The definition of triage in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients and especially battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.”
And while we might actually feel like “battle and disaster victims” after the last two years, most of us have gotten really good at handling the stress, sorting through the news and living our lives as normally as possible. So, it’s instructive to look at the second definition of triage…”the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success.”
Corporate travel managers would do well at this juncture to perform triage on their programs to check on their cost-effectiveness, utility and suitability for performing their purpose…getting employees out in the world to do your company’s business.
So, how does this work?
Examine your symptoms. Where do you suspect there are disconnects in your program? What isn’t working, or needs improvement?
We have assembled some common problem areas travel managers face, along with suggestions for creating quick, optimal solutions…
You’ve got a lot of unused tickets. .
In a perfect world your TMC does a good job of tracking and making sure all unused tickets have been redeemed. But we keep hearing from companies where their TMC let a lot of unused tickets expire, meaning they became worthless. A recent study revealed that a canceled trip costs a company $889 on average. This applies when companies don’t rebook or claim refunds on unused vouchers before they expire. It’s a sad story. Many companies currently are stuck with a vast amount of unused airline tickets. But add a global pandemic to the mix, and some businesses estimate they are sitting on $1-million+ worth! Obviously, you need to get on top of this situation, immediately, while refund policies are still flexible. If you can’t get a voucher, rebook the flight for a later date (you may have to move it several times) but the key is don’t let it expire. When the employee is gone, consider getting a name change if possible. And moving forward, make sure your TMC has a decent tracking and notification program.
You are having problems with availability for car rentals.
We are still in the throes of a major rental car shortage, so waiting until the last minute to book a vehicle means (a) paying through the nose; (b) being priced out of the market; or (c) not even having the option to overpay because every car is sold out. As we move past Spring Break and head into Summer the situation probably won’t improve and could even get worse. We suggest that you continue to book far in advance, and you consider adding a second (or third) car rental company as a partner to improve your chances of finding a car in sold-out situations.
Travelers are having trouble getting back in the swing of things, with some still not booking trips even though their territories have opened completely up.
Building confidence among travelers right now is essential after the events of the last two years. Travel managers should consider a comprehensive Back to Travel campaign that could include updates on the company intranet, training, or an updated travel policy. You could also add new apps like the TSA’s for current wait times. (Teplis provides all travelers with free access to the FlightStats app which informs travelers when a flight is delayed, cancelled or has a changed arrival gate.)
You’ve got travelers going to remote and daunting destinations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and you worry you’re not giving them all the support they might need.
First, in cities where you have offices consider traveler liaisons, local employees who become a primary resource for visiting co-workers. They can become a subject matter expert on local hotels, ground transportation, neighborhoods to avoid, etc. and could be available via the company internet so a traveler can consult them prior to arrival. Risk management partners like International SOS and Crisis24 can relieve anxiety for both you and your travelers by helping to track security issues and provide for such things as emergency evacuation and health care referrals. Other security partners exist offering assistance with events like kidnapping, extortion and terrorism, which can be especially helpful for firms dealing in high risk industries.Symptom
Travelers are booking outside the system and your corporate culture doesn’t allow you to impose a firm mandate to book through your TMC.
When a group of well-established travelers with lots of tenure are used to booking as they please, sometimes technology can be your only option. In this case TripIt is your best answer. A tool for assembling an itinerary from multiple sources, TripIt can also connect to your company’s official online booking tool and automatically share the information about these trips. This allows your travel manager to include the itinerary in reports, as well as duty-of-care lists. The basic app is free to download, but TripIt Pro is only $49 per year, per user and has a lot of useful benefits.
Half your travelers are millennials, or younger, and the other half are middle-aged, or older, and there’s no single hotel chain that would appeal to both as a preferred partner.
Choose a large, multi-brand hotel chain like Marriott, IHG or Hilton as your preferred partner and get all your travelers to enroll in their loyalty program. These chains have properties in the lifestyle category for younger travelers, as well as older, established brands that will be more comfortable for seasoned travelers. Remember you can set up separate policy groups for travelers based on their rank within your online booking tool and for agent reservations. That way you can vary the rules regarding maximum daily rates giving executives more flexibility if desired.
You’ve got a lot of non-employee travel…job applicants, sub-contractors and temporary workers, and you don’t want to give them access to the company card.
Single-use virtual credit cards have been around for a while, and are the best way for guest or infrequent travelers to pay for their airline ticket or hotel stay. The provider issues a unique virtual credit card number and can be locked down by specific purchase, dollar amount or number of transactions, with user permissions completely customizable. Hotel faxes are automatically sent to the property from the system at 72, 48, and 24 hours prior to arrival and reservation data is pushed to the traveler’s mobile device where a new fax can be generated immediately at check-in if required. This solution provides a seamless process that dramatically reduces company risk for fraud, reduces the workload tied to reconciliation and increases program compliance. Ask your TMC which program they offer.
Your fares are too high, and your corporate discounts are too low.
After being told by your TMC that your volume doesn’t warrant getting big discounts, you might think your situation was hopeless, but rest assured, it isn’t. The key is getting industry lowest fares on every trip, maximizing the application of every possible discount and maximizing the use of preferred suppliers. And, of course, getting credit for every dollar your firm spends on airline tickets when it’s time to negotiate. That all translates into having a TMC partner which is willing to go the extra mile in signing you up for airline loyalty programs, in addition to making sure you have a hotel property with discount rates in each location with an office, and then following through on fulfilling that contract with bookings. Benchmarking can be a helpful tool in assessing how well your TMC is doing in all areas.
Hopefully, these triage suggestions can help you effectively deal with any problem areas you have as you transition back to a full travel schedule.
For guidance when booking your next business trip, trust the global travel management experts at Teplis Travel. With a wide range of booking options, we can help you find the best hotel, airline, and car rental rates for your next trip and get spending under control. Contact our Sales Department at (404) 843-7460.