Five tips: Rolling out an effective travel programme

Murray Skea | 27 February 2014

Murray Skea, director, global sales and service, Asia Pacific, Radius TravelDemand for business travel in Asia continues to rise, with spend in the region reportedly growing 8 per cent annually since 2000, more than doubling in size and totalling $393 billion (£235 billion) in 2012. The Global Business Travel Association expects China will surpass the US as the world’s largest business travel market by 2016.

When managed proactively, travel programmes can produce significant time, resource and cost savings.

Below are five top tips to keep in mind when building or refining your programme:

  1. Understanding the need to travel. Face-to-face business meetings expedite business relationship development. While there is a place for virtual meetings, according to research, 47 per cent of business professionals believe they’ve lost a contract or client because they didn’t have enough in-person time to develop stronger relationships. Meaning, business travel impacts sales volume.
  2. Fine tuning travel policy. Does your travel policy consider HR implications, such as attracting and retaining the best people? Are the airline or hotel mandate policies of your company overly frustrating to your top employees? Frequent flyers want to fly with the safest airlines, with the best on-time records, and stay in the most convenient and comfortable hotels.
  3. Providing duty of care. Companies must take appropriate action to protect travelling employees. Your travel risk management strategy must be based on individual needs, culture, and geographic scope.  Programmes should be customised based on business objectives and requirements.
  4. Finding saving opportunities. Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate. Every company is different, but simple processes and procedures such as creating a common travel policy, consolidating card agreements and payment vendors, and leveraging technologies like expense management systems and online booking tools can drive major savings to your business. Work with a travel management company to determine which solutions are the best fit for your business.
  5. Overcoming internal pushback. Travel is often an emotional subject. Everyone has their opinion on the best approach, policies, requirements, vendors, etc. New vendors and new online tools are continually launched. Be open to new solutions to problems. Seek executive sponsorship, educate your audience, and involve them in the process.

Murray Skea is director, global sales and service, Asia Pacific at Radius Travel. He is presenting a session on 'Rolling out an effective and immediate travel programme across Asia' at the ProcureCon Asia conference in Singapore today

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