Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that making the move from a DIY approach to business travel to a fully managed service is no big deal.

It’s a huge deal. However, if you find a travel management company (TMC) that’s the perfect fit then it’s also a fantastic deal that can be incredibly beneficial for your organisation and your travellers – it can just take some doing to successfully convince your travellers of this…

Many organisations do ‘okay’ managing their own travel for a while and things will usually tick along quite nicely until one of two things happens: an organisation experiences exponential growth and is forced to examine its processes, or disaster strikes, whether that’s a travel emergency or an unexpected overspend.

Whatever the reason, there comes a time when all successful organisations must consider handing their travel management over to the professionals.

Whatever the reason for the change, once an organisation has made the decision to make the leap from a DIY approach to travel management the next step in the journey is to get travellers on board. This can be tricky; often, travellers are happy to book their own travel and feel apprehensive at the thought of a system that they feel works well being changed beyond recognition.

At Click, we’ve smoothly moved many a client through the process of moving from DIY to managed travel and as a result we’ve developed our own set of best practices that will see you the entire way through the big switcharoo.

1. Share the bigger picture
As with most things, resistance and suspicion usually come from a lack of knowledge, so it’s a really good idea to take the time to explain to travellers and bookers exactly why it is that your organisation has decided to use the services of a TMC. Make them aware of how advanced the business travel industry can be in terms of technology and strategy and highlight how this can benefit them; for example, in terms of time saved or greater security when travelling. Ensure that senior management are seen to be on board right from the start of the implementation process, as this will make enforcing any necessary behavioural changes easier later on down the line.

2. Support your people
Planning how you will support your bookers and travellers at various stages of the process of implementing a new TMC is a really important early step, as it will save scrambling around to respond to problems as they crop up. It’s important to get this right, as if your travellers feel supported throughout the change then they are more likely to embrace it; consider how you can tailor the move to meet the needs of your particular organisation and its culture. Quite often in this scenario, having a visible TMC support network onsite for a training session or roadshow day can really bring to life the value and benefit of working in partnership with industry experts.

3. Keep things simple
Often employees are keen to get to grips with a simple business travel programme but are used to booking what they need, however they want. Therefore, it’s important to provide direction and make sure that service adoption through your chosen TMC is achieved; to do this you want to retain as much simplicity in the booking process as you can. Try and avoid restricting content or implementing overly complex custom fields (anything that will unnecessarily slow down the booking process). Remember, the most important initial outcome is just to know what is being booked, by whom and when. Only then should you look to review, analyse and pinpoint specific patterns or behaviours that you want to change.

4. Sell the benefits
Put yourself in the traveller’s shoes and make sure you shout any significant benefits that they will see as an end user. Whilst they might understand the importance of MI reporting, does it really benefit them individually? Probably not. So, as part of the change process make sure to highlight how a managed travel programme will positively impact your travellers. For example, if you’re looking to implement a billback facility, where travellers no longer have to manually reconcile rail/hotel/dinner/flight receipts and expenses every few weeks, tell them – it’ll make people stop and listen. In this instance, you might want to calculate the average time spent doing travel expenses and make sure everyone knows just how much time you will be saving them after the rollout.

5. Save time
In addition to time saved on expense claims, think about each employee who has added ‘travel consultant’ to their job description over the past 12 months. Consolidated content – one website that does the work of multiple, individual internet searches will save them bags of time. Selecting the right TMC with the content your travellers need all in one place is critical to your success. One log-in. One look and feel. One checkout process. Saving money and time in one fell swoop. Perfect.

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