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Corporate Travel Management – 4 Min Read

Top 10 Things CFOs must consider before Selecting a Corporate Travel Management Solution

Sajit Chacko

Selecting a technology product has never been easy, especially when we are talking about managing the second largest spend in a corporate. Travel Management always had a love-hate relationship with CFOs, Travelers and Travel Admins. It is challenging to satisfy all these three groups of stakeholders when it comes to Corporate Travel.

When we think about travel management, we tend to imagine only a booking system with portal access. The Travel Management Solutions have evolved a long way from there and can be a 360-degree platform for all the travel needs and more. Here are 10 indicators for you to think before selecting the right Corporate Travel Management Solution that CFOs, Travelers and Travel Admins love.

#1 User Experience

Any new system will have the challenge of adoption. You don’t want your users to fill endless forms to raise a travel request and re-fill if there is a small change in the plan. We are in the age of Conversational UI and anything that takes beyond 60 seconds to raise a request should be shown the door. At any given point in time, your Corporate Travel Management solution should not make your users think a lot and spend a lot of time raising requests and approving.

Pro Tip: Check if the user experience is driven by BOTs and reduce the manual intervention to a large extent.

#2 Travel Policy Management

A comprehensive travel management system is not just about booking. Your company-based travel policy should be an integral part of your travel management system. Importantly, the system should help you create policies dynamically based on the financial situation. Having a clear and concise policy that spells out what can or cannot be booked will ensure that costs don’t exceed budgets.

Pro Tip: Ideally, the system should provide you insights and recommendations on modifying travel policies. No, it’s not a stretch. The analytics can do it.

#3 Large Inventory

The larger the inventory, the broader the possibilities of getting a better deal that meets your budget and the traveler’s expectation. The travel management system should have content ranging from airlines, hotels, buses, trains, GDS, cabs and travel aggregators. The best solutions must get you content from both local and international sources so that all the travel can be managed from a central location.

Pro Tip: The system should be able to integrate with your corporate deals, provider deals and their own deals in the system.

#4 Configurable System

Most SaaS products come with standard features and developed with a fit-all approach. It might work for other areas, but not for travel. Each company will have its own policies, processes, workflows, organization structures, taxation policies, integrations and so on. The one size fits all approach will never work in this context. Check if your travel management solution can be configurable to each of your business and user requirements.

Pro Tip: Ensure that configuration is not an enhancement project and must be inbuilt into the product. A company that truly understands travel will have it inbuilt.

#5 Flexibility in Booking

Organizations have multiple approaches to making the travel plan. Some organizations might prefer to have their employees manage their own travel and some others might want to book on behalf of employees and a few others follow a mixed approach. Does your travel management solution allow this and adapt to multiple workflows?

Pro Tip: Ensure that the system flexibility does not mean sacrificing your company policies. The system should be able to offer flexibility and also ensure compliance with the policies.

#6 24X7 Support 

The support needs to be 24X7 and no less. Employees travel around the clock, especially if you are a global organization. The support should be offered through all the channels – email, phone, chat.

Pro Tip: The support team must have access to all the information and must be aware of your corporate policies to offer a personalized service and also offer a compliant solution.

#7 Invoice and Tax Management

Planning a business trip automatically means handling several invoices. Keeping track of all these bills, dealing with lost receipts and tracking expense claims could be baffling. When considering your options, make sure that the system consolidates all the bills from a trip into a single folder. This will significantly ease the burden from the finance department.

Pro Tip: The travel system must handle geo-based taxes. E.g. In India, the GST policies vary from one location to another and the system must be able to handle the variations.

#8 Approval Management

Most of the travel solutions have hierarchy-based approval management. However, given the matrix organizations, we work in, the approval management needs to be broader. E.g. A marketing employee traveling should be able to mark the BU head of a different vertical as approver if the travel is for that vertical.

Pro Tip: The system should be able to keep nudging the approver for faster approval to get better rates. Also, it should automatically approve the travel plan as per the company policy.

#9 Transparency and Insights

Travel is one area that can lead to several manipulations from booking to cancellations to reimbursements. As a CFO, you need to have a transparent system that gives you real-time insight on any manipulations. E.g. the reports must show how many employees booked tickets/hotels that are above the policy limit, did you get the cancellation charges back from the booking and are you getting the best rates available in the market.

Pro Tip: You should be able to configure such reports within a few clicks than raising a change request to the provider.

#10 Integrations

As today’s enterprises run on IT systems, it is important for the travel solution to be able to integrate with a company’s systems, so that data integrity is maintained. Specifically, it should integrate with the HR and the Finance systems for a seamless experience for users and CFOs alike. This ensures that you don’t need to manually enter any information (be it employee data or expense data) into multiple systems. In addition, you should get a comprehensive dashboard of your travel program that allows you to slice and dice the data as per your organization structure.

Pro Tip: Ensure that it is an API-based integration and not an excel-based manual data import.

Here is one bonus point.

#11 Gamification to Change User Behavior and Save More

If you want to save more on your travel spend, changing user behavior is the key. You can create as many policies as you want, but if the behavior is not changed, the savings are not going to be consistent. The system must-have features that nudge and reward the users to modify their behaviors to save for the organization without sacrificing their safety or experience. The modern Travel Management Solutions have the AI, ML and gamification features that read the user behavior and nudges them along the way to help them make the right decision.

Pro Tip: Go ahead and ask if the travel management platform offers this feature.

I must confess that I just barely scratched the surface on what Corporate Travel Management Solutions can do. However, the above 10 points give you a foundation to select the right solution for your company. The one that saves money for you, improves efficiency for your Travel Admins and delivers an unbelievable experience for your users. I’d love to hear from you on any feature that you found extremely useful and must be part of the list.

For TMCs
Complete solution from travel management to client engagement

For CFOs
Consistent YoY savings by changing user behavior

For Travelers
Superior experience for travelers with a virtual travel assistant

For Travel Admins
Unbelievable efficiency and ever-growing inventory
Take it for a spin and see for yourselves

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