Being a travel manager is like being a middleman. Can you still keep your employees happy while maintaining a compliant travel program?
Here are 3 of the biggest issues most commonly faced by all travel managers and we have some measures you can take to balance your traveller wants with your company’s needs:
1) The struggle of travel program compliance
Company travel program compliance has always been the biggest struggle a travel manager has to face. Ensuring travellers and travel bookers are channelling all their travel through the dedicated TMC is quite a task. Out of policy bookings not only disrupts reporting but also affects traveller risk. It is imperative for safety reasons that the employer knows where the travellers are at all times, and when bookings are made directly with the hotels or airlines a TMC can’t report back to the travel manager the traveller’s whereabouts.
How to ensure compliance:
Explain to the travel bookers and travellers what the importance of a travel policy means, and why it has been put in place. Often policies are not abided by due to a lack of understanding or knowledge. Also you can work with your TMC to put together a change management process.
2) Travellers doing your job
Sometimes travellers seems to think they can get a better deal than the company. With the abundance of online travel agents (OTAs), travellers have access to price comparison on products globally. This makes them think they are doing the company a huge favour by saving on price. However, travellers do not see the rationale why the fare online is cheaper than booking through travel managers and their travel management company (TMC), they don’t have the knowledge and expertise of understanding rate parity or dynamic pricing etc. A TMC is engaged by a company to negotiate rates using total volume of room nights. When booking through an OTA or a hotel, this total volume power is not taken into consideration.
Travel managers have to display advantages of booking with their TMC, getting upgraded if hotel is overbooked is just one of the few perks of making a legit corporate booking with a hotel. Give them working examples. Once travellers notice that they stand to be treated as priority at a hotel with their corporate bookings, they will think twice about what they will get from an OTA booking.
3) Capturing data and reporting effectively
Reporting for travel managers can be quite fragmented. In an ideal world the dedicated TMC would be able to provide one set of reports that show all the travel spend, travel patterns and deliverable savings. However, when a company travel policy is not followed properly or the in-house finance systems are insufficient it can make reporting for travel managers very manual. Travellers may not use their corporate to pay for travel, instead they are using personal credit cards to accumulate points in their own interest. This affects your ability to track overall expenditure which will not accurately reflect the truth in your company’s travel data.
Find a middle ground:
To curb use of private cards, allow travellers to redeem points on the corporate card or give travellers the option of using the rewards while absorbing the reward program fee.
To streamline reconciliation, implement a consolidated expense reporting system or use a Business Travel Account (BTA) card specifically for air and land purchase. This helps you build a seamless and in-depth report which you can present findings and trends to both management and vendors for better contracts.