Business travel is a huge industry. Global business travel spend is forecasted to reach 1.47 trillion U.S. dollars by 2026, according to Statista. But what is this money being spent on?
When you think of business travel cost centers, you might imagine booking air travel, hotels, restaurants, and event venues. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg—there may also be significant management costs involved in travel planning.
With inflation pushing up the cost of travel, finance managers and travel managers are increasingly looking for ways to realize cost savings.
Many companies are choosing to invest in automation solutions to modernize their business travel programs. An effective software tool can streamline the travel planning process, saving time and money.
And this is where travel procurement comes into play:
What is business travel procurement?
“Procurement” means sourcing and obtaining goods and services for a business. In short, it means purchasing something a company needs—from raw materials to office supplies, hardware, or software.
The procurement process involves:
- Understanding your company’s requirements
- Understanding legal or regulatory requirements
- Planning the purchase
- Researching different providers
- Selecting an option
- Managing budgeting and payment
Different stakeholders may be responsible for business travel procurement services. Some companies have a dedicated procurement manager. In other companies, the responsibility may fall to a travel manager, admin, finance manager, HR manager, or a combination of these.
Travel procurement may involve booking business trips and making travel arrangements directly, but it could also involve choosing a travel management company or software tool.
Travel booking tools make the business travel planning process a lot easier. They can help you save money through exclusive corporate travel discounts and flexible booking options. They can also help you enforce and administer travel policies, organize bookings and expense reports all in one place, and offer data-driven insights to optimize travel spend.
When procuring a travel booking tool for your organization, be sure to consider:
Company travel needs
How often do company team members travel on business? And what types of trips are these—meetings, conferences, offsites, or relocations, for example?
Depending on your company’s needs, you may require different types of travel planning solutions. For example, if your company runs a lot of events or offsites, you will benefit from a solution like TravelPerk Events. Using the platform, you can make bookings, manage attendees, share itineraries, and communicate changes, all in one place.
If your travelers often need to change or cancel their plans, look for a solution like TravelPerk’s FlexiPerk program. Pay a small fee on each trip, and you can make every trip refundable. Travelers can cancel at any time up until two hours before travel, and get 80% or more of the trip cost back.
And if you often have guests joining your employees on business trips (like family members, spouses, clients, or partners), be sure your platform offers a guest profile option. This way, admins can manage travel for those external individuals, or they can be given limited access to the platform without seeing sensitive company information.
User experience and customer support
When sourcing a travel management platform or online booking tool, choose an option that offers a modern user interface that travelers will be comfortable with. This will encourage them to keep using the platform, while improving the traveler experience.
Along the same lines, you’ll want to make sure the platform’s customer support team is up to scratch. They should be able to offer customer support in the languages you need for all travelers, and should have high standards for customer care.
With TravelPerk, you can receive 24/7 in-app customer support from real humans (not bots), with a 15-second response time.
Duty of care
Fast, effective customer support is also essential to meet your duty of care and risk management obligations. Travelers should be able to easily reach someone in case of an emergency. They should also have access to essential travel information and risk notifications during the journey.
In addition, you should be able to track where they are, so you can act quickly if they need help and ensure traveler safety.
Your provider should offer a sufficient inventory with many options for flights, car rentals, and accommodation. They should also offer pricing that fits your needs and budget when booking travel.
Make sure your booking tool’s inventory includes the options that are most important to your company—like train tickets if your travel program includes a lot of domestic trips, or airfares if you often book international travel.
If your company is working towards corporate sustainability goals, your business travel software should help you achieve them. Some booking tools offer carbon offsetting and reporting right within the platform (TravelPerk does this with the GreenPerk program.) This way, you can make sure your organization is traveling sustainably and meeting your emissions reduction targets.
Try to find a tool that offers an analytics dashboard, so you can understand how, when, and where people are traveling. With access to data on travel patterns, you’ll be able to:
- Find and reduce inefficiencies
- Identify opportunities for cost savings
- Make the travel expense management and bookkeeping process easier
- Visualize trends and present them to stakeholders
Finally, it’s helpful to choose a travel service that will automate travel policy compliance. By automating approvals and adding your travel policies directly to the platform, you can ensure compliance, while still giving travelers the freedom to choose their preferred booking options.
If you’re responsible for business travel procurement and want to try out TravelPerk, book a free demo for more information and to see the software in action.