5 ways to save time booking business travel for medical professionals
Medical professionals need to travel for many different reasons — to attend medical conferences, work at other medical facilities, conduct research… the list goes on.
If you’re responsible for making business travel bookings on behalf of medical professionals, you’ll know that certain problems crop up on a regular basis.
Here are five challenges travel managers face regularly — and some handy solutions, too.
5 challenges booking travel accommodations for medical professionals (and how to solve them)
1. Booking travel takes up a lot of time
There are so many tasks involved in a travel booking.
There’s the challenge of finding and booking transportation to get travellers to their destinations on time.
Then there’s finding the right hotel, in the right place, for the right price. You have to create an itinerary to share with travellers, and provide support for them while they travel.
Then there’s the financial side of things. Paying for hotel stays and handling hotel deposits. Verifying the cost of incidentals. Approving and reimbursing expense claims. And reporting — keeping tabs on how much of your travel budget you’re spending each month, and clarifying what you and your travellers are actually spending that money on.
If you’re regularly booking travel for multiple medical professionals, the time you spend on business travel bookings quickly mounts up.
Solution: streamline and delegate
While these are all essential tasks, handling them with manual processes will slow you down dramatically. Anything you can do to speed up or automate your process will free up your time for higher-level tasks.
For accommodations, use a hotel booking platform that makes it easy to search for discounted rates at a wide selection of affordable hotels, filtering for the features your medical professionals will need.
You may need to make changes to bookings, so look for rooms with flexible cancellation policies, or services like Hotel Engine, where youcan request a late check-in, extend trips directly from the platform and get support for trip modifications.
And unlike online booking tools, which only allow you to book lodging one room at a time, Hotel Engine provides in-platform support for group bookings, and the ability to save guest information and payment methods for simpler checkouts.
Finally, look for solutions that simplify your tracking and reporting processes. The ability to add custom fields for job details can make expense reconciliation a breeze, and customisable travel policies with spending caps could even allow you to delegate hotel booking to your travellers — saving you all that time while still protecting your budget.
2. Disorganised trip information
When you’re booking business travel for a group of travellers, the details can get out of hand quickly. Travel managers often manage travel for large groups, and it takes time to communicate that information to each traveller and to support them if they have changes to make or questions about where they are going.
When this information is only available in a piecemeal way, it’s easy for things to become disorganised. Youcan’treference or update an itinerary with ease, which can cause problems both for you and the travellers in question.
Solution: centralisation and access
Create or use a central hub to house your travel information. You should be able to see all your bookings in one place and make changes like hotel stay extensions — knowing that your travellers have access. While online booking tools will help you find hotel stays, they don’t make it easy to view the itineraries of individual or group travel, and typically store that information behind one individual login.
With a platform like Hotel Engine, however, you can provide travellers with access to log in under their own accounts and view their travel information directly. It’s a platform that updates in real-time, meaning that you can make last-minute changes to a hotel reservation and everyone can stay up to speed with ease.
3. Limited support when things go wrong
We’ve all been there: travel plans change. Flights get cancelled. Hotels get overbooked. (And don’t even get us started on the trains!)
Travel booking systems that only work when things are going right simply aren’t up to the task.
Because things do go wrong and you need trustworthy support to ensure your medical professionals have the right place to stay (with all the right amenities) even if everything else isn’t going to plan.
Anything less and we’re not just talking about a missed meeting or a late check-in —the safety of their patients could be at risk.
Solution: get better support
Going it alone is stressful and time consuming, but it can feel like the only option for businesses that can’t afford (or justify) an expensive travel management service.
Luckily, there is a better way. Partner with a free trip management platform like Hotel Engine, where you and your travellers will have 24/7 access to live support services. That way you’ll always have the right level of support when things don’t go to plan.
4. Reconciling expenses after the fact
Paying for business travel ahead of time is one thing. But reconciling and reimbursing the travel expenses your professionals incur while away on their trip — that’s another thing entirely.
It can take a lot of time (and paperwork): you have to gather receipts, pay individual invoices and find a way to record and reference this information efficiently.
Solution: switch to direct billing or invoicing
A hotel booking platform that offers consolidated invoicing (or “direct billing”) will pull all of your lodging costs into one place and provide you with you a single invoice to pay.
This massively reduces the administrative burden associated with your travel bookings.
Plus, the customisable reporting dashboard means you can stay up-to-date with a personalised overview of your travel expenses.
5. Keeping business travel lodging within budget
After a pandemic slump, hotel prices in the UK are predicted to rise again in 2023. Finding affordable business travel accommodation is no mean feat in the current climate.
But when making a business travel booking, you have to balance a number of different priorities.
Whilst keeping your travel budget in check is incredibly important, you also need to factor in the comfort of your medical professionals, as well as the amenities and location of your chosen accommodation.
So how do you balance the books, and save money without compromising on the employee experience?
Solution: negotiated room rates
If you regularly book hotel accommodation for many travelling medical professionals, you may be able to negotiate reduced room rates with individual hotels to save money.
Unfortunately, this a lot of time and ringing around, and won’t be an option if your company only has a few travellers — or if those travellers are frequently visiting different destinations. In that case, you may not have enough bargaining power to reduce your rate with the hotel directly.
In that case, it’s worth considering a travel management company or a free-to-use hotel booking platform like Hotel Engine, which has done the negotiating for you. They negotiate directly with hotels, to save users up to 60% with exclusive rates and discounts on their business travel bookings.
By using a platform like this, you get exclusive travel budget savings without all the difficulty of negotiating and booking direct.
Hotel Engine is your best solution for business trip management
Using Hotel Engine can save you time and money when booking travel for medical professionals.
Hotel Engine customers save up to 60% on regular hotel prices, enjoy simpler expense reconciliation and reporting, and get 24/7 live support.
Another great reason to book through Hotel Engine? It’s free to use — no membership fees, contracts or minimum spending requirements.
Simply sign up for your free account to start saving today.
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.