Whether it is doing vendor audits or visiting manufacturing plants, supply chain professionals often find themselves travelling the globe. As with many supply chain tasks, finding the right suppliers of travel services is critical to the task, and technology can streamline or hinder the process.
There are thousands of apps available to help travelers get from point A to point B and arrange transportation and hotel accommodations. Price comparison and booking apps make the old days of laboriously looking up individual airline and hotel rates and comparing options yourself seem like a bad dream. However, the plethora of choices has a downside too, especially from a business perspective.
If you do a lot of traveling for business, you’ll quickly appreciate the value of simplicity and a single source of information. If you have a half dozen travel apps on your phone, it can be tough to remember which you used to book a flight or where to go if you need to make a change. When it comes time to submit expenses, you likely won’t have a single source you can use to see all your costs in one place — unless you create one yourself.
It’s even more challenging if you manage a team of travelers in addition to handling your own trips. When people book things on their own, choosing apps and sites according to personal preferences, tracking travel expenses or enforcing policies that affect fares, room rates, or corporate contracts is tricky. It’s also impossible to create a comprehensive travel cost report easily.
I experienced this situation first-hand as I handled my own business travel while managing business trip oversight for a rapidly growing team. On one trip, I visited 10 cities in 12 days. Luckily, I had my corporate travel booking tool in place before I took that trip — the service handled the initial bookings as well as changes on the fly.
One overlooked aspect of modern corporate travel is that few executives have a dedicated administrative assistant. Instead, travelers are saddled with making flight and hotel arrangements and changes, unless the company uses a corporate travel tool. During my whirlwind trip, I was able to hand-off booking duties to a corporate travel booking vendor, which reduced the stress immeasurably.
Supply chain organizations often have significant travel budgets. A corporate travel booking tool can be an invaluable asset to individual team members as well as managers, but it’s important to choose the right booking tool vendor.
Pricing models vary, but I prefer a service model that charges a fixed cost per month. That makes budgeting easier. A system that charges travelers per transaction can be susceptible to unexpected spikes). It’s also essential to find a travel solution that is compatible with the calendar your organization uses as well as any other travel apps that keep the team organized.
A booking tool with robust reporting tools is also a must-have, especially if you manage a team of travelers. Smart applications alert you to travel cost overruns, so you can make a course correction before it affects your bottom line. A system that provides visibility into where people are and what trips are planned is also extremely helpful.
A travel booking tool that uses its own booking engine (instead of relying on a third-party vendor) is ideal. A corporate travel service with that capability can tweak search rules and other operations to accommodate your company’s unique needs. This capability isn’t standard in the corporate travel service market, so it pays to ask about that before you decide on a vendor partnership.
Last but certainly not least, make sure your corporate travel partner offers great customer service. Travelers should be able to make contact on the road via phone or chat and get issues resolved promptly. Traveling to 10 cities in 12 days can be stressful, but you only need one good corporate travel booking tool to pull it off successfully.