Trip approvals are an important but complex part of business travel. Having a comprehensive travel policy that allows your company to live up to its duty of care is fundamental to keep the control in your hands. Making the trip approval process as smooth as possible starts with creating a clear travel policy in which stakeholders know what to expect, and are clear on what is allowed and what isn’t allowed when it comes to business travel. Then by centralizing all this data in one place, you can be sure to not miss a beat.
We will look at the importance of trip approvals in business travel and how having the right travel management platform will help you manage and optimize business travel. We will also give you some tools to ensure that the whole process is streamlined. Before we get started it’s important to have in mind the following concepts: trip approval, duty of care and travel tracking, all of which are interrelated and help to improve the business travel experience.
What is trip approval?
Trip approval or pre-trip approval refers to approving elements of a business trip such as hotel reservations, flights, car rentals or trains prior to an employee being able to book their business trip. It’s a way businesses can keep their corporate travel policy under control, ensuring that a manager or supervisor has reviewed the travel policy and that each element of the trip is allowed as stipulated by the company’s guidelines. Trip approval is key for businesses to be able to enforce their policies, avoid overspending and keep travelers from going to high-risk destinations.
What is duty of care?
Duty of care is about ensuring the safety or well-being of others. Employers have a duty of care to their employees to be sure they are happy, safe, and healthy when traveling and when at work in general. Trip approvals help managers and CEOs live up to their duty of care. Read more about duty of care.
What is travel tracking?
Travel tracking or itinerary tracking is a way of monitoring travelers to make sure they arrived safely, which in turn helps companies live up to their duty of care. A corporate travel tracker is often built into a travel management platform allowing you to access a live traveler map so you can know where your employees are in the world and that they have made it safely to their destination. It’s a great way to keep in control and ensure that you fulfill your duty of care as an employer.
Managing the business travel approval process
The key to managing the business travel approval process is to find ways to stay in control and keep your travel spend on target. A great way to do this is by setting up a seamless travel approval process, which will keep travelers safe, keep them from traveling to risky destinations and ensure that you are able to keep an eye on how much your team is spending on flights, hotels, car rental and trains.
Of course with the approval process comes some risks. For example, an employee may submit a trip for approval and then the price may go up, or the trip might expire before a manager can approve the request. With a travel management platform, the approval process can be easy.
When you automate your travel policy, you can also set up the process to suit you best with things like pre-trip green light, allowing travelers to ask for approval before they actually book. Travelers just need to enter information such as destination, dates, trip purpose, travelers and additional notes before submitting for approval. This way they can create trips from already approved requests.
How to stay in control of business travel
So now that you know the three most important elements of staying in control of your business travel program, let’s take a look at the 4 keys to staying in control.
1. Adapt the approval process to your company’s size
The business travel approval process can vary depending on the size and structure of your enterprise. Whether you’re an HR professional, an office manager, or from the finance department you will play a different role in the approval process, and also depending on how your company is set up.
In a small company the process will generally be quite informal. In fact, it may just be the founder and a few employees who each represent a department but with no managers. In this case either the founder or the person in charge of finances might be in charge of approving trips. In a medium-sized company the office manager or HR department may set up the approval process, putting line managers in charge of approving their direct reportees trips.
The key is to adapt the approval process to your company’s size, involving as few people as possible to avoid any roadblocks. Once you’ve designated approvers, be sure that they all know and understand the travel policy. Definitely consider having pre-approval to avoid prices going up before someone has a chance to ok your trip.
2. Set up your approval process
Of course when setting up your approval process, it’s important to have a goal in mind, and to make sure to streamline the process. Think about how much you would like to spend on travel overall and designate a budget, and don’t forget to set up things like green light approval, which is like a pre-approval that makes it so travelers are pre-approved before they book.. Be sure to have a clear travel policy that makes it clear what is allowed and what isn’t. Don’t have a travel policy yet? Download now.
Once you have your budget and travel policy designated, it’s time to make some decisions:
- Who’s in charge of booking business travel?
- What does the process of getting a trip approved look like?
- Who will be the approvers?
- Who is responsible for creating the travel budget (this will often depend on the size of your company)?
- What’s the time frame for approving trips (ideally you would set up green-light approval so that people are pre-approved for their trips and they don’t have to risk missing the approval time limit)?
- Who is allowed to travel business class and who isn’t?
- What hotel star ratings are allowed?
- Will you allow or prevent refundable or non-refundable reservations?
- Will you allow employees to pay extra to select seats?
- What will your price cap be?
Finished answering all these questions? Then it’s time to move onto the next step.
3. Educate about the protocol
Whether you have a 3 person company or a 300 person company, protocols are clear to ensure that everything is clearly laid out and that there is nothing that slips through the cracks. It’s important that each person knows their role in the approval process, and that if an employee needs to ask for approval, how it works. If you have a travel management platform like GetGoing then you can automate the whole process, which brings us to the next step.
4. Set up approval process in your travel management platform
Small and medium enterprises, or any sized company for that matter, will benefit from having a clear business travel process and this is where a travel management platform comes into play. Being organized when it comes to business travel is about having a clear procedure and managing everything in one place.
Once you’ve decided who the stakeholders are, have created a travel policy, educated your staff about the protocol, it’s time to set up your approval process in the travel management platform. In GetGoing this can be configured easily by anyone with admin access to the platform. It’s a question of minutes before you’ll be able to get going with your business travel plans.
How GetGoing can help with the trip approval process
With GetGoing the approval process is a piece of cake. Simply set the business rules by automating your travel policy so that all bookings follow your travel policy. You can set up approvers in the backend and configure the green light approval, which allows travelers to ask for trip approval prior to booking so you don’t have to risk change of fares while waiting for approval. This is especially helpful in small companies where multitasking is a must. After all, you don’t want to be caught with your employee’s ticket price going up or by having passed the 12 hour limit for approval, as in both cases the trip will be canceled.
Plus, with GetGoing you can automate trip approval flows, making the whole process easier. Navigate to the policy page within the app and you can set up this feature so that travel admins have the last say in keeping travelers safe and at the same time ensuring that the travel policy is upheld.