Travel and Expense

Essential Steps for Successful Business Travel Planning

SAP Concur , Petr Seidner |

Business travel planning covers every aspect of an employee's journey when they are on business trips. Planners need to ensure all aspects of each trip comply with company policies, fall within the travel budget, allow employees to achieve the goals of the trip, and account for travelers' safety and well-being.

As a travel manager oversees this process, you should understand the travel industry, price trends, and other fundamental factors. But the job also involves curating itineraries so that they fit with the goals of the trip and the unique needs of each traveler. This process requires researching destinations, assessing risk, and, sometimes, negotiating with service providers to get corporate rates when booking.

Here are the steps to take to meet all the requirements of business travel planning.

How a business travel planner handles cost controls and productivity needs

Cost control is an important factor in travel planning. Recent surveys about travel have found that companies are taking fewer business trips and creating strict guidelines for travel and spending.

You also have to balance the requirements of employees with cost-control policies. There is a link between employee engagement and satisfaction with travel plans and arrangements. Employees who feel valued are likely to be more productive on the road.

This balancing act may require negotiating upgrades with vendors, finding low-cost perks, and learning the standards and preferences of each employee.

Travelers need access to the tools and systems necessary to remain productive. This can include items like in-room Wi-Fi, cell phone coverage, and transportation options for getting to appointments on time.

You can review this brochure Tools to Help Build the Bottom-Line Impact of Your Travel Program.

Steps to Streamline the Business Travel Process

Organizations can streamline the travel process and also make future trip plans easier.

Steps to consider for organized business travel planning

  • Create a database of employees and include personal details needed to book travel, special requirements, and preferences. You can use these details instead of asking the employee again for each trip.
  • Make a business travel itinerary template and include all necessary details. This form ensures you do not miss any vital details and provide all necessary information about the trip.
  • Establish a system for employee feedback. A survey, post-trip debriefing, or informal meeting gives employees a chance to express needs and lets you know if your planning process and strategies are working.
  • Notify employees of travel policies and announce changes. This step educates employees about expectations for their trip. It also gives them the knowledge and understanding to comply with these policies.
  • Define a procedure for special travel requests. You can give employees specific steps to take to ask for accommodations that are outside of normal travel policies.
  • Build a checklist to assess itineraries for policy and budget compliance. You can compare each itinerary item and booking to ensure it meets travel policies and budget constraints. This step can also help keep standards consistent.

You can also consider relying on software and applications to plan trips, manage bookings, and track travelers after they leave.

Apps to help with travel business planning

These apps can help you organize plans and add helpful details.

  • FLIO is an app that provides information for navigating airports. You can use it to provide details to travelers, such as directions to car rental kiosks and the location of lounges with Wi-Fi access.
  • Clime provides detailed forecasts for destinations. It can help you tell travelers weather details and what to pack for their trip. The app can also notify you about potential weather problems, like hurricanes, in the destination.
  • Google Travel can help with the research phase of travel planning by allowing you to organize all necessary information in one place and bookmark it for easy reference. It's easy to share these insights with travelers, as well.
  • CityMapper can assist with trip planning outside of hotels, airlines, and car rentals. It allows you to decide how to get to different locations around the city and is useful for managing transport and helping travelers find alternatives if necessary.

You can use these tools alongside SAP Concur, which manages expenses, centralizes booking and reservation data, and serves as the overall backbone of your travel planning process.

Account for cultural differences while networking

A business travel planner can help employees prepare for international trips by offering insights into their destination's culture. An understanding of culture and etiquette can help your team feel comfortable on their trip. Of course, many international businesspeople will not expect visitors to understand their cultural practices. However, preparing travelers for the host country's customs can set the stage for success and help them build rapport with local partners during the journey.

Preparations can include researching the destination's business culture practices and confirming your findings with people in that country or employees who went there before.

Plan for delays, cancelations, and other unexpected events

The unexpected can happen during business trips. 1-2% of flights get canceled, and 20-25% are delayed by more than 15 minutes. One such incident could throw off an entire itinerary, leaving the travelers scrambling to get back on schedule.

Business travel planning involves preparing for these situations. Contingencies can be helpful, and you should also always purchase travel insurance. These policies can include coverage for lost baggage and illnesses, as well.

Your travel policy should include a set of steps travelers can take if they encounter problems. You should give them information about who to contact, where to go, and resources they can use.

In almost all cases, a cloud-based travel management platform is invaluable for changing plans, sharing information, and staying in contact during crises.

Use SAP Concur for travel planning

As a business travel planner, you have to juggle many different tasks. SAP Concur allows you to put the most important aspects of managing corporate travel, from budgeting to booking to expense tracking, on one platform. You can also look to us to provide valuable insights as you try to plan your management strategies in the evolving travel marketplace. Visit us to check out the travel demo, or connect with us to learn more.

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