How to book corporate travel: A comprehensive guide

Apr 05, 2024

How to book corporate travel can become a challenging task.

From employees flying to different parts of the world to booking flights, hotels, accommodation arrangements, and other miscellaneous costs everything becomes a mess if your company doesn’t have a corporate travel booking policy. 

Corporate travel booking can become an extremely tedious and taxing task, whereas it shouldn’t be because work trips are supposed to be both immensely productive and highly convenient for the employees.

They should be given the space and have the capacity to widen their business network and create an impressive image of the company in front of more and more people in the industry. 

So, the important question that arises here is why does business travel management become such a burdensome chore? Read further to understand the challenges of travel management and know the best effective ways to create the best corporate travel booking guide.

The biggest challenges for corporate travel

When business travel management is clichéd, it becomes hectic when you have to do everything at the last minute.

You will have several employees placing travel requests from different departments from all over the business, and not necessarily will all the requests be properly detailed and submitted. 

One employee may email you whereas the other may just send across a Teams message, or maybe even more taxing would be employees directly coming to you and disturbing all your other work.

The inconsistency and non-uniformity of all these request interactions make the task of corporate travel booking even more difficult. Here are some of the major challenges a company faces while corporate travel expense management:

Approving travel requests and booking the relevant conveniences involves a lot of email conversation threads which completely distract and destroy your productivity.

The admin team is usually overloaded with handling the travel arrangements like booking airplane tickets, hotels, food and drinks, and cancellation — not to mention, along with this they also have to look over the company's corporate travel policy and ensure compliance.

The finance team is all loaded up with allocating funds and determining who’s spending what and investing hours in accounting everything precisely.

The operations team spends days creating the travel policy which has to be extremely detailed and legally binding.

Besides this, the employees traveling could be complaining about how they were forced to compromise on comfort and convenience.

How to book corporate travel checklist

The hack to dealing with all unpredictable travel situations is creating an accurate corporate travel booking policy.

Having a checklist of all the important things an employee must have or must do while and before traveling can prove to be of immense help. If you don’t have a checklist yet, here is one you can use for how to book corporate travel. 

Keep your business travel insurance handy

Create a travel request procedure

Consider the option of getting APEC corporate travel cards

Save all the travel information and details for future reference

Draw a checklist and business travel template

Look for preferred hotel deals and store all the information

Be updated with all visa and passport details

Keep good relations with a corporate travel management company

Prepare your employees before the travel

Book hotels and flights well before the time

Look for tech-savvy business travel solutions

Own a full proof expense system

Always remember to get feedback from the traveling employees after the trip

How to book corporate travel: choosing an airline

1. Price and value of money

The first and foremost thing that needs to be considered while corporate travel booking is the prices of different airline class tickets. The costs are naturally going to be different depending upon the airline.

While doing your research you will get some cheaper ones in comparison to others. Before making a final decision and booking the tickets, compare the airfares of different flights and choose the one which offers a good ride for a reasonable price.

2. Convenience

Business travel must be comfortable. Before reaching any conclusion always compare and evaluate different factors so that you and your team can travel peacefully. While choosing an airline consider the following factors: 

Routes — A large route network is an important aspect of choosing an airline. If the employees are traveling internationally, the preferred choice should be booking one ticket going further using codeshares.

This eliminates the need to carry separate tickets and check the luggage at every connecting point. Along with this, go for nonstop business travel, even if it is connecting opposite sides of the world. Try to make the journey as easy as possible. 

Other Factors — Convenient air travel also includes looking for good customer service, praised performance, and feasible airport locations.

Nothing can be more strenuous than constantly delaying flights, misplaced luggage, and unconcerned customer service at the airline's fault. If your employees are traveling for work, make sure that they reach their destination as easily and quickly as possible.

3. Loyalty program and rewards

If your company frequently sends employees on business trips and conferences, you should estimate your travel budget.

Moreover, being a frequent traveler you must be flying on revenue-based programs and these help you to easily calculate your returns after getting a proper valuation of the miles you have traveled. Different amounts of miles are eligible for different amounts of returns.

So, flying with airlines that give beneficial rewards should be considered when making a decision. 

Basically, every airline has a similar frequent flyer program at the core. Every registered business is assigned one centralized account.

Employees of the company are given individual business frequent flyer numbers whenever they make reservations and the business is then credited for all the money spent.

4. Compare different travel sites

There are numerous travel booking sites that guarantee the best prices and offer all kinds of bookings, from flights to accommodations to packages. However, to get the airline deal, compare the offers of different sites.

Look for price differences, rewards, offers, and other advantages, and then choose the one which best suits your company's travel plan.

How to book corporate travel: choosing accommodation

1. Business amenities

All the modern businesses serving in the hospitality and hotel business properly comprehend the importance of different amenities according to the type of stay.

This industry has a cutting-edge competition where the smart players offer high-quality service and most of the wanted and preferred amenities.

For example, on a business trip stay, essential amenities include a Wi-Fi facility, laundry service, transportation convenience, etc. Before booking any hotel for the stay, make sure to check all the amenities and facilities they have to offer and match them with your requirements.

2. Location & proximity

Another essential factor while choosing accommodation is the location of the hotel. The overall motive is to reduce the distance between the hotel and the places your employees have to be so that both time and money can be saved.

The right decision would be to choose a hotel which is in close proximity to the business centers of the city. Along with this, also look for hospitals, shopping malls, railways station, airports, and other basic facilities to be near the hotel.

This not only saves time but also makes the business trip a productive and enjoyable one.

3. Find the best deals and book in advance

While researching accommodation, go through different websites to get the best deals. Shortlist some hotels according to the company preference and then search for the most profitable deals available on those hotels.

These shortlisted hotels can be ones with whom the company already has negotiations or some company/employee's favorite hotel in the city. Ultimately your aim must be to draw down a small pool of hotel references and then choose from them.

This would save you a lot of time. Along with this, another tip for convenience is to book accommodations in advance. Last-minute reservations can be difficult. What if your preferred hotel doesn't have rooms available on the dates you require?

Or what if the prices of the rooms you want are extremely expensive and could have been booked at a cheaper price if done before?

4. Payment methods available

A comfortable, convenient and productive business trip also means that there shouldn’t be many formalities and issues with payments. It is best to book rooms in advance and make payments for the same.

Along with this, make sure to give your employees company credit cards for making easy payments. However, you will also have to check all the payment options the hotel accepts and then plan accordingly.

Alternate ways to manage your corporate travel bookings

1. Corporate Travel Agencies

We live in an era where tickets and reservations can be easily booked through different apps and sites available with just a few clicks. This sort of convenience of course makes us question the benefits of a corporate travel agency.

Corporate travel agencies are specialized businesses that work to provide the best services and offers to corporate travelers and attend to all their needs. This is all done according to the preferences and directives of the company.

The benefits of a corporate travel agency are: 

Travel policy adherence 

For making business journeys, your company would most certainly have some policies and guidelines. When booking reservations and tickets you will have to make sure that all those rules are properly followed so that safety and financial limits are maintained.

Corporate travel services are through with these compliance issues and make sure that everything goes according to the policy.  

Access to discounts offers and packages 

A corporate travel agency deals with hundreds of travelers regularly. This means they make frequent corporate travel bookings which makes them eligible to avail of different discount offers and valuable packages.

These offers can be a better option for you as they cut down your costs more than what online travel booking can do. You do not only get discounts but also get the flexibility to make changes in events easily. 

Credit eligibility

Along with offering packages and discounts, corporate travel agencies work to build a relationship with your company. So this means, they are also open to offering credit. The time between the date of booking and the date of the due invoice can help you with your company's cash flow.

Give your agent all your booking requirements and they book it immediately and the payments are then done in accordance with the terms and conditions your company has with the agency.

2. Travel Management Platforms

Technology and automation have created significant impacts on the ways we run businesses. We are always looking for more efficiency and flexibility when it comes to corporate travel

Due to this, there has been a dynamic change in the way business travelers make bookings and reservations today. Everything is available with a few clicks which makes this task smooth. All this is because of the evolution of software which is easy to use.

The benefits of using a travel management platform are: 

Saves time and decreases errors 

A corporate travel management system takes away all your burden of finding the best deals, routes, and packages. Along with this it also makes sure that all the bookings made are using the loyalty program details.

Furthermore, it creates travel spending reports, and expenditure analysis and streamlines all your travel costs to decrease all inaccuracies and ensure that everything stays within the budget. 

Happy Employees 

None of your employees want to sit all day and browse through loads of data related to prices, airlines, hotels, company travel policy, financial limits, etc.

An automated corporate travel management tool does everything from booking trips to aligning them with the company costs to analyzing the expenses. Everything gets streamlined. This gives your employees the space to utilize their expertise and energy for other more important tasks which require a human touch. 

Increased visibility

Real-time tracking and expense analysis of all the spending on business trips gives companies the ability to quickly track where and when are the funds being spent.

This increased visibility into the travel spending pattern of the company can help evaluate the performance and outcomes of the business trips and the employees.

Features to look out for in your travel management platform

The best kind of corporate travel management tool should be the one that has features to take care of the whole booking process, from travel request to booking to expense approval to lastly reimbursements.

However, every business is different and has its own set of requirements in terms of travel management and these may differ from other companies.

Yes, there are travel management platforms that can work for all types of business but still, there are some features that need to be in accordance with your company, these features are:

1. Customizable travel policies

The very first feature which you cannot compromise with is Customizable Travel Policies. It is extremely important that any travel software you use is in compliance with your company’s travel guidelines.

This helps in controlling the costs of business trips and will make the task of the manager to approve requests very easy. Once the travel policies are entered into the system, the employees would only be required to fill in their details and their travel request. Everything else will be done by the tool.

2. Customizable approval workflows

After the employees properly submit their travel requests, they are sent forward to be approved by the manager and other people involved in the approval process.

The customizable option is that you can set which people are a part of which kind of travel request according to different criteria.

3. Travel spend reporting

You can identify areas where you’re spending unnecessarily and make insightful decisions that can help you cut down on costs. You need a platform that offers you the best access to flight and hotel room providers, allowing you to compare prices, dates, and offers.

It’s important to choose software that gives you the best value for money, as well as the smoothest travel and booking experience for both your employees and the travel management administrators.

4. One dashboard to review the status

One of the best features of business travel management software is one dashboard to view everything. You get the facility to view all options and the status of the travel and expenses all in one place.

This helps you save a lot of time which is spent mindlessly shifting between different platforms to check the status of different travel aspects.

5. Easy booking options

The business travel management software you choose for your company should be beneficial in multiple aspects. So not just travel reports but an easy booking process where the employees won’t have to use different tools to make one trip booking.

Do not choose software that doesn’t allow integration solutions. The ideal tool should be your one-stop shop for corporate travel management and should be customizable.

Advantages of booking through travel management platforms

1. Flexibility

Business travel management software gives you the flexibility to place travel requests and make bookings from anywhere at any time.

As everything works online, the only thing you need is an internet connection, a smart device, and your login details. This helps you manage all the business travel requirements without any barriers.

2. Everything in one dashboard

There will be numerous employees placing numerous travel requests every day. The feature you need the most is one dashboard to view everything from inquiries, confirmations, bookings, operations, and payments.

One centralized space can help you quickly solve all problems and also boosts the performance of your company. Again as everything is online, all the information is synced and the system is updated immediately, giving you seamless control over the operations.

3. Real-time rates and availability

Corporate travel management software enables you to integrate with various third-party applications and vendors to build a holistic platform for your business.

This will naturally provide you with accommodations, flights, excursions, transfers, and real-time tracking at the most minimal rate possible. These platforms offer your company a wide range of services to let you get the ultimate online travel booking experience.

How to book corporate travel through the right agency

The very first step in choosing the right corporate travel management agency is properly understanding and determining your exact company needs and what are the requirements that need to be accomplished once you hire a travel agency.

To provide your employees with the best travel services and your managers' seamless financial control, you need to hire an agency that is a mix of both human talent and technological automation.

Here are a few features you should look for while hiring a corporate travel management agency:

1. Personalized customer support

The agency you hire must offer you 24*7 support. This is an essential service for your employees who are going on business trips abroad. Their customer service availability must be through various channels like calls, emails, chat, etc., and in multiple languages.

Along with this, the next thing you should check is if their services include providing a personal travel agent who is able to properly comprehend the needs of your employees and is able to help them by giving the best solutions.

2. Effortless booking experience

The major communication between the agency and your employees happens on calls or emails. However, it would be much better if there is one platform for communication where all queries can be solved easily without having to go back and forth on calls and emails

Along with this, the agency platform must give you the option to have a collaborative process. Travel managers should have the option to make cancellations, bookings, etc. for their employees, without any hurdles.

3. Large inventory of hotels and flights

Corporate travel agencies most of the time partner with vendors which may otherwise not provide cheaper flights and hotels. This is an important factor to be considered.

The agency which has a large inventory of flights and hotels would be able to provide many alternatives to planes, trains, accommodations, etc., to fit into your budget. This feature helps extensively in company cost-saving.

4. Analytics and reporting feature

Many corporate travel agencies fail to provide an effective reporting and data analysis system. The agency you choose for your company travels must have the feature of providing detailed financial reports and analysis reports of the travel.

These reports generally include spending, last-minute bookings, reimbursement information, booking policies, frequently traveled destinations and so much more.

5. Other important services

The agency you pick should not only help in bookings and reporting but should also offer facilities for helping your employees get passports, visas, and insurance. This will save your company a lot of time and money.

With technological advancements, it has become essential to keep up with the trends and evolutions not only to stay on top of the game but also to make more profit and cut costs wherever possible.

Corporate travel bookings are one such part of a business where major amounts of money can be saved if the right profitable decisions are made while booking flights, accommodations, food, etc. Consider all the essential aspects and then pick the right option for your company.

Make corporate travel management easier than ever before