Business travel coordination has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. With the rise in remote and hybrid workplaces, all your employees may not be in the same city, adding more complexity to travel coordination for administrative managers. It only gets more complicated as the peak travel season coincides with conference planning timelines for Q3. As a result, managers and coordinators often struggle with challenges such as delayed estimates on travel plans, lack of transparency regarding the availability of vehicles, or inaccurate estimates that need to be corrected. These interruptions often have an unintended effect – a lack of focus on productivity. The good news is that there are ways to avoid this! Read on for some time-saving tips for business travel coordination.
- Centralize Travel Coordination and Planning
- Invest in Building Your Vendor Network
- Get Help from Professional Travel Procurement Experts
- Factor in Peak Season Risk-Readiness
Centralize Travel Coordination and Planning
Letting everyone on the team make their travel plans and simply claiming the expense can seem like an easy hack to avoid the time spent coordinating. However, this can be counterproductive in many ways. Carpools, for example, are notoriously time-consuming to organize, more expensive than options like a shuttle bus, and environmentally more damaging with higher per-capita emissions. Not to mention the aftermath of processing multiple claims for a large team – many of which need to be corrected by the accounting team. Global Business Travel Association estimates that companies spend over 3,000 hours correcting errors in travel claims. Building a cohesive travel itinerary improves control and adherence to timelines. It also simplifies payment processing.
Invest in Building Your Travel Vendor Network and Rating System
Estimating and getting accurate quotes from your vendors for any group travel often snowballs into a fire-fighting mission due to the gap between budgeted and actual expenses. Minor delays in flight booking, for example, shoot up the prices way over budget. Bus operators canceling on you at the last minute has pretty much the same effect. It might be a cliche, but when it comes to estimating, it’s crucial to view it as a marathon, not a sprint.
Accurate estimates are only possible with an ongoing commitment to building a trusted vendor network and creating a customized rating system for your company. The more granular you can get with rating your vendors, the smoother your travel coordination gets. For instance, rating the response times for each of your vendor’s service team members, or their reaction to a crisis allows you to build a comprehensive profile. It’s also a data-backed way to reinforce that one-off incidents do not define a long-term relationship!
Get Help From Professional Travel Procurement Experts for Estimation
Coordinating corporate travel can be hard, with multiple schedules and to-dos to plow through. Especially so when you are on a short timeline and trying to find the best transport during the busiest time of the year. While you build up your database and processes to be more efficient with your travel coordination this year, you can always rely on professional procurement experts for specific parts. For example, Bus.com’s team of experts can help you simplify all road transport, airport connections, and team shuttles for offsite events. With travel estimation and coordination with operators or drivers taken care of, you can focus on other items on your to-do list for corporate travel. Working with a large procurement service provider also has the added benefit of scaling and cost-optimization, reducing travel costs and improving availability.
Factor in Peak Season Risk-readiness
The peak season travel coordination is particularly challenging for private enterprises that do not have a way to anticipate or control larger factors. For example, the recent wildfires in Canada reduced visibility in many parts of the state of New York, affecting traffic, flight delays, and congestion. Black swan events such as these can and often do put team travel plans in jeopardy. While it is impossible to mitigate catastrophic events, creating contingency plans and integrating them into your travel schedule is a must to avoid fire-fighting at the last minute.
The only solution is to go the extra mile and factor in variables beyond budget, timeline, and availability. For example, be sure to ask whether your provider offers backup drivers, or if there are public transit options to reach the destination. Maintaining a risk-readiness framework that you can update each time you experience a change in the plan can reduce the time wasted in handling the crisis. A well-documented framework is also a guide for future coordinators joining your team who can benefit from the retained knowledge.
Traveling as a group can get challenging during the peak travel season, with unexpected rises in costs and delays. However, planning ahead, anticipating possible blockages, and streamlining your coordination process will help you coast through any hiccups along the way.