Where is Your Company Wasting Time on Business Travel?By Jeanne Hopkins
Traveling for business is a time-consuming endeavor. But the lost hours aren't necessarily from where you think.
Traveling for business is a time-consuming endeavor. That’s why travel managers and travelers themselves are always on the lookout for ways to tighten up the travel experience. More efficient flight schedules, speedier booking processes, ways to increase productivity in transit, and so on. After all, time is money, a fact that no one in business can ever forget.
But the hours you’re losing to travel aren't necessarily from where you think. The fact is, most companies waste time – a lot of time – on managing corporate travel. In an article published just last summer, the UK’s Buying Business Travel (BBT) quoted some financially frightening statistics from a recent study on the cost of business travel:
- 53% of travelers and 67% of travel managers think their company’s travel management efforts waste money.
- 70% of travelers (84% in SMEs) say travel management policies and processes affect their job satisfaction. The biggest contributor to unhappiness? Inefficiency, according to 59% overall, 84% of small business travelers.
It gets even worse. Nearly three-quarters of employees in smaller businesses said that poor travel management might cause them to look for a new job. This clearly moves time-wasting tasks out of the “annoying” category and puts them into the Bottom Line Danger Zone.
Interestingly, some of the biggest time wasters that dampen business growth are especially applicable to travel programs. We’re talking about:
- Failure to update legacy systems
- Failure to update outdated processes
- Inability to acquire and use needed data
Keep these factors in mind as you consider where your company may be wasting time on corporate travel:
With the proliferation of travel websites – individual hotels, airlines, car rental companies, online booking agencies, aggregators, etc., there is no shortage of places to research bookings. They all promise lowest prices, so you dare not omit one from your search. The “one-stop-shopping” concept is a myth if you want the best deal.
Our own research indicates employees spend an average of 20 minutes researching booking options for every trip. Multiply that by your company’s total employee trips annually and prepare to cringe. If only your employees were putting all those hours to better use.
It gets worse when an executive assistant or travel manager books on behalf of travelers.
There’s all that back and forth conversation about preferences for timing, seating, pillows, loyalty programs and who-knows-what-else in order to get the booking just right for each individual.
Communicating with suppliers
The biggest waste of time when communicating with suppliers is dealing with changes and other travel problems — waiting on hold on the phone for hours with airlines, having to make the changes at night and on weekends, etc. With Lola.com, our service team, the Wombats, take care of travel changes for you.
Companies also waste precious time trying to negotiate discounted rates with suppliers, especially hotels, because the process involves a lot of back and forth communication. If you work with a travel management company, they do all of that negotiation for you.
You want employees to comply with your travel policies, but the approval process can be a cumbersome time waster. Employees shouldn’t have to get permission to make typical trips.
Instead, simpler policies that offer leeway within certain parameters, then require approval only for one-offs and exceptions to the rules. That will save time for the person who has to give approval as well as for travelers.
Everyone loves to hate the expense reimbursement process, and for good reason. It could be the poster child for travel time wasted.
The worst part is that your company loses so much more than time. In our study quoted earlier, 64% of travelers/travel managers said their company still depends on spreadsheets and paper documents to manage travel. We can only wonder why.
Paper and manual labor were Grandpa’s way of managing his business.
They are slow, and they invite mistakes and omissions. It’s hard to tell the current status of your travel program and almost impossible to make informed business travel decisions.
Digital technology and automation are transformative when it comes to working efficiently, in the office and wherever employees travel around the world. With the latest tech-based tools you can efficiently track travelers and expenses, and accurately forecast future travel needs.
Get that time back!
Conducting a time audit will help. There’s nothing like accurate data to help you pinpoint where problems lie so you can make relevant, effective changes. Spending time on an audit could be one of the best travel investments your company ever makes.
So one final revelation from our traveler study: half the respondents said their company doesn’t supply them with any booking tool. Among those who do have a tool, 39% said there was no backup support. So may we suggest you make a plan to meet Lola? Lola.com, that is. Everything about the platform is designed to make travel itself, administration and analysis simpler, easier, and more cost-effective throughout your corporate travel program.
With one smart investment, you’ll be saving time all over the place. And everybody will be happier.