What Is Business Travel Management?

Many businesses rely on travel as a necessary component of their day-to-day operations.

Whether they’re traveling to meet with a client, conducting face-to-face sales meetings, or attending annual trade shows and conferences, sometimes the only way to get things done is to hop on a flight.

On top of that, the business travel industry gets bigger and bigger every year. Business travel is expected to grow to $1.6 trillion in annual spend by 2020.

But with all that traveling and several employees in the mix, things can get complicated. How do business travelers know what flights and hotels to book?

What happens if they need support while on a business trip? What is the best way to track and manage travel spend? How does a busy employee even find the time to do all these things while fulfilling the responsibilities tacked onto their job title?

Business travel management is defined as the function of managing a company’s strategic approach to travel, including:

  • The negotiations with all vendors
  • The day-to-day operations of corporate travel
  • Traveler safety and security
  • Credit card management
  • Managing travel and expenses data

In today’s blog, we’re delving into the world of business travel management and uncovering how employees can benefit from employing such tactics in their workplace.

Corporate Travel Managers

Corporate travel managers are typically full-time employees at your company and function as travel agents for your team.

Just like travel agents, corporate travel managers can help your business coordinate travel logistics, book on behalf of frequent travelers, negotiate directly with airlines and hotels, and more.

If you or another employees need to travel for work, the corporate travel manager would make sure all the bases are covered by enforcing travel policies, booking travel, and providing support before, during, and after a trip.

They negotiate with airlines and look up the best flight times and prices for your trip.

They most likely will be juggling other responsibilities in the office that align with more administrative duties, such as office management and finance.

These individuals usually have a strong background in the travel industry, pay high attention to detail, and enjoy a collaborative mindset.

Corporate Travel Agencies

The more your employees travel, the more complicated it becomes for the company to keep track of employees’ comings and goings — and the travel expenses incurred by all that back and forth.

Which flight will they catch? Where will the employee stay? Some companies choose to outsource this set of tasks to an agency.

Corporate travel agencies ensure the employees in your company have their travel accommodations taken care of. They operate under a private entity with name recognition among airlines, making it easier to negotiate deals on prices or get you on a coveted flight last minute.

A corporate travel agency can bring order and consistency to your travel program, in ways that benefit both your bottom line and your traveling employees. As your working partner for travel, the agency serves as a one-stop resource.

The corporate travel industry is complex and agencies are comprised of experts that are well-equipped to understand the needs and challenges of traveling employees.

Here’s how it works: the agency will ask the company for their travel policy guidelines, which outline everything from maximum amount that should be spent on a flight, which carriers to use and not to use, flight requirements, etc. This streamlines the booking process for employees.

The corporate travel agency will then handle bookings on your behalf, saving your corporate travelers more time. Taking the arrangements out of employees’ hands assures compliance with your company’s corporate travel policy.

Bottom line? Corporate travel organizations offer many benefits, including:

  • Industry expertise to help secure discounted or refundable travel options
  • Absorbing some of the time lost to booking and adjusting trips
  • Offering personalized support to corporate travelers on the road

Some negatives include:

  • Expensive
  • Can be a lot of back and forth
  • Slow response times

The Future of Business Travel Management

As new tools emerge to help companies manage global business travel, it’s more important than ever to keep up.

As technology continues to innovate and disrupt industries across the board, travel has noticed a shift to automation with the development of software.

Corporate travel management software digitizes the work of a corporate travel manager, making their jobs easier than ever before. Gone are the days of picking up a phone and calling an airline directly to book a flight.

Now, travel managers can use the platforms to book on behalf of frequent travelers and provide consistent booking guidelines for employees who book for themselves.

In addition, new digital travel options such as Airbnb and Uber have given employees and travel managers more flexibility with accommodations.

And, finally, easy, high-tech expensing tools are making it easier for travelers to get reimbursed for travel, and for finance teams to view travel spend in real-time.

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