How to conquer corporate travel planning

Corporate travel can be important for networking and creating long-lasting business relations. However planning a business trip can be stressful. From finding the best flights and accommodation, to staying on budget according to your travel policy, there are a lot of elements that need to be considered. 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 simply organizing a holiday. There are a lot of moving parts to keep the needs of the traveler front of mind while coordinating the people, agenda and activities at the destination.

Business travel planning is important for a company, as it not only optimizes spending but can also help make sure that employees are comfortable and productive during corporate travel. Often, companies 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 ensure that 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 the logistics of the actual travel including booking plane tickets, the hotel, transportation from the hotel to the office, etc.
  • Handling the reimbursements and trip expenses
  • Developing the travel policies for the company
  • Creating and keeping track of all the 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 that you book flights and hotels as soon as your travel dates are confirmed. You’ll also have significantly more choice. 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. Plus, attaching a guidebook to it can help 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 keep in mind to ensure that your guidebook is helpful and informative. Here are some aspects to consider when creating a corporate travel planning guidebook that will make booking travel 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 it themselves?
  2. Preferred vendors, hotels and travel services – there’s a good chance that 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 that could arise. From lost luggage, and cancelled 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. However, once you find the right policy, travel insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to focus on running your business.

How much insurance costs is dependent on the location, the time, whether it’s a single or multi-trip and many other considerations. You may also be entitled to obtain a discounted rate if you require 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, such as flights and hotel. Depending on the destination, the traveler may require foreign currency, visas, vaccinations and a sim card that works abroad.

Plus, because this is a business trip after all, it’s essential to make sure that 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 with them 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 a success.

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

5. Align with company goals

Depending on the goals of your company, the goals of a corporate trip change. Do you want to focus on raising the number of sales? Then make sure that 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 of 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 complete. 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 questions that are important for corporate travel managers to ask employees include:

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

7. Leverage technology

Technology for travel 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 can enable you to optimize your travel processes and adapt effectively to the inevitable changing circumstances.

Travel management software can streamline the booking process, manage reservations and monitor travel expenses. These platforms offer features such as 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 such as 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 becomes paramount, allowing seamless itinerary management, online booking, and real-time communication with travelers.

Small businesses can benefit from implementing a rewards scheme to incentivize adherence to travel policies and cost-saving measures. By carefully budgeting expenses and prioritizing safety guidelines, 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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