10 quick wins to get you started in travel management

Travel News 21 Mar 2017

Last month at The Business Travel Show in London, Sandy Moring, Director of Education at ITM led an informative presentation, delivering a step by step guide for those new to travel management and may perhaps be feeling daunted about process and policies and how/where to get started.

Moring began by first discussing what the definition of travel management was? If we think about our personal travel experiences, from meal plans to security, we are making decisions based on our preferences and what we can afford. Business travel is similar but it stems from a need to travel rather than a desire to travel. The business traveler is being sent to accomplish a need for the business. Cost control is responsible for a huge part of all decisions being made, so you have to be sure you are getting the best ROI on the total trip cost but also take in to account traveler comfort.

GBTA states that “Travel management is a specialized business function that balances employee/traveler needs with business goals—financial and otherwise. It is a disciplined approach to processes, suppliers, and data for transient and group travel spend. The purpose of travel management is to deliver measurable results in terms of cost savings, service delivery, and risk mitigation.”

Ultimately there needs to be a balance of meeting both the traveler and the business needs while maximizing risk mitigation and adhering to cost restraints.

Here are the Top Ten Tips to get you on track.

1.Know your business

The first place that you need to start is by understanding your business and assessing what you are managing. It’s important to look at size, number of travelers, position of travelers and destinations (global/domestic).  There will be many questions to take into consideration from how you wish to book to how you will be paying? It is incredibly important to assess who your stakeholders are; Finance? SMT? Procurement? If you look at what their objectives are and keep these in mind, then you know that they will be on board with your decisions.

2.Know what the market has to offer?

Global vs local; analyze what your needs are and how do they fit into this ten step checklist. Take time to look at what is out there that is suitable for your organization. A technology offering for one organization might be wrong for another. You can also keep up with Travel Management Company and business travel news by subscribing to mailing lists.

A useful process to look at is the CIPS 7 step process to complete your tender exercise.
1. Profile the category
2. Market assessment
3. Identify suppliers
4. Strategy selection
5. RFx
6. Selection and implementation
7. Contract and operational management


3. Think about policy

A top tip for your tender and implementation process is that whatever time frame you think it will take- you should probably double it. The number of people that will want to get involved (not just the stake holders), will be staggering, and you need to account for the time that it will take to be able to get feedback, and make necessary changes. Think about policy

This can be the foundation of a well-managed travel program. It provides standards for corporate accountability and compliance, control of travel costs and savings as well as supporting duty of care and risk management. When it comes to your travel policy, you will be considering a range of items from what preferred suppliers and organizations you should/shouldn’t use to whether you enforce guidelines or rules.  

An effective travel policy is in sync with the organizational direction.

The advice that Moring offers is to keep everything up to date, as the environment is constantly changing from both a micro and macro perspective and it needs to be tested from all angles, so all stakeholders know how each policy affects different people.

For example regarding an airline policy some things that would need considering are:

·         Organizational culture

·         Program objectives and strategy

·         Nature and needs of the business

·         Trip lifecycle or customer journey

·         Right level of coverage and depth

·         Consistent application and access

Here are links to some industry tools to help you: The ITM Travel Policy Assessment tool and The ITM Travel Program’s Assessment Tool.


4.Mitigate Travel Risk

There are three different units involved to manage risk; Corporate, Manager, and Employee.


·         How does Duty of Care apply to our company?

·         What is our current employee exposure?

·         Are our travel and safety policies effective and maintained?


·         How do I ensure the safety of my employees, who and where are they?

·         Who is responsible for managing safe and secure travel?

·         How do we effectively communicate and educate with our travelers?


·         What do I need to know about my destination before I go?

·         What will my company do to support me and my dependents?

·         How do I communicate with my company if there is a problem?


The Five Travel Risk Management Pillars

1.       A business travel health, safety and security policy

2.       Consistent and comprehensive travel advice

3.       An incident management plan

4.       Knowing where your people are at all times of travel

5.       Restrictions on travel to higher risk countries


5.Travel services and configuration

When it comes to service and configuration you need to:

·         Ensure you are working with the best fit TMC/fulfillment service

·         Ensure you have access to the best selection of content

·         Assess how much of your business is suitable for online

To ensure a successful program, you will need to prevent leakage (travelers booking themselves) as this will dilute risk management strategy as well as damage supplier relationships.


6.Supplier negotiations

What can you do to reduce spend? Your TMC should be negotiating the best possible rates for you with their suppliers but having a preferred supplier program for frequently used air, car and hotel vendors for your organization is also recommended.

You should also identify whether one level of product suits all travelers- for example your road warriors or engineers vs your VIPs- the purpose of their travel will depend on what they need and how they book. If you have hundreds of employees traveling for a conference, then this would usually be booked in advanced and the travel dates would not change so you would not need a flexible fare. However, traveling for a last-minute meeting would be entirely different.  

Always engage the stakeholders- this will mitigate your own risk!


7.Contract management

·         Contracting

·         Implementing

·         Service Level Agreement: Benchmark and monitor what is expected from the supplier. Have regular review meetings.

·         Key performance Indicators: This ensures there is a quantifiable measurement to the program performance. Don’t just gather data for the sake of it- gather usable date.

Travel management requires nurturing, development and encouragement of continued improvement. After investing so much time and money you do not want to neglect the program after implementation.

Implementation will vary depending on the size and scope of your travel program – you should take ownership and project manage this so that everyone knows who is responsible for what. Implementations can take anywhere from 12 weeks to 6 months.


8.Payment options

How you are going to pay for your travel will affect preferred supplier engagement, and traveler satisfaction. How do you pay the TMC? How does the traveler pay? A central card? An invoice? A virtual card? An individual card? Personal card? Cash?

What are you buying? Who you buy from? How the expense is allowed? Do the travelers have to justify their expense through an authority process?

“Only spend corporate money as if it were your own”- best practice.


9.Total Trip Cost

You will need to decide whether there are authority procedures in place or not and what kind of expense management system comes in to play. Would you need each traveler to provide a total trip cost assessment before traveling? What are the levels of authority and approval? How many are there? With a thorough expense management tool, a lot of the headache is taken away from you and what you end up with is very valuable data that you can present to improve leakage, traveler behavior and compliance as well as highlight areas for future savings and how much you have saved.



It may sound tired but communication is at the heart of any good travel management program. You need to ensure that there are optimum lines of communication between you and your TMC and you and your travelers. It is important to target the right audience, at the right time, with the right information. This can make or break a travel management program. If you are managing things globally then you may need to reword or reassess the information to make sure it works for different markets. Finally you need to make sure your travelers know where to look for information.  Work with your TMC & marketing department to put together a quarterly travel communication piece regarding those who have demonstrated policy compliance and highlight new supplier contracts and special programs and promotions.