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Corporate travel managers know all too well how challenging it can be to get employees to follow company policies when booking business trips. Some coworkers won’t use the chosen travel management tools while others simply prefer to work with their agents. You’ve told employees time and again that they must adhere to written guidelines, and they reply they’ll do it “next time”. However, “next time” comes around and still, you catch them using other methods for booking trips.

Your corporate travel buying process is broken. However, the good news is, there’s ways to fix it, but first, let’s look at the reasons people use for ignoring procedure. 

“I’d rather find my hotel/Airline rates.”

Hotel rates fluctuate and can often be higher than what was budgeted for, which puts a lot of pressure on a travel manager to cut those costs. Subsequently, travellers search for better rates on their own, in turn causing compliance issues when they choose not to book the preferred hotels or flights. Also, loyalty programs entice employees to stick with them, rather than going with the selected business solution.

Research has shown that only about 50 percent of hotel bookings go through the proper channel. Travellers have different preferences when making reservations - some prefer to book directly on the hotel website while others use fare aggregators like Kayak.com. As a result, this causes fragmentation in policies, expenses, and data.

“Our corporate travel tool is too cumbersome to use.”

It doesn’t take an expert to realise that employees want the technology that they use for managing travel and expenses to be easy-to-use. Corporate travellers are busy and have little time for dealing with complex systems. At the same time, mobile apps and other web tools are continuously increasing in sophistication, which is shifting user expectations towards simplicity when it comes to technology. A travel management platform, for example, should streamline end-to-end processes, and provide the freedom and flexibility to make changes “on the fly”. Managing approvals should be painless, and submitting expense reports should be effortless. In short, technology should make the lives of business travellers simpler, not harder.

“Expense reporting is manual and time-consuming.”

It’s important that costs are reported accurately and on time so that employees can receive reimbursements promptly. Surprisingly, however, 69% of companies still send paper receipts to their finance departments, and 58% of organisations compensate employees via cheque. This manual process makes it difficult for employees to submit their expenses, which in turn creates compliance risks and frustrated employees when these delays occur. Not to mention, receipts can get lost, or reimbursements sent to the wrong people, which then causes more work for the finance team, and thus increase costs and processing times.

 

To address these challenges and reasons for not using the business-sanctioned tools, managers need to evaluate what resources they have available for creating change. Are there new systems that you can put in place? Ways to revise policies? Incentives that you can offer? These are all questions that you should ask for understanding how to improve a broken corporate travel buying process. A change management eCourse is another option to consider for implementing whatever new solutions you choose.

 

Written by Bryan Carroll @Locomote 

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