Business travel is a continual balancing act. The corporation is looking for a greater return on investment (ROI) and assurance that employees will be cared for; the traveler is looking for a personalized and responsive travel experience. At times, it has appeared that balancing the two isn’t possible, or certainly isn’t easy. But there is a way forward where the interests of the corporation and the traveler coincide.
Managed Travel 3.0 will go beyond personalization for the traveler, to an interactive holistic management of Travel & Expense (T&E) for corporations, travelers and Travel Management Companies alike. The LSE report, Managing Every Mile, outlines a five-step framework for how organizations can drive a more holistic approach to T&E. The report details how most corporations could achieve greater ROI but they need guidance and structure to capture it.
The five stages of travel management
T&E strategic sourcing, T&E buying, traveler duty of care, expense management, and analytics and feedback are the five stages of travel management. By following them, travel buyers and companies could see a significant increase in ROI from travel. The first two steps to address are the strategic sourcing and buying phases. The third step advocated in the framework relates to duty of care and the traveler experience.
The fourth step requires tackling over-complicated expense management systems, which were a source of aggravation for two thirds of those interviewees. The submission and review of expenses remains a manual and sluggish process for many firms, frustrating travelers and managers alike. CFOs in particular highlighted the need for granular expense reporting that would illuminate target areas for improvement.
80% of executives felt they did not have the necessary information to tighten their T&E strategy. This is caused by lack of data capture that comprises the fifth step in our framework. Managed channels for sourcing and buying must be created to integrate invaluable data, analytics and feedback loops. Compliancy can be measured and new sourcing opportunities identified.
Technology is an enabler of smarter business travel
Legacy technology represents a tangible obstacle for any firm looking to streamline their processes. For T&E optimization, information technology is the underlying enabler and all steps of the process depend on it. Also, mobile capability has evolved from a ‘luxury’ to an expected necessity in T&E.
And finally, best practice analytics utilize an integrated, automated chain that captures costs and behavior at each T&E stage. T&E management is not a single process, nor is it the sole responsibility of a single department. Achieving ROI is an iterative process that relies upon different parts of organizations coming together to set objectives, provide the right technology and continually adjust the process to make sure it is working.
Ultimately though, if T&E is designed with the traveler in mind, there will be much greater compliance with policy, and the investment made in employee satisfaction, employee safety and the overall investment in travel will be maximized. So, the next time you think of your travelers, or receive an expense report which considers out of policy spend, or when you have an incident where you need to track your travelers, it is worth thinking about the five step framework.
Download our report, Better Business, Smarter Travel, for more insights.