Monday 5 February 2018

Guest Blog: Travel technology for SMEs must be right for their business needs

Does your company have an SME business travel spend of £50K to £2M? Have you thought about implementing an online booking tool or other travel technology solutions, but are not sure if they would be right for your business or type of travel?

SME-spend clients have very different travel and servicing needs compared to large corporates. Personal, offline service is frequently the best way to manage an SME client’s travel programme in order to drive cost savings. But a service-based business model can be complemented by technology in order to drive further efficiencies. However, that technology needs to be tailored specifically to SME clients’ needs. Complex systems and tools are worth little if they’re not adopted by your travellers, bookers and managers.  It’s about blending the appropriate mix of expert offline service, with technology solutions that are right for each client’s business.

If you’re considering use of travel technology or online booking tools, bear these five points in mind first:

1 Types of Travel – Every company’s business travel habits are different. The focus of your company’s business travel will determine whether an online booking tool is best suited for you, so you should discuss your requirements and preferences with your travel management company (TMC)

2 Adoption levels and usage –  use of an online booking tool by your bookers and travellers will be higher if your company books a large volume of domestic and European point to point travel. If your travel is predominantly worldwide or multi-stop, then you are likely to experience lower adoption rates because the booking tools aren’t yet flexible enough to process complex airfares. If this is the case, you’d be better off using the services of your TMC’s consultants to book your business travel.

3  Profile Management - creating staff traveller profiles, including passport details, frequent flyer numbers and dietary preferences, saves your travel bookers from requesting the same information each time they make a booking. When you work with a TMC, they’ll set up traveller profiles for you as standard. Think about how you’d like to keep these profiles up to date; perhaps it would be easier to allow your travellers to amend their own profiles online. Even if your business travel patterns don’t warrant having an online booking tool, ask your TMC if they can provide a technology platform that can just be used for profile management.

        Policy Management - when your staff travel for business, implementing a company travel policy is essential. This should include guidelines on the booking process, budget restrictions and booking permissions, as well as listing preferred airlines, hotels and transport suppliers. Once it’s been drawn up, the travel policy should be available to all staff – convenient access via your travel technology platform will help drive policy understanding and compliance.

       5  Duty of Care - Safety has always been an important aspect of business travel, but as terrorist attacks become more indiscriminate, traveller security has become even more of an issue for businesses of all sizes. In the event of an emergency SMEs need to be able to track their employees quickly. Real time traveller tracking technology, alert tools and traveller mobile apps can provide critical duty of care support. Ask your TMC for advice about whether you need to invest in this type of technology, depending on how many people you have travelling at any one time, and the type of destinations.   

It’s essential, even for SMEs, to keep abreast of the latest developments in travel technology, as these could be your gateway to arranging travel more efficiently and cost-effectively. But one size doesn’t fit all. Make sure the technology ticks the right boxes for your business.

This post was written by Andy Hegley, UK General Manager, Corporate Traveller, specialist TMC for companies with an SME business travel spend. Corporate Traveller is launching its new travel technology platform ‘YOUR.CT’ at the Business Travel  

The Business Travel Show, in association with Corporate Traveller, will also be offering the two dedicated workshops for PAs on the topic “Creating the Building Blocks for a Better Travel Programme” 

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