It’s easy to view corporate travel as just a cost of doing business. But it plays a vital function for every business. Depending on your industry, it’s what keeps your company moving; the sales pipeline flowing; your experts informed and certified; and your people in front of patients, customers, and partners. Travel also brings teams together, whether it’s to assess a potential acquisition, collaborate to solve a problem, or innovate. Equally important, travel management processes touch everything from regulatory practices and compliance to budgets, payroll, tax applications, traveler safety, and value-added tax (VAT) reclaim.
So the pressure’s on to make travel spend management count – to get as much business value from your travel program as possible.
This is no small task, as corporate travel spend is only getting harder to manage. Travelers are taking over, booking their own travel using mobile apps and supplier Web sites. They are wielding more influence and bringing more demands for flexibility and control to corporate travel programs. At the same time, new distribution channels have ushered in a new normal, fragmenting data on bookings and costs. This is making it harder for CFOs to not only understand what’s being spent, but for travel managers to know where employees are. According to the GBTA, 77% of businesses are not completely confident that their organization can quickly and accurately locate business travelers in an emergency.
Further proof that travel management is getting more complex results from recent GBTA study. It found that compared to five years ago, experienced travel managers spend more time on key functions today, including:
- 66% more on data and analysis reporting
- 66% more on evaluating or implementing new technology
- 60% more on traveler safety and duty of care
- 52% more on cross-department meetings or collaboration
Travel managers play a critical role in managing through these challenges and maximizing the value of travel programs, but this is often overlooked by management. For example, travel managers don’t just choose booking tools and enforce policies – they open the door to a new world of opportunity, from expanding into new markets to innovating with customers, suppliers, and partners around the world. They also play a key role that can bring order to travel chaos: helping choose new travel technologies. When they make the right choices, they can unify fragmented, third-party reservation and cost data; automate compliance; give employees the flexibility they want to book travel how, when, and where they want; and give finance a holistic view of travel-related spend.
So it’s a bit of a wild west out there – even for large enterprises. And taming it will take a joint effort led primarily by finance and travel program leaders. Together, they can choose and deploy solutions that capture and centralize travel spending and itineraries booked using both corporate booking tools and third-party apps. With all travel data connected and integrated in one place, travel managers always know where employees are, finance can get more control over costs, and both parties will have the data and insights needed to drive continuous improvement.
As CFOs and travel managers work together to evaluate travel technologies, look for intelligent solutions that can automate and integrate travel and expense management and capture and connect all travel transactions. These capabilities are the key to:
- Driving innovation into improving compliance, visibility, and cost control
- Reinventing employee experiences ahead of their expectations
- Supporting travelers wherever they are
- Integrating travel and expense processes for unified visibility and control
Want to learn more? Download the latest paper from SAP Concur solutions, “Four Keys to Maximizing the Strategic Business Value of Travel Programs."