Business Travel Management
Planning a Team Offsite Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Planning a Team Offsite Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Samantha Shankman

20 Sep 2022
7 minute read
Team building activity.

The original Navan mission—to power the in-person connections that move people, ideas, and businesses forward—has never been more important.

A recent study in the Harvard Business Review by two social psychologists stressed the importance of in-person communication, especially when brainstorming, problem-solving, fostering teamwork, and building camaraderie. According to the research, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email when sending a message.

“People tend to overestimate the power of persuasiveness via text-based communication and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication,” the researchers concluded.

Organizational behavior experts believe that one-on-one meetings and team-building activities result in higher employee engagement, deeper strategic planning, and more successful teams. And nearly 100% of people say in-person meetings are essential for their business relationships!

Companies historically receive $12.50 in value for every dollar invested in travel, but we’d argue the ROI is even higher when it comes to offsite meetings. In fact, one could argue that post-pandemic,it’s never been more important for teams to start seeing one another again.

COVID-19 forced companies and employees worldwide to go virtual and miss out on the coveted in-person brainstorms, team meetings, and icebreakers at happy hours that make work more productive and enjoyable. Employees got used to living inside of computers. But we all know that company culture needs more than apps designed for text-based communication to truly work..

As travel rebounds, employees are eager to get back on the road and reconnect with colleagues. In a recent Navan customer survey, 76% of respondents said they miss in-person interaction with their teams. And even though 72% of companies plan to adopt a hybrid working model moving forward, 49% expect teams to travel more than before, all to foster in-person collaboration.

Bringing distributed team members together will be critical in the coming months to increase collaboration and strengthen the company culture. But with changing regulations and more distributed workforces, event organizers face a unique situation. They need to keep travelers safe and guide them through health procedures and country restrictions; at the same time, they need to ensure compliance with company policy and provide visibility into the environmental effect of their travel.

What to Look For in a Corporate Travel Partner When Planning a Team Offsite

When thinking about the broad architecture of a typical corporate travel management program, the tools for planning a team offsite may not immediately come to mind as critical technology. But the reality of handling travel for global or even mid-sized organizations and their team members means that some degree of group travel will always end up happening.

A prime application of group travel or a meetings and events practice comes into play when planning a team offsite. Companies must book blocks of rooms and meeting spaces for their team members to plan, hold team meetings, and execute a meeting agenda. When travel managers can leverage that volume of 50 or 100 rooms needed for the offsite, better pricing power can be returned to the team.

Now, scale that up to a larger team offsite meeting like a Sales Kick-Off where 300 members of the sales org need to fly into the same airport hotel for a short week of team building and need 300 rooms to support that cause. Or take it to the fully remote teams at GitLab or Automattic that regularly fly all staff out to company retreats.

Each opportunity allows travel managers to negotiate better rates and fares based on a higher volume commitment to hotels and airlines. But the right tools must be baked into the corporate travel platform to make that happen.

The Most Innovative Tools for Planning a Team Offsite

In June 2021, Navan introduced a team travel solution for new hybrid work models: Navan Team Travel. This innovative new solution offers customers an intuitive booking platform that takes these considerations into account, helping users make the best decisions for their team’s travel while streamlining the booking process. 

Key team travel features include

  • Event Creation: Create and customize events for up to 50 team members based on preferences in just a few clicks. 
  • Estimated Event Travel Budgets: Navan AI algorithms help estimate the overall event travel cost with a high level of accuracy using Navan tools like median price calculations and the price-to-beat technology. 
  • Seamless Guided Self-Serve Experience: Facilitators can configure their events and invite participants directly from the event creation page, notifying participants and guiding them through the entire travel booking process. 
  • Smart Handoff for Room Blocks: Meeting and event organizers can request support from the Meetings & Events team at Navan to secure a hotel room block and meeting space directly in the event creation process. 
  • Guest Invite: Empower participants to invite an extra guest and book on their behalf. Guests are notified with all of their itinerary information.

In September 2021, Navan went even further to bring companies new levels of service and support by introducing the enhanced Meetings and Events Suite that meets the needs of every business, from those organizing small team offsites to complex international group travel.

The new solution pairs Navan's Team Travel product with Reed & Mackay’s award-winning Meetings and Events (M&E) services, including a dedicated event team, dynamic budget management, group travel experts, and 24-hour on-site assistance for proactive support. It combines a state-of-the-art booking platform with experienced agents that provide boutique support for high-touch events.

While Navan Team Travel helps users make the best decisions for their team’s offsite meeting travel and streamlines the entire booking and management process, with Reed & Mackay’s event experts, customers within the Navan Group can now complement that technology with high-end support for large team offsites, complex international group travel, executive and high profile meetings, strategic programs and more. Reed & Mackay's award-winning M&E experts have 15+ years of experience in dealing with complex itineraries and unique requests.

With Navan data showing a nearly 6x year-over-year increase in business travel bookings between Fall 2022 and Fall 2022, it’s clear that companies are ready to get back on the road — and need team travel tools to do so most efficiently and enjoyably. 

KPIs for a Successful Team Travel Program 

With all the factors of a successful Meetings and Events program on the table, it’s now worth looking at how managers can measure performance.

Higher Adoption

Traditional corporate travel management programs are saddled with low adoption rates because travelers simply want to book through preferred consumer channels. When rolling out a new tool for team offsite travel, it’s worth asking how well-received the workflows and program will be for facilitators and the team members using the tools.

Aspects that drive high user adoption rates in meetings and events platforms include a range of available inventory and experiential factors like ease-of-use and user-friendly design. If the team travel solution in mind can’t drive user adoption up and ease the process of setting an offsite agenda, it’s worth asking whether it’s worth implementing.

Visibility, Control, and Real-time Reporting

High adoption and tight control over small group and team travel should also bring better spend visibility and control for the facilitator. And much of that capability and visibility can come from digital technologies baked into the platform.

Take a powerful invite tool: by harnessing small group bookings into one tool, a travel manager can see who has booked what itinerary and where each person is in the travel process day-to-day. Navan, for example, has a live traveler map that shows where each traveler is in a particular corporate travel program. Extending that to a team offsite or the larger Meetings and Events space, a travel manager should be able to see where everyone coming to the Sales Kickoff currently is in transit, when they check-in, and where the liabilities come into play.

Since everything is also booked in the digital platform, it’s easier to pull templates and reporting on spend, view flight manifests, and push flight notifications and processes for voiding tickets en masse. Compare that to the analog process required when the next team offsite or team meeting gets canceled and the value should be obvious.

Happier Finance Organizations

If anyone’s stomach churned at the thought of capturing 300 taxi receipts from a company offsite where an entire team has to move from the meeting to the dinner venue, it should be obvious how a powerful Meetings and Events platform can make finance teams happier.

The obvious benefit of a well-integrated system is that travel for team offsites—whether air, hotel, motor coach, or white water raft—can all be harnessed into simpler, easier invoices rather than managing hundreds of disparate expenses. But taking that a step further, in situations where every traveler needs to file personalized expenses (say when each travel needs to book a flight from a different origin), it should be easy to constrain all of those bookings to one block of expenses and pull a report on that spend.

A digital platform is indeed the only way to facilitate many of these capabilities—and not every organization may be ready to move away from fully analog meetings and events when planning a team offsite. But as inventory, distribution channels, booking platforms, and travelers move into the digital era, adopting these technologies may be the most efficient and financially prudent route possible to foster brainstorming, problem-solving, teamwork, and camaraderie with team-building activities.

Learn more about how Navan can help your team get together more often.

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