custom fields for details like job numbers) makes reconciliation a breeze.
By radically simplifying business trip management, Hotel Engine frees you up to work on the deeper level jobs that only you can do.
Plus, with Hotel Engine’s fast-responding, 24/7, US-based human customer service — you can rest easy, knowing you can get informed support any time of day.
Before you begin planning another business trip, stop everything and look closely at your system.
- Is your travel management software (or online booking tool) really helping you book lodging, handle reporting, and monitor staff itineraries? Is it time- and cost-effective?
- Do your traveling employees have loads of paperwork when they get back for travel expenses and reimbursement (that you might have to remind them to complete?)
- Can you access hotel folios or budget reports whenever you need them?
The answer to all of these questions should be “Yes” — because business travel shouldn’t be a hassle for anyone.
Stop settling for expensive travel management software, or time-consuming self-booking processes.
Expect better trip management and you’ll get it: from Hotel Engine. Join for free to get started today!
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Sara Kern is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She worked as a writer in the tech and apparel industries for almost a decade before joining the HE family, but also has experience coordinating business travel for fast-moving nonprofits, so she knows firsthand how hard it can be. She joined Hotel Engine in 2022 and is excited to be a part of the movement to radically simplify trip management for everyone.