So it’s already January 19th, and it’s usually around this time of the month that those new year’s resolutions start to slip. Did you set any for your business travel programme this year? If not, it’s not too late, and if you did and you’re enthusiasm is waning, here are some tips to keep you on track.
#1 Raise your standards
Business travel is a necessity for most businesses to be successful, and despite it being one of the largest expenses of most organisations, it can still sometimes run away with itself. If you’re not actively managing business travel yet it’s probably because you’ve accepted that the way things are is ok, it’ll be too much work to get a handle on what’s really going on or maybe you find the idea of revolutionising your travel bookings a bit daunting. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, the only way things will improve is if you decide it’s time to raise the standard.
Instead of accepting that the way you procure business travel is ok, figure out the standard you want your business travel programme to be at. This could be as simple as knowing how much money is actually being spent to having intricate knowledge on your suppliers, booking methods, cost saving opportunities and frequent travellers. Whatever your objectives are, you will only achieve them if you plan how you’re going to get there - and if you don’t want to do it alone, a travel management company may be your new best friend.
#2 ‘Must’ not ‘should’
If you don’t know whether you’re getting good deals or if you’re literally throwing money down the drain, you could be wasting thousands each year in missed saving opportunities. If you don’t know where your employees are travelling from day to day, you’re exposing your business and your employees to risk that could be mitigated.
If you’ve set some goals for business travel in 2017, make sure they all include the word must, not should. Think about it, “I should work with my travellers to educate them on increasing booking lead time”, it sounds like you might get around to it, but it won’t be a big deal if it drops off the list. Rephrase your targets to, “I MUST work with my travellers to educate them on increasing booking lead time because it will reduce average transaction costs.” This version is non-negotiable, and therefore, much more likely to be achieved.
#3 Eat the frog first
I’ve worked in the business travel industry for most of my adult life (which is a pretty long time) and I’ve worked with lots of businesses who manage travel inhouse. Once their spend reaches a certain size business travel becomes unmanageable, and the bigger it gets the more daunting the task of controlling it becomes, it becomes a frog. The problem with this (especially when you’re responsible for lots of other things as well as travel), is that it gets put off again and again. And so the pressure continues to build and the problems just get worse over time. If this sounds familiar, make it your mission to get things sorted in 2017 by tackling business travel first, and once you have you’ll feel much more accomplished than when it keeps getting pushed back from month to month.
#4 Keep raising the bar
Once you’ve got control of business travel you need to keep improving it so it stays on track. Set your business quarterly targets on what to achieve, monitor these and seek out new opportunities. The last thing you want is your business travel programme to stagnate after you’ve finally got it fully managed. Your travel management company should be with you every step of the way so make sure you utilise your Account Manager’s expertise to ensure your business travel is always optimised.
If you need some further inspiration and motivation to get a handle on business travel in 2017, make sure you attend the Business Travel Show in London on February 22nd - 23rd. It’s Europe’s biggest business travel exhibition and conference and is a MUST attend for anyone serious about getting the most out of their business travel programme.