Whether you bounced into the office sporting a sweatband and stopwatch, were the first to point out that “actually, most resolutions fail within the first week of January”, or fell somewhere in between the two, there’s no denying that the start of the year really does force you to consider what you want to achieve over the next 12 months.

However, don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to take up the clarinet – we want to keep the resolution chat strictly business travel.

Tackling your organisation’s travel management challenges all at once can feel overwhelming and so taking the time to select an area to get to grips with is wise – especially at the start of the year, when time is on your side and you’ve got 12 months to roll out your plans.

If you know that your travel management strategy needs a little extra something this year in order to achieve the significant results that your key stakeholders want to see then here’s a short list of resolutions that you could implement this month:

1. Understand how NDC and direct connect can benefit your organisation
Direct connect is big news for business travel, but how will your organisation actually feel the benefit of what’s been hailed as the ‘distribution revolution’?

Not since the arrival of online travel agents has the business travel industry been so shaken up and it’s not difficult to see why; direct connect solutions challenge traditional methods of content distribution and threaten to transform how many travel management companies (TMCs) operate. With NDC and direct connect going nowhere, now is the time to get your head around what direct connect technology can bring to your business travel programme – here’s a quick crash-course in the practical benefits of using a TMC that offers direct connect solutions to get you started.

2. Crack that travel policy once and for all
You might already have a travel policy, but is it the best that it can be? Is it a one-size-fits-all document that’s been passed through your organisation since the dawn of time and therefore it no longer meets your needs? Is it aligned with where your organisation is looking to be in the future?

Taking the time to examine your travel policy in a critical way, whilst gathering feedback from those that it affects the most is your first step in crafting a well-constructed, universally understood and adhered to travel policy that will act as your first line of defence when it comes to controlling and reducing travel costs. You might even 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.

3. Reduce rail spend – in spite of fare increases…
At the end of last year the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) revealed that train fares are set to go up by around 3.4%, with increases covering both regulated, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets. This is the biggest jump in fares since 2013, which isn’t exactly heartening news to hear but there is a ray of light at the end of the train tunnel.

At Click, many of our clients have actually seen a reduction in their average train fares; for example, our customers’ average train fares have reduced by 1.5% in 2017, despite there being a government increase of 2.7% at the start of last year, so there are practical ways to beat the increase – here’s our best practice advice.

4. Boost travel policy compliance
The first step to improving compliance with your travel policy is to understand why travellers are resistant to booking within the defined parameters set out in the policy; is it a matter of convenience? Is your current booking system difficult to use or access? Does your travel policy seem inflexible or unrealistic to employees? Do employees feel like they have more choice using online booking sites?

Once you understand why your travellers are booking outside of policy then you’re in the best place to consider how best to improve things, whether that’s by increasing the amount of content available, adjusting your policy or introducing gamification. (Just to give you something to aim for, we believe that the best practice for travel policy compliance is around 92%; any less suggests that you will likely be leaving savings on the table, whereas any higher could suggest that managers are approving travel they shouldn’t just to be able to tick it off on their task list.)

5. Get to grips with your travel data
Although it might not be the most rip-roaring aspect of travel management, management information (MI) and travel data is where the key to significant travel spend reduction really lies and understanding the most crucial elements of your organisation’s MI will provide you with clarity on where your travel management strategy should focus for the year.

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.

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About the Author:

Alice is Click Travel’s Content Coordinator and is responsible for all of our digital and print content, packaging up and presenting the wealth of expertise at Click in a way that works for you.