Business travel is back! In fact, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) believes that global business travel spend will reach 2019 levels by 2024, a full year earlier than previously predicted.
It’s an exciting time. Even more so because it’s the small to mid-sized companies powering the recovery, rather than the corporate giants.
On the other hand, managing travel is more complicated than you think when it’s for multiple people, and it’s a little more complex right now. Think border closures, travel restrictions and Covid regulations. It’s daunting – and time consuming – for that one person that books travel for everyone in your company.
A business making 50 travel bookings per month is losing over £10,000 annually on wasted time by doing it themselves (that’s our own calculations). It can take as long as 49 minutes to research and book even the most straightforward trip online. And a company can spend up to 10% of their travel budget on change and cancellation fees alone.
Most SMEs don’t have the time to manage their own travel, especially when the team expands quickly and they’re travelling to all corners of the world.
That’s exactly what happened to Bennett Aviation when they had a growth spurt. Suddenly, booking travel whenever and wherever they wanted became far too much for one person to handle. There was little way of easily tracking where people were at any given time and how much it was all costing. Processes were clunky and it wasn’t long until the PA at Bennett was swamped with complicated travel requests and changes.
But don’t fear! There are ways you can get your business travel under control.
Understand the frustrations your team face
Ever been stuck on the phone to an airline call centre? It can take hours when there’s a major incident. It’s a big pain, especially if you’re a traveller stuck in a country or if you’re the executive assistant that has travel tacked onto their regular day-to-day duties. No one wants to spend all that time on hold during what’s already a stressful time.
Imagine if someone needed help out of work hours or over the weekend. Who do they call at your company, what support do they receive? Given how the last two years have been, it’s a big thing to consider.
Then think of the admin. The receipts, the expenses and keeping track of vouchers and credits. How much time is being wasted by travellers and the finance team making sure everything’s in order? How do you know the true cost of business trips once you total up the airline, hotel, taxis and meals?
Reduce the stress on people and risk
Safety and wellbeing is a big deal now across all parts of business. And it doesn’t stop when your team are out on the road travelling to other countries.
If your travellers are booking their own trips, how do you know where they’re travelling to, who they’re booking with, and whether they’re at risk? Scary. As their employer, you’re ultimately responsible for your people when they are out on the road.
There’s companies and technology out there to help. It makes all the difference for travellers to know you have their back, especially if there’s an emergency and they need to be contacted and to travel home.
Know what you’re spending
Business travel usually features in the top three spots on a company’s profit and loss statement; it’s a big spend category. Which means it’s important to keep a handle on your spend and identify savings wherever you can.
How do you start? It’s all in the data, such as:
- Annual spend on flights
- Annual spend on hotels
- Popular routes flown eg London – Berlin or Edinburgh – New York
When you have that information to hand, you have a base to start saving money in all kinds of ways. A specialist business travel agency like Corporate Traveller has all the tactics and contacts to help. If you’re using an airline regularly, we can talk to the airline and get preferential prices. Dashboards can show you booking information in real-time and you can pull reports in minutes.
Reconsider booking on loads of different websites
Connor in Sales should be focused on his clients instead of spending hours searching for flights and hotels. Endlessly searching the internet and having all those open tabs is wasting so much time. With the right tech it can take less than five minutes to book a trip (including the hotel and car hire).
We’ve estimated that would save you on average £12.96 per booking if you’re using a tool like ours. Plus when you’re thinking about data, with everything booked in one place you can get discounts and access to special corporate deals and perks you can’t get anywhere else. It’s a win-win however you look at it.
Pick a travel partner that works for you
Does your business use Teams or Slack? Quickbooks or Sage? Like all platforms, they have their own pros and cons, capabilities and features. You chose the best tool to suit your needs.
Travel companies, aka travel management companies (TMCs) in our world, are no different. You can choose to work with a local travel company, a global TMC or to book travel through multiple websites and providers. Ultimately though, you need to consider three things:
- Culture – choose a company that aligns with your vision and values
- Tech capabilities – never settle for less than what your business needs
- Pricing, including hidden costs
There’s no doubt that small to mid-sized companies will drive the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery. That’s why we’ve created a SME Corporate Travel Toolkit. It will give you pointers on where to start with formalising travel booking processes, where to find savings without compromising traveller safety, the pitfalls of booking randomly online and so much more.