The job description of a corporate travel manager is continually evolving. If you’ve been in the industry for more than a few years, you’ve likely noticed a shift already.
Not too long ago, people wanted to control every aspect of their travel itineraries. Today, it’s almost the opposite.
Business people, in particular, want to be as hands-off as possible, preferring to spend their time on other tasks. They’ve learned that working with a good corporate travel manager more than pays for itself.
Companies can save a lot of money by hiring an expert to reduce travel expenses. This means that in-house travel managers are in demand.
To keep that demand high despite a growing list of responsibilities, you need to work more efficiently and effectively.
We hope that these productivity hacks will help you do just that.
1. Keep Your Corporate Travel Policy Updated
As a travel manager, you’re in charge of the company’s travel policy.
This can be difficult as costs, procedures, and preferences are always changing. Your rules and guidelines need to adapt to industry trends and evolving technology.
Fluctuating gas prices, inflation, and other monetary concerns will have to be accounted for, too.
One example is the IRS tax laws on reimbursing employees for using their personal vehicles. When this law changes, you’ll need to update your company mileage policy.
Although the details will constantly vary, the framework of your policy should remain relatively consistent. As long as you cover the main points, it’s easy to modify one or two as needs change.
By regularly reviewing and adjusting your policy, you can prevent a lot of small and large issues. A few minutes of work now can save you hours of stress later.
Sections of Your Policy to Update
You should regularly review and update every section of your company’s travel policy.
It should contain the most up-to-date information concerning:
- Acceptable price ranges for hotels, transportation, and other expenses
- Vendors that the company prefers to work with
- Car rental details
- Company credit cards
- Expense reimbursements
- Insurance requirements as determined by risk management
- Company-approved booking tools (to prevent them from booking on scam sites)
- Any exceptions to these rules
The better your company’s policy is updated and easily understood, the fewer people you’ll have coming to you for answers.
2. Make Your Processes Clear to the Reader
Your corporate travel policy is the roadmap your team will use to book their travel arrangements. It’s a wonderful idea to have a plan of action for every possible situation.
But you need to explain those processes clearly.
Remember, you’re dealing with people who already have busy schedules. They want to know the easiest way to do what they need to do.
Don’t include a lot of confusing rules or steps in your instructions. If your instructions are too convoluted, employees are going to skip them entirely and come to you with questions.
Tips for Clearing Up Your Policy’s Content
When it comes to managing a business travel program, excellent communication can save you a lot of headaches.
Here are some things to keep in mind when explaining your company’s travel processes:
Separate Each Section
Make it so that each user can jump straight to their priority area. Remember that admins, managers, and travelers will have different questions. They don’t need to wade through processes that don’t pertain to them.
Publish Your Handbook Online
This will allow employees to see changes to the guidelines, like pricing and allowable travel agents, in real-time.
Include an FAQ Section
Pay attention to which questions employees ask the most, and put them on their own page.
Answering questions about the business travel management steps is your job, but it shouldn’t be a full-time role. You have many other responsibilities.
Every good booking platform offers 24/7 customer service as part of the travel experience. Make sure that your employees know where/how to contact the booking platform’s Customer Support department for app support.
3. Make the Switch to a Better Platform
As a travel manager, you work hand-in-hand with departments like Accounting and Human Resources. Every week, you probably find yourself waiting for approval from one of them.
Consulting other departments before every decision is time-consuming and frustrating. But just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the way to keep doing it.
A better booking platform can simplify this process.
Combining all of these aspects into one platform, like Hotel Engine, can save time for everyone.
Many medium and large companies are turning to Hotel Engine as their “business lodging command center.”
Advantages of Using Hotel Engine
Hotel Engine is a corporate lodging management company with a unique platform. It merges the work of the travel manager, accounting department, and the employee into one dashboard:
You can do so much within our hotel booking management software:
- Book at more than 700,000 hotels around the world.
- Save up to 60% on lodging costs
- Manage your employees’ itineraries, travel spending, and other data.
- Use Direct Bill, add Incidentals Coverage, or set up a monthly payment feature instead of paying per booking.
Join Hotel Engine for free today!
4. Save Time on Expense Reports
Are you manually collecting all the receipts from every traveler in your company?
Does your expense management system consist of a few spreadsheets?
If so, there are so many ways you could improve productivity and save everyone a lot of time.
The “Expense” of Expense Reports
Considering the time it takes for everyone involved to record, report, process, and record one business trip, the paperwork alone can cost the company over $100!
According to the Global Business Travel Solution, filing and fixing mistakes on an expense report takes almost an hour of company time. The average medium or large company can process around 51,000 reports annually — a cost of nearly $500,000.
With accounting departments already overworked and understaffed, the employees don’t need the extra hassle of correcting so many reports. The more ways you can automate the work of filing expense reports, the less wasted resources there will be.
Tips to Automate Expense Reporting
It all boils down to the accounting system you use. If your expense reporting software doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks or whatever accounting program you use, it’s time to upgrade.
Since business travel is one of the top expenses in many companies, it’s essential to use efficient methods for reports and analysis. Lost receipts and human error can be a drain on your travel budget.
Upgrading your system to one that allows you to electronically capture all the information is a necessary investment.
Travel managers work with accounting teams, too. The more streamlined your workflow is, the easier it’ll be for them to review expenses.
Work with your accounting team to see what their side of the job looks like. Then, find out if your current software system has features that support integration or workflow automation.
5. Step Up Your Meetings
Sometimes, meetings are a chance to get together and discuss ways to drive business. Other times, they’re a complete waste of productivity.
Instead of spending valuable time talking about obvious concerns, turn the meeting’s focus toward solutions.
To maximize your meeting’s productivity, focus on the topics that have the most impact.
Fixing Pain Points Regarding Payment Methods
Virtual payments are cropping up everywhere. How is everyone paying for their travel bookings? Is there a way to make the process more cost- and user-efficient?
For example, the lodging performance network Hotel Engine has the option of a monthly payment instead of a pay-per-booking model.
Updated Policy Changes as Transportation and Lodging Evolve
What are the current policies on approved car services? Is Airbnb an approved lodging option? What about similar companies like Vrbo? How can compliance with the travel policies be improved?
Adjustments in Risk Management Policies
Your travelers’ safety and well-being are always the number one priority. From COVID-19 concerns to on-the-road travel concerns, what risk issues need to be readdressed?
Hybrid Meeting Opportunities for Employees and Sales Staff
In this new hybrid world, presenters and attendees don’t have to choose between safety and productivity — you can have both.
Hybrid meetings are a successful marriage of in-person and virtual meetings. Born out of necessity, these meetings turned into a way to include people from distant locations without the added stress of expenses.
Of course, there are dozens of other pertinent topics that could be included in your agenda. The key is to spend as little time as possible on the obvious topics, using the bulk of the meeting to brainstorm and address the group’s travel needs.
As a corporate travel manager, you have a lot of responsibilities. To ensure you get everything done, it’s essential to work smarter, not harder.
By using these hacks in your job, your responsibilities will become more manageable.
One way to work more effectively is to make sure that your business travelers can do much of the work themselves. Partnering with a platform like Hotel Engine to streamline your corporate travel program is the other essential step.