How to conquer corporate travel planning

Corporate travel can be important for networking and creating long-lasting business relationships. However, planning a business trip can be stressful. From finding the best flights and accommodations to staying within your travel policy’s budget, there are a lot of elements to consider. With this guide, we’ll unpack the importance of corporate travel planning and how to navigate it like a true professional.

What is corporate travel planning?

Corporate travel planning involves much more than organizing a vacation. To keep travelers’ needs in mind, there are a lot of moving parts like coordinating people, agendas, and activities at the destination.

Business travel planning is important for a company because it not only optimizes spending but can also help make sure employees are comfortable and productive during business trips. Companies often hand this task over to a business travel planner.

Who is a corporate travel planner?

Corporate travel planners play a key part in streamlining business trips. Their role is to make sure the experience runs smoothly and that both corporate travelers and companies are satisfied with the results of the trip.

Some of the main responsibilities of a travel planner include:

  • Taking care of travel logistics like booking flights, hotels, transportation from the hotel to the office, etc.
  • Handling reimbursements and trip expenses
  • Developing travel policies for the company
  • Creating and keeping track of all official and legal documents necessary for a business trip

10 tips for planning a business trip

There are ways to help you plan a business trip. Here are some tips and tricks to make company trip planning easier.

1. Book early

It’s no secret that booking early saves money, so make sure you book flights and hotels as soon as your travel dates are confirmed. You’ll also have more choices. An early booking could be the difference between a preferred flight time or hotel location, especially if there’s a big conference in a small city.

2. Create and follow your travel policy

Developing a corporate travel policy is a helpful way to streamline the travel planning process for business travel planners, employees, and managers. Attaching a guidebook helps you set clear expectations for corporate travel, outlining your company's preferred vendors and budget.

Creating a guidebook is a relatively simple process, but there are a few things you should remember to make sure it’s helpful and informative. Here are some aspects to consider when creating a corporate travel planning guidebook that makes booking easy and stress-free.

  1. Approval processes – Is approval needed from senior management before booking a room? Or do travelers have the autonomy to book for themselves?
  2. Preferred vendors, hotels, and travel services – There’s a good chance employees will regularly travel to the same place, so it makes sense to save the details of hotels and transportation services. That way you won’t waste time researching the best rates and reviews.

3. Secure travel insurance

Being a corporate travel planner can be difficult if you have fewer resources to work with and a smaller margin for error – that means you can’t afford for things to go wrong. That’s why it’s important not to forget travel insurance.

Whether you're sending employees on a business trip or planning a company retreat, travel insurance is essential to protect your business from any potential problems. From lost luggage and canceled flights to medical emergencies, travel insurance can help you avoid any financial difficulties that might come up.

There are a lot of different travel insurance policies out there, so it's important to do your research and find the right one for your business. Once you find the right policy, travel insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to focus on running your business.

The cost of insurance depends on the location, the time, whether it’s a single or multi-stop trip, and other considerations. You might also qualify for a discounted rate if you need coverage for a large group.

4. Make sure employees are prepared

Create an itinerary for your employees and meet with them to run through it. That way you can be confident the business trip is set up for success.

This shouldn’t just include the basic details like flights and hotel. Depending on the destination, travelers may need foreign currency, visas, vaccinations, or a SIM card that works abroad.

It’s also essential to make sure employees are fully prepared to work away from the office. Make sure they have all meetings in their calendar and know exactly how to get from A to B in a new city. You can even share a few recommended apps to download and a detailed packing list.

It’s also useful to include traveler checklists and templates in your travel plan. A corporate business travel checklist is much more than just a packing list. An effective checklist for business travelers is a comprehensive overview of everything travelers might need to know or take with them to make a trip successful.

Last, consider providing employees with a digital and printed travel itinerary, and make them familiar with your travel policy.

5. Align with company goals

The goals of a business trip will vary depending on the company’s goals. Do you want to focus on raising the number of sales? Make sure you plan for a lot of meetings for the business traveler. Do you want to focus on growth and learning? Encourage travelers to take advantage of all the classes and enjoy an experience exchange. Business travel planners need to assess and consider all these factors and how they align with company objectives.

6. Create a post-trip questionnaire

The key to corporate travel planning? Research. And research doesn’t stop as soon as the trip is over. Create a questionnaire for employees to complete when they return, and ask them about their overall experience so you can learn for future trips. Some important questions for corporate travel managers to ask employees are:

  • Was it easy to reach your destination?
  • Was the Wifi good?
  • Was your hotel well connected by public transportation? etc.

7. Leverage technology

Travel technology continues to evolve to enhance efficiency, communication, and safety during business travel. Implement mobile apps for itinerary management, online booking platforms for seamless reservations, GPS tracking for employee safety, and communication apps for real-time updates and support. Embracing technology allows you to optimize your travel processes and adapt effectively to changing circumstances.

Travel management software can streamline the booking process, manage reservations, and monitor travel expenses. These platforms offer features like online booking tools, expense tracking, itinerary management, and real-time communication with travelers. By centralizing travel-related tasks, businesses can enhance efficiency and control costs effectively.

8. Implement a rewards scheme

To help incentivize corporate travelers to adhere to your travel policy and cost-saving measures, you can implement a reward program. Recognize and incentivize employees who demonstrate compliance with travel guidelines, utilize preferred vendors, and contribute to overall cost reduction efforts. Reward programs can include incentives like loyalty points, travel vouchers, or recognition awards within your organization’s travel policy.

9. Budget expenses

Businesses must adopt effective strategies to manage business trip expenses. Creating a travel budget can help corporate travel managers and finance teams monitor employee travel costs, make informed financial decisions, and prevent overspending – but only if done correctly. Here’s what business travel planners need to do:

  • Identify your company’s objectives
  • Understand past travel trends
  • Consider all external factors
  • Define your policy
  • Monitor expenses and consider cost-saving possibilities

10. Safety guidelines

To ensure the safety of your employees during business travel, it's essential to establish clear safety guidelines. This includes providing information on emergency procedures, local emergency contacts, and any potential risks associated with the destination. Encourage employees to stay vigilant and report any safety concerns promptly. Additionally, consider providing access to travel assistance services or emergency hotlines for peace of mind and reassurance.

What about corporate travel planning for small businesses?

For small businesses, efficient corporate travel planning is crucial for maximizing resources and ensuring that every trip contributes to the company's success. Despite limited budgets and staffing, small business travel planners can achieve remarkable results by implementing strategic approaches. Leveraging technology is crucial, allowing seamless itinerary management, online booking, and real-time communication with travelers.

Small businesses can benefit from implementing a rewards program to incentivize compliance and cost-saving measures. By carefully budgeting expenses and prioritizing safety, small business travel planners can ensure that every trip is productive, safe, and cost-effective. Attention to detail and proactive communication can help small businesses level up their corporate travel planning efforts and pave the way for successful business trips that contribute to overall growth and success.

Mastering corporate travel planning requires careful attention to detail, proactive communication, and a commitment to aligning travel objectives with company goals. By following these ten tips, business travel planners can navigate the complexities of arranging successful corporate trips while optimizing resources and ensuring the comfort and productivity of employees. Remember, effective planning isn't just about booking flights and hotels. It's about creating a seamless experience that contributes to the overall success of the business. With the right strategies, you can elevate your corporate travel planning efforts and pave the way for more rewarding and productive business trips.

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