Our Full Guide to Corporate Travel
Corporate travel is becoming an increasingly important topic.
More and more professionals are traveling and working remotely, especially in the fields of construction, nursing, and healthcare.
And it’s crucial for everyone to understand exactly how corporate travel works.
In this post, you will get a full picture of what corporate travel is and how to engage in it correctly.
We’re going to cover everything and share a ton of resources to help you dig deeper into the topics most relevant to you.
This is the last guide on corporate travel you’ll ever need!
Table of Contents
1. The Basics: What Is Corporate Travel?
2. The Core Foundations of Successful Corporate Travel Management
The Basics: What Is Corporate Travel?
Simply put, corporate travel is defined as travel that is conducted by employees and/or team members for the purposes of doing business for the company.
There’s a lot that goes into planning a successful corporate travel program and conducting successful business trips.
For a quick start, check out this article: Small Business Guide to Corporate Travel Planning.
To dig a bit deeper into some of the individual parts of what it takes to facilitate your company’s travel needs, keep reading.
What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
Corporate travel management solves the problem of how to empower a professional who lives in one location to work in a different location for a temporary period of time.
The goal is to keep all employees safe, comfortable, and productive while they’re on the road while staying under the company or department’s budget.
As a travel manager or finance manager, it’s in your best interest to create a corporate travel policy that helps you plan trips and make decisions about your business travel program. This will help your company meet its goals and help you to keep your employees happy.
The Core Foundations of Successful Corporate Travel Management
Now, let’s talk about the core elements of any business travel management program.
These components make corporate travel not only possible but successful:
1. A Bulletproof Travel Policy
A corporate travel policy is essentially a list of rules and procedures that instruct employees on how to book, plan, and fund any travel performed for the company.
You should update this document regularly to ensure it addresses any changes within your company or the travel industry.
For a list of updates you should make to your travel policy, read this guide: 6 Updates for Your Corporate Travel Policy.
2. Detailed Itineraries for Each Trip
A travel itinerary is a document that outlines the timeline, locations, dates, and contact details of the trip. It is crucial for successful business travel, as it helps to solidify a concrete plan for all of the details of the trip.
It should include information about accommodation reservations, travel bookings, confirmation numbers, and contact information for travel vendors.
For crucial information about what to include in your itinerary, check out this post: A Beginner’s Guide to Planning Business Travel Arrangements.
3. Safety Practices to Protect Your Employees
Managing travel risk and seeing to the matter of traveler safety is another company responsibility.
There’s a certain “duty of care” that every company must take responsibility for when sending employees on business trips. This is especially important in our current post-pandemic environment.
For an in-depth look at how to conduct trip risk assessments to ensure your team’s well-being, read this: Full Guide to Trip Risk Assessments to Keep Employees Safe.
4. A Well-Planned Travel Budget
Creating a travel budget is essential.
After all, you don’t just need to make ends meet on business trips — you also want to turn a profit.
To do this while making sure that your team has everything they need on the road, you must create a detailed plan for how and where you plan to allocate travel budget funds.
For additional information, read this post: How to Create an Employee Travel Budget for Small Businesses.
In order to avoid tax issues later on, you must understand your company’s tax responsibilities as they pertain to your travel spend.
It’s also important to make sure that your employees understand how your company handles certain tax-related issues:
- Per diem
- How to record business travel expenditures
- How to keep track of expenses and receipts using the accountable method
To learn more about what employers should know about per diem and employee rights, check out this post: What Employers Should Know About Per Diem and Employee Rights.
You can also learn how to plan a meal allowance for employees, including information about meal stipends, in this post: How to Plan a Meal Allowance for Employees.
Tracking Travel Expenses
Getting your employees to track travel expenses while they’re out in the field is an awesome way to avoid tax issues with per diem and itemized write-offs later on in the season.
But unfortunately, figuring out how to record this crucial travel data without bogging down your team can be a nightmare.
Hotel Engine is a free-to-use platform designed to solve this problem for you. In addition to giving you access to discounts on hotel rates, Hotel Engine helps you and your employees easily keep track of business expenses.
Learn more about our hotel-booking software today!
Sorting Business Travel Payment Options
Your team needs a way to pay for things on the road. Their trip could require hotel rooms, car bookings, food, tickets to conventions, office supplies, new gear, etc.
Many companies utilize travel reward credit cards for this purpose. When you issue a great travel reward credit card to everyone on your team, you earn valuable points that you can cash in for things like flights, rooms, meals, bonuses, etc.
Here’s a list of some of the best credit card plans to choose from, as well as some tips on how to pick the right one: How to Choose Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards.
Whenever you plan to travel, transportation is obviously a big issue. In other words, your team needs flights, rental cars, etc.
Some companies use a travel management company (TMC) or travel agent for this.
But other companies see to the task on their own.
In any case, here are some important details to keep in mind:
One of the most valuable skills to learn in the travel industry is how to book the best flights at the best prices.
Navigating the airport terminal without getting needlessly bogged down is another valuable. Business travelers who can move swiftly through the airport have a more pleasant and productive travel experience.
Pass these airport security tips onto your employees to get them on their flights faster.
To learn how to save your company money on airfare, read this post: Corporate Flight Booking Hacks for Better Deals.
Getting a quality car rental within a price range that fits your budget is another essential transportation detail to get right.
Once again, some companies use travel services or a travel agency to bundle flights and cars together. But you can also source your own car rentals, and there are many ways to save money while doing it.
For example, you might sign up for a car rental reward program to save money and earn rewards on rentals.
Sometimes, rather than renting a vehicle, it makes more sense to simply find a taxi or rideshare option to shuttle you from place to place.
In such cases, finding the best deal (and the best service) is imperative.
Uber and Lyft are usually the two most common rideshare services that new travel professionals utilize when working on location.
You can read customer testimonials on most rideshare mobile apps to get a feel for whether or not that particular service can meet your needs.
If your employees are driving their own vehicles or renting one for the duration of the trip, you need to factor in gas mileage expenses.
Nowadays, this is especially important, as gas prices are rising in many parts of the country.
If you need some help figuring out how to deal with rising fuel prices, read our guide on adjusting company mileage policies when gas prices skyrocket.
Racking up frequent flier miles can sometimes help you unlock big-time savings, rewards, and bonuses when flying.
But here’s the thing:
Sometimes, these programs end up costing you more than they earn you.
To avoid running into this problem, follow these tips:
- Make sure to redeem your miles before they expire
- Make sure that you understand how your miles and bonuses work so that you can take full advantage of them
- Keep an eye out for limited-time deals
International Corporate Travel
International travel opens up a few more complex issues than domestic travel.
To fully prepare for a work trip overseas, take a look at this international travel checklist to help you remember all of the most important details.
Booking high-quality yet affordable lodging is a crucial step toward meeting your travel goals.
Here are some things you’ll need to think about in regard to lodging for business travel:
Hotels or Short-Term Housing?
If you plan to stay somewhere for less than 30 days, you’ll usually want to consider either a traditional or extended stay hotel.
But if you plan to stay for 30 days or more, you may want to look into some short-term rental options.
Corporate housing is a term used to describe a short-term rental sourced by a company for employees who’ll need a place to live while working on location for an extended period of time.
Check out this guide to learn how to find the right corporate lodging solution for your company: How to Find the Right Corporate Lodging Solution for Your Construction Teams.
Group Hotel Bookings
Group hotel bookings happen when a company reserves more than one room together for the same booking period.
This is useful when you need to place a whole team on location, as group bookings can help you get the best deal.
Writing and Submitting Hotel RFPs
An RFP is a request for proposal. It’s essentially a request for hospitality companies to submit a proposal for a group booking of rooms and/or meeting space.
Learn how to write and submit one here: How to Write and Submit a Hotel RFP.
You can also check out our hotel RFP guide to learn about some tools that will help you with this task.
What Kind of Stay to Look For
When booking hotels for different periods of time, it’s always a good idea to understand the difference between the various types of stays.
For a full glossary of stay terms, check out this helpful guide: What Kind of Stay Do You Need? A Glossary of Hotel Stay Length Terms.
How to Find the Best Hotel for the Value
When it comes to booking lodging for corporate business travel, finding the best hotel for the value is crucial.
This helps you provide maximally comfortable accommodations to your team while staying within your budget.
These three articles will help you find the type of rooms you need at an attractive price:
- How to Find the Best Hotel for the Value
- How Is Hotel Room Pricing Decided? (and How to Get a Better Deal)
- 7 Underused Hotel Services and Amenities (and How to Find Hotels That Offer Them)
Using the Right Hotel Booking Tool
Hotel Engine can help you find well-priced rooms in reputable hotels.
We facilitate better lodging reservations at better prices with better customer service.
We also offer all kinds of perks, benefits, and extra value to make the hotel-booking process a better experience overall.
Learn about our group booking service and how we can save your company money!
The bottom line is this:
Corporate travel is complicated.
But hopefully, this list of resources and topics has answered your most pressing questions and pointed you in the right direction.
Of course, if you need any help with lodging along the way, don’t hesitate to give Hotel Engine a try. We make travel bookings better, faster, cheaper, and more convenient.
We love traveling professionals, and we’d love the opportunity to make your next trip as easy and as pain-free as possible!
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.