Tips, Tools and Tech for Optimizing a Travel Program, Part I

With the 2010 NBTA Convention behind us, it’s time to begin thinking about using all we’ve learned to better manage travel budgets as the fall business travel season begins picking up steam. Elizabeth West, Director, Content Solutions for shares advice for getting the most out of your corporate travel program:

As the economic recession slowly gives way to recovery, business travel is picking up pace. To make the most of the travel budget, travel managers must stay vigilant with demand management and data analysis, while getting innovative with new management tools and tactics.

  • Demand Management – Responsibility for controlling travel demand migrated to the travel manager ahead of the recession, but the economic downturn cemented its place in the travel management toolbox. Rather than soliciting manual approval from direct managers or more senior executives, companies that have implemented a truly strategic approach to managing demand have automated the approval process within their booking tools. Reason codes for travel have become best practice, and when configured into the booking tool can prevent shopping and/or booking until a trip purpose is approved.


  • While demand management parameters may ease as the economy recovers, a continued judicious approach will ensure travel dollars are strategically deployed. For now, companies are focusing their travel spend on sales and other client-facing travel. Trips to emerging markets are another area where business travel dollars will flow steadily as the economy recovers.


  • Travel Alternative Technologies – Virtual conferencing, videoconferencing and even teleconferencing continue to merge with travel management strategies. Companies are targeting internal travel and small meetings to be diverted to such tools. In particular, executive meetings have become a focus, reducing some of the pricier travel itineraries. According to research conducted by American Express Business Travel and, teleconferencing and desktop-based Web conferencing are the most commonly utilized alternatives to travel, but sophisticated virtual conferencing suites area gaining ground. More often, the option to utilize travel alternatives is becoming available within travel booking tools. Sophisticated booking tools can be configured to suggest an alternative based on the reason code or other trip parameters, such as same-day travel.

The remaining three tips for optimizing corporate travel will post next week. Stay tuned!

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