January is the perfect time to clear the cobwebs of the previous year, but doing so can be easier said than done; just ask anyone who’s already on their third pint of celery juice for the day.
Thankfully, getting your travel management strategy in shape for the next 12 months needn’t be so… bitter.The start of the year is the perfect time to perform a travel management detox; a chance to examine what’s working for your travel management strategy and what isn’t – allowing your organisation to flush out all of the bad business travel habits that have accumulated over the last year.
Of course, no travel management programme is entirely perfect and will have to adapt as your organisation evolves over time. However, performing a detox (or review!) should get your travel management programme into shape and make it more robust for the future, meaning that your organisation is a few steps closer to achieving its travel management goals.
So whether it’s low compliance or online adoption rates or unsatisfactory lead times that are proving toxic to your organisation’s travel management, now is the time to get rid. Here’s our 4 step guide to a travel management detox:
Step 1: Get to know your vital statistics –
Gaining a clear understanding of your current travel management situation is a vital first step in improving your strategy for the year ahead, as it will show you what’s working and what isn’t and therefore what can be improved upon – the best way to do this is to look at your management information (MI).
Trying to get to grips with all of your travel data means that you’ll never really get to grips with any of it, so ease yourself into the spreadsheets and reports by focusing on the following key figures and stats: your total travel spend, your travel spend broken down into types of travel, average rates, lead times, ticket types, online adoption and compliance rates.
Step 2: Cleanse out those bad habits –
Once you have used your organisation’s MI to identify possible areas for improvement, it’s now time to craft a plan to tackle them. The best way to start this, whatever the ‘toxin’ might be, is to work to discover why this is happening. If online adoption rates are low, could it be due to the usability of your online booking tool? If the number of out-of-policy bookings is unusually high then could this be an indication that your travel policy needs changing?
If the aspects of your travel management programme that need improving centre around the need to change booker behaviour, then why not introduce an element of gamification into your strategy? It can be a really effective way of encouraging travellers to book in policy, be mindful of their travel spend or even just as a way of giving back to travellers who travel often. For example, some organisations operate a points system, with travellers who book 3 weeks in advance receiving 50 points, 1 week in advance earning 10 points and so on. The more points that they have the more they can use to buy rewards such as trips or cinema tickets at the end of the financial year.
Step 3: Exercise your TMC –
Now it’s time to put your travel management company (TMC) through its paces – specifically your account manager. The people that you come into contact with at your TMC should feel like an extension of your own organisation and developing a great relationship with your account manager is one of the best ways to ensure that, as an organisation, you’re really seeing tangible benefits from using a TMC.
Your account manager is a great source of information on all things travel and if you need a hand with a report or need to understand the terminology you’ve been sent then don’t feel worried about asking to run it by them. If there is an area of travel management that you’re looking to explore then ask your TMC to provide more information and an honest evaluation of whether it would be a good fit for your organisation. It’s also advisable to get dates for reviews booked in advance so that you and your account manager aren’t struggling for time when a review is urgent.
Step 4: Add in some good stuff –
Finally, it’s time to replace those bad habits with things that will nurture your travel management programme; something that will give your organisation a real boost towards significant savings on your travel spend. For example, in order to boost travel policy compliance, you might decide that it’s time to implement a dynamic travel policy – you can find out more about dynamic policies and whether they’re right for your organisation here.
After an honest evaluation of your current situation, you might feel that your organisation’s approach to travel management isn’t quite working out, or is failing to produce the results that you want. If so then why not make 2017 the year that you find a travel management solution that fits?
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