Managing a corporate travel program on your own can be a costly endeavour, both in time and money. From reconciling various receipts or folios, to keeping track of those booking outside of your travel policy, we can understand why you’d want more time for the other tasks on your plate. As the saying goes: Work smarter, not harder!
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you’re curious about consolidating your travel to one central place. After a few internet searches, you might also be asking yourself “How do we incorporate an online booking tool for our company?”
The benefits of an Online Booking Tool (often referred to as an OBT)
Facilitates simple itineraries
Does your company travel point-to-point? Primarily domestic and/or transborder? If so, an Online Booking Tool could be a great fit as this technology works optimally with what we would consider simple travel.
To go one step further, Elite Travel Management programs your preferred airlines and fare into the Online Booking Tool’s portal. This means that when your team is booking their flights, only routes that meet those requirements will appear. It also removes the need for things like following up with Jane on why she booked a Business Class ticket with ABC Airline.
Provides booking flexibility
Do you have one or multiple individuals who currently book travel on behalf of your employees? Maybe everyone books their own travel as necessary. In both cases, an Online Booking Tool will complement your current processes nicely by continuing to give your staff a direct hand in reserving their travel.
We understand that many industries require travel plans to be made outside of the regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. window. An Online Booking Tool solution allows for trips to be booked 24/7 with no additional costs when reserving after-hours via app or desktop.
Allows streamlined approval
Many organizations work into their travel policies that employees require manager approval for all trips. Often, this can result in emails lost in the shuffle or delayed responses, which leaves the manager asking, “Who sent Jane to Singapore?”
This painstaking process can be eliminated with the use of an Online Booking Tool. The platform automatically sends an approval request to the appropriate manager when an employee submits a tentative booking. Before this reservation can be completed, the designated approver must sign off. No more accidental trips to Southeast Asia for Jane!
The benefits of agent assisted offline bookings
Facilitates complex itineraries
A complex itinerary constitutes anything that includes an international segment, multiple connections, or the changing of carriers. All of these factors amount to a more involved booking process, which can be simplified with a call or email to one of Elite’s Travel Associates.
From the benefits of using creative ticketing techniques that lower the overall ticket cost and processing exchanges, to assessing international cancellation penalties and restrictions, leaning on a expert is worthwhile!
Allows for VIP/high touch travel
Your CEO can only travel to Boston if they can be booked in a waterfront, King Suite at the Boston Harbor Hotel. When you click to reserve, it says they no longer have any rooms available for Friday. What do you do now?
Special requests such as the one above is where our Travel Associates truly shine. With a reservation system that is loaded with thousands of industry-negotiated rates and numerous brand-specific connections, a roadblock such as a sold-out hotel can be navigated rather swiftly. The same can be said for all other corners of the travel industry, whether it is a certain seat on a flight to Tokyo or car service in Austin, TX. The knowledge and human connection of an experienced Travel Associate simply cannot be beat!
Simplifies rotational travel
Coordinating travel to a destination for 10 people can sometimes be a challenge, but what about 50-100 people who are on a constant work rotation? To even the most seasoned travel coordinator this can increase stress levels. Enter your trusted Travel Management Company.
The resources we have at our fingertips can take any mountain and make it into a mole hill! We have a direct connection to the inventory of every airline – even those that are region specific. So, you don’t have to worry about booking the first 15 members of your crew just to discover the rest of the flight is sold out. Elite’s Travel Associate will be able to proactively monitor the number of seats left on an aircraft and adjust where necessary!
While getting there can be half the battle, you also must consider staying there. Having a Travel Associate negotiate your group booking rates and organize payment prior to employees arriving will not only save you money, but countless hours in your day!
Our number one recommendation?
Get the best of both worlds, customized to your needs.
Empower yourself with the combination of an effective Online Booking Tool and a trusted Travel Associate. While this will (and should) look different from one company to the next based on unique needs, it ultimately equips you to handle any type of travel requirement and scenario – at any time.
We at Elite Travel Management understand that no two travel programs are alike, and we develop solutions on an individual basis. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Evaluating company RFPs to explore or select a new Travel Management Company (TMC) can be a very intensive and expensive process. In many cases, an organization with a preferred partner will do so to determine who else is out there and if they’re getting the best bang for their buck. But is it worthwhile?
We’re here to identify the pros and cons of conducting an RFP related to your company travel program and when it’s truly worthwhile.
Does our company travel spend warrant an RFP?
In most cases, TMCs will not consider a formal RFP unless the entire travel spend exceeds $2 million annually. A TMC evaluates spend based on total airline, hotel, and car rentals your company books.
Who will our RFP attract?
A travel RFP that is posted on sites such as MERX and Purchasing Connection will attract any agency set to receive a notification if they key word “travel” is triggered. In many travel RFPs, we see more than twenty companies bid, whereas in the corporate travel industry there are 4-5 main players.
Why might a TMC choose not to bid on our business?
Like all companies, corporate travel providers consider a bid or no-bid process. Just like the time and resources that go into a bid process to create and evaluate an RFP, a significant amount of resources go into a quality travel RFP from the TMC. A TMC may consider some of the following questions before determining if they want to bid on your travel business:
ELITE INSIGHT: A TMC is accustomed to hearing questions about fees first. Industry insiders involved in corporate travel know that fees are not the real areas to save money.
THE 4 PROS OF RFPS:
THE 4 CONS OF RFPS:
A final word on RFPs:
In our experience, the most proven process when evaluating a TMC includes…
Remember: Not all corporate travel programs are the same. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Do we really need to spend this much on travel? You’re not alone in wondering. Oftentimes, business travel is one of the top three line items against a company’s bottom line, so it’s a valid area to focus on. Why has your company not looked at your $200,000, $500,000 or $5,000,000 corporate travel program and evaluated to reach better savings? Why is there an approval process to purchase a new office desk, but a $2,000 company business trip can take place based on the preferences of a single employee? It’s likely that similar questions have led you to this article.
With many different suppliers involved with your company travel program, like airlines, hotels, car rentals, AirBnB and car services (just to name a few), determining where to begin can be a daunting task.
So, what can you realistically save on?
First thing’s first: Defining savings isn’t as clear cut as it may seem. Many individuals will immediately focus on hard dollar savings solutions. For example: “How much can we save on a hotel room?” or, “what discount will we receive on a flight”? And hey – those are very valid questions. We’ll break them down a little later, but let’s start with the areas of focus that will lead you to surefire success. We’ve even ranked them in order of % of savings opportunities:
1. Uncover and intervene on traveller behaviour
Understanding the patterns and approval process used by your employees will help you pick up on some travellers booking whatever they want, and others spending money as though it’s their own. Our number one savings tip is to implement (or review) a company travel policy that outlines guidelines for booking travel. From there, ask your Travel Management Company to report back on who’s booking outside of the policy, and why. Often, when travellers encounter new travel policies or are required to state why they have booked outside of policy (through automation), it prevents them from booking more expensive suppliers. When paired with the right tools, this understanding of traveller behaviour unlocks the number one savings opportunity for your business.
2. Consolidate your internal resources
Travel is a complex area of your organization as you do a lot of it. We’re here to save your company money, and internal resources dedicated to travel is often one of the major costs. Time is money! On top of your company’s corporate travel line item are all the wages that go towards supporting it. When adding up the salaries of all those who book travel, negotiate corporate rates, chase up hotel invoices, reconcile statements and more, it becomes clear how many internal departments are a part of your company travel program.
How about travellers who book their own trips? Did you know the average traveller spends 2.5 to 3 hours researching and booking company travel? At their hourly rate, it’s easy to do the math and realize this soft dollar savings quickly amounts to real money.
We’re not saying to remove any jobs here! Our suggestion is simple: Consolidate all duties to one internal employee at your company who works with one Travel Management Company. When we get to Travel Management providers and the anticipated fees, you will see the savings are undeniable.
3. Take full advantage of your company’s airline credits
How much does your company spend on airline travel? Of that, how much is lost each year in expired airline credits? On average, companies that do not monitor airline credits lose 15% annually of their total air travel spend. When airline credit is available, is it being used to its maximum value? What happens when an employee leaves the company with a long list of unused airline credits?
Let’s be honest: The airlines will not be calling you anytime soon to make you aware of a credit that is about to expire. To make the most of your company’s airline credits, implement a program that proactively advises each traveller on available flight credits along with a company-wide monthly credit report.
4. Use a trusted expert to rise above corporate rate myths
Are you surprised it’s taken this long to bring up corporate rates? It’s true: The most common misconception in corporate travel is to start with corporate air, hotel and car rental rate programs.
Use an expert in corporate rate negotiations. You likely have an IT department or a service provider that specializes in IT. The same goes for HR, finance and sales. So, why put corporate rate negotiations in the hands of someone who doesn’t live and breathe business travel?
If you currently work with a Travel Management Company, are they negotiating the best possible rates? Even when using an expert, ensure it’s a brand and team you trust. If you already question whether your existing corporate rates are truly the best available to your organization, you’re likely on to something.
Did you know the best possible corporate rates are based on your individual company travel spend, and not from what a Travel Management Company may sell to you as “exclusive” savings? The fact is, suppliers that work with one Travel Management Company want to work with ALL of them! Don’t be fooled by “global airline rates” and “tens of thousands of hotel property discounts.” For the best possible savings, work with a Travel Management Company you know and trust to follow through on rate negotiations.
To get even more specific:
Airlines: Choose one preferred airline, and aim to shift market share to that one provider. Airlines often provide increased corporate rates based on % of market share increase, rather than airline revenue commitments alone.
Hotels: Involve a Travel Management Company early in the process when negotiating hotel rates. By using the expertise of a third party, they will operate in the best interest of your company. With many properties, your Travel Management Company can benchmark based on other client rates earned for similar spend. Hotels may ask you to contact them directly to avoid owing commission to a Travel Management Company. However, that is a step in the process you are looking to get rid of!
5. Ask your expert for proof of savings
A supplier or Travel Management Company will commit to (for example) 2%, 5% or 15% of savings – the numbers will vary. Ask your provider to clearly prove these savings after the first six months of working together. As the client, you deserve proof of walking-the-talk when it comes to your bottom dollar.
6. Understand the realities of Travel Management Company service fees
Organizations often focus on a Travel Management Company’s booking or service fee first. We’re here to de-myth service fees:
Service fees: Service fees will typically equate to no more than 2% to 3% of your company travel spend. On a $1,000,000 travel spend, that’s less than $30,000 per year.
Hidden fees: Are there hidden fees? Not all, but some Travel Management Companies and Travel Agents will mark up your travel and offer less in fees. Do your research!
Low fees: Much like vehicle makes and models, not all Travel Management Companies are created equal. Low fees could indicate that your provider does not have staff to be available when you need support most. As the old line goes: You get what you pay for. This is especially relevant in corporate travel.
There are many moving parts to driving down your company’s travel spend. At Elite Travel Management, we’re experienced in doing just that – with commitment to business with integrity every step of the way. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource.
Now more than ever, business travellers will depend on their employer to determine when and if it is safe to travel. Employers have a significant level of responsibility to ensure the well being of their travellers before, during, and after business trips. With the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization’s Duty of Care due-diligence is under the microscope.
1. Always know where your travellers are
It’s time to take the Duty of Care component as a necessary step in your company travel program. So, how do you go about protecting your travellers and organization through Duty of Care?
Companies who do not yet use a Travel Management Company (TMC) – and even some who do – are unable to locate their travellers in the midst of a major event. This could include new pandemic restrictions, an act of terror or a natural disaster – just to name a few. Elite Travel Management provides peace of mind by consolidating all of your organization’s travel to one central reporting system that locates your travellers in real-time, at all times.
2. Empower your travellers with education
With endless online availability of articles and resources on travel and trip preparation, it’s important that business travellers have one central, consistent and trusted resource to turn to. From vaccine requirements, to locally vetted in-destination hospitals, traveller education is a checkmark every organization should complete.
3. Remember that business travel is truly 24/7
Even if typical office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your region, you might have employees in-destination at all hours of the day. With all that can go wrong when travelling for business, employees feel empowered when a TMC is in place to ensure that regardless of the hour, someone is available to help immediately.
ELITE INSIGHT: Ask your TMC to confirm response times after hours. The last thing a traveller wants to do is wait on hold for hours at 2 a.m. in the midst of a stressful situation or last-minute change.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of travel insurance
“I have travel insurance on my credit card and our company has a blanket travel insurance policy for travel.” Sound familiar? You may think you have an adequate business travel insurance program in place, but do you want to wait until travel insurance is needed to determine what it really covers? It’s important to consult with your TMC and determine if enhanced insurance should be purchased. It’s an investment you won’t know the true worth of until it’s needed!
5. Establish a process for all travel approvals
Wait a minute – Bill is overseas right now? Who approved this? If this also sounds familiar, it could be time to implement a travel approval process to ensure that all travel is approved by the appropriate stakeholder(s). Your TMC may even be able to offer an automated approval system that documents reason-for-trip and who approved it!
ELITE INSIGHT: Implement no more than one level of approval with your company’s online travel tool. A multi approval level has appeal, but by the time several people have approved a trip, it could be days later!
6. Recognize that individual travellers have individual needs
Business travel is a breeze to some and more worrisome for others. It’s important to ensure that those who represent your company worldwide feel safe at all times through Duty of Care. For example, Duty of Care programs can provide guidance on accessing an in-destination pharmacy in the event an employee’s necessary drug is lost, stolen or forgotten. How about local LGBTQ+ guidelines? Recommendations for transport from meeting to meeting? What in-destination areas are more susceptible to crime than others?
ELITE INSIGHT: We advise you consider this section in further detail based on where your company is required to travel for business.
7. Implement a traveller waiver
“I feel comfortable travelling for business,” is different than, “I acknowledge in writing the risks associated with travelling for business at this time, including but not limited to COVID-19.”
In a world where paper trails can make all the difference, it’s time to consider a waiver for your business to ensure travellers have accepted the associated risks when travelling. These waivers can be built on a per trip basis, through automation.
ELITE INSIGHT: Like any formal document, we suggest running this one by your legal council or seek third party advice before implementing. Ask us for a template to get you started: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Be aware that not all Duty of Care programs are created equal!
Saying you have a Duty of Care program in place is like saying “I drive a vehicle.” Is it a car or SUV? Is it a two seater or a seven seater? Does it have airbags? What’s the safety record? Is it a Ford or an Audi?
The point here is that you can pick a low-priced or “free” Duty of Care program, but nonetheless it’s important to know what it truly covers. Like travel insurance, Duty of Care often comes into play when you need it most – and that’s not when you want to find out the vehicle you drive is a dud.
ELITE INSIGHT: Consult with your TMC about the “included” Duty of Care programs they provide, and ask for their advice on the enhancements your company should consider adding on. In many cases, the Duty of Care program is separate from your TMC, but the TMC should be able to confirm who is the Lamborghini.
We are here for you every step, drive, train, or flight of the way. Our #AskUsAnything program encourages all travellers to lean on Elite Travel Management as their trusted travel resource. We use our global reach to find answers to your questions as soon as possible.