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Do you need a corporate travel manager?

In small businesses, employees often need to wear multiple hats — should one of them be managing your travel program?

Here’s a hard truth about growing your small business: if you have a process without someone designated to manage it, you’re likely going to end up with a rapidly devolving free-for-all. In the case of corporate travel, an unmanaged program will likely result with every employee going rogue and doing their own thing.

Your employees may love the lack of an official process – they can book whatever they want – but chaos is costly. And in reality, your employees also lose in this scenario, since they have to waste hours researching and booking their own arrangements. If something goes wrong along the way, unfortunately they are on their own.

The result of this process can end up feeling like death by a thousand paper cuts: No individual booking is likely to cause a tremendous amount of pain, but eventually they all add up and your company will find itself hemorrhaging cash.

This is where a corporate travel manager comes in.

A corporate travel manager (sometimes called a corporate travel planner) is there to control this chaos — implementing a process of check and balances and guidelines that ensure your company has the right controls and tools in place to keep travel guidelines fair, ensure compliance and, perhaps most importantly, reduce corporate travel spend.

If you’re beginning to nod your head, here’s what you can accomplish by making someone responsible for managing corporate travel at your company.

Managing Travel and Expenses

A corporate travel manager is part of your finance team; it’s their core job to keep travel spend within budget. But it’s how they go about doing it that makes them such an asset for your business. Whether you call this person a travel manager or planner, here’s a rundown of what you can expect them to do for you:

  • Serve as a booking agent, personally handling all travel arrangements on behalf of employees. This ensures compliance with the company’s travel policy and spending guidelines, but it leaves individual travelers with little flexibility. So you might still want to allow travelers to book their own flights, hotels, rental cars, etc., with the travel manager overseeing and guiding that process.
  • Handle related tasks such as event planning, supplier relations, setting up client dinners, and so on.
  • Use their travel industry experience and contacts to help reduce your overall travel spend, by negotiating lower rates or more perks with airlines, hotel chains, car rental companies, etc.
  • Follow the latest trends and best practices and how other companies are improving their travel programs — incentives, new technology, etc. — to help keep your travel program modern and effective.
  • Educate (and remind) employees about company travel policies and communicate new changes.
  • Advise and assist employees and serve as a point of contact when folks are on the road.
  • Help develop your travel policies and Duty of Care details that protect employee safety and security on the road.
  • Monitor and evaluate travel spending and behavior to identify potential cost savings, necessary travel policy improvements, and sharpen future travel forecasting.

Greater Happiness All Around

A corporate travel planner doesn’t necessarily have to do all of the things listed above. You may not even need all those things. You do, however, need someone who is travel-savvy and who can help you rein in costs and compliance outlaws by ensuring your travel policies and options are flexible and accommodating. You need to curb costs, but you want employees to look forward to business travel, not dread it. A corporate travel manager is the key to all of this.

Chaos is costing you money. And no growing SMB can afford that! With someone in charge of your travel program, you automatically get better coordination. When you arm that person and your traveling employees with the latest in digital travel technology (naturally, we recommend Lola.com), you replace chaos with simple — a streamlined system that works far better for everyone.

Having a corporate travel manager is a must if your employees regularly travel for business purposes. And the good news is that managing a corporate travel program doesn’t need to be a full-time job anymore. New tools, like Lola.com, provide companies and corporate travel managers with powerful and flexible tools to set guidelines, manage bookings and provide 24/7 support to travelers on the road.

How does your corporate travel policy stack up?

Posted by

Mike Baker

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