Perhaps it is easier to define managed travel by saying what it is not.
It is not employees making their own flights, on any airline, in any class with no deadline defined to make a reservation. It is not employees booking a hotel room regardless of the cost. It is not employees reserving rental cars regardless of class, size and rate.These are examples of “unmanaged” travel. And while the freedom to make arrangements in such a manner is enticing, it can be a nightmare for the company and the employee.
Managed travel in its simplest form is the coordination of all business travel activities by a company program which has policies and processes to assist in employee compliance.
Managed Travel usually requires a dedicated employee to oversee the program. Depending on the size, scope and complexity of the company, this can be a position that assumes other duties, or there might be multiple people involved with solely managing a business travel program. These individuals, often known as Travel Managers, serve as a point of contact with the company – such as Acendas Travel – that provides the managed travel services. These companies, often referred to as Travel Management Companies (TMCs) employ the people and technology that facilitates one’s securing of travel services – most commonly air, hotel and rental cars. The TMCs work with the company to develop a policy for staff to adhere to.
Staff of a TMC includes agents for travelers to use if they are not able or prefer not to use online booking technology, operational support to help companies utilize technology platforms that are part of the program, and program managers who help companies maximize the return on their investment in managed travel. This comes in the form of negotiated savings, monitoring program compliance, and offering data and analytics as to what changes can be made in the program to increase its value. The TMC also offers a team of individuals to help in the implementation of the program once the contract is signed.
Managed travel programs come in many formats and models, but the primary goal of each is to manage expenses. Savings are realized from negotiated rates that are typically lower than what one would find by booking as an individual. In addition, expenses are minimized by following the policy which defines the options available for travel services. The TMC has the ability to track such purchases to determine if employees are in compliance with the program – a benefit not realized in unmanaged travel.
Managed travel also has other advantages such as adding efficiency to operations. Rather than wasting staff time to find the best rates and coordinate logistics, the travel management company has online resources to discern one’s needs and options in seconds. For the company, the TMCs ability to aggregate data and information is a huge plus. Through online means, receipts are assigned to an expense along with credit card information, eliminating the manual process of stapling receipts to a handwritten form. The reporting on the front end is more simplified and timely.
The technology provided by the TMCs also results in better tracking of and communications with travelers. Imagine having a sales team flying to a meeting and their connection is canceled prior to landing for a connection. Through text, chat, voice and email connection can be made with the travelers to offer and book other options with a few swipes and click of a button.
From the traveler perspective, managed travel resources are likely to ensure a better travel experience. Delays and cancellations can still happen, but the TMC has the experience and resources to address them in a more timely, effective and efficient manner.
If your company does little traveling, then implementing a managed travel program is likely not going to yield enough benefits to offset the time to implement it. However, if your company has a travel spend as low as $200,000 annually for air, hotel and rental car, then such a program is likely to benefit you. Any travel management company should be able to demonstrate the savings to you in comparison to current practices.
If you are interested in learning more about Acendas Travel and managed travel, we offer a wealth of resources to assist: