Travel management encompasses a variety of industry players: non-profit corporations, hoteliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, airlines, travel management companies, data consolidators, consultants that act as a liaison between buyers and suppliers – the list goes on and on.
Despite the wealth of available information, diving into managed travel as an individual with little to no experience can certainly be intimidating.
GBTA recently hosted a webinar in which GoldSpring Consulting’s Mark Williams provided an overview of what individuals new to managed travel should focus their efforts on.
Determine Your Strategy
First, determine your strategy and best practices as they pertain to each element of program management, such as travel policy, TMCs and OBTs, air, hotel, payment and any additional resources. Consider the following questions: What do you need from a policy perspective? What kind of services do you need from a TMC and which TMC can deliver those services? Which airline is the best fit based on your travel patterns, requirements and corporate culture? What kind of a payment system would help?
Start a Committee
Companies typically take a committee-approach to writing and reviewing a travel policy. The committee would ideally consist of at least five individuals: a travel manager, the employee handling accounts payable, someone who audits expense reports, a representative from a department with high travel activity and an outsider to guide the process.
Develop a Travel Policy
Travel policy is the bedrock of any travel program. Without a concise or well-written travel policy, your travelers have no guidance or direction. In order to develop a policy, first determine what your company’s current practices are and how you want them to change. In addition to having clearly defined terms, a travel policy must be enforceable, easily accessible to travelers, and capable of measuring and tracking compliance. Since the travel industry undergoes frequent changes, Williams stressed the importance of keeping your policy updated and reviewing it on at least an annual basis.
Once your policy is in place, you can determine which relationships make sense from a supplier perspective. Williams also delved into the importance of TMCs and OBTs and offered best practices for airlines, hotels, payments and more.
For a more in-depth look into managed travel, GBTA members may view Strategy Bootcamp: What Everyone New to Managed Travel Should Know in full through the Hub.