It doesn’t take a village to run a corporate travel program, but it most certainly is not a one-employee show either. No matter the size of an organization’s travel program, managing it requires teamwork and collaboration.
So, travel managers (TM), don’t go it alone. Below are ways other departments can pitch in to help make your program a smooth-running operation.
Even if it’s not communicated directly, the tone of a travel program is set from the top. If senior management stays mum about the travel policy or is lax with the rules itself, employees will be tempted to “go rogue.”
To avoid that scenario, identify a senior-level executive who can champion the travel program and inspire policy buy-in at all levels.
And to be sure it’s a policy they can fully endorse, work with senior management on ways to further align it with the company’s culture and objectives and also seek their recommendations for addressing travelers who are not compliant.
Department managers / supervisors
Since it can create friction in a program when TMs play policy police, leave that role to the travelers’ own managers. You can help with the task by sending these leaders quarterly or monthly reports that reveal the noncompliance rate and who the repeat offenders are.
To stay on track with the annual travel budget and create a little competition among the various divisions, also provide managers with a breakdown of how much each department is spending and saving on T&E.
As travel programs increasingly become a way to lure candidates to a job, HR leaders play an integral role in touting the program’s benefits and collaborating with TMs to make it more attractive altogether.
But their work doesn’t stop after a hire is made. The HR team also can be key in the onboarding process, whether it’s simply including the travel policy in new employees’ orientation packages or setting them up with corporate credit cards.
Procurement / sourcing
When you need help reining in travel expenses, these folks who know all the angles will be the first to call. Yet, while you can rely on the procurement department to strike the best deal with suppliers, determine the optimal pricing strategies and unearth cost-savings opportunities, these days you’ll also want to balance that cost-sensitive mentality with traveler satisfaction goals. To that end, we suggest having procurement brainstorm with HR about cost-effective ways to create a program that’s of high value to travelers.
Whether your organization issues corporate credit cards or travelers are required to use their own and submit receipts for reimbursement, work closely with the accounting/finance department to develop an effective system for processing T&E transactions. And if the method could be improved upon, don’t just accept the status quo. In order to enhance the traveler experience, partner up with the finance crew to introduce an expense program that will streamline the process for busy road warriors.
From installing programs to protecting laptops from getting hacked abroad to warning employees about the dangers of using the airport’s public Wi-Fi, these tech gurus can help thwart all kinds of cybersecurity dangers. Team up with them to educate traveling employees about the kind of cybersecurity threats they may encounter on the road and how they can avoid them.
Help from the IT department also should be enlisted when vetting any new technology or apps you would like your travelers to pilot or adopt.
Obviously, this is the team you’ll be leaning on most to meet your duty of care responsibilities. But it’s not only about having round-the-clock support so the company can react quickly when some kind of emergency arises during a business trip — it’s also about empowering travelers with the proper tools and training so they themselves can make smart decisions when confronted with a crisis.
So either team up with your own security department or a third-party risk management firm (like our partner iJet) to teach travelers basic life-saving skills as well as provide reports and alerts about the places they’re going.
Now for the real VIP — the travelers who make the business go round. Not only is their feedback essential in evaluating how happy they are, but it also can be super useful during negotiation time and ensuring the perks suppliers are offering are actually relevant. So make time to find out how they feel about the program through surveys and other forms of engagement.
Last but not least, you can and should depend on your TMC for support. In fact, we here at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) can lend a hand with many of the tasks listed above.
Looking for ways to save? Leverage our longtime supplier relationships for steeper discounts.
Wish to bolster your risk management program? We’ve got you covered with Expert Care™.
Seeking assistance onboarding folks with the online booking tool? We’re training people how to use our new Neo™ program.
Need help with the high complexity stuff? Our Global Business Consulting subject-matter experts can manage anything you throw at them. All you need to do is ask!
And that’s the important thing, right? Knowing when you may not be the best person for the job and reaching out for help. Too often, we try to do everything ourselves and don’t use the resources available to us.