As we head out of summer and business travel starts gearing up again, we conclude last week’s post from Elizabeth West, Director, Content Solutions from ProMedia.travel on getting the most out of your corporate travel program:
- Mobile Travel Management Technologies – Travel departments are increasingly taking advantage of mobile travel management tools to support traveler productivity. The ability to shop or book travel from a mobile interface can be invaluable to travelers experiencing delays or other problems. Destination-based services, such as traffic and weather reports and even automated messaging from a travel management company or travel manager are enhancing the traveler experience. Mobile expense reporting has gained momentum as well. The most sophisticated tools allow a traveler to import credit card charges and snap smartphone-photos of their receipts to upload into the expense system while still on the road. Management approvals should also flow through the mobile system to ensure that expense reports are not only submitted in a timely fashion, but approved quickly, as well.
- Don't Forget the Data – Data is fundamental to the success of the travel program and travel managers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their data sources in order to build a clear view of their program. Without accurate business intelligence, it is impossible to make strategic decisions about policy, suppliers or other program improvements. Booked data from an agency or booking tool is generally the least complete, but the easiest to access. Credit card data can serve as a reality check against booked data to ensure that booked and billed information is reconciled. While expense data by definition is the last to arrive, it remains the most complete source – especially when automated from end to end, with booking data and credit card data linked directly to the expense tool.
- The most sophisticated expense tools can combine and reconcile data automatically to provide detailed reports with drill down capabilities to individual travelers or business units. Accessing this information on demand, travel managers have the data at their fingertips to create internal benchmarking programs, negotiate with suppliers and identify areas of weakness in the program that they may need to address with policy changes.
- Internal Benchmarking & Traveler Motivation – There's a lot of talk in the managed travel industry about creating corporate travel programs that are traveler centric. Mobile capabilities and intuitive tools are definitely moving these programs in the right direction. But travel managers should also innovate with the data they are gathering from reports to create internal benchmarking programs and begin to motivate their travelers with some healthy traveler-centric competition. With the ability to drill down to individual business unit or traveler information, the travel manager can begin to set goals for specific behaviors that he or she would like to see in travelers and reward the best performers with recognition of their efforts. While a material incentive is not imperative, companies that can sweeten the pot might begin to see some interesting results. Be careful, though. Don't incentivize travelers to sabotage the objective of their business trips in an effort to win a contest!