Getting lost in the depths of your organisation’s management information can feel like falling down a black hole.
You open a report looking to identify which locations your travellers visit the most and three hours later you come up for air, well versed in absolutely every corner of how your organisation travels and what it’s spending to do so. However, it can be difficult to know how to relay that information back to your key stakeholders; there’s so much to measure that it’s very easy to lose track of what’s important.
So, what exactly are the crucial questions that need answering for your CEO and other key stakeholders to truly understand your organisation’s business travel?
1 – How much is being spent?
It almost goes without saying that your CEO will mainly be concerned with how much money is being spent on corporate travel, but it’s surprising how many organisations still have no clue how much they’re spending on travel.
There are a number of reasons why this might happen – maybe the organisation has different departments doing their own thing, causing costly leakage, or maybe the organisation has split travel between different suppliers and the spend with each supplier isn’t being collated together for an overall view.
Whatever the reason, if the CEO doesn’t have a clear idea of how much is being spent, then they can’t be expected to drive any new travel policy recommendations from the top – which is often the only way for anything to be implemented properly.
2 – What’s it being spent on?
Knowing how much is being spent on business travel within your organisation is only part of the story – to get the full picture, and to be able to really take control of your spend, you need to know what that sum is being spent on. Is is cost-effective? Or is it wildly extravagant with a large amount of unnecessary overspend? Without a breakdown of where exactly that money is being spent, it’s essentially a meaningless figure.
Sometimes an expense report just doesn’t provide the level of detail you need to be able to spot trends in how your organisation travels and therefore equip you with knowledge that can earn savings. However, if you know precisely what the money is being spent on in terms of flights, hotels, trains etc., at what times, with which suppliers and over what period, you will be able to provide your CEO with a much more comprehensive picture of your corporate travel.
3 – Why are we spending it?
It’s great to have a business travel policy in place to control what actually gets booked, but does the travel that’s taking place actually need to happen? This is something that needs to be tracked. Once you know what’s being spent and where that spend is going, you need to analyse why the travel occurs and whether or not it’s necessary.
Is all of your budget being spent on internal meetings, or is there one particular customer who is costing you more in travel costs than expected, meaning that you’ll need to budget for them in the future?
Working with a proactive travel management company (TMC), you should be able to make your reporting structure dynamic so that when the booker chooses a specific reason for travel, further information can be collected to get the level of detail you need to approve the spend and keep your CEO happy.
4 – Could we have saved some money, and how would we have done it?
Once you’ve got a handle on what’s being spent, where it’s being spent and why it’s being spent, you’re in a strong position to move onto the next phase – identifying savings.
Thorough reporting will be able to show you quickly and easily what savings have been missed – and where they were missed. If you do use a business travel agent, this is exactly what your account manager should be going through with you on a regular basis.
It may not always be possible to eradicate missed savings completely, but you need to have someone working with you to show you where savings could have been made and how you can make sure they are made in the future – your CEO will be keen to know you’re on top of everything!
5 – Who’s abusing our policy and spending too much?
This is a particularly relevant point if you’ve worked hard to craft a great corporate travel policy. You need to be able to quickly identify particular departments or travellers who are abusing the policy or who are repeatedly spending too much. Your CEO will want to know that you are enforcing your policy and making sure your travellers understand their role in sticking to budget.
6 – What are our industry competitors spending – what can we learn?
Having looked through what your organisation is doing, it’s time to broaden the vision a little and take a look further afield to get a real picture of where you are in comparison with other organisations in your industry.
Some travel management companies can show you how your organisation compares to other organisations of a similar size, industry, location etc. and share best practices on how to change traveller behaviour and lower your travel spend. Joining organisations such as the Institute of Travel and Meetings or the Global Business Travel Association will also help you track your performance.
If, with the help of your TMC, you can arm yourself with the answers to the questions we’ve discussed above, you can be confident that both you and your CEO are in the very best position to understand, evaluate and develop your organisation’s business travel strategy.
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