Traveler Experience
A 6-Step Guide for Admins of Growing Companies

How to Manage Business Travel Processes After Surpassing 100 Employees

The Navan Team

9 Jul 2024
8 minute read
a small business owner comparing expense report tracker apps

Surpassing 100 employees is a significant milestone for any organization. This achievement marks a pivotal moment in a company's growth trajectory, bringing with it a host of new opportunities and challenges. Among these challenges is managing business travel efficiently and cost-effectively, which becomes increasingly complex as your workforce expands.

Gone are the days when a simple spreadsheet or a handful of travel agency contacts could suffice for coordinating your company's travel needs. With a larger team spread across various departments, possibly multiple locations, and an increasing frequency of business trips, the need for a more sophisticated, cost-effective approach to travel management becomes evident.

This guide will explore effective strategies to streamline your business travel management process. Let's dive in and discover how to transform your business travel management into a strategic asset for your growing company, starting with key strategies for efficient business travel management:

1. Leverage a Comprehensive Travel Management Platform

A robust travel management platform is a necessity today as travel expenses are consistently one of the top operational expenses for companies. Navan, a business travel platform designed to streamline the entire travel management process, is one standout solution in this space. Here's how a platform like Navan can revolutionize your approach to business travel:

• Centralized Policy Management: With Navan, you can add your company's travel policies once and automatically apply them across all bookings. This eliminates the need for manual policy checks and reduces the risk of out-of-policy bookings. 

• All-in-One Booking: Employees can book flights, hotels, car rentals, and trains from a huge, global inventory all on Navan. A full flight, hotel, and car booking takes just 6 minutes on the Navan app. This saves time and ensures that all travel components are tracked within the same system.

• Simplified Expense Management: Finance and accounting teams benefit from easy transaction reconciliation and real-time budget tracking. This visibility helps maintain better control over travel spend and simplifies expense management.

• User-Friendly Interface: The platform's intuitive design makes it easy for employees to adopt, reducing the learning curve and increasing compliance.

• Integration Capabilities: Navan can integrate with your existing HR and finance systems, as well as Gmail and Slack, to create a seamless flow of data across your organization.

Implementing a comprehensive travel management platform like Navan can significantly reduce the administrative burden on your HR and finance teams while providing a better experience for your traveling employees. It's an investment that quickly pays off in terms of time saved, improved policy compliance, and better visibility into travel spend.

Benefits of using a travel management platform

  • Employees see what’s in and out of policy
  • Admins see exactly who booked what
  • Finance saves on travel 

2. Develop a Clear and Comprehensive Travel Policy

Business travel policy for a flight

As your company grows, having a well-defined travel policy becomes increasingly crucial. A good travel policy serves as a guidebook for employees, setting clear expectations and guidelines for business travel. An effective travel policy:

• Defines Acceptable Expenses: Clearly outline what types of expenses the company covers. This should include specifics on flight classes, hotel categories, meal allowances, and incidental expenses.

• Establishes Preferred Vendors: Partner with airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies to negotiate corporate rates. List these preferred vendors in your policy and explain the benefits of using them.

• Details Booking Procedures: Explain how employees should book their travel, whether through the company's travel management platform or via a designated travel coordinator.

• Addresses Expense Reporting: Provide clear instructions on how and when to submit expense reports, including required documentation and deadlines.

• Includes Safety Guidelines: Incorporate travel safety tips and emergency procedures into your policy.

• Considers Sustainability: If your company has sustainability goals, include guidelines on choosing eco-friendly travel options when possible.

• Explains Consequences: Clearly state the consequences of not adhering to the travel policy.

Once you've developed your policy, the next crucial step is effective communication:

• Make it Accessible: Ensure the policy is accessible to all employees, perhaps on your company intranet or within your travel management platform.

• Conduct Training Sessions: Hold regular training sessions to familiarize new employees with the policy and refresh existing employees' knowledge.

• Create a FAQ Section: Anticipate common questions and create a FAQ section to address them.

• Encourage Feedback: Create channels for employees to ask questions or provide feedback on the policy.

Remember, a travel policy is a living document. Your policy should adapt as your business evolves and travel trends change. Schedule regular reviews — at least annually — to ensure your policy remains relevant and effective.

When you onboard your company to Navan, you can add custom policies or get started quickly with our smart suggestions. Because employees book travel in Navan, they see exactly what they can and can’t book for every travel search. 

Navan also lets you create dynamic travel policies that automatically adjust based on fair market value, which means factors like seasonality are taken into account. 

3. Implement an Approval Process

Travel and expense icons

For companies with more than 100 employees, implementing an approval process for business travel can help maintain control over travel spend and ensure trips align with business objectives. 

Here's how to set up an efficient approval system:

• Define Approval Criteria: Clearly outline when pre-approval is necessary. This could be based on trip cost, duration, destination, or purpose.

• Establish an Approval Hierarchy: Determine who has the authority to approve trips. This might vary based on the employee's department or the trip's cost.

• Implement Escalation Procedures: Define a process for escalating approvals if the primary approver is unavailable.

• Allow for Exceptions: While having a structured process is important, build in flexibility for urgent or exceptional cases.

• Provide Timely Feedback: Ensure approvers respond promptly to travel requests, ideally within 24 hours, as this helps keep costs under control. 

By implementing a well-designed approval process, you can ensure that all business travel aligns with company objectives and budgets while providing employees the flexibility they need to do their jobs effectively.

With Navan, you can automate the approvals process based on whether your travelers book in or out of policy. This makes it easier for employees to book travel to get business done and close the best travel rate instead of waiting for their manager or finance to approve it manually and find that the rate expired. 

4. Prioritize Travel Safety and Support

As your employee base grows and business travel increases, it takes even more diligence to prioritize the safety and well-being of travelers. 

Here's how to build a robust travel safety and support program:

• Offer 24/7 Support: Ensure your employees have round-the-clock support for travel-related issues. Navan offers its customers 24/7/365 support over the phone or directly via chat. 

• Implement a Traveler Locating System: In case of emergencies, you should be able to quickly identify which employees are traveling and where they are located. Navan has a traveler dashboard, so you can see where all travelers are, 24/7. 

• Provide Pre-Trip Briefings: For travel to high-risk destinations, offer pre-trip safety briefings to prepare employees for potential challenges.

• Create an Emergency Response Plan: Develop a clear action plan for various emergency scenarios and ensure all relevant parties are familiar with it.

• Conduct Regular Safety Training: Hold periodic safety training sessions for frequent travelers, covering topics like personal safety, health precautions, and cultural sensitivity.

Remember, demonstrating a strong commitment to traveler safety not only protects your employees but also boosts morale and can be a powerful tool for employee retention and recruitment.

5. Leverage Data for Continuous Improvement

Making data-driven decisions about your travel program can lead to significant improvements and cost savings. Here's how to effectively use travel data:

Regular Spend Analysis: Conduct monthly or quarterly analyses of your travel spend. Look for patterns in spending across departments, individuals, and types of travel. Some key metrics include:

• Total travel spend

• Average trip cost

• Policy compliance rate

• Traveler satisfaction scores

• Booking lead time

• Top destinations and routes

• Preferred vendor utilization rates

• Carbon footprint of travel

Identify Cost-saving Opportunities: Use data to spot areas where you can cut costs without sacrificing travel quality. This might involve negotiating better rates with frequently used vendors or adjusting your policy to discourage unnecessarily expensive bookings.

Benchmark Performance: Compare your travel program's performance against industry standards or similar-sized companies to identify areas for improvement.

Analyze Traveler Feedback: Regularly collect and analyze feedback from your business travelers. This can provide valuable insights into the traveler experience and highlight areas needing improvement.

Share Insights: Regularly share key insights with leadership and relevant departments. This can help inform broader business strategies and demonstrate the value of effective travel management.

Navan’s dashboards give you a high-level overview of your company’s travel trends and allow you to dive deeper with filters. You can also build custom reports and set up a sending schedule so stakeholders get access to the right data in a timely manner. 

6. Foster a Culture of Responsible Travel

Creating a culture of responsible travel goes beyond simply having a travel policy — it involves instilling a sense of ownership and accountability in your employees when it comes to business travel. Here's how to cultivate this culture:

• Educate Employees: Regularly communicate the impact of travel choices on the company's bottom line and the environment. Help employees understand how their individual decisions contribute to the bigger picture.

• Encourage Sustainable Choices: Promote environmentally friendly travel options when possible, such as choosing direct flights, using public transportation, or selecting hotels with robust sustainability practices.

• Lead by Example: Ensure leadership adheres to the travel policy and demonstrates responsible travel practices.

• Share Success Stories: Regularly highlight examples of responsible travel within your organization to inspire others.

• Seek Employee Input: Involve employees in discussions about travel policy and practices. Their insights can lead to more effective and widely accepted policies.

Navigate Growth, Elevate Travel Managing business travel for a company with more than 100 employees presents unique challenges, but with the right strategies and tools, it can be transformed from a complex burden into a streamlined, efficient process that rewards employees for their hard work in both money toward personal travel and a better way to book. By leveraging comprehensive travel management platforms like Navan, developing clear policies, prioritizing traveler safety, and making data-driven decisions, you can create a travel program that controls costs, ensures compliance, and enhances the employee experience.

Remember, effective travel management is an ongoing process. Regularly review and refine your approaches, stay attuned to emerging trends in business travel, and always keep the needs of your travelers at the forefront of your decisions. With these strategies in place, you'll be well-equipped to manage business travel effectively, no matter how much your company grows.

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