If you’re like most travel managers there are never enough hours in the day and when Friday comes around the weekend looks sweet, but you have to get through Friday first…
We feel your pain. But luckily there are some relief valves available to reduce stress, and by that we mean ways in which your travel management company can eliminate problems before they happen and offer solutions to some common issues encountered when dealing with managing corporate travelers. And best of all they will deliver benefits for your employer too, which is always a stress-reliever. Most of these solutions are based in improving communications and utilizing existing travel technology in ways you may not have thought about previously.
Route traveler support calls to your TMC’s customer support department by putting a reminder that includes the phone number and email address for this option on your voice mail and as part of your email signature. We know you’re a Type A personality or you wouldn’t be a travel manager, but trust your TMC to be capable of handling getting rid of a no-show fee at a hotel, or an issue with a change fee at the airline. Chances are good that you’ll pass along the task to these folks anyway so why not streamline the process and use the time to do whatever item on your wishlist needs doing instead of being a middleman.
Simplify use of preferred suppliers by having your TMC build trip templates in your online booking tool for each city where you have frequent travel. Have them start with cities where your company has an office and pair those up with a nearby hotel that’s either a preferred vendor or has custom negotiated rates. And of course they’ll build these with your preferred carrier too. Consider skipping the rental car and have the traveler use Uber if it makes sense. Then have the TMC do the same for your Top Ten Cities. This is a “kill two birds with one stone” proposition because you’re getting a boost for preferred vendor use on both your hotel and airline and you’re cutting down on traveler time spent booking travel.
Take advantage of your TMC’s communications platform to address traveler issues that keep recurring. After each account review pick one persistent issue that keeps affecting your travel program. Booking off program. Not refilling the tank with gas before returning the rental car. Not getting their Global Entry membership renewed. Whatever the issue, by having the TMC take the lead in trying to influence traveler behavior instead of emailing everyone yourself you save time, trouble, and let someone else look like the nag. The travel management companies have these expensive communication platforms so why not let them use them. They’re probably sending your travelers a monthly newsletter anyway so have them just put the mention in there…creatively.
See if your TMC offers enhanced travel reporting tools. If you have to present travel metrics regularly to your management team the stress can be compounded if you’re having to integrate data from multiple, varied sources including spreadsheets, databases, operational systems, ERP and web sources. Having great reports from your TMC is a good starting point, but when you’re adding data from outside the program you may be on your own. Many TMCs have add-on modules (at additional cost) which allow you to create amazing presentations. (Our data analytics tool, TravelOptix has a drag-and-drop interface to choose what you see, how you see it, and where you see it without having to write any queries.) Not all travel managers have the same scrutiny of their performance, but if you’re under the gun and spending a lot of time creating elaborate presentations, this program could be a real time-saver and stress-reliever.
Use gameification to lighten your load. Have a big, long established travel program that’s proving hard to squeeze additional savings from? If management is pressuring you to get costs down, gameification might be the key to breaking the cost-savings logjam. Ask your TMC to implement a program like Rocketrip which incentivises travelers to help lower travel expenses by sharing the savings with them in the form of gift card rewards. Limited to travel accounts with over a million in spend (Rocketrip’s rules) this program ties into your online booking program and it runs in the background without a lot of management. A win-win solution, Rocketrip can uncover an average savings of $200 per trip, and earn you some Brownie points in the process.
Ask your TMC’s reporting department to create a custom report (with lots of guilt-inducing red type) for last minute bookings (less than 7 days out) and then automatically send the report to the email address of each traveler when they break this policy. You could theoretically have a single report with multiple travelers on it, but you run the risk of catching a CEO or other VIP in the net which might cause you MORE STRESS and if other C-Listers see the CEO breaking policy they might think it’s okay for them too. No, best to just have individual notices…that’s drama enough and it lets the traveler know you’re watching this metric and that might actually influence their behavior.
Ask your TMC’s leisure department to book you a week at the beach (or mountains). Yeah, we know this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many travel managers never take a week off. (GBTA doesn’t count, that’s something else altogether!) With all the discount fares and special consortia rates it’s a shame to not take advantage of the bennies and let off a little steam. If that’s not enough justification for a little self-love, remember the experience of traveling is research in itself as airline policies change on a monthly basis, plus being away often gives you a new perspective which can be the best medicine for a stressed out travel manager.
Hopefully we gave you some ideas to make your life easier. Teplis Travel takes good care of its travel managers (and travelers) and we are always looking for new business travel partners. We have Rocketrip, and many other tools to simplify managing corporate travel. If you’d like more information, please call us at (888) 368-0492 or send us an RFP via email. We look forward to the opportunity of being your trusted travel partner!