Corporate travel management programs are a great step forward in automating your business travel and having oversight on how your team manages the process.

Below, you can find a complete guide to what a corporate travel program is, what its benefits and challenges are, and what smooth implementation would look like.

What’s a corporate travel program?

A corporate travel program is an extensive system of rules and procedures which deals with all aspects of your company’s business travel. The program helps your employees organize their own business travel and be independent in their planning, while also being within your protocol and rules.

A business travel program comes in many shapes and forms:

  • An app
  • A website
  • An internal portal
  • An external service you opt for

What’s the difference between a travel program and a travel policy?

Managing corporate travel is no easy task, as your company needs to be prepared with a lot of internal documents and policies.

A travel policy is an overarching set of rules on how your company views corporate travel. From allocated budget or your expectations to underlining how your company ensures duty of care, a travel policy should be the priority for your corporate travel agenda.

A company travel program is created around a business travel policy. If the policy is on the theoretical side, then the corporate travel management program lays out how those rules and regulations will be applied in real-life scenarios.

Benefits of having a corporate travel program

Employees tend to organize business trips by themselves, as it is often easier than going through the official channels. However, that can lead to a lack of oversight and employees not following the approved steps because perhaps they weren’t communicated properly or even known.

Putting a corporate travel plan in motion can bring you and your company the following benefits:

  • Increased control over the process – by setting up a corporate travel program, you can simplify and create a step-by-step process that would be easy to use for your employees.
  • The ability to add only approved options – if you want your employees to collaborate only with specific vendors or partners you have contracts with, you can set your corporate travel program to show only those options.
  • Increased financial oversight – receipts can get lost very easily and expensing travel costs can be difficult for corporate travelers. Bypass all those problems by centralizing them all in one app or program.
  • Time saved – by having all the necessary information and options centralized in one place, your employees won’t need to spend hours searching for the cheapest option or for the most convenient flight.
  • Duty of care ensured – with a corporate travel planner you can also share safety tips for the destination country and what you need to prepare before embarking on this journey.

What to include in a corporate travel program

You need to keep in mind that a business travel program is specifically made to help employees and to facilitate their travelling. Here are a few key elements that will make your corporate travel plan successful:

Make it easy to use

No one will want to use your team travel program if it adds extra steps or the instructions are complicated and hard to follow. For this reason, you should keep in mind that your average employee doesn’t have time to dive into your travelling policy and it’s your responsibility to present information in the clearest and most concise way possible.

Be very clear what the budget caps are

Keeping the whole process transparent is the best way to gain your employees’ trust while also keeping the expectations clear for everyone. You should consider adding these limits to your app/planner:

  • Total monthly flight spend
  • Lowest/highest fares accepted
  • Unused budget still available
  • Total monthly accommodation spend
  • Expected spending per region/country

Tips and tricks for the selected region

Based on the region, create a dynamic page that can help a traveler prepare and understand the expectations. This list should include:

  • Necessary visa and insurance
  • Necessary medical control
  • Documents they should pack
  • Type of plugs and chargers they should pack
  • The currency in the destination country
  • Any important news or political unrest in the destination country

Any free time ideas

Seeing how popular bleisure travelling has become, you should take into account the option of employees spending a few days relaxing or just immersing themselves in the culture of the destination.

Adding a page with popular tourist attractions or recommended restaurants would be very popular with your employees.

Packing list and details

To facilitate a great experience for your business travelers and to ensure that all aspects are covered, we recommend adding a page with a simple packing checklist.

You can also recommend corporate travel apps for your business travelers.

How to implement a corporate travel program

A business travel program has to be made with the collaboration of all your business’ departments. This way, you’ll ensure everything is up to speed and everyone will be happy with the end results.

Senior Leadership, Finance, HR and business travelers themselves will all have opinions, views and ideas on your travel management program. But, while input from colleagues can be helpful, it’s not always easy to keep everyone happy about the way travel is managed.

To make sure everyone in your company is happy and you can start implementing a corporate travel plan, you should make sure that you:

  1. Ask what specific metrics they want to see and how frequently they want this information. Dashboards are an effective way to share reports and make sure you’re seeing the results you’re expecting.
  2. Have the facilities to measure the financial impact of your team travel program so that – even if it’s not saving your company money – you can see a change in employee satisfaction rates and willingness to travel for business.
  3. Follow up with corporate travelers and get their input during the beta testing of the app or process. The higher the satisfaction rate, the more employees will want to use the program you’ve set in place.

Potential challenges of a corporate travel program

The main challenge you’ll encounter when releasing and starting to implement your business travel program is getting your whole company on board with using it.

Below, you’ll find some of the reasons your employees may not want to use your plan and what solutions will help.

Employees are not aware

Whenever you introduce a new tool or app for your employees, half the work is presenting it and making sure everyone is aware of the change.

Tip: Mention the new corporate travel plan in your company-wide newsletter, groups and chats. You should also personally inform your top business travelers about the new tool.

Sudden transition

Introducing a new tool takes time and patience. Although you might feel you need to rush its implementation, you should trust the process and give enough time for such a big change to take place.

Tip: Set realistic milestones for its implementation, not expecting a complete transition overnight.

Uncertain about how to use it

Not all employees will be familiar or comfortable with using new technology. Helping all your employees understand the process will save you time and money in the long run.

Tip: Create tutorials and ask for feedback as much as possible. Also, always keep in mind the possibility of simplifying the process.

Not seeing the benefits of using it

Introducing business travel booking software can be a big change, especially when the previous way of planning corporate travel was working just fine.

Tip: Offer incentives and rewards for people using the app and slowly transition from the outdated version to this new one.

Relying on a corporate travel program is a great solution for your company. By having control over travel spending, the travel booking process and implementation of your corporate travel policy, you can avoid a lot of problems in the future.

By understanding the benefits of creating a travel management program, as well as the problems that can arise when implementing it in your company, you can find the right path to move forward with it.

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