10 Major Corporate Travel Management Challenges with Solutions
With the advent of COVID-19, the business travel industry took a hit. However, there was a silver lining during this dull period. It got many companies around the world to re-evaluate their current travel process and identify the corporate travel management challenges.
With the world getting back to normal now, the global business travel spend is estimated to touch $1 trillion this year. Suffice to say, it is a good time to find a solution to all the corporate travel challenges you might be facing as early as possible.
Here are some major corporate travel management challenges and the ways to overcome them.
- Getting the best inventory
- Tiresome reimbursement process
- Cutting down on travel costs
- Integrating core processes
- Employee travel safety
- Lack of 24/7 support
- Drafting an effective travel policy
- Complying to travel policy
- Controlling travel expense fraud
- Managing T&E separately
1. Getting the best inventory
Not having enough travel options is an issue highlighted by most companies. Your employees might be booking flights, hotels, etc. on the vendor’s website, oblivious to better options. Or, the TMC (Travel Management Company) that you prefer for travel booking might have access to a limited travel inventory.
In any case, if the employees are not getting all the travel choices, how will they choose the best option?
Solution – Choose a TMC that deploys a wide range of travel options for the employees. You should enquire whether the TMC is getting travel inventory from a GDS (Global Distribution System) or not? A GDS offers real-time travel inventory and fares to the TMC. If not, then it is highly unlikely that the TMC offers you good options.
2. Tiresome reimbursement process
Travel approval and reimbursement is one process that companies can surely improve on.
There is a lot of time lag between booking a trip and getting approvals from the concerned authorities. This case even worsens in the case of multi-level approvals (generally, for international trips). Even after a trip, reimbursement of expenses can take days.
Solution – The answer to this issue is simple- adopt travel management software. Travel management software fast tracks the approval flow by sending notifications to the approver as soon as you book a ticket. Moreover, the employees can see the travel policy in real-time, eliminating the issue of out-of-policy approvals.
3. Cutting down on travel costs
Cutting down costs is a challenge for most processes. However, as far as business travel is concerned, it is a bit more complex.
A lot of factors lead to budget overspending at your company. Firstly, your employees might not be getting access to affordable travel options. Secondly, even if they are getting affordable options, they might not be willing to book it. Last-minute bookings and unclear travel policy can be some other reasons.
Solution – You should choose a travel management company (TMC) with access to LCCs (Low-Cost Carriers), so the employee can choose from affordable options. Moreover, you can introduce an incentive program for your employees. Under this program, you can reward them every time they book a cheap flight, hotel, cabs, etc. Drafting a policy for late bookings can also help in cutting travel costs.
4. Integrating core processes
Multiple departments are involved in a company’s corporate travel management process, be it admin (travel manager), finance, or HR. All these departments use stand-alone apps for their process. As a result, data sync becomes an issue, leading to errors and irregularities.
For instance, if a new employee joins your organization, the data is updated in the HRMS system. However, it also needs to be updated in the travel management software you are using.
Solution – Choose a travel management platform that offers plug-n-play integration with all the essential apps. This way, you get a complete ecosystem where data is synced automatically, enhancing the travel process accuracy.
For instance, by integrating the HRMS system with your travel software, you don’t need to add the employee data separately in the traveler database.
5. Employee travel safety
According to Amadeus, 84% of business travelers prefer traveling under the right safety protocols.
Business traveler safety has always been a challenge for companies over the years. However, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative over the last couple of years. The travel regulations vary from country to country and keep changing with the situation. Moreover, it is tough to find accommodation for employees with all the necessary precautions.
Solution – Implement a Duty of Care plan to comply with the latest travel regulations. The plan must include:
- Vaccination policies
- Travel Insurance
- Keeping a track of travel regulations
- Blacklisting unsafe hotels
- Ensuring traveler support
You can also opt for solutions that track the employees in unfamiliar destinations, so you know they are fine.
6. Lack of 24/7 support
One of the major corporate travel management challenges companies face is offering employees support on a business trip. Whether the company handles the business travel in-house or a TMC handles it for them, it is essential that the employees get support, whenever they need it.
Consider the situation where an employee goes on a business trip and is denied check-in in the hotel. The employee calls the TMC but gets no response as it is beyond their working hours. Imagine what a disaster that would be for the employee.
Solution: Choose a TMC that offers 24/7 support via multiple platforms, such as call, chat, or email. Also, the TMC should provide a dedicated travel manager for your company who responds swiftly and is well-equipped to handle critical issues.
7. Drafting an effective travel policy
Every company has a travel policy. However, what travel managers find tough is drafting a travel policy that is both cost-effective and employee-centric.
For instance, if you allow low flight fares for employees, they might not get the best options. Contrarily, if the flight fares are high, it might cost your company heavily.
Solution – You should analyze your current business travel management process to identify the loopholes in the process. Draft a travel policy keeping in mind employee safety, travel guidelines, annual budget, and more. Taking employee feedback will also be a great help in improving the travel policy.
Here is a free template you can use to draft an effective travel policy
8. Complying to travel policy
Drafting an effective policy is one thing but it’s of no use if employees don’t comply with it. In some cases, travel managers are unable to communicate the travel policy clearly to the employees. In other cases, the policies are so impractical that it is tough for employees to comply.
Solution: To achieve policy compliance, opt for travel management software that offers real-time policy visibility to employees. It will avoid out-of-policy bookings as they will get notified at the time of travel booking.
Also, try to understand the employee preferences and try to modify the travel policy around it. You can also introduce an employee incentive program that benefits both.
9. Controlling travel expense fraud
Travel expense frauds have been a headache for companies for quite some time now. Issues such as reporting duplicate expenses, filing under wrong expense categories, and policy violations hamper your corporate travel process.
Solution: You can control the travel expense fraud by using travel and expense management software that automates auditing and enables fraud detection -any duplicates are notified to the approved in real-time. Moreover, the best software tools also offer receipt scanning, ensuring that employees provide valid proof.
Also, educate the employee about the best practices of travel booking and expense filing.
10. Managing T&E separately
A mistake most companies make is adopting stand-alone tools for travel and expense. In this case, when an employee books a trip, he or she has to file expenses manually in the expense software, causing irregularities in the T&E process.
Solution: Choose an integrated travel and expense management software with both travel booking and expense filing capability on one platform. The employees can map the Trip ID while filing expense reports and all the expenses will be included automatically.
Corporate Travel Management Needs Constant Attention
The dynamic nature of the business travel and expense process of a company requires the travel managers to always be on their toes. They need to focus on streamlining the process to the employees as well as saving costs for the company. Resolving these challenges allows them to do both.
An integrated travel and expense management software like ITILITE helps you resolve most of the corporate travel challenges.
You can talk to our solution consultants or take a free Demo of ITILITE to experience lightning-fast travel booking, granular policies, custom reporting, advanced analytics, and more.