SME Corporate Travel Toolkit
Your Travel Matters
Here’s our ultimate SME Corporate Travel Toolkit series for improving your business travel
Each month we’ll release a new chapter, covering off topics such as: the dangers of DIY-travel, how to craft a perfect travel policy, where to find savings without compromising traveler safety.... and so much more!
It’s time to talk business travel. It’s the way your company gets it done. Travel offers growth, team bonding, creativity, solid relationships, and plenty more.
It’s the start-ups and small to mid-sized companies that are powering travel’s recovery from the pandemic; jumping on planes and trains more often than the corporate giants. What does that tell us? That travel is integral to getting the job done and building successful businesses.
Over time, many small and medium sized businesses find that travel is getting a bit…out of control. You’ve seen it yourself. The team expands quickly and soon they’re travelling frequently to all corners of the world. It becomes hard to keep track of; not just where people are on a given week, but also how much it’s costing. Some of the processes can be clunky and your people are spending too much time trying to book it themselves.
Then throw safety, health, wellbeing, and the environment into the mix. Oh, and border closures, testing requirements and ever-changing travel rules. Silently but earnestly, travel has gotten more complex.
Your next move? Just keep reading. This is an evolving series with a new chapter released every month. We built this series to provide you a comprehensive view of how to build a great travel program. The most important thing is that you don’t have to do this on your own.
Time for a business travel partner?
A managed business travel program is more than just someone who books your travel. It’s about turning something complex into something easy to navigate.
Here is a quick checklist to pressure-test your current situation. Does your current solution:
- Keep your people safe and support them in any situation, 24/7?
- Make booking travel easy and quick?
- Help you spend wisely and saves you money?
- Allow you to pull any travel data and reporting with the click of a button?
- Advise on what to do about caring for your people and the planet?
Your travel solution should check all of these boxes.
What’s unique about SME travel and what’s important?
Ashley Corey is Corporate Traveler's VP of Sales for the Americas!
How Bennett Aviation made the move
Carole McCann is the sole travel booker and facilitator at aircraft inspectors Bennett Aviation.
In the midst of growth, Carole found herself swamped with travel requests and changes. It was time to offload that luggage to an expert.
Chapter 1: Your travel needs some TLC
Here’s the 35,000 ft view
- Enlisting a travel specialist, aka a TMC, takes the strain off your team.
- DIY travel booking is bad for business. We’ll show you why.
- Real-life stories to show what it means to have help and support.
- Become a pro in picking the right TMC.
All travel is personal, even when it’s done for work.
Your travelers have their own preferences for their business trips – from how they book, to the meals they have on the plane and the accommodation they pick. Travel is also unique for each and every business. Some companies care about containing costs, others are all about freedom of choice for their travelers, while some just want to make sure they have someone to call when things get hairy (think pandemic-sized travel disruptions!)
But every company cares about the safety of their colleagues, especially these days. There’s no room for error when it comes to traveler wellness and safety - whether they’re in the office or out on the road.
Feeling the pressure to create all that customization in a process that works for everyone? It doesn’t need to be difficult. Enlist a travel partner that can do all the above (and more) for you. In the travel industry these companies are commonly known as a travel management company or TMC for short.
Want more info right away?
Real-life stories of when having a travel team can save the day
Check out these real-life sticky situations, and how a travel management team has helped:
- How to avoid a 3-hour hold with the airline.
- EAs stressed with all the travel admin.
- Borders closing and getting travelers home.
Eight ways DIY travel bookings are bad for business
Booking travel ad hoc on the web? It's wasting time, money and productivity. You'll see...
- How it's putting travellers at risk.
- Why travel shouldn't stress anyone out.
- How productivity drops without the right tools.
Unmanaged or managed travel?
What's in the best interest of your travelers and your company's bottom line? Let's dive into:
- Travel policy and bookings.
- Trip approval processes.
- Preferred suppliers and tech.
‘Swipe right’ for the perfect TMC
Many companies promise results. Here's how to find the ones that will actually improve your travel program.
- Do you need a one-stop-travel-shop?
- Local vs global perspective?
- When do you risk 'too many cooks'?
Your checklist for the right fit TMC
Tick done! Prioritize what you want from a TMC and make sure they check off those requirements.
Key criteria includes:
- What will your travel team looks like?
- How will colleagues book travel?
- Where does the TMC have presence?
Get your copy: Myths and magic of managed travel
Don’t waste another second or another dollar.
Your business has goals and objectives beyond your travel program. In fact, it’s probably one of the least important pieces of the puzzle that is business strategy. But it’s still a big piece...and you need to make sure that you’re not overpaying.
Booking travel isn’t just about getting the cheapest rates, especially if your flight gets cancelled or needs to be rearranged. It ends up costing you more in the long run, in both time AND money. No, you need to consider costs from a higher vantage point; looking across the entire travel program.
Is Mary in Sales spending too much time on InsertAirlineHere.com when she should be closing deals or running sales training? That’s the train of thought to jump on. And that’s why it pays to outsource your travel needs to a business that knows exactly what you crave.
5 quick wins to save money
It’s no secret that booking business travel in advance usually means better rates, but there are plenty of other ways to save too!
Here are five quick wins to get you started.
Savings are our jam, so we can go into much more detail than the below!
However, if you’re just starting out and want a few quick tips to save on your business travel, here are a handful of ways to get moving.
Money (and stress)-saving reasons to offload your travel admin
Despite what its label suggests, a managed travel program can still give your colleagues a lot of choice and freedom. Here’s some of the more obscure ways to save on business travel; it’s not just the financial advantage…
Guide: Don’t pinch pennies. Make smart savings.
Business travel putting a dent in your company budget? As line items go – business travel can pack a punch but there’s insider ways to get impressive savings. Download the guide for advice on:
- Slashing the biggest costs first.
- How to spend wisely.
- Next level savings.
Plus, we share how two of our awesome customers have saved money on their own business travel.
New questions to ask and answer
Maybe before the days of "you’re on mute" you could try and go it alone, but things have changed in the world of business travel since the dark days of 2020. Now, instead of your travelers focusing on the best airlines for their frequent flyer points/miles, it’s flexibility, facts and communication that are vital. Plus, your travelers want to also know how your company supports the safety of women travelers and what your plans are for sustainable travel options. There are new questions to ask and answer.
What does this mean? Your corporate travel policy needs to reflect this new world of agility, health and safety while also balancing the personal preferences of your people. A well-planned travel policy mitigates the risk of leaving your company exposed to complications...and helps you save money too. It also makes life much easier and painless in the future.
“Sweat more in peace, bleed less in battle” - Sun Tzu.
When you spend the time and effort to get your policy right, you’re setting yourself up for massive gains in the long run.
Annnnnd, surprise! We’re here to help!
Policy perfection: The key ingredients
In today’s global business environment, organizations are juggling office-based employees, staff who are working from home, consultants and teams that are spread across continents. Then add to the mix: tight budgets, COVID-19 complexities and new goals around sustainability, and suddenly a clear and updated travel policy is more important than ever.
In simple terms...if you don’t have a formal travel policy in place, you need one. This guide delves into the ingredients for the policy mix.
Benchmark your travel policy
Already have a travel policy and want to know how effective it is?
Take this easy 2-minute travel policy benchmarking quiz and get the answers on what’s working, what’s not and how to take your policy from basic to brilliant.
It’s also a great way to benchmark against others in the industry. Ready to see how your policy is traveling?
Template: Kick-start your business travel policy
Creating a rock-solid business travel policy is about:
- Asking the right questions.
- Answering those questions according to your business’s goals and traveler needs.
- Specifying your preferences on a policy document.
- Telling your people about the policy and making it stick.
Got it? Goodo.
A starter policy could include instructions on booking information, domestic and international flights, accommodation and car hire/transport.
Taking your travel policy from good to great will take a bit of time. And generally, when you’re developing a more detailed policy, the process will involve input from a few key stakeholders. But, to kick-start the process for you, here’s a template of questions to guide the first draft of your policy.
Take your policy from drab to fab
It might be just a few lines in an email, a one-page doc or even a few pages of detailed travel info. No matter how formal or lengthy your policy is, there are ways to take it from good to great.
There are commonalities in travel policies but really, they’re different for every company. Your culture and your ways of working are unique, and your travel policy will be too.
Read more and download our example of what a good visual travel policy looks like for today’s SME.
It's time for a travel policy fit for 2022
Since selecting Corporate Traveler, we have gained far greater insight into our travel trends which has allowed us to implement new policies while providing our staff with the necessary flexibility.
Peter Rendall, Chief Financial Officer @ Unispace
Look, we’re lucky. Travel sells itself...it’s in our human nature to connect with others; whether it’s pleasure or business. We know that every plane has a seat, every hotel has a bed, and you have choice! So how do we step up? By knowing what will make that airplane seat more comfortable, how to make that room more enjoyable and what will make the whole journey way smoother. That way, your travelers can perform at their peak.
That starts and ends with our people. And we’re not just talking about our Travel Managers. It’s also all of our other people who sit behind the scenes. The onboarding experts that hold your hand through the process, the in-house emergency service team, the customer success teams and the negotiators that work with the airlines and hotels to secure the best possible rates. It takes an army of travel experts, all fighting for you and your success (and here at Corporate Traveler we’ve been doing it for 40 years).
Who's on your team
Customer Success Manager...does what it says in the title
Once you look closer, there's a lot of moving parts, and people, in corporate travel. To run like clockwork is totally possible and we’re here to make it happen. That's why all of our clients get a Customer Success Manager. What do they do? Well, the clue’s in the job title but find out more here.
Travel wizards, ready to help
Plenty of our travel teams have more than 100 years of experience between them! That’s phenomenal, right? All that knowledge and expertise, waiting to help travelers with booking, changes and advice at the touch of a button or over the phone.
Case study: Extending Bboxx’s team
Natasha Cooper, EA to Bboxx Founder Mansoor Hamayun considers the Corporate Traveler team as colleagues of her own. The power of their bond and communication was tested during the COVID pandemic, only to be energized and better than ever.
The onboarding process
Q&A with Global Head of Onboarding, James McIlvenna
Onboarding a new customer is the bridge between sales and on-going customer success. It’s all about people, culture and goals!
Spend 2 minutes with James to hear what the onboarding team’s priorities are in 2022.
Service – The #1 Concern
Service has never been more important. We all feel it when things go wrong or we’re waiting in a queue, which is why we’re so committed to ensuring our clients don’t. Find out what a recent survey of our people and some clients have to say about service when it comes to their business trips.
Change Loading...getting buy-in
The technical challenges of introducing new technology or admin processes often pale in comparison to the most significant change obstacle of all: internal resistance.
This guide includes:
- Clarifying leadership & change management across the generations
- 3 steps: designing, deploying and driving change
- Bringing an expert on board
Here’s a pointer... whenever you tell your team that you’ve partnered with a new travel management company, you’ll likely hear concern about employees wanting freedom to book how they wish. Some like to book online, others prefer to get someone else to handle absolutely everything. We’ve already shown you how we deliver when it comes to personalized service....so let’s show you how our tech solution is up to the challenge for those who prefer to book online.
Truth be told, the online booking piece is the easiest. It really is. We’ve integrated hundreds of airlines, hotels and car rentals into our platform, so we serve up everything to your travelers instantly, literally. We even include small regional airlines that operate in the remote corners of the earth (if your people need!). The real magic comes when our technology begins to understand each traveler’s preferences and we serve up products that we know they’ll love – favorite airlines, familiar hotels, and flight times that suit each schedule...the list goes on.
The pieces of a puzzle that make a platform.
On top of a seamless booking experience, our other tech tools are top notch too.
We’ve got you covered with authorization, risk management, reporting, a mobile platform and others.
Tech + People = a perfect match
The Melon platform serves as an easy-to-use travel search engine as well as an intelligent booking tool. My favorite thing about Melon is the Chat support functionality and incredible response times. I can quickly message a real, live agent and get the support that I need, then go about my day. - VIZIO
Stop. Look. Listen.
We’d love to show you what Melon is capable of so that you can see why our customers love it.
A 3-minute demo is all you need to see.
Want more of the detail behind our people and platform? We’ve got you covered with this overview. Of course, if you just want us to just show you, we can do that too.
Our guide gives you a look at:
- All the features and benefits of Melon
- How the platform blends seamlessly with our people
- The cost-savings potential available
- All the added pieces along the way
Chapter 6: Do the Safety Dance
Here’s the 35,000 ft view
- COVID can still scupper plans, are you prepared?
- You can trust in technology to support your travellers on the road
- The safer your travellers feel, the happier and more productive they’ll be
- Read a real-life example where we helped in a disaster
When it comes right down to it, your people are your greatest asset. Which makes protecting them a pretty big deal. Even more so when they’re out on the road. And while COVID-19 gave us all a lesson in disruption, we live in an ever-changing world where anything can happen— and usually does.
This is why traveler safety should be at the heart of any travel program. From managing any (and all) travel concerns with trustworthy advice, real-time information and smart recommendations, to health and safety dashboards and traveler tracking, it’s crucial to take a dynamic, decisive approach to duty of care.
Most people associate travel risk management with swooping in and bringing your travelers home (which does happen) but there’s way more to it. Think pre-travel risk assessments, alerts, the vetting of suppliers, open communication and 24-hour support—not to mention your traveler’s health and mental wellbeing.
Does it sound overwhelming? Don’t stress. There is tech, and people, to keep you safe!
Could COVID still scupper your plans?
We’ve all heard a few nightmare travel stories courtesy of COVID-19: bosses stuck in another country as borders closed; travelers forced to quarantine for 14 days or more; flights cancelled; regulations changed; and goalposts moved.
It’s made even the steeliest travel experts a little wary.
Take this quiz to analyze your travel plans. After all, if COVID (and the Scouts) have taught us anything, it’s be prepared.
Trust in the tech
As a business owner or travel manager, keeping your travelers safe is your top priority. One that could keep you up at night. (Why do things always go wrong after hours?)
Luckily, we have the tools, tech and expertise to support you. Even better, today’s tech is easy to use. Intrigued? Find out exactly how to make the most our risk management tools in your travel program.
Safer travel starts here
Traveler confidence is everything. The safer your employees feel on their travels the more relaxed and productive they’ll be, which is great for morale, improving staff retention and ultimately the growth and success of your business. And it all starts with a little preparation.
Looking for the ultimate checklist to guide your travelers? From packing their bags to returning home safely, it all starts here.
Hear it from our customers
ZVRS is built for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, so they needed an online platform and 24/7 service that gives them easy communication they can rely on. Learn more about how we were able to tweak our tech to deliver on their needs:
The lowdown on traveler tracking
Chapter 7: The Wellbeing Balance on Work Trips
Here’s the 35,000-foot view
- Travelers need to feel safe. But also, supported and happy.
- Get back to the basics – keep it simple and clear.
- Your traveler’s safety extends to mental health and wellbeing.
- Bad habits creep up on work trips, how do you encourage balance?
- Your policy and travel choices can show you care.
Life’s all about balance. And business is all about people. So, when your staff are out on the road visiting offices, attending conferences or meetings for work, it’s important to remember that life still goes on at home. Your team performs at their best when the trip goes to plan – even something as simple as a decent night’s sleep makes a huge impact. Or perhaps they just want a flight time that allows them to keep up a fitness routine.
Essentially, business trips shouldn’t take a toll on our physical and mental health. If you are the one setting the travel policy or booking travel, there are ways you can support wellbeing through your policies and supplier choices.
Your TravelFit guide
Late nights, networking drinks and client lunches easily turn into less sleep, more calories and a day with a fuzzy headache. But many travelers are turning a page, so we asked our Healthwise team to get tips on keeping track of your health while traveling for work. This is one to share with your colleagues.
What to remember with people on the road
It's exciting to get out there in the world! Less screen time and more in-person time is always a win. But gone are the days of back-to-back trips and red-eye flights, and there’s more expectation than ever to keep staff safe.
5 questions to ask
Keen to make sure you have happy travellers? It’s time to really think about the balance they’re craving, and the ways you can actively start to implement change. Ask yourself these five questions for a great place to start.
Chapter 8: Insider access to the best travel prices and perks
Here’s the 35,000-foot view
- There are plenty of ways to squeeze the best value out of your travel.
- Perk up! You can score corporate and personal loyalty offers.
- A good travel partner should deliver extra savings and deals.
- Bespoke deals, just for your business, are totally possible.
It's only natural that once you realize how much you’re spending on travel, you want to try to cut costs. That’s why savings was one of the first topics we covered off in the SME Toolkit.
This chapter delves deeper into the area of exclusive TMC rates and deals, otherwise known as travel ‘content’. Think of it this way, there is great technology for travelers to book their trips, and teams of real-life humans to handle the more complicated itineraries. Content is all the prices, seats, extras and options they see on their screen when they’re searching for flights, hotels and cars. As you can imagine, there’s millions of options; content can even include rates from websites like Expedia.
So how do you know you’re getting the widest range of content, and the best prices out there? Well, a travel partner, of course!
The lowdown on airline loyalty
Did you know there are corporate loyalty programs, that you can earn points on like personal accounts? Get to know the top airline loyalty schemes, the rewards you get for each and how you can still earn points on your corporate AND personal accounts when booking with a TMC.
6 reasons why it’s worth booking hotels with a TMC
It can be tricky to convince your employees to book with your TMC, especially if they are used to booking online with whoever they want. We've listed some of the benefits of booking your hotel night through a TMC (well, us).
Hotel savings you can bank on
Who doesn’t love the best rate in town? But do you really have the hours to spend searching Booking.com, Expedia and hotel websites? Probably not. A combination of your TMC’s hotel specialist teams (with all the insider knowledge) and travel technology can secure you those savings. Suite! (see what we did there?)
Expect exclusive rates and perks
Your TMC should always be able to provide you access to millions of prices and options, housed in one handy booking platform. Not only should your travel partner hook you up with ALL the air, hotel and car rates to always ensure you get the best price, but they should have perks and extras too.
Advanced hotel savings tactics
If you really want to optimize, then you’ll probably want to think about a hotel program. A specially curated list of hotels that matches your company’s requirements, and offers you an additional discount on the promise that you’ll book a certain number of room nights with them during a year.