| Jessica Freedman

The all-in-one guide to travel management for small businesses

Travel management made easy with this complete guide for small businesses. Managing business travel for SMEs doesn’t have to be difficult. Start reading to find out more.

When it comes to corporate travel management everyone is looking to make the most out of their travel budget whether coming from a large company or small and medium enterprises (SMEs or also known as SMBs).

In this guide we will look at:

We know business travel can be complex, so we’re here to simplify. So, let’s dive in.

TRAVEL MANAGEMENT

Business travel for SMEs

Travel can get expensive if you’re a small business and don’t have the right policies and procedures in place from the get-go. That’s why it’s important to have a clear idea of what your budget is and how much you want to allocate to travel to make it as cost-effective as possible. To do so, make sure you have the following clear: 

  • How much do you want to spend monthly, quarterly and yearly?
  • How do you want to manage travel risk (read more about duty of care)?
  • What travel agency or travel software as a service (TaaS) tool do you want to use?

Not sure if you prefer an online or offline service? Find out the pros and cons of an online travel agency vs. offline.

  • What destinations will be blacklisted due to being overly expensive?
  • What does your travel policy include?

Don’t have a travel policy yet?

Download a travel policy template now.

The role of a travel manager at a SME

A travel manager is in charge of business travel within a company. When we talk about what skills are needed to be a travel manager, it’s important they have good communication skills, that they are fun and interactive, knowledgeable, and have the ability to plan and execute. They generally help design a company’s travel policy, make travel arrangements, keep track of travel expenses, and make sure travelers are happy and productive. 

While this figure is especially important in a big company with a high business travel volume, at a SME, this role is either non-existent or taken care of by an office manager, HR professional or employees themselves. In the absence of this figure, using a travel management platform is a great way to keep track of expenses, have employees easily make their own travel arrangements and automate your travel policy.

BUSINESS TRAVEL SOLUTIONS

The best way for small businesses to book travel

Not all companies have a dedicated person to book staff travel, which means you need to find a way that doesn’t take too much time, money or resources. While there is no magic solution for small businesses to book travel, there are definitely some good options. There are corporate travel companies or agencies (TMCs), consumer travel websites like Booking.com or Expedia.com, and other business-focused travel tools like GetGoing corporate travel management software

Corporate travel management software 

Corporate travel management software (like GetGoing) will help make your life easier by putting everything in one place. You can book train travel, a rental car, hotels and flights without having to search for each leg of your trip on a different website (ie. Booking.com Expedia.com). This kind of software also helps to streamline the overall travel booking process. Plus, you will have access to the best travel content and travel deals on the market. 

The nice thing with this kind of software is that it’s easy-to-use and self-service, which is ideal for small and medium sized businesses that don’t have a lot of time to spend searching for deals or working with a travel agent over the phone. With a corporate travel tool, you can have access to the best deals without having to scour the internet. Plus, you have access to offline support should you need it, making it the best of the on and offline worlds. 

What is TaaS?

Some travel management companies have moved the TaaS business model. TaaS is travel as a service or travel software. Essentially as a user, with a TaaS product you pay monthly fees with the maximum benefits aimed at the users like travel savings and other incentives. TaaS software is geared at the users and is transparent in terms of the pricing model and what you get.

Consumer travel websites

There are many consumer travel websites or online tour agencies (OTAs) that aggregate travel content to find you the best deals. There are websites like Kayak, Skyscanner, Hotels.com, Booking.com and so many more, but they are not the best ways for SMEs to book corporate travel. Why not? Because these sites are consumer-facing meaning that they don’t specialize in the needs of business travelers. 

When something goes wrong it’s hard to find someone to help you, and itinerary changes or date changes can be expensive. Business travel needs a certain amount of flexibility, so it’s best to find a solution that provides flexibility and support when the going gets tough.

Travel management company (TMC)

You’ve probably seen the acronym but you may not know what a travel management company or TMC is. A travel management company or TMC is a travel agency or travel agent that specializes in the needs of businesses. A TMC is designed to help businesses and their employees improve and optimize the way they travel by providing solutions such as special rates, making bookings, monitoring travel costs and expenses, and supporting fulfilling a company’s duty of care.   

The most popular travel management companies

Now that you’ve understood the importance of having a TMC or travel management software that’s designed for business travel in mind, here is a list of some of the top Travel Management Companies (TMCs) on the market. With so many travel management companies to choose from, it’s not always easy to make a decision, but it’s also an important decision because they will provide market insights, help you to optimize your travel budget and make business travel easy.

1. Lanes & Planes

2. Travel Perk

3. GetGoing

4. Trip Actions

5. BCD Travel

optimize-travel-management

USING TRAVEL MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

How to use travel management software to optimize your travel program: the six steps of corporate travel management

As we move towards a more self-service model of travel where people want to take travel management into their own hands, looking for practical solutions that simplify how trips are booked, and how the whole process is managed, TMCs and software are evolving to help with the process. The six steps of corporate travel management are: 

1. Creating a corporate travel policy

A corporate travel policy is the backbone of the business travel process; it all starts here. It will help you define how employees travel, where they can stay, their per-diem allowances, and more. Plus, it will help you protect the safety of travelers. If you use a travel management platform, you will be guided to automate your travel policy to optimize costs and meet objectives. 

2. Booking flights and hotels

Travel management is essentially about booking flights, trains, cars and hotels, everything that is needed for a business trip. With a self-booking tool, everything can be found in one platform to make the booking process smoother and faster. As the travel policy is automated, any bookings that are made on the platform will be within policy. 

3. Service and Assistance 

Business travel doesn’t always go smoothly and for this reason, one of the key phases of corporate travel management is 24/7 support should something go wrong. Service and assistance from real people when the going gets tough is exactly what you need for peace of mind. 

4. Consulting

Consulting can be about providing additional information that will help make a business travel program better, whether that be a duty of care plan, or a travel risk assessment, or even about how to better use the platform to get the most benefit and unlock the most savings. 

5. Travel support

Travel support can be provided by a platform in the form of trip notifications, making sure employees are aware of itinerary changes, upcoming trips or other last minute preparations needed like filling out COVID-19 waivers and proof of vaccinations. 

6. Reporting and analytics

Since reporting is a big part of understanding how well the travel program is staying on budget, it’s important to have a tool that can help you run these reports to make better decisions about changes needed in your travel program.

Want to find out more about what corporate travel management software can do for you?

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