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Corporate Travel Programs: Spend Data, Booking and Budgets

5 Things You Should Know About Company Travel Programs

Corporate Programs offered by TMCs
Travel Programs Offered by TMCs

You’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. That look that happens when you are on the Zoom call: Zoom eyes! Those are the eyes that aren’t looking at your or your presentation, they are focused on something or someone else.

Zoom meetings are great but one on one meetings are still the bread and butter of the business world. The problem is the world of travel has gotten more complicated in the past few years.

This is why businesses are taking advantage of company travel programs. These programs save money, take away stress, and let you focus on your business.

Keep reading to find out the five things you should know about company travel programs and how your business can benefit from them.

1. Company Travel Programs Focus on Your Company

Every company and business is different. They have different priorities, schedules, and visions. This means that travel for each of these businesses is different also.

When your business partners with a great Travel Management Company (TMC), you will see how they focus on you. They will take your travel program and make sure it is applied to all your traveling team.

They personalize your company’s travel based on your specific needs and desires. This means one less thing you have to worry about. Your resources get put back into the company and not wasted watching over your travel program.

2. Company Travel Programs Negotiate on Your Behalf

When you travel a lot as a company, you should receive special benefits that save you money. Too often, corporate travel companies will just handle your details but won’t watch out for your company’s benefit.

Relationships on Your Behalf

A top-quality TMC will use the power of their relationships to negotiate for your corporate travel needs. As they see the whole picture of your travel, their ability to negotiate on your behalf will increase.

Travel Company Affiliate Programs

The benefits of a TMC taking care of your business travel can also come by taking advantage of affiliate programs. Your company can have its travel planned out during specials that programs are offering.

This will give your company special benefits and even save you money for future travel. The points and free nights get applied to your company and not lost in a mountain of paperwork. 

3. Company Travel Programs Handle the Details

A company travel program run by a TMC handles all the details that often get lost in the day-to-day business world. They not only save you money, but they also save you a lot of time.

Online Abilities

Technology should increase your ability to connect and communicate. Too many companies wade through complicated software and apps when planning travel. You want effective and simple solutions to your technology needs.

Accurate Reporting

The difference a TMC makes is best seen in their reporting. Instead of just giving a basic report, they can customize the reporting based on your company’s needs.

Their reports can break down all aspects of travel so you can see the positives and negatives of each trip. They also show how your specific requirements for travel are being fulfilled on each trip.

Experienced Advice

As the relationship with your TMC grows, and they learn your specific company’s needs, they can offer solid advice. Personalized advice on how your company can take advantage of your travel needs.

They will bring their expertise in the industry and their relationship with you together to benefit your travel policies. Your policies will improve, which will help you save money and build morale with your team. 

4. Company Travel Programs Provide Duty of Care

Your business has a duty of care toward your team that travels. This means you are watching out for them and helping them avoid risk. This is difficult to do, but the right TMC can help you do this each day.

Team Member Locations

You want the ability to know where your team is while they are traveling for the company. This helps your company avoid legal risks and take good care of your team simultaneously.

Proactive Monitoring

A great TMC will watch for disasters or disruptions happening within the travel world. They can reach out to your team and help them adjust their schedule based on the disruptions that are happening.

Constant Communication

The key in watching out for your team is constant communication. You want a travel partner who will initiate communication with your team. They should focus on the itinerary, trips, and details so your team won’t have to worry.

This provides a solid level of safety for your traveling team members. 

5. Company Travel Programs Save and Support

Quality company travel programs should take the knowledge of your company’s programs and people into consideration. They should also provide support whenever you need it. 

Preferences

Your road warriors all have specific requirements that help them show up prepared to represent your company well. This could be small things like where they sit on a plane or how they like their layovers.

You want a TMC who will take all of that personal information and align it with your company’s travel program. This helps all your people get well taken care of while protecting your bottom line.

24/7 Support

You need a travel team who is always available to help you and your team when needed. If flights get canceled, or there are other delays, you want a team you can reach out to any time of day or night.

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How to analyze travel spend data
How to Analyze Travel Spend Data

Business travel is coming back, in grand fashion. According to Deloitte, business travel spending is expected to reach 55% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. 

That means now is the best time for businesses to take control of their travel spend data. 

What Is Travel Spend Data?

In generic terms, travel spend data is information on how much money one uses for travel. This includes airfare, hotels, transportation, rental vehicles, and the cost of daily food and drink. 

Though this is important for any traveler, when it comes to business travel this data takes on new importance. After all, this spending information can provide important insights into a business.

Here, we’ll focus explicitly on analyzing travel spend data for businesses.

How to Analyze Your Travel Spend Data

Before we get into why you should analyze travel spend data, let’s go over how.

In this post, we’ll be keeping it fairly generic. After all, each business’s travel needs are unique. We’ll highlight some common ways companies do analyze this data.

Part One: Gather Your Data

Before you do any analysis, you need to gather your data. 

If you’re working with a travel management company, it’s very likely they’ll be able to pull data for you or create a dashboard. But if you’re gathering data from different sources on your own, follow these general guidelines:

1: Compile Your Data

If you’re not working with a travel company, you’ll have to compile all your travel spending data in one place.

If you have employees paying for travel on their own, this could come from several sources:

  • Expense records and reimbursement requests from employees
  • Company card statements, if employees have access to a company card
  • Receipts from any contracted travel agencies your business is working with

The easiest (and probably most budget-friendly) way to do this is with a spreadsheet. However, there are many other free and paid solutions out there that offer travel spending analysis for businesses. 

No matter what your needs are, you’ll need all your travel spend data in one place before you move on to the analysis stage.

2: Tidy Data

If you’re doing this without the help of a travel management company, you need to make sure your compiled data is tidy.

What does tidy mean here? It’s the process of making data from different sources fit neatly into one database or spreadsheet. A lot of that activity is routine:

  • Removing duplicate entries or miscoded categories
  • Fixing typos
  • Checking for category & label accuracy (e.g. making sure a dinner bill isn’t labeled as “Airfare”)
  • Ensuring each entry has a defined category (such as Airfare, Transportation, Accommodation, etc.)

But once your data is tidy, you’re ready for the analysis stage!

Travel Management Company vs. In-House

What is a travel management company? We’ve referenced them a few times so far in this article, so we’ll give a brief explainer before we move on.

Travel management companies are businesses that facilitate the process of business travel.

You might be thinking “what does a travel management company do?” They can book group flights, accommodation, and rental cars, which can get particularly thorny for a large group trip.

They can also provide their clients with up-to-date travel spend analysis using that aggregated info. This is the main reason why many companies opt to work with a travel management company rather than build their own in-house solution. 

Part Two: Analyze Your Data

You have your clean data, and you’re ready to learn from it. The analysis techniques and strategies your business uses might differ, but these types are pretty common:

Spend Categories

Take a look at how your travel spending fits into different categories. The specific categories your business uses are up to you, but the most common are:

  • Airfare/Transportation
  • Hotels or Accommodation
  • Rental vehicles
  • Per Diem (food, drink, etc.)

Take a look at how much of your travel spend total each of these categories makes up. This will help you understand better how much your business usually spends on each expense type, and call out discrepancies later. 

Spend Source

You can also track how individual employees spend while traveling for business. This can help you establish a baseline for your team’s travel spending habits, and easily call out possible errors or fraud. 

Client Spend

If your business travel is related to a specific client case, then your travel spend data will help you understand how much travel to and from that client is costing. 

This is especially important when taken in context with the revenue from that client. It’ll show you whether your travel expenses are seeing a return on investment (ROI).

Why Should You Analyze Your Travel Spend Data?

Analyzing your travel spend data provides a business with valuable insights. This information can save you time and money in the long haul. 

Pinpoint Ways to Save

Analyzing your current spending data helps you get an idea of where you might save money on the next trip. In the long run, this will make your necessary business travel more economically sustainable (instead of eating into profits).

Establish Budget Baselines

This is especially important if you’re analyzing your spending data for the first time. Thorough analysis over time provides a baseline that will help you build and refine a good travel budget for your business.

Calculate Travel ROI

If expenses and outcomes can be traced to a specific trip, then you can calculate that trip’s return on investment.

An ROI analysis of your travel spend data gives you a better idea of the money the travel brought in, stacked up against how much it cost.

You can use this information to plan your next work trips even more consciously!

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Where Do People Book Business Travel?

Where to Book Business Travel
Where to Book Business Travel

When booked efficiently, every $1 spent on business travel arrangements could lead to an average revenue recuperation of $12.50. But the process of booking suitable flights and hotels without prices gouging your budget can be difficult to maintain.

There’s also ground transportation, food, and client entertainment to consider as well.

Even when the trips are done, your financial team will have to gather the invoices and travel expense reports from various employees to quantify the return on investment. 

So, where do people book business travel to make a suitable ROI?

Read on to learn how a travel management company might make corporate travel easier on your business and employees. 

Where Do People Book Business Travel?

For a streamlined experience for all corporate travel, many companies opt to use a travel management service. Rather than booking a flight or hotel stay on their prospective websites and worrying about all other expenses on top of that, a service can make this process easy. 

Whether you’re booking tickets to a conference or meeting up with potential clients to get a deal, business travel should be hassle-free.

Many businesses often use a corporate travel agent to deal with these issues, but what’s the difference between the two?

A Corporate Travel Agent

Corporate travel agents are general platforms used to book travel. They use standard technology for all bookings and offer only basic reports on the numbers spent on travel. 

Essentially, they can do the bookings for you, but they don’t offer much else on top of that. 

If you’re the owner of a smaller business with limited business travel, this might be enough to take some of those responsibilities off your hands. But if your business requires a lot of travel for various employees, you might want a service that can offer you more. 

A Travel Management Company (TMC)

Travel management companies offer plenty of benefits for companies needing a long-term fix for their business travel needs. They do more than just booking flights and stays, and could end up saving you money in the future.

Corporate travel management services work with your company to streamline all aspects of business-related travel. They have the technology to implement travel goals and track them too.

This way, you can see your ROI in real-time numbers rather than estimating it. 

Everything can be customized to your company’s needs: reports, individual employee needs, integrated company policies, etc. Whatever you need you need to optimize in the corporate travel area, a TCM can help. 

Additionally, TCMs have access to great discounts. It is estimated that business travel costs will reach $1.7 trillion this year, as airlines and hotels are price gouging after the lack of revenue during 2020 and 2021. A TCM will ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of regarding these costs. 

After the messiness of pandemic-related travel restrictions, we know the importance of travel flexibility. That’s why we at Telios also offer 24/7 services that make it easy to change travel plans last-minute, with no additional cost. 

Which Is Best for You?

It can be difficult to estimate what your company will require when it comes to corporate travel services. On one hand, you might just need someone to deal with the bookings of things. On the other, the possibility of knowing what your business travel ROI is sounds intriguing.

If you’re stuck between the two, consider the amount of traveling employees your company funds. Also, think about the average amount of trips they each take per month. 

Also, take into account how you would be paying for a travel management service. Is it per trip or by month?

If you have a handful of employees taking multiple trips per month, then a TCM that bills you monthly might end up saving you money. But if you have one or two employees that travel once or twice a month, then a corporate travel agent that bills per trip might be best. 

Also, consider the consistency of business travel. If you have people traveling every week of the year, look into a TCM. But if your business travel needs are staggered and random, a corporate travel agent would be available on a need-based system.

Finding what’s right for your company will take time. But once you make the jump to hire someone to book business travel, you won’t look back!

For The Traveling Employees

If you’re one of the people that are flying from city to city for business, a TCM would benefit you too. While a TCM is more watchful of employees adhering to travel policies, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your many trips around the world. 

In fact, a TCM still grants business travelers autonomy over their trips. You can still choose the best flights for your schedule and enjoy a well-maintained hotel and its perks. 

What a TCM does is make the booking of these trips easier while keeping you safe. For example, they don’t want employees worrying about getting from the airport to the hotel; therefore, they set up rides in advance to streamline your trip. 

And while a TCM does follow common company policy, they work with the company and its employees to find a middle-ground. Sometimes a company doesn’t update their guidelines to adhere to this ever-changing world—if a TCM notices this, they will point it out and offer a simple and safe solution.

Policies are in place for the safety of both the employees and the company. But they need to be realistic for those who must adhere to them. 

6 Tips for Creating an Effective Corporate Travel Budget

Business travel covers a large portion of the travel industry and is on the rise again after a decline in 2020. In 2022, the United States is expected to be a top spender in business travel with growth rates of around 30% in the industry.  

If corporate travel is a must for your business, then you know the importance of budgeting. Creating a corporate travel budget helps manage travel-related expenses for your employees and keeps business trips running smoothly.

There are several tips to keep in mind so you can create a successful corporate travel budget.

1. Plan Ahead

When creating a business travel budget, planning ahead is a must. It keeps you prepared by ensuring that you block out enough expenses. Look to the future by considering changes such as rising costs, travel disruptions, employee growth, new territories, and more business partners.

These factors may need you to ramp up your corporate travel and up your budget to keep up with growing pains. By planning for these changes in your company’s future, you’ll be more ready to handle any added costs.

2. Build an Itinerary

An updated itinerary keeps things organized and streamlined for you and your employees. Successful details included all the details, such as flights, rental car, hotel, events, meetings, and contact information. 

Include confirmation numbers, times, and notes in your itinerary so your employees will have them on hand should something go awry. Itineraries with a high level of detail are an excellent tool not only for the current business trip but as a blueprint for planning future trips as well. 

3. Explore Your Options

While you may be used to using the same airline and hotel brands for your corporate travel, being open to other options can make a difference when travel budgeting. Changing brands might have greater perks, more options, and corporate travel discounts. 

If comparing several options sounds like too much work, consider hiring a corporate travel company to manage it for you. Travel management companies often have access to discounted prices, have their own travel software and platform, can customize travel for each person, and find the best options to fit your budget. 

4. Consider All Expenses

When creating any budget, you must consider every expense so you don’t come out over budget. Budgeting for travel is more than transportation and hotels—you’ll need to factor in food allowances, additional working hours, change fees, and other unexpected costs.

Including as many expenses as possible when building a travel budget gives you more flexibility with your business travel and brings you and your employees peace of mind during their travels.

5. Seek Help From Technology

There are several useful tools online to make corporate travel a breeze. If building a travel budget on your own feels like too much, they can simplify the process to make the most of your time.

Travel Apps

Today, most travel companies have an app where you can look at their services or get real-time updates on your flights, rental car, and hotel. Having this information at your fingertips is crucial for any business because it allows employees to let them know of any problems with their travels ASAP. 

Travel apps are also a great tool to use in the planning and budgeting steps of business travel. With third-party apps, you can compare prices across different brands and browse vacation bundles to find the best deal. 

Travel Software

Online travel software is another useful tool that streamlines planning by keeping everything together. Travel software shows the hotel, flight, and other bookings on one platform where employees can look at each booking in one place. 

If you work with a travel management company, they often use travel software or have their own program to manage and share your bookings. 

Corporate Travel Budget Template

There are several templates available online to use as a starting point for your corporate travel budget. With templates, you are already given a basic layout and only need to plug in your data.

You can find a variety of Excel templates for corporate travel budgets to handle your budgeting in a spreadsheet. If you’re already using travel software for your planning needs, many of these programs offer their own budgeting template to use on the platform. 

6. Keep Employees in the Know

Travel can be stressful, so making sure employees have all of the information they need will keep things stress-free and organized. For travel itineraries, consider using a shared calendar with the important dates and times.

This way, every employee knows where they need to be and when. If any changes come up, calendar events can be updated and your employee will be notified right away. 

If you’re working on a strict budget, employees need to know. Give them the information on food allowances, what will be covered by the company, and what they’ll need to pay out of pocket. 

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