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Elements of a strong corporate travel program

To get the most out of your corporate travel budget, it's crucial to plan how to use your program for all it's worth. Telling passengers to choose the lowest logical plane ticket is just not enough. Here are some things to consider when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well-written and widespread travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed at how many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if any. It's not hard to find a well-written policy. It can be found quite easily online. All that remains is that it is designed to reflect corporate culture, and distributed within the company so that everyone understands it and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea for everyone to sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by the entire company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company sign a copy of the travel policy, whether they are traveling or not. Later, they can change positions within the company and are required to travel. Travel policies need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel rules I've ever seen were only a few pages long.

2 Central travel inside and out

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay the price in the form of a loss of opportunity to reduce costs and internal efficiency. Many non-centralized travel companies fear that travelers will be required to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that hiring a travel manager will be required to centralize travel. Both may have legitimate concerns, but may not be the case in most cases. By requiring passengers to book centrally, you do not necessarily cause them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while allowing travelers to book themselves, either with the travel agency of your choice or online through a provider you have partnered with and trust. By assigning someone responsible for overseeing your trip, you are getting a single point of contact, both internally and externally, for travel issues. If your company spends less than $ 1 million on air travel, you probably don't need a permanent travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be assigned to the finance department, human resources, or even the executive level assistant. Here are the benefits to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize your travels with one agency, you get yourself in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while traveling, and you will have one entity for all travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating trip reports from several sources. Coupling travel will benefit significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel between different departments or locations, you can get more from your travel provider for your money. This will allow you to get more from a cheap airline program, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher discount rate than our preferred airline, and get better bargaining rates from hotels and cars. Your fulfillment costs will also be reduced, as your travel agent will often discount your fees for a larger total volume of travel.

3. A combination of online booking and personal services

This is in addition to the previous element, which calls for the centralization of travel with one travel agency. This is important, but passengers do not have to ask to use the online booking system and do not have to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the opportunity to do anything, you accomplish several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs as online booking is cheaper in terms of service charge. By giving passengers an option, you give them a sense of control, which increases morale and has a greater chance of high adoption rates. Third, you leave open the best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries and allow senior executives, frequent travelers and complex itineraries to book directly with a travel agent who can offer a higher level of service and better overall. travel experience where it is most guaranteed.

4. Look under each stone

Although the bulk of travel programs are around the air budget, there are several other areas that can be explored to find savings. There are several more obvious areas, such as negotiating hotel rates at your favorite hotels or discounted car rental deals with a favored dealer. Often, your travel agency will already have discount rates through consortium associations and car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be explored. For example, when it comes to land transportation, most suppliers will offer reduced rates and a direct billing option. Hotel direct billing arrangements and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiency and make the accounting department's job easier.

5. Use hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer discounts on hard dollars as well as favorable dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is more than $ 1 million in air travel, you can secure a discount on the lowest carrier prices of your choice in exchange for transferring market share. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter cheap dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as improving your passenger status or airport club pass. These programs require little in the way of volume but are not well publicized, so they may need to search for them or seek out Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6 Do not neglect the volume of the hotel

The volume of a hotel is sometimes overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. You can negotiate the prices through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will offer you reduced rates in exchange for a minimum room / night commitment. Using a travel agency, you are likely to get a discount of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one rental car agreement

Car rental agreements are easy to enter into and require little to no corporate responsibility. Choose a partner who has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and you can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and improve morale. You can also conclude direct billing agreements that can make your passengers and accounting work less stressful.

8. Understanding group and meeting agreements

Airlines and hotels will discount prices and fares if you have groups traveling together or meeting in one destination with multiple departure points. These meeting contracts can get you discounts on a 2-10% airfare, and if you have enough passengers on one airline, you may be able to negotiate the free tickets that will be awarded to you upon completion of the contract. The minimum requirement is usually 10 passengers departing at the same place at a time. Some airlines have a higher minimum, so be sure to ask before contracting. Hotels will lower prices similarly with a minimum of 10 nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a significantly higher discount, depending on occupancy rate and seasonal variations.

9. Use reporting to improve metrics consistently

Well-managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial control to be properly utilized. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to give you the information you need. By receiving regular reports on passenger behavior and the performance of your service provider contracts, you will be in a better position to meet contractual obligations, achieve cost reduction goals and see where future savings can be.

10. Use every opportunity to improve passenger comfort and efficiency

Finally, any well-managed travel program will take care of the comfort and productivity of their passengers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their top priorities to help accelerate your business. If passengers are satisfied, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can improve the passenger status of your preferred airline. Look for the purchase of Passenger Club Pass Blocks so that you can use them strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways for travelers to be rewarded for hard and often arduous occupation. Rewards like these create a sense of loyalty and increase productivity and efficiency.

If you would like to know more about how your company can make better use of its travel program to leverage your last line and the satisfaction of your executive level, feel free to contact me. I am delighted to be able to point you in the right direction.