Your travel program has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line, so it’s essential that travel managers, travel buyers, procurement, and finance understand its effectiveness.
While it may be clear when your program is thriving, there are also signs that your program has reached a plateau. These can include declining traveler adoption, stagnant products and services, as well as persistent challenges.
These are far from the only signs that your travel program is not performing as well as it could. To better understand your program performance, you need to take a close look at your travel in detail to evaluate your products, services, and processes.
Here are the best ways to ensure your program is performing up to par.
Evaluating Your Travel Program’s Effectiveness
Your company’s travel is an essential and complex business function. An optimized program delivers measurable cost containment, robust technology, high-touch customer service, and – most importantly – supports risk management. These are a lot of moving parts, which have to satisfy both your travelers and your organization in order to be effective.
To get an accurate picture of whether your program is performing well, start by soliciting feedback from a cross-section of stakeholders such as finance, procurement, and HR. Additionally, you’ll want to understand the perspectives of both your road warriors and your infrequent travelers. This can help you identify opportunities for improvement and provide valuable insight if you’re struggling with program compliance.
Too often, corporate travel programs are written off as necessary expenses without understanding the value they bring to organizations. Data analytics tools can provide insight into how the travel program impacts not only the bottom line but every part of the company.
Business trips provide companies with value by giving your people face-to-face time with their colleagues, clients, and prospects. The unique benefits your travel program generates are dependent on your organization’s goals. For example, if your sales team travels to close important deals, that may be an area of effectiveness to review. You can also work with HR to benchmark and review your traveler retention rates.
Additionally, there are a series of metrics you can use to quantify the success of your travel program. You’ll want to see an ongoing increase YOY in the following areas:
- Cost savings, including supplier discounts
- Traveler adoption rates
- Advanced purchase behaviors
- Preferred vendor compliance
- Volume target achievements
- Unused ticket usage
Evaluate your TMC partner and service providers
An effective travel management company (TMC) will help you save time, increase productivity, reduce costs and improve duty of care. To assess your partner, you’ll need to identify exactly what you need from the relationship.
Key questions to ask:
- Are we happy with the level of support and communication we receive from the TMC?
- How has the TMC helped us to improve our travel tools and services?
- Is the TMC meeting our duty of care requirements?
Likewise, you’ll need to assess your agreements with service providers like airlines and hotels. If you’ve increased the number of travelers you send to a specific region or city, you may be able to secure additional discounts, for example. If your TMC is not proactively advising you on these key opportunities, it may be time to start the search for a new partner.
Create an action plan for improvement
Before you create an action plan for improvement, evaluate your program by:
- Reviewing your metrics to determine if your travel program has hit a slump.
- Assess your relationships with your TMC and service providers.
- Check if your travel program is in alignment with your business goals.
Depending on where you’ve spotted gaps in your current program, you may need to separate your action plan into sections. Consider these four categories:
- Travel policy: Your travel policy has a significant impact on your organization’s ability to save money and retain high-performing employees. It should be updated annually to reflect regulatory changes, travel trends and new business goals.
- Program savings: There is more than one path toward savings. You should look for ways to improve your relationships with service providers and address ways to improve contracts. Savings may also come from new investments in technologies and booking processes.
- Technology and innovation: New corporate travel tools appear all the time. Evaluate these new digital tools and determine if they can help you reach your goals. Technology can help you provide better travel experiences and robust duty of care.
- Traveler experience: Before, during and after each trip, travelers should feel satisfied, safe, and comfortable. Look for ways to enhance traveler visibility and ensure all solutions are easily accessible.
After identifying where your program can improve, you can work with a TMC partner to identify the best travel stack for each area.