‘Tis the season… to be planning.
At this time of year, it’s not just Santa who should be making a list and checking it twice. The holiday season, when business travel slows down, is a great time to stop and evaluate your travel programme.
Here are some steps you can take to get your house in order before your travellers get back into the swing of things.
1. Who’s who?
Traveller profiles are database entries that streamline your interactions with your suppliers. Usually, staff complete the profile forms as part of their induction process. While the addition of new profiles is relatively routine, updating existing profiles is often overlooked. And it’s even harder to remember to delete profiles when staff move on. So, while Santa is checking who has been naughty and nice, you should be checking the status of everyone on your database to make sure their details are up to date.
2. Where are you going?
Things change over time, and we’re so often caught up in the details that we don’t see the big picture. Step back and check where your travellers have been over the past 12 months. Are some destinations getting more traction? Are some hotels moving up or down your usage rankings?
3. Are your deals still competitive?
The market changes – often quickly and sometimes dramatically. Rates and fares move around, and what might have seemed reasonable last year may not be so attractive right now. So check your deals against the market and, if necessary, see if you can renegotiate. You can also leverage any additional demand to renegotiate rates; for example, if you’re putting more business than expected at particular hotels.
4. Are your deals still current?
There’s nothing worse than finding that your contracts are about to run out and you don’t have time to test the market before renewal. Rather than getting caught out by the looming expiry of your contracts, check when they’re all lapsing and mark your 2017 dairy with deadlines and enough time to review them.
5. Are your travellers still safe?
With duty of care a very hot topic, are you doing enough to ensure the wellbeing of your travellers? It’s a good time to review your crisis plans. Also, check the latest vaccination requirements and the risk rankings of your commonly-visited destinations – and those off-the-beaten-track places your travellers might be planning to visit.
6. Do you understand supply chain disruption?
Your travellers are no doubt aware of the hot travel apps, Uber, Airbnb and a host of other services that might not be covered by your policy. Increasingly, they’re going to use the sharing economy and social media tools, so you need to understand how to integrate these into your programme – or how to deal with it when your travellers are tempted to use them outside of policy.
7. Changes on the cards?
With growing use of corporate cards in expense management, it’s important to do regular stocktakes of card-holders. Do the travellers that need cards have them and have you removed cards from those who don’t?
8. All good under the hood?
If, like most progressive organisations, you use self-booking tools and an expense management system, this is a good time to check that you are running the latest versions, all updates have been installed and the tools are fully compatible with all the IT in your organisation – including the latest tablet and phone operating systems.
9. Does your policy still fit?
As you attend to all of these details, you’ll have a great opportunity to review your policy. The examinations above will alert you to any gaps in your current processes and if you attend to them now, you can start the new year with a policy that meets your needs, accommodates any changes in the supply environment and keeps your travellers safe and happy.
10. Share the good news
As you implement changes while going through your checklist, make sure you keep all the stakeholders informed. Use all of your communication channels to spread the word and ensure that your team has time to answer any questions and assist with issues because change is always harder than we anticipate.
As we approach the Festive Season, a bit of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring a solid start to the New Year. Your efforts may not be as welcome as the office Christmas party or the annual bonus, but the long-term benefits may be even more rewarding for all.