In the course of a company’s growth, at some point it realizes that managing its employee travel has outgrown its internal capabilities and must be managed by professionals to lower costs and free up valuable employee time. A fast-growing insurance and financial strategies firm with offices around the Midwest and Southern United States had tasked its executive assistants with booking all company travel, managing traveler itineraries, securing the most cost-effective air, car and hotel rates and managing unused tickets. This was possible for the first several years of the firm’s existence, but then became unsustainable. As travel increased, the company’s senior executives realized that the executive assistants’ time was being consumed by booking and managing travel itineraries, and as a consequence, company-related administrative functions were being neglected. Furthermore, they found that efforts at securing cost-effective supplier rates had failed and they had very little insight into their travel spend. In 2015, the company engaged Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited for consultation about transitioning to a managed travel program.
The company wanted to make several specific changes to their travel program to increase spend visibility, streamline processes and save on travel costs: implement a corporate online booking tool and shift booking and itinerary management to the travelers, designate their administrative assistants as travel managers with travel spend reporting responsibilities, automate unused ticket tracking and gain access to Travel Leader / Destinations Unlimited negotiated supplier rates. After determining that all goals were feasible and with wide-ranging support from the company’s travel program stakeholders, the decision was made to move forward with managed travel administered by Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited.
The first step taken was to assemble the company’s finance team to determine what spend data they wanted captured and how they wanted it reported (enterprise-wide, department, cost center, project, individual traveler), and at what frequency. Step two was to build and configure the company’s online booking tool to their exact specifications, including travel policy integration, traveler profiles, negotiated rate access and unused ticket notification. Before the online booking tool’s go-live date, onsite training was provided to the company’s travelers and executive assistants.
Senior management visibility and actionable data analytics has resulted in a focus on tracking and improving key performance metrics. In addition, the company’s executive assistants have been able to take back the majority of time they had spent booking and managing travelers’ trips. They now receive spend analytics and reporting on a monthly basis and advise senior management on best practices for program improvements provided by Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited. Unused ticket spoilage has dramatically decreased due to unused ticket alerts being integrated into the online booking tool, as well as a monthly unused ticket report communicated to the company’s executive assistants.