Travel Management: 5 Step Guide to a Simple Travel Management Process

Travel Management: Simplifying the Most Complicated Process

Despite living in a digital age, the need to meet partners face-to-face is just as present as ever. And it’s not just about feel-good hobnobbing and fancy dinners.

A recent study from Oxford Economics revealed that for every $1 spent on business travel, companies gained $12.50 in incremental revenue. Eliminating business travel would cause a company to forfeit 17% of its profits in the first year alone. 28% of current business might be lost without in-person meetings.

The need for face-to-face meetings with your customers and partners is very apparent, both at a common sense level and when you look at the data. But managing corporate travel requests brings up lots of questions.

Many confuse the term ‘business travel management’ with ‘expense management’ – the latter being a common process within an organization that has already benefited from much automation and corresponding ease of implementation.

The requirements for handling corporate travel management differ according to the organization type. But there are few common features that one can expect from a dedicated travel management system.

Must-Have Features of a Good Business Travel Management Solution

The perks that travel management software can offer your business sound good, right? But slow down before you rush to invest. It’s crucial to make sure that the travel management solution that you choose has the features that your business needs.

An ideal travel management software should take care of the entire process for you: right from travel requests, to approvals, to reimbursements.

travel management features

But every business has its own requirements when it comes to travel management. Even though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are a few key features you cannot do without:

Travel requests

A form where most employee details like name and reporting manager are pre-filled. Employees only have to enter details specific to the trip they’re about to make.

Approval hierarchies

Once employees submit their requests, they are sent for approval by one or more people. You can choose to auto-approve travel requests based on certain criteria.

Compliance With travel policies

Ensuring that corporate travel policies are adhered to takes a huge burden off the travel manager’s shoulders. It helps control travel costs while making it easier for managers to approve a request.

Easy travel booking

The ideal travel management software should let both the travel manager and the employees book the tickets without having to use tools built for regular consumers.

Advanced reporting

You can identify areas where you’re spending unnecessarily and make insightful decisions that can help you cut down on costs.

Budget-friendly

Watch out for hidden extras that have the potential to eat into the cost-effectiveness of the system, such as charges on accommodations, amendments to bookings, or support requests. Where possible, choose a business travel booking tool with a transparent pricing structure.

A wide choice of inventory options

You need a platform that offers you the best access to flight and hotel rooms providers, allowing you to compare prices, dates, and offers. It’s important to choose software that gives you the best value for money, as well as the smoothest travel and booking experience for both your employees and the travel management administrators.

Easy and streamlined functionalities

Avoid travel management software that can’t offer you integrated solutions – ideally, you are looking for a one-stop shop, where you can make new and access/amend existing bookings quickly, without having to navigate across different providers.

Good user support experience

Things change when traveling, and you need a travel services system that offers you the real time flexibility to deal with unforeseen circumstances quickly and efficiently, with helpful support staff and little or no fees.

The 5 step processes that completes a travel management process

1. Travel Request

Start by thinking about a portal where your employees can raise a request for business trips. This can be a form where most employee details like name and reporting manager are pre-filled. Employees only have to enter details specific to the trip they’re about to make.

2. Travel Approval

Once employees submit their requests, they are sent for approval by one or more people. This is where having a well-defined corporate travel management policy comes handy. You can choose to auto-approve travel requests based on certain criteria. Perhaps, a one-day local trip doesn’t need to go through the lengthy approval process.

3. Submitting Expenses

Employees can capture expense receipts and upload them as and when they happen. This saves them a lot of time when they come back. All they have to do is ensure that their expenses don’t violate the business travel policy and submit it. There are even finance management tools to capture information from a digital copy of the receipt and categorize the expense accordingly.

4. Expense Approval

By setting up an approval hierarchy, you can ensure that relevant information reaches the right person at the right time. You can even choose to auto-approve expense requests in certain cases. For example, if the claim is less than $20 and the expense category falls under food, you can choose to approve this claim automatically, thereby saving a considerable amount of time.

5. Reimbursing the Employee

After approval from the finance team, you can set up an automatic travel reimbursement process where the money gets credited to the employees’ bank accounts directly.

Why Automating Your Travel Management System Is a Smart Move for your Business

The best way to handle the travel management process, both travel approvals and travel expense management, whether you have a dedicated resource or not, is to apply automation.

  • The key to an automated process is that it gathers all the needed details at the start, but also allows for changes along the way. When first requesting travel arrangements, employees can enter all of their information into a form which captures all the details.

  • The form can be flexible enough to handle simple overnight trips or multi-week international travel. Employees can also save information like passport numbers, known traveller numbers, and frequent flyer numbers so they don’t have to search for them every time.

  • With an automated travel expense system, you create a workflow that handles routing the travel request to the right people. Approvals are built into the workflow so that no one is uninformed.

  • An automated corporate travel program will also make it easy for employees to check the status of their request so that they aren’t continually bugging the travel manager for an update.

  • How Kissflow can help?

    With Kissflow Finance, you can streamline all your key finance processes like travel reimbursement claims, travel approvals, and budget requests. Get improved control over finance approvals and see your efficiency soaring. Get your free demo today.