Avoiding ‘leakage’ in your company travel policy
If you’ve been in the business travel industry for any length of time you’re likely to have hit the stumbling block of leakage at some point. Your travel management company may offer the best programme for your business, but individual travellers may continue to do their own thing.
The story goes something like this… You spend months sourcing and appointing a travel management company to deliver the optimum service to your business and end users. But time and time again you find that individuals are doing their own thing. They might be booking a low-cost flight directly on an airline website or organising a hotel conference direct with a local property. These lone travellers may be swayed by deals on travel industry websites. But in reality, it is more efficient and cheaper to book through the company policy.
How can you encourage employees to book within the company travel policy?
The reasons for this type of behaviour are varied, and the following may identify a bigger issue. Here are a few ideas to help improve service adoption and get leakage under control.
#1 Monitor employee booking trends
Analyse your management information regularly to see if there are any trends that need investigation. Are there repeat offenders or departments continuously not following the ‘official’ process? If so, take the time to consider why this is happening. Perhaps they’re travelling to a new location where no corporate rates currently exist. Talk to end users and gather feedback about their reasons. They may be more valid than you think.
#2 Communicate the bigger picture
The traveller may be patting themselves on the back for booking direct and saving a few pounds on a transaction fee. But does this truly outweigh the value of a travel management company? Share the wider benefits of booking within company policy: traveller tracking, security, crisis management, management information and the ability to negotiate with preferred suppliers to drive down rates.
#3 Transparency about your policy is key
If it looks like users have been trying to bypass your organisation’s travel policy, there may be a reason. Perhaps there’s a complicated approval process that needs to change? Are users anxious about a lack of privacy? Share the benefits of your management policy with your teams. Knowledge is power and once they see the true value of following policy, behaviour is more likely to change.
#4 Make sure your service is 24/7
Do your end users have 24/7 access to a simple to use online booking tool and support team? Some travel management companies will let you book outside of office hours. But they won’t necessarily confirm the tickets or offer any assistance outside of office hours. Does your policy meet the requirements of those that need to book their travel at 10pm in the evening or at 6am at the weekend?
#5 Make sure you’ve got the content your travellers want
Once you understand the types of bookings being made elsewhere, ask yourself honestly if these could have been booked via your travel management company. Do they really have the right content to meet your needs? Is it accessible when you need it? Ask your travel management company what content channels they connect to or, if you’re considering a move, check this with all potential suppliers.