Insights & Trends
Your First Corporate Managed Travel Program

Checklists For Your First Corporate Managed Travel Program

Rich Beattie

24 Jun 2024
9 minute read
Managed Travel

Business travel is an essential part of any company’s operation, no matter how big or small. And while booking trips and paying for travel may seem straightforward, business travel is one of the most challenging and nuanced processes for many companies.

What if you could get more out of your travel program, keep your employees safer, and achieve cost savings in the process?

You can — with a managed travel program.

Managed travel brings order to the essential function of business trips and offers plenty of other benefits. But looking for a managed travel solution that best fits your company’s needs for business trips can be challenging. That’s exactly why we’ve compiled some checklists for you on what to look for.

What Is a Managed Travel Program?

Managed travel systematizes a company’s business travel, giving it the tools and structure to run the program efficiently and effectively. It enables companies to set policies for their traveling employees, provides data and reporting tools, helps maintain duty of care, and much more. A managed travel program may also come with an expense management system where employees can report their expenses.

What Are the Benefits of a Managed Travel Program?

Managed travel results in all sorts of benefits. Here are some of the upsides:

Managed Travel Checklists: What to Look For

Get the checklists as a PDF.

Checklist #1: Implementation of a Managed Travel Program

When it comes to implementation of managed travel, consider simplicity and time to launch, system integration capabilities, and traveler onboarding and adoption. If done poorly, you get stuck with a system that takes weeks or even months to get up and running, it doesn’t fit with your tech stack or workflows, and no one knows how to use it — so no one does.

___ It’s quick and easy to get the system up and running.

Find out how long the setup has taken other customers, both operationally and with the rollout to employees.

___ It offers dedicated support.

Is there an experienced team available to help you effectively launch the solution to travelers via proven templates and best practices?

___ It can adapt to the workflows you’re building and scaling internally.

Does the managed travel solution fit in or clash with other systems (such as HR or expense management) you’re using as part of your current business ops tech stack?

___ It will quickly deliver measurable ROI.

Work with vendors during the evaluation process to determine where each can deliver tangible value. Partnering on an ROI analysis will give you a good idea of what results you can expect.

Checklist #2: Travel Policy & Inventory in Managed Travel

A good way to achieve peak performance from your managed travel program is by incorporating flexibility (within reason, obviously). Investing in dynamic policy capabilities, varied inventory from a wide variety of sources, and intelligent tech that surfaces personalized results for your travelers will help your program succeed. Think of how you can provide a consumer-like experience for the company’s business trips while keeping travel costs in check with pre-set, dynamic parameters.

___ It surfaces a wide variety of inventory across flights, hotels, cars, and rail.

Look for inventory featured on popular consumer sites; travelers who can’t find options they’d find on sites such as Priceline or Kayak often look outside the provided solution. Also check that the solution enables New Distribution Capability (NDC) when possible, which offers travel cost savings and other benefits on flights.

___ It surfaces all available flight and fare details across suppliers within the platform.

Let travelers consider their preferred fare class, whether premium economy or business, and see all info per specific flight (e.g., cancellations, seat type, on-time percentages, etc.) while also understanding what falls within their own policy limits.

___ It allows travelers to search flexible date ranges for flights.

If your travelers have some wiggle room with their travel dates, this feature can help them book the most cost-conscious option.

___ It lets travelers book their hotels, flights, car rentals, and more in one place.

Bonus points if the solution neatly organizes individual business and personal travel itineraries so that details are always easily accessed.

___ It offers group travel booking capability.

The importance of group travel for team offsites and industry gatherings has made it essential to streamline the process for group travel.

___ It lets you easily set and apply flexible policies that account for the who, where, and when of every individual itinerary.

Executives should be able to book, say, business class while your field team can book premium economy. And the system must realize that New York CIty, for example, is pricier than Boise, especially during a conference. Look for a solution that lets you accommodate all needs automatically.

___ It can calculate a fair market price for each search depending on location, dates, etc. while considering lower static travel costs you’ve set as part of your policy.

By showing fair pricing within each search, you empower travelers to make responsible spending decisions.

___ It offers a variety of filters to use on search results.

Think price, flight time of day, hotel distance, review score, airline alliances or loyalty programs, etc.

___ It pulls in inventory from various technology integrators.

Look for solutions that offer New Distribution Capability (NDC), along with consumer aggregators such as Expedia and

___ It matches supplier-direct pricing while also layering in heavily discounted corporate and consumer rates.

No markups plus big discounts equals travel cost savings.

___ It gives travelers the option to book with their preferred suppliers and gain loyalty points.

Traveler profiles allow employees to input loyalty club numbers, for instance, helping them to easily sort according to preferred providers.

___ It allows office managers, EAs, or recruiters to easily book and manage others’ trips.

Trust us — bookers and bookees will thank you.

Checklist #3: Visibility and Scalability of a Managed Travel Program

The only way to get control over travel spend is to see who’s traveling where and how much they’re spending — and analyze these trends so you can make more informed decisions. Gaining visibility into the many facets of business travel operations offers advantages as you work to corral costs. As a result, you’ll grow your business more — and your managed travel solution should be capable of scaling alongside you.

___ It offers visibility into each individual’s spend and allows you to track travel costs across departments and cost centers.

Taking a closer look at the company’s top savers and spenders will help you plan and allocate resources more effectively.

___ It offers visibility into your travelers’ upcoming and past trip itineraries.

If you ever need to, you should be able to access the specific details of every single business trip.

___ It provides duty of care by showing you where all your travelers are and enabling you to get in touch with them.

In case of a natural disaster or other emergency, duty of care dictates that you locate and contact all travelers to ensure their safety.

___ It offers real-time dashboards that show you the information most important to you.

For instance, see how much your company is saving in travel costs, who your top saving travelers are, which departments are spending the most, or which suppliers are booked the most, and make better decisions based on what you see over time.

___ It offers robust reporting capabilities.

Make sure you can customize and pull the specific reports you need (think of what these are prior to evaluating), then identify trends so you can make data-driven decisions and adjust travel policies to be more effective.

___It helps identify KPIs that will best measure the effectiveness of the organization’s travel policy.

Overall spend and traveler adoption rates are two key KPIs.

___ It uses generative AI to track and visualize your company’s travel spend data.

The technology can analyze vast amounts of data and return results — including cost-saving recommendations — instantly.

___ It’s easy to set up and train multiple designated admins with certain privileges.

For example, while they may require higher-level access, recruiters and EAs should have different permissions than those in accounting.

___ It supports admins and travelers as you grow and scale — at home and around the world.

A solution that supports global teams and consolidates reporting will simplify bookings and insights, even as your organization expands.

Checklist #4: Traveler Experience In a Managed Travel Program

After putting the right permissions and parameters in place, you should be able to trust your travelers to do the right thing and treat company money as their own. Encourage high adoption of the managed travel solution by making the process and experience of booking and taking business trips as easy and flexible as possible. The solution should put people before rigid or outdated travel policies and tools.

___ It makes traveler experience a priority without sacrificing cost considerations.

You shouldn’t have to choose between your employees and your bottom line.

___ It surfaces personalized booking options for each traveler.

By leveraging generative AI to surface more personalized and relevant search results, your solution should make it easier and faster for employees to make bookings for their business trips and get back to their jobs.

___ It offers around-the-clock proactive agency support.

24/7/365 global travel support ensures your employees won’t ever feel like they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

___ It offers a user experience that’s similar to consumer sites.

To maximize adoption, your managed travel solution should provide an experience on a par with the consumer tools employees are accustomed to using.

___ It lets travelers receive support through a variety of channels.

Empower employees to communicate in whichever way is easiest, whether through in-app chat while on the go or email at home.

___ It lets employees set up individual traveler profiles with personal preferences.

Help employees book options within policy while still taking loyalty club memberships, seat preferences, passport info, and more into account.

___ It offers a personal travel option.

Employees should be able to extend their business trips for personal reasons if they choose and take advantage of the same great deals offered through business travel. And records should be kept private from employers.

___ It incentivizes travelers for saving company money.

Employees often look at policy caps as goals instead of limits. The platform should reward them when they book cost-conscious business trips that saves their company money.

Put these checklists to use — they'll help speed your company's transition from unmanaged to managed travel and give you the peace of mind that you've factored in the most important elements.

Get the checklists as a PDF.

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