Companies are choosing managed travel solutions en masse, inspired by the many benefits managed travel helps them access.
Most businesses need team members to travel regularly or on occasion, and these businesses have a choice between unmanaged travel and managed travel.
Unmanaged travel is when employees book their own flights, hotels, rental cars and other accommodations using fare aggregators or booking engines. After a trip is complete, an employee submits his or her receipts for reimbursement.
Managed travel is different. When a company chooses managed travel, it engages an outside corporate travel agency to handle some or all aspects of the travel experience for a company and its team members.
Which is right for you? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of managed travel, as well as specific reasons why managed travel might be the right choice for your business.
The Pros of Managed Travel
Companies and organizations have different reasons for choosing managed travel, but there are several key motivators behind those decisions. Here are the core advantages of choosing managed travel over unmanaged travel:
1. Travel Policy Adherence
Travel policies are so important, but they can also be incredibly frustrating. Traveling team members are often unfamiliar with travel policies, and adherence can be spotty — at best.
Managed travel helps make travel policy adherence easier. For example, booking platforms included in managed travel agreements can alert team members when they are making arrangements that violate some portion of the travel policy, whether for going over budget or another reason.
2. Online Booking and Other Travel Technology
As noted above, most managed travel engagements come with an online booking platform and other helpful technologies.
Rather than randomly searching online for flights, hotels and rental cars that fit their travel schedules, team members can use an online booking platform to browse through options that represent pre-negotiated rates, options that adhere to travel policies, as well as options that are pre-loaded with their preferences and loyalty numbers.
Managed travel often includes technology that’s helpful during and after trips, too. During trips, team members enjoy access to mobile applications that provide alerts, as well as one-on-one communication options when flights are canceled or when there’s an emergency.
After a trip, travel technologies can make it far easier for team members to track expenses and submit for reimbursement.
3. Automation and Efficiency
When you opt for unmanaged travel, keeping up with travel planning, expense reporting and other travel-related tasks can feel like a full-time job. When you choose managed travel, you gain a level of automation and efficiency that makes travel easier and that frees up time for your team members to focus on what matters most — doing their jobs.
4. Duty of Care and Risk Management
Duty of care is the responsibility companies have to keep their employees safe and secure while traveling. Risk management is the set of actions a company takes as it lives up to that responsibility.
A managed travel company can often provide support and assistance with duty of care and risk management, too. Many managed travel providers can keep tabs on your team members’ locations, and they can also provide direct communication access in case of emergency.
The Cons of Managed Travel
Managed travel isn’t the right solution for all companies. Here’s a look at some of the drawbacks to choosing managed travel options over unmanaged travel.
If your team members travel often enough, a managed travel provider can help you maximize your return on investment. But, that said, there is a cost associated with hiring a corporate travel agency to provide managed travel services. If your team members travel only sparingly, you may not have the scale needed to get the ROI you want from managed travel.
Travel management companies aren’t just for big businesses that travel regularly, though. Ask different managed travel providers about their various options. Many offer a la carte services or stripped-down packages for companies that don’t send team members traveling often — but that still want managed travel support in certain areas.
2. Finding the Right Managed Travel Provider
Of course, no two managed travel providers are exactly the same. You’ll want to find a corporate travel agency that delivers the services you need and that meshes well with your corporate culture and how your team works.
There are so many different options when it comes to finding a company to provide managed travel. Make sure you take your search for managed travel services seriously, and be sure to look at several different options before making a final decision. Otherwise, you may grow frustrated with trying to find the right managed travel service for your company.
3. Onboarding Your Employees
For managed travel to work, you’ll need buy-in from your traveling team members. You’ll need to spend time onboarding them, demonstrating how managed travel will work, as well as making clear how managed travel benefits both the company and its team members.
And that last part is really important: Managed travel should make life easier and more enjoyable for employees who often travel. Frame the introduction of managed travel in those terms, and you’ll have a much easier time onboarding and getting the buy-in you need. Plus, keep in mind that some managed travel agencies offer employee training and support, so you don’t have to handle onboarding alone.
Those companies that fit one of the criteria below should consider managed travel
- Spending over $300,000 on travel annually
- Have 10 employees traveling 10 days per year
- Need Risk Management services
- Frustrated with current processes and procedures
- Need a travel policy
- Need travelers to adhere to the current travel policy
What’s the Best Way for Your Business to Handle Travel?
Should you choose managed or unmanaged travel for your business? You should pick the approach that helps you save money while making the most of your investment in business travel.
At JTB Business Travel, we help you cut down on travel-related costs by managing a wide range of travel spend categories. Not only can we help you save on flights, hotels and rental cars, but also on parking, fees, mileage and other expenses that too often go unmanaged.
Learn more about managed travel services through JTB Business Travel.