by Mike Baker | Lola
Travel spend can easily get out of control, especially for growing businesses that don’t have concrete policies in place.
So how can small businesses tailor their corporate travel processes to save money?
If “winging it” no longer makes sense as your corporate travel plan, and you’re worried about reining in costs, then your company needs a formalized process for managing corporate travel. A plan that works for your internal budget-minders—so you can finally control your annual travel spend—but also a plan that works for your traveling employees, so they are motivated (and incentivized) to actually follow your guidelines.
Managing Your Investment
As your business has grown, you’ve learned (perhaps the hard way) the importance of planning your budget. Your company forecasts business needs and sets spending budgets for office supplies, hiring, advertising — the list goes on.
Travel should get that same treatment. If it’s not already, travel is likely to become one of your biggest annual line items in short order. Indeed, travel may be a key component in achieving your company’s growth strategies. Don’t think of it as a cost center but rather an investment in your future. Managing your travel, and establishing booking guidelines, helps you stay under budget and avoid unnecessary expenses.
What does a travel plan include?
- An annual budget (based on last year’s spend, adjusted as needed)
- Policies and procedures for employees to follow when booking travel and submitting expenses for reimbursement
- Duty of care coverage – this is not formal insurance, it is your company’s information for traveling employees about what to do in an emergency
- A tracking mechanism that facilitates real-time monitoring and timely after-the-fact data analysis for corporate travel bookings
With these elements in place, your company can now clearly see where travel spend is going and how you can reduce costs. For example, knowing where your employees travel, how often, and for how long helps you negotiate more favorable rates with airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies.
Another way corporate travel planning reduces costs is through data analysis. You can identify when and why employees are ignoring elements of your corporate travel policy, making random “extracurricular” arrangements instead. Is this a discipline issue, or do your policies need to be refined to become relevant or convenient? Companies that build flexibility into their guidelines have the best success when it comes to compliance and budgetary control.
Simple and Smooth
The goal of corporate travel planning is a system that controls costs yet is simple and convenient to use. That includes a way to get help when needed, whether it’s assistance booking flights or changing plans during a trip.
Corporate travel planning works best when it is a team effort. Everyone must understand how to use the system you create and why it’s important that they follow the guidelines.
The easiest and most effective way to simplify your travel and expense program is by adding a digital platform to your team. **Cough, cough** Lola.com, for instance. Lola has become wildly popular with small businesses and their travelers because it’s a single resource everyone can use to streamline travel planning, day-to-day implementation, and real-time analysis.
For a deeper dive on setting up a corporate travel policy that will save you money, check out our free eBook: 10 Steps to Creating a Corporate Travel Policy