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Why is compliancy so important for Business Travellers?

Sep 7, 2015

2015 has been an era of advancing technology; opening bookings and mobile apps that allow the user to stay connected and have access to a plethora of information at the click of a few buttons. Your business travel policy, however robust, is hard to police and enforce amongst your young, tech-savvy travellers.

The latest generation of business travellers, affectionately referred to as ‘Generation Y’ are considered to be mobile mavericks, tempted by the ease of a quick booking online and scanning the internet for a deal that will earn them significant loyalty points. It’s estimated that by 2020, 320 million international business trips will be taken by Generation Y, equipped with their mobile smartphones and their travel preferences. But what effect does this have on your travel solution?

Whether managed internally by a dedicated travel team or outsourced to a Travel Management Company (TMC), the effects of unmanaged travel are not just limited to the bottom line, but to a host of imperative functions in order to maintain and in time, evolve, your current travel solution. The team here at Business Travel Direct have listed our two top reasons why compliant travel is critical to the success of your travel management.

1. Data

One of the key aspects senior management will need to understand, particularly if you have large organisation with many travellers in many different destinations, is overall travel spend. Whether your current solution is outsourced or managed in-house, a key element of travel management and maintaining a robust policy is to provide some style of reporting to analyse travel data. This is often submitted weekly, monthly or annually, and provides insight into how your current solution is operating.

Reporting can be on a whole host of levels; from CO2 emissions to key destinations, frequent travellers, supply chain and of course, travel spend. Far more than just pie charts and bar graphs, travel data can be interrogated to understand where improvements could be made or where significant savings were made. When a traveller books outside of the preferred booking channel, this data can be lost, slipping under the radar and therefore not providing a full picture to analyse. This data can be utilised at key stages of your travel cycle; in particular when it comes to RFP processes with suppliers. During negotiations with your preferred suppliers, it’ll do your organisation wonders to provide a detailed list of travel activity (how much you’ve spent, how often you use that particular supplier, how you plan to increase this over a given time frame).

Data ultimately will be the driving force that will assist you in building partnerships that can bring down your travel costs; unmanaged travel will not attribute to these figures and on a large-scale, will not provide you with the leverage you need to secure a great deal.

Interrogating and understanding the data will, over time, allow you to evolve your travel policy and make it as robust and fit for purpose as possible. Data will give you key insights to the requirements of your travellers, how far in advance they usually book and what adjustments could be made to the booking process to drive down costs. An online booking tool is tailored to your organisations’ travel policy and by interrogating travel data over a 3 or 4 month period, you may decide that a stricter approval process may need to be in place for any travel that is not booked at least 2 weeks in advance. Without having the necessary information in front of you, this would go unnoticed and ultimately, your travel spend will have significant gaps (or what’s known as ‘leakage’ in the travel management industry).

Historically, a robust travel policy is built upon identifying travel behaviour and implementing specific processes in place to accommodate this. An element of this is of course understanding the need for flexibility, but in those circumstances in is imperative that the relevant staff or senior management are notified and the approval decision should ultimately lie with them.

Capturing key travel data can also help you align your travel policy with your business objectives; we have many clients who prioritise green travel solutions over cost reduction, and therefore require detailed CO2 reports to ensure they offset their carbon footprint accordingly or interrogate their supply chain to ensure it suits their green objectives. Unmanaged travel will ultimately mean travel that has slipped under the radar and prevents you from putting suitable processes in place to achieve your objectives, whatever they may be.

2. Duty of Care

Mobile technology is infiltrating all aspects of our lives, including the world business travel. Mobile boarding passes, travel alerts, master itinerates, helpful apps that will reduce travel fatigue and jetlag; there’s an app for everything. Bookings made via a travel app are becoming more prevalent, with an estimated rise of 20% compared with desktop bookings in 2014. Consequentially, travel managers are evolving to suit this trend – Business Travel Direct in particular are able to capture data made from open bookings if the traveller simply forwards an email confirmation to us.

However, whilst mobile bookings are significantly increasing with the commercialisation of smart phone technology, the importance of looking after your travellers whilst they are away on business is also increasing. Concur recently stated that corporations now have a legal requirement to fulfil Duty of Care to travelling employees, as in a court of law, an organisation could be fined as much as 10% of their turnover if they do not have the correct protocols in place to protect travelling members of staff. It’s no longer simply an ethical obligation, but since the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act of 2007, it’s evolved into the legal sphere. A traveller using an iPad to book a flight abroad isn’t just implicating him/herself, but the company as a whole, as that employee will receive no pre-trip briefing and have no means of being risk assessed should something happen. However robust your Duty of Care process is, without knowing who is travelling at what time, it suddenly becomes redundant.

Our SMARTtrack platform is powered by industry giants Concur and provides us with the best technology available on the market to track and communicate with every traveller that makes a booking through us. It’s designed to be as accurate as possible, syncing with our booking systems – both online and offline – every 20 minutes to ensure every trip detail is recorded, alongside up-to-date contact details should we need to communicate with our travellers in the case of an emergency. Needless to say, if SMARTtrack doesn’t know an individual is travelling, it cannot risk assess against international newsfeeds or send out relevant health and safety communications.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single square metre of the planet that isn’t susceptible to an emergency that could impact the health and safety of anyone in the area; from unpredictable weather, natural disasters and political unrest; there’s no escaping the fact that travellers cannot go out on a whim without the necessary risk assessment protocols in place first. An unmanaged traveller is a traveller that is, metaphorically speaking, unarmed or protected in a world where anything could happen. Dropping off the corporate travel radar, however harmless, can have devastating effects should something happen whilst travelling. Communication and team work is key to a successful and robust Duty of Care policy, and whilst travel needs to have elements of flexibility, a traveller also needs to be aware of any potential dangers or have a means of arranging alternative transportation should something happen.