Whether you are an office manager arranging staff travel or a seasoned travel agent, corporate travel management can be challenging at the best of times. Controlling hotel and transport expenses, ensuring corporate travel policy compliance, managing meetings, events, and seeing to emergencies is a pretty complex responsibility. Below are 5 tips to help you master your travel management duties and budget management.
Building relationships that allow you to negotiate with suppliers could mean a huge saving for your business. Negotiating with suppliers is however only beneficial if you can maintain the same standard of amenities for traveling employees at a lower cost. Managing to get a very low rate could be detrimental if it entails a low standard of accommodation or fewer amenities and services. Think shuttle services, meals, internet access etc.
At Vacasa South Africa we pride ourselves in our willingness to assist corporate clients with high-quality self-catering business accommodation within their budget. Our loyalty programme launching soon will allow corporates to benefit in more than one way in using any of our properties nationwide, at mutually beneficial rates with an addition of free add-ons and discounted services. Make the most of companies that do offer this kind of service – your savings will go a long way.
- Stay in the Know
Travel is a rapidly evolving and ever-changing market. Travel requirements such as visas, luggage allowances, processes and documentation change often and it is imperative as the travel manager to stay up to date with these changes. New trends, apps and tools are handy in keeping abreast with important changes. In order to remain efficient and avoid high costs, delays, emergency re-routes and vexed co-workers we recommend:
- Subscribing to a daily travel news service such a travelinfo.co.za for up-to-date headlines on major airline and travel requirement changes as well as new routes and accommodation options.
- Always (yes, always) double check and confirm travel arrangements with both the supplier and the traveling co-worker. This can be done by doing an on-line check-in, emailing or calling the supplier to confirm the booking, check-in, arrival or departure times as applicable.
- Confirm the available amenities when using a new property or supplier and ensure you are certain which services may incur an extra cost.
Where possible gain some training or attend workshops to stay ahead of the game in an ever-evolving industry.
- Plan Ahead and Plan for the Unexpected
Count your blessings if travel runs smoothly as lastminute.com can be an expensive exercise. Where possible plan business trips well in advance in order to gain better rates, ensure availability and streamline travel schedules. It is imperative to opt for flexibility with airline and accommodation bookings, allowing for last-minute changes, cancellations and refunds as there are bound to be alterations in events, emergency situations and short-notice amendments.
- Good Attitude and Communication are Crucial
Maintaining good communication with employees on the road is important. Whether in the office or on the other side of the world, there has to be two-way communication at all times, so that the employee, supplier, host and local office can be up to date with scheduled changes.
This is essential especially during unforeseen emergencies beyond your control such as airport closures, poor weather conditions, safety concerns, mechanical breakdowns, strikes and health emergencies. Remain calm during these times and develop a crisis management plan of action to follow in order to streamline responsibilities, tasks and communicate effectively. Having a good attitude and remaining calm will reflect towards both the traveling employee and supplier as a professional standard of efficiency on your part, and help keep everyone else calm no matter how bad the situation.
- Develop a Corporate Travel Policy Specific to Your Company
Whether you are a small business or a multinational giant, you need to have a travel policy in place if your staff are traveling for work. A solid set of guidelines means that everyone is on the same page in terms of allowances, spending, budget guidelines, travel methods, loyalty programs, luggage limits and per diem expenditure.
On booking, ensure which services, taxes and fees are included and stipulate which extra personal costs will not be covered by the company as well as budget allowances for meals, amenities and travel expenses. Small extras may add up to a surprisingly large bill if not checked before hand including baggage charges, taxes, airport lounges, special meals, Wi-Fi etc.
Stay safe by making sure your traveling co-workers all have travel-insurance as this could uncomplicate some very difficult situations and prevent huge monetary losses.
Following the above five tips could largely simplify a challenging industry with its uncertain dynamics. Staying organized and positive could turn these tasks into a very rewarding experience for both you and your traveling counterparts.
Vacasa South Africa provides self-catering long and short-term corporate, leisure, incentive and small-group accommodation and getaways. We pride ourselves in building long-lasting relationships with our corporate guests ensuring you receive a personalized package according to your company budget and business travel requirements making last-minute bookings stress-free.