The other week, Chris Baker, MD EMEA North, and I were chatting about business travel. We were both just back from trips and were discussing how much the industry has evolved over the last decade. It’s becoming a lot more customer-centric and streamlined. It got us thinking, that just like your go to dish at a dinner party, successful travel is not only about the component parts but the way they are brought together.
Firstly, you need to do your preparation – sorting the recipe, getting ingredients and arranging any equipment. Second is the cooking itself, which needs a constant, careful eye. Lastly, like it or not, is where the washing up, reorganising and payment takes place.
We’ve outlined in this piece for Buying Business Travel what we believe makes for a stand out experience for both SMBs and Enterprises. As Jamie Oliver is fond of saying, it’s all about ensuring you’ve got the basics right, done your prep and are ready to rock:
Pre-trip: The preparation for your meal
You need to pick a recipe, make sure you’ve got the correct tools at hand and source all of your ingredients. At this stage, business travel managers need to start with signing off the trip. Is it needed, does it fit within budget and do the timings work for the wider team? Once this has been agreed, rates are very important to address. Corporate rates are often in play with certain brands, so visibility of these in the booking process will be important.
In fact, data visibility makes up a great deal of the preparation stage, as bookings are often made out of official channels – and without being able to see this, the process will suffer. Any issues regarding visas and days of entry to countries will also need to be planned ahead for.
During the trip: Cooking the meal to the guests’ requirements and presenting this to them
During the trip, communication with the traveller is vital. Duty of care is a huge component so visibility into the wellbeing and whereabouts of the traveller should be prioritised. This can come down to small change in guidance and policy, such as requesting travellers use trackable automotive apps such as Uber, to ensure that they don’t fall into the well-known black hole between their flight and arriving at their accommodation.
There also needs to be clear lines of communication with the traveller – delays and cancellations need to be relayed, tips to aid productivity (you have access to this airport lounge, your hotel will take 45 minutes to reach) shared and emergency messaging and location for duty of care available.
Post-trip: Finishing up; Clearing up the trip, washing up and ensuring that everything is put back where it should be
Some of the most important work from a travel managers side will come after the trip has concluded. Expenses, regardless of whether they have been submitted during of post-trip, will need to be audited and signed off. These will then need to be reimbursed. There will need to be checks on possible VAT reclamation and the tax that may be due from crossing and working in different countries. Again, having visibility into the traveller’s data is imperative to ensuring that all lose ends have been tied up.
All that’s left to say is bon appetit!