Travel Management Automation Is Your Next Great Idea

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.

Yet, mismanagement of business travel management can result in huge expenses. A recent report from American Express Travel for CFOs showed that travel expenses can be the second highest controllable cost for companies, just after salaries, and even ahead of marketing.

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.

What Is Corporate Travel Management?

Corporate Travel management is how a company handles all of the business-related travel of its employees. It includes booking and managing travel (including air, ground, and accommodation), handling vendor relationships, creating travel policies, and managing expense payments and travel reimbursements.

Corporate travel management goes well beyond just how employees book their flights to the next conference. It establishes guidelines about travel expense system, which includes who travels, what class of travel to book, per diem rates for meals, which airlines to choose, and how payment for expenses is handled.

Features to Look For in a Corporate Travel Management System

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

⋙ You're just a click away from creating your own customizable employee travel request form template in just 15 minutes!

Who Is Responsible for Travel Management in a Corporate?

Corporate travel solutions are hard to nail down because they seem to fall in everyone and no one’s domain.

In SMBs, employees might try to manage all of their travel on their own, or use a company credit card for all expenses. However, this won’t last long and eventually needs to rest with someone.

Some organizations manage travel through HR, procurement, or administrative services. But the most common situation is when the finance department takes over. The Controller or Director of Finance is the most likely person to set travel policies based on the financial processes and procedures of the management. Some organizations will also have a corporate travel manager on staff who reports to the finance director.

Once travel grows even more, you may outsource travel management to a separate firm. Sometimes there are cost advantages for this as the firm can negotiate better deals with bulk rates, and they remove a lot of the headaches of planning travel. However, at the end of the day, the company needs to determine the best policies for travel management and make sure it is followed correctly.

How Does an Internal Travel Management Process Work in a Corporate?

When handling corporate travel, the process usually starts with the employee who needs to visit a conference or a customer. The employee first requires permission from his or her manager to travel. Then, the employee gathers the dates required for travel and sends the info to the corporate travel manager, or whoever is filling this function at the time.

The travel manager will draw up the cost for the airfare, accommodation, and local travel. A separate cash flow or budget approval check may also be involved to make sure there are enough funds to cover the trip. Then, the final bookings are made, and the information is sent to the employee.

How to Implement a Travel Approval Process in Kissflow

A workflow automation tool like Kissflow can help you implement a travel request and approval process without any hassle. You can use simple drag-and-drop functionalities to create workflows that streamline travel approvals.

Here’s how you do it in Kissflow:

Create your form

You can create a form to capture all the necessary details about the business trip like name, location, purpose, and more. You can either do this from scratch or use the pre-installed app in Kissflow. Employees can use this form to submit their travel requests.

There’s no need to manually send an email to the manager with the form as an attachment. Once your employees hit submit, the request automatically appears in your KiSSFLOW app for approval.

Design the workflow

Once the form is ready, you need to design the sequential path of tasks that need to be completed. This is where you assign the individuals in the approval flow and their responsibilities. Depending on your requirements, you can have multiple levels of approvals.

Set permissions

Once the workflow is ready, you can assign stakeholders and set permissions. Roles and responsibilities like initiators and approvers are assigned to individuals based on their tasks in the travel management process. Hide fields based on the confidentiality of information and the access granted to employees.

optimize the travel reimbursement app

Implement the process

After everything is set, you can publish the workflow. Employees can initiate instances of the workflow and submit their travel requests for the manager’s approval. Once the system gathers enough data, you can review reports and identify bottlenecks to speed up approvals.

Why Is the Corporate Travel Management Process Such a Headache?

While it seems like the corporate travel management process should be straightforward, it nearly always feels like it takes longer than it should, costs more than it needs to, and leaves everyone disappointed by the process.

Most of the frustrations around corporate travel are the result of bad data. When the employee first makes the request, they might leave out some information, or later on want to schedule another meeting, resulting in a schedule change.

There is a lot of data to gather for travel management. The travel manager needs to know the window of time when flights can be booked, seat preferences, airline membership numbers, refund policies, and more. When last minute travel is needed, the whole process gets even more harried.

In addition, the corporate travel manager needs to give a lot of information to the travelling employee. Travel policies for per diem rates, how to reimburse expenses, what identification to carry, and other details often get lost during the ticketing process.

Especially when there isn’t a clear owner for corporate travel solutions, it’s more common than not that you will either spend too much money on travel or your employees will grow upset at the whole process.

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 process 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.

Build Your Own Corporate Travel Application With KiSSFLOW

There are enough moving parts to the travel management process that you need something more than just a simple web form. You need a fully automated process. But instead of getting your IT team to build one or trying to find the perfect one online, try building one yourself! With KiSSFLOW’s easy DIY platform, you can download a travel request template and customize it to make your own corporate travel app.

Try it today and see how easy it can be to build your own corporate travel management solution that fits your organization exactly as you need it!

⋙ Looking for a customizable travel management software? Check out the list of top travel management software solutions!

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