How to identify a top corporate travel management solution in five steps
Step 1: Understanding your corporate travel needs
What’s your problem?
No, really. When it comes to travel management, what are your problems?
You see, we want to talk about travel management solutions – but problems are a pre-requisite for solutions. There’s no need for a solution if there’s no problem, right?
What makes a top corporate travel management solution for you depends on the obstacles that your organisation is trying to overcome. For example, a small business with two travellers may be looking for a quick and easy way to book the train to London. Meanwhile, a multinational corporate could be keen to cut global costs whilst providing dedicated duty of care from Detroit to Dublin. There a vastly different expectations and requirements for different corporate travel objectives.
Thankfully, there are a few things to look out for that are universally positive points, whatever your particular travel programme and requirements.
Step 2. Look for cutting-edge corporate travel tech
Like a 24-hour photography studio, corporate travel tech is developing all the time.
Modern corporate travel platforms are able to offer everything from online booking to live management information and dynamic travel policy controls.
For such useful platforms to be created and improved, there needs to be a profound understanding by the developers of customer expectations. They also need to take in to account the changing landscape of corporate travel management.
Ideally you would want to work with a corporate travel management supplier that develops its own platform, using its own in-house software development team, which benefits from the hands-on experience of client-facing account management and reservations teams.
The best way to get a feel for a travel platform is to use it and compare it to alternatives. If the provider doesn’t want to play ball with a transparent demo – stay away.
Step 3. Ensure that there is a knowledgeable team behind your corporate travel platform
“If travel platforms are so great, why do I need anything else in my corporate travel solution?”
The answer is that travel is not just about data and software; it’s about people, their requirements, their understanding and their experience.
While tech booking tools can collate data, analysing booking information is more of an art than a science; it requires real people who can combine experience, knowledge and data together to deliver real travel savings. A knowledgeable travel management team will have the insight to understand the nuances of your unique needs.
Step 4. Use their expertise to promote user compliance with your new travel management solution
For example, you have a new travel policy and you want to roll it out to your staff. You’ve got a bang up to date travel platform, just stick your new rules in there and make them mandatory. You’re all set, right?
In reality, you will probably end up with numerous emails and phone calls from infuriated colleagues demanding to know why booker X can no longer book in hotel Y and ask why traveller A can’t get a train ticket home at B o’clock.
Major decision-making and implementation on travel management requires greater thought and understanding, which is where a genuinely knowledgeable team of travel experts are worth their weight in gold and provide the yin to technology’s yang in the ideal corporate travel management solution.
So, if you’re a more complex organisation, make sure to look out for a solution provider with proven success in delivering the human side of travel management.
Step 5. Seek out transparency & trustworthiness
Sounds simple: find a corporate travel platform and a travel management company you trust. But it’s rarely that easy; most corporate travel management providers will promise you everything under the sun – but, unfortunately, the reality is often somewhat different.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s great, so how do I find out if a corporate travel solution provider is trustworthy then?” Well, there are a few things you can do to get a real feel for the platform and solution you’re considering.
Speak to the solution provider
Get in touch and arrange a chat. It’s one of the best ways to get a feel for the provider. What can they tell you about themselves and their platform? Are they open and honest in their responses or just saying yes to every single thing you ask about? Sometimes, your most instinctive reaction is the right one.
Use the platform
Have a go! Sign up for a demo or ask for a login and have a play. Seem intuitive? Easy to use? Clear and concise? Breadth of capabilities? You’ll get a good idea from using the tool. And if they’re not keen to let you crack on, be very wary – ask why they’re so reticent.
Speak to their customers
Get in touch with their clients and have a chat with them. What are their honest views of the level of customer service, the quality of the platform and the value of the fares? If you can’t get in touch directly, ask the provider or check out any case studies.
Consult Independent Reviews (e.g. Trust Pilot)
See what other people are saying about the platform or solution. Try anonymous review sites, where you know you’re hearing genuine opinions, untainted by overzealous solution providers.
Consult Independent Awards (e.g. Buying Business Travel Awards)
Equally, scope out how your potential corporate travel management provider gets on in their third party industry awards. Again, this is being judged by impartial experts, so should provide a pretty reliable indication as to their qualities.
Finding the right solution isn’t always as easy as it should be, but, (hopefully!) this run down of what makes a top corporate travel management solution and how to find it should give you a handy starting point.