improving travel policy compliance

Overbudget and overbooked: Top 9 mistakes businesses make when booking travel in-house

It's no secret that the cost of doing business is rising – no matter the industry. With corporate budgets often squeezed to all-time highs, taking advantage of travel and other cost savings is more important than ever. The thing is, research shows that over half – a whopping 55 percent – of businesses make costly in-house travel booking mistakes, including going over budget, booking last minute, and even choosing the wrong services. All of these mistakes, no matter how small they seem, add up and eventually impact that bottom line.

When you manage business travel exclusively in-house, there's always the unfortunate risk of team members not knowing key tips and best practices to find cost savings. Usually, this causes them to make mistakes that are tough to fix and could have actually been avoided in the first place. Since it's just human nature to handle higher-priority tasks first, booking travel tends to be done quickly, at the last minute, or in between things. So, these mistakes are common and happen too often.

The research findings come from a Corporate Traveler-commissioned survey of an independent panel of 255 SME owners and decision-makers. These business leaders were asked about nine mistakes that they, or someone in their organization, have made when booking travel. And the results were pretty surprising!

Here are the top-ranked mistakes businesses most commonly make when booking travel in-house:


1. Missing out on good deals by booking last minute.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (22 percent) overspent on travel bookings because they'd waited too long and travel dates were just too close. Since office managers and assistants can easily get bogged down with more time-sensitive, urgent tasks, it's all too easy to leave travel bookings to the last minute – when demand has peaked and prices are soaring.


2. Booking misaligned flights or other travel services.

The next most common mistake is the booking of misaligned flights or other travel services. For instance, a traveler's flight arrives after their hotel's check-in window has closed, or they miss a connection from lack of time between flights. Misaligned services usually result in booking changes or cancellations, and that means extra costs – not to mention the potential risk of being stranded late at night in an unfamiliar city.


3. Entering incorrect traveler details on bookings.

Recording inaccurate personal information came up as the third-most common error. From misspelled or wrong names to transposed birth months and days, these things may look simple but still take too much time to correct. Thankfully, there's an easy solution! Using a travel management platform with a booking profile for each traveler makes these types of mistakes super unlikely.


4. Booking travel that went over budget or was unapproved.

When team members are tasked with booking their own travel, they have tons of choice and flexibility – something they may appreciate but that can also result in overspending or, worse, unapproved expenses. This happened to over 14 percent of respondents. For example, someone might choose an upgraded car rental or hotel room that management doesn't change in time to avoid a pesky fee. Again, this is easily avoidable when you book travel not in-house, but through a travel management platform that works with a spending cap to remove those worries.


5. Booking the wrong date or destination.

Booking the wrong destination or date may be hard to imagine – these are key pieces of information, after all! But, it happens more often than you might think: Over 11 percent of respondents made or had seen this mistake at some point. Unfortunately, this one's a very costly error to make – particularly if the lowest-priced flight option was booked, as that option usually won't accommodate changes, credits, or refunds.


6. Choosing airlines or other providers that offer poor service.

Often, the people booking travel for team members may not be travelers themselves. So, understandably, they may be unaware of which providers deliver the best service – something we can all appreciate at any point of a business trip. To avoid this scenario, it's best to use a travel management platform with experts who know their stuff. These folks are all too familiar with top companies offering great service that reliably meets their clients' needs and expectations.


7. Booking travel that inconvenienced travelers.

Over 13 percent of respondents mentioned that when travel is booked and managed by team members who aren't traveling, they're at risk of inconvenient bookings and suffering the consequences. For example, a flight might leave or arrive at the most awkward time, or a hotel location might be way too far from an early morning meeting location (and we all need our beauty sleep).


8. Overbooking (flights, hotel rooms, etc.)

Though it's the least common reported mistake, overbooking is a totally avoidable one that still made the list. Maybe a team of four is originally booked to travel, but, in the end, only two people end up going. If let's say, the team member arranging travel picked the cheapest flight or hotel fare type, it's incredibly unlikely you'll nab a credit or refund for the canceled bookings.


9. Booking the wrong people or the wrong number of people.

Say a business is attending or hosting a large event for many attendees, like a teambuilding retreat or industry conference. No doubt they're going to need travel bookings, and lots of them – think flights, car rentals, and hotel rooms. This is exactly the type of stressful scenario that leaves teams open to simple but risky errors, whether it's too many or few people or even the wrong names on bookings. Sadly, these things are often tricky or timely to fix or cancel. Plus, by the time that happens, it might be too little too late with sold-out flights or accommodations, or unavailable refunds or credits.


Leaving dire financial impacts aside, these and other pricey mistakes from booking travel in-house can often damage a company's reputation – all because of avoidable things like a team member arriving late to an important client meeting because they were booked on the wrong flight.

The good news is these are simple things you can easily avoid with the help of a travel management platform that handles absolutely everything. Trained and experienced travel experts exist for a reason, and they give professionals more time and less hassle and stress in their day.