< PrevNext > 2018 Business Travel Buyer's Handbook Structuring a Managed Travel Program Share Download ChapterManaging travel today is an exercise in balance. A well-managed program must balance cost containment with traveler satisfaction, traveler compliance with traveler productivity on the road, and traveler comfort and convenience with safety and security. Constructing such a program that aligns with the goals and culture of the overall organization requires flexibility, creativity and a pinch of stubbornness. The following are first steps to a successful program.I. Get Started Identify your company's stakeholders and their needs in order to gain support for your program, and develop a communication strategy for critical information. A corporate-level decision with support from regional and local offices can initiate a managed travel program. Solicit input from road warriors and infrequent travelers, global and domestic travelers, travelers from different countries and travelers across generations. Deploy consistently across operating companies and affiliates. Fundamentals include a well-communicated formal policy, travel management company support, dedicated internal staff, negotiated supplier agreements, a management information system that provides pre- and post-trip data, an online booking tool, a marketing and traveler education strategy and a preferred or required payment and expense process, the only true measure of travelers' spending. Establish a vision and set goals. The program should work within the company culture and align with its goals. Base travel program and policy decisions on those goals. Start with: What are our greatest business priorities, and how can traveling for business support these?How can you reduce costs while enabling business results?How should resources support the company’s growth markets and expansion plans?How will the company’s hiring trend affect travel costs?Can the program support or lead enterprisewide priorities like sustainability and risk management?How can travel resources be leveraged to increase shareholder value? Build a stakeholder network.Identify a senior-level champion to endorse the program.Engage the stakeholders, listen to their business priorities and spot the overlaps. Collaborate to create a greater all-round experience for your travelers and company.Consider a council of stakeholders, comprised not only of senior-level officials but also employees from the operating-units across the company. Understand potential program models.Mandated program: The least flexible for travelers, this model is defined by tight policies with front-end controls and back-end reporting to ensure compliance and senior management support; a well-integrated travel agency and/or online booking tool that travelers must use; leverage with suppliers, integration of payment and expense processes and tools; data-driven decisions; a demand management strategy; and crisis management protocolsException-based program: Companies using this approach have policies and controls; limited and defined managerial discretion; pre- and post-trip expense management; required use of a travel agency and/or online booking tool; leverage with suppliers; integration of payment and expense processes and tools; data-driven decisions; a demand management strategy; and crisis management protocols.Guidelines: This option includes policies that define guidelines; managerial discretion post-expense; some use of an agency; supplier programs based on spend; limited technology with perhaps a low use level of preferred online booking tools; a defined form of payment; and limited use of travel data.Receipt-based T&E management: This approach is characterized by managerial discretion post-trip at the expense point, reimbursement tied to receipts, no preferred travel agency or formal supplier programs, limited technology without corporate online bookings and little or no use of travel data.An approach popularized as "open booking" includes some characteristics of the models above, excluding the mandated program approach, and is akin to an old-fashioned per diem when coupled with precise spending limits. Business travelers are permitted to book outside the designated channel or channels, perhaps on the condition that they use a designated corporate payment mechanism, keep total trip spending below prescribed levels and/or inform the travel department of their plans. Potential benefits include empowered travelers who are allowed to choose travel suppliers and directly control more aspects of their journey. Critics point to reduced corporate control that could jeopardize data quality, purchasing leverage and duty of care requirements related to tracking travelers' whereabouts. Peer review: Benchmark with companies that have similar travel patterns and costs, especially firms in the same industry. Try to discover which practices would best serve strategic values and goals. Such studies ideally are conducted independently from travel suppliers that may have their own agendas. Other resources include studies published by business travel publications, third-party consultancies and business travel associations. Internal resources: Consider whether other management resources can support implementation and program development. Successful travel procurement systems, for example, require the combination of subject matter experts and trained procurement professionals. IT Infrastructure: Determine whether IT infrastructure can accommodate travel reservation and business intelligence tools. At a minimum, ensure IT approves and accommodates technology deployed within the travel program. IT should review the TMC, online booking tool and other providers to ensure their systems meet the company's requirements concerning data privacy and security. Consider the role IT will play in the ongoing coordination of support for travel-related mobile apps. Ensure travel is an integrated part of the emergency response team and included in regular practice scenarios.