Whether your company is in the early stages of entering the global market or is already a well-established multinational brand, creating a consolidated global travel program can be exciting but stressful if the necessary pieces aren’t in place.
Travel managers are faced with pressures from their organization to constantly evolve and optimize their travel program now more than ever, especially since worldwide business travel spending is quickly approaching pre-pandemic levels. That's why it is crucial to take the time to research and understand the significant investment needed to successfully unify a corporate travel program across all channels.
Here are six essential steps to take before creating your global travel policy and launching your global travel program.
Define Key Objectives
Start the process by defining success and communicating those objectives to your global stakeholders. Establish tangible, specific goals and bring all key decision makers in on the process. This may feel like an unnecessary first step, but since nearly all travel managers (98%) anticipate company travel policy changes in the coming months, getting on the same page with stakeholders now will ensure a smoother transition into new markets later.
Invest in Global Relationships, Locally
It is critical to have buy-in on both the global and local levels when kick-starting a global program. Having a strong consolidation group in each location means you will have the support you need on the ground. When searching for a global travel partner, look for someone who can draw on their experiences such as an executive team made up of international members. This ensures you are working with a travel management company that can use their global relationships to not only help you strategize, but deliver on your program goals.
Collect Relevant Data
Work with stakeholders across your global program to consolidate and unify travel data. If you do not currently have a centralized home to view data quickly and easily, consider implementing a tool that brings data together across multiple systems to reveal insights through smart visualizations. It may feel like an extra step, but it is important to find meaningful relationships within the data to tell the story of your travel program’s performance more effectively.
Understand Local Culture
When conducting business worldwide, the same solutions and processes that work in one market do not automatically work in another. Local traditions – even as simple as handshakes or business card etiquette – can vary greatly from region to region. Focus on learning local culture requirements and incorporate those subtleties into your program. Not only is it a sign of respect and vital to maintain employee safety, but understanding cultural nuances can be a critical step in avoiding misunderstandings that could lead to ruining a business relationship or losing a deal.
Reevaluate Your Technology
As your global footprint expands, needs that were previously a low priority might quickly increase in relevancy. For example, travelers entering new markets may find themselves in need of risk management tools on a more formalized, global scale. Implementing a platform such as Crisis24 enables you to monitor threats, view security alerts, and identify team members who may be exposed.
In the unfortunate case that a threat does occur, having access to reliable technology is vital for the safety of your employees. Most recently, Direct Travel assisted a non-profit organization and longtime client in getting their team out of Tel Aviv after flights were canceled. They shared the following:
“In these difficult days, it’s been of extraordinary comfort to know you all have been working to take care of us. Many of the other guests here were on their own and were overwhelmed and scared. It meant so much to me – as the group leader – to tell my team that we had you all looking out for us.”
Customizable, flexible technology helps fulfill next-level duty of care for your travelers and is a vital step to entering the global market.
Establish a Change Management Team
Taking a travel management program global is a complex undertaking, but the process can run more smoothly if the proper preparation is done well in advance of the shift. The more you engage key stakeholders, form a team of seasoned change managers, and have an in-depth understanding of each local market, the more prepared your organization will be to evolve from local to global.
Keep in mind that when you take your travel program global, you don’t have to do it alone. An experienced travel management company can help with the prep work and partner with you throughout the entire process.
Through our Direct ATPI global network, we provide our clients with a scalable solution. We combine the access, influence, and consistency of a steadfast global brand with the local knowledge, personal touch, and sector-specific expertise of an on-the-ground travel management company. If you think it might be time to consolidate your travel program, our team is ready to assist.