How travel management is changing – and how to use it to your advantage
Business travel is a staple of today’s workforce, especially for organisations that service a dispersed customer base, or are carrying out jobs across the county. Workers find themselves on the road for meetings, projects or service calls more than ever before.
The global economy has boosted business travel across the world and Travel Bookers now play just as integral a role for employees who are out of the office as they do for those who are in it. The trends are spurring a more intense focus on how travel bookers go about their work and the costs that come with it. Because of that, business travel management is changing.
Whether it’s supporting clients, managing internal company needs or growing a business, Office Managers find themselves needing greater control over the booking process so that they can place key people on the ground in the country or abroad.
At the centre of it all is specialised business travel software, which is having an immense impact on companies using it. It’s a competitive advantage that’s helping companies position themselves as innovators in business travel.
Travel management challenges facing Office Managers
The abundance of online travel booking sites, such as Booking.com, helps consumers find hotels at reasonable rates. Cost is important for businesses too, but unlike consumers, businesses also need to account for reporting, enforcing corporate policy and managing invoices and contracts. The end result is often a complex, drawn out process that hurts collaboration and is shrouded in confusion.
There comes a point in a company’s trajectory where it’s no longer practical to manage workforce travel manually. With 20 staff members out in the field at any given time, booking and the expense management that goes along with it becomes increasingly time consuming – and it’s almost untenable once it goes beyond that. In short, it’s an inefficient strategy that cuts into operating margins and takes up a considerable amount of Office Managers’ time.
These are difficult challenges to overcome without some sort of assistance in the form of a digital solution. Streamlining the process for efficiency is key to scaling the programme and saving money as the industry sees expenses rising.
Many companies are turning to business travel software and specialist business hotel sites, with 61% of Travel Managers saying that assessing and implementing technologies is a very important aspect of their role.
Office Managers are relying on digital platforms to help them overcome a bevy of changes and challenges. We’ve seen platforms like Booking.com give power back to the consumer in the hotel booking process, but the features aren’t suited to enterprises’ business hotel booking needs. They lack the efficiency needed to maintain pace with an increasingly remote workforce.
Furthermore, the focus on digitalisation has made it easier for businesses to deliver a best-in-class duty of care capability. Safety and security are being prioritised just as much as achieving great margins, leading Travel Managers to take on new roles that prioritise the employee above all else.
Ultimately, travel management has moved beyond simply being responsible for business travel; now it’s about the entire experience that comes with it, which means travel bookers need to find the tools to optimise each channel – for example business hotel booking platforms are giving them the ability to compare hotel prices to find the best deal while simultaneously removing the arduous task of managing invoices, expense claims, credit cards and receipts as it’s all delivered in one easy monthly invoice.
Recently though, the industry has seen the emergence of innovative tools that give travel bookers the ability to source a massive catalogue of hotels to find the best deals for them – and all in a matter of seconds. That way, they can save time and come in on budget so that they can focus on creating a positive experience for employees who are on the road.
The changes in travel management are turning into a competitive advantage
Traditional travel management is rooted in a process that mirrors consumer practices. Booking hotels is a time-intensive task given that Office Managers may need to manually compare prices, record bookings, manage changes, and reconcile payment and expenses.
Even industry-changing tools like Booking.com miss the mark on what the modern Office Manager needs to create an effective travel management strategy. Although it has features that allow businesses to track bookings and handle expense claims, it’s all done manually. It doesn’t account for better insight through analytics and real-time reporting or improved duty of care with automated tracking.
The trends impacting travel management are only valuable if businesses buy into them. There’s a good chance that your company is already expecting more from travel; adopting digital solutions that enable them to accomplish more in less time is a natural progression.
Indeed, specialised business hotel booking software gives companies the following advantages:
- Compare prices more efficiently, giving them savings of 12 to 21% on average.
- Aggregating all bookings into one area that’s easily accessible by staff.
- Compiling data in real-time to back analytics-based decision-making and driving savings and better travel experiences.
- Fostering a better brand that puts the employee travel experience above margins by ensuring they have the right hotels in the right locations.
- Revamped hotel management workflow that’s easier and simpler to follow for everyone involved.
- Removes the need for the tricky management of invoices and expenses, saving the team countless hours.
Business travel is becoming increasingly critical for organisations so these advantages can’t be overlooked. They provide an immediate benefit in an area that every competitor has historically struggled to maintain savings in – so it’s time to stop letting the industry pass you by.