Where to start with travel approvals
There’s a point during the growth of any business when the amount of travel picks up. You begin to set parameters, such as a travel and expense policy. But then you find yourself worrying about flying blind. You don’t know whether your travelers are following policy, how much they’re spending or what safety considerations there might be until after they’ve already booked.
The idea of an approval process for business trips comes to mind. Lots of businesses do it, but our data shows that only 2% of travel booking requests are rejected. So is it the best option for your company and how can you make sure it works seamlessly? Let’s explore.
Pros of travel approvals
1. Peace of mind for you and your people. If your travelers are waiting for a trip to be approved, it means you have oversight of their travel plans. You can check in on trip requests and act early to manage risk, whether it’s reviewing travel to high risk locations or changing plans in a crisis.
2. Keep a tighter leash on that budget. With travel approvals in place, it’s easier to control how much you’re spending on travel now and in the future. Managers can assess the requested expenditure and act as needed to curb excessive spend and avoid fraudulent activity.
3. Travelers are more likely to book within the policy and processes you’ve spent hours refining and rolling out. When there’s an approvals process in place, people may think twice before they book a trip and are therefore more likely to book within policy. They’ll be more mindful about how much they’re spending and are more likely to try and stick within budget.
Cons of travel approvals
1. It’s another process for everyone to think about. An extra layer of bureaucracy costs time and efficiency. Consider the time it takes for managers to approve, how prices may vary in the meantime and the number of times the traveler has to rebook.
2. The old carrot and stick argument. Think about your company culture and how people want to be treated by their employers. They want to be trusted and feel their contribution is valued, right? Nudges and communication to entice them to book within policy may work better than a rigid approval process.
3. Getting that green light. There’s nothing worse than sitting around for a “yes” before starting on a project or trip, especially if it’s last minute. Hopping onto a plane at short notice is stressful enough when you also need somewhere to stay, get packing and make arrangements, or rearrangements, for anything from pets to childcare. Adding an approval step is only going to add to that stress.
How to get travel approvals right
Think about your business priorities, but factor in the impact it may have on travelers and travel bookers.
Be targeted and efficient, going back to your overall travel and company goals. You might not need approval for every trip, and should keep things simple where you can. For example, if you’re focused on saving money, can the travel approval process kick in when a travel booking is over the required budget?
Tailor the approval processes for different types of traveler too. While no traveler is the same, you should be able to identify a few different types of travelers in your business e.g. the travel rules for the sales team might be different to other departments. When you customize your travel policy to suit a few traveler types, you’ll find the approval process will differ too.
It needs to be easy for travelers to seek and get approval, and easy for those who have the power to approve a trip seamlessly. Consider how approvals will work in the systems and processes you already have. Technology can automate the process to make it slicker for everyone involved.
There is a middle ground option too. You can have the oversight without the hard stop of requiring approval through notification settings. For example, in Melon you can switch on this setting so that if a traveler or travel arranger books a trip that’s out of policy, you’ll be notified and can take any appropriate action. The booking experience stays the same and there’s no delayed or ignored approvals or fare increases.
Let technology do the work for you
Manage your travel approvals in Melon with a configuration to meet your specific needs. Set the approval policy by traveler type and tailor Melon’s approval features to the requirements of those different groups. You can adjust the approval process to kick in at the point you want it to, including price, trip duration, flight class of service, and more. We’ll wait for your go-ahead to get the process rolling and can advise on what will work for your company.