How to save a bundle on business travel

Three steps any size company can take

U.S. business travel spending is projected to increase by 4.9 percent in 2015 and then another 5.4 percent in 2016, according to a recent press release by the Global Business Travel Association. With travel spend on the rise, smart companies are looking for ways to run a more fiscally sound business travel program. And quite often, small improvements can result in big savings. One area in which companies can cinch their belts and pinch some pennies is in their hotel spending. Here are three tactics companies of all sizes can implement to improve their business travel hotel strategies and optimize a more cost-effective travel program.

Policy

Creating hotel policies is the best way to establish standards that will reduce travel costs, encourage productivity, and keep travelers safe. Such guidelines also ensure correctness and consistency throughout the booking and approval process.

A complete hotel policy should reflect the culture of the company and will include details on approved hotel properties, acceptable room rates, and payment/reimbursement methods. Keep in mind that a detailed policy reduces the likelihood of future problems and simplifies the post-trip expense reporting process. Once a policy is in place, it needs to be both consistently communicated and enforced.

Vendor Negotiations

It takes an expert team to keep a business travel program running both smoothly and cost effectively, and having a Travel Management Company (TMC) on your side bumps you into the major leagues. One significant benefit of partnering with a TMC is that you get a qualified negotiator. With a TMC negotiating on your behalf, you will enjoy the benefits of their:

  • Buying power (i.e leverage) to negotiate the best rates
  • Experience in negotiating with hotel vendors
  • Adept understanding of hotel properties, their rates, and potential discounts
  • Ability to quantify and prove your value as a buyer

An experienced TMC knows that travel vendor negotiations can differ from company to company depending on the type of organization, size, geographic scope, and the degree of influence on the vendor. TMCs regularly consult with industry experts and employ sourcing methods to help clients create and manage their entire travel supplier network.

Integrated Technology

Technology makes policy compliance simple. By integrating your company’s hotel policy and negotiated rates with both your online booking tool and full-service reservation options, your company’s business travelers can quickly book pre-approved options. The result is:

  • Short and long-term savings
  • Bookings that stay within company policy
  • Ability to fulfill duty of care responsibilities

For example, Christopherson Business Travel’s technology platform, AirPortal®, provides such integration and as well as a suite of corporate travel management software that can potentially generate considerable cost savings. Two valuable tools within AirPortal that assist in building a favorable hotel strategy are Hotel Attachment and HotelPrepayLogic.

Hotel Attachment

Hotel Attachment is a hotel compliance system that identifies itineraries with missing hotel bookings and provides the traveler with four options to close that gap—1) Make a hotel reservation, 2) Request another reminder for a later date, 3) Attach a hotel reservation made outside the system to the itinerary, 4) Waive the need for a hotel reservation. With Hotel Attachment’s digital reminders, companies can ensure trip plans are complete and hotel compliant prior to travel.

“Low hotel attachment results in weakened vendor negotiations and compromised duty of care,” Christopherson CEO Mike Cameron says. “Hotel Attachment solves these problems. First, it meets the needs of the travelers who want an acceptable hotel included in every itinerary. Second, it meets the needs of the travel manager who wants savings, a knowledge of where travelers are in order to fulfill duty of care responsibilities, and the ability to satisfy the company’s commitments with contracted hotel vendors.”

HotelPrepayLogic

HotelPrepayLogic is a safe, convenient way to pre-authorize payments for hotel reservations. By consolidating hotel spend with one credit card company, you can limit fraud exposure with single use cards while eliminating the need for traveler reimbursements. Additionally, companies can ensure hoteliers actually charge the negotiated rate. With HotelPrepayLogic, hotel billing accuracy is improved as well as operational efficiencies between accounting and travel departments.

Corporate travel programs need to run like a well-oiled machine. After all, Travel and Expense costs are the second most difficult operating expense line item for businesses to control, according to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting. It is imperative that companies consistently evaluate the details of their program. By assessing the effectiveness of their hotel policies, the expertise of their vendor negotiations, and the integration of valuable travel technologies, companies can begin to improve the overall design of their hotel strategy and in turn, the cost-effectiveness of their overall program.

(This sponsored content was provided by Christopherson Business Travel.)

Categories: Company Perspectives, Sponsored Content