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Why Every Business Should Embrace Corporate Travel Technology

Corporate travel technology has changed the way organizations and their travelers manage and plan, book, and experience business trips. For travel managers, keeping up to date with current innovations in corporate travel technology is critical to ensuring traveling employees are protected and prepared. Corporate travel technology also allows both managers and employees to have peace of mind through all stages of the trip.

Travel technology is constantly evolving, which means there’s almost always something new on the horizon. Below are a few critical innovations in travel technology, specifically designed for corporate travel programs.

Travel Management Software: A Must-Have for Corporate Travel

Businesses with a high volume of traveling employees face unique challenges. From booking the best rates to managing business trip approvals, tracking expenses and traveler safety, the list of responsibilities for corporate travel managers is endless.

Travel management software is a tool no corporate travel program should be without. The best travel management software should do more than track the minimum essentials. It should also integrate with other industry-leading technology tools. It’s critical that your travel management software includes a few key travel tech features:

Virtual Payment Options
Accurately tracking and reporting on business travel expenses are key to running a cost-effective corporate travel program. One way corporate travel technology helps you do this is by offering virtual payment options.

For example, companies face hotel payment challenges if a traveler is a contract worker, has limited credit, or doesn’t have a company credit card. But with virtual payment options provided by corporate travel technology, companies can easily pre-authorize payments with single-use credit cards. This option not only creates operational efficiency, but improves hotel billing accuracy, limits fraud exposure, and helps consolidate hotel spend.

Easy Booking Tools
While the internet has given everyone access to the vast options provided by airlines, hotels, and rental car companies, culling all those options takes time. Quickly finding the lowest rates, knowing which vendors provide the best value, and making bookings that align with corporate travel policies takes expertise. By partnering with a travel management company that delivers integrated corporate travel technology, travel managers can provide their travelers with booking options (online or with expert agents) that align with the company’s goals while still serving the needs of employees.

Corporate travel technology also allows travelers to create travel profiles that populate bookings with their travel preferences, reward memberships, and credit card numbers to eliminate the need for re-entering those details during the booking process.

Integrated Travel Policies
Corporate travel technology gives travel managers the ability to integrate, communicate, and enforce their corporate travel policies. You can also include your specific vendor contracts and detailed reporting requirements to easily manage expiring contracts and ensure you’re tracking the right data. This leads to overall cost-savings and improves both policy and vendor compliance.

Having the ability to customize and integrate your travel policy also means rules can be applied at the time of booking, so travelers maintain compliance from the very beginning.

Risk Management

In an era where anything can change at a moment’s notice, keeping track of traveling employees has never been more critical. Corporate risk managers need real-time access to global health and safety threats as well as the ability to quickly communicate them to business travelers.

Corporate travel technology should help you manage business travel risk by identifying risks and assessing impact, locating travelers by name, travel date, and/or location, and allow you to quickly verify safety or provide communication and assistance should an emergency arise.

 

Centralized Location
There are countless travel apps, all designed to manage different aspects of business travel. —too many options for too many singular actions. Travel managers don’t need one more app to manage one more thing. They need one tool that gives them access to everything.

The best travel management software should allow you to conveniently organize, access, and manage your entire corporate travel program from one place. When you gain access to a fully-integrated corporate travel software platform, you’re equipped to reduce spend, manage risk, track unused airline tickets, access traveler profiles, ensure policy compliance, and more. And travelers have access to the booking options, support, itineraries, and business travel resources they need to have successful trips.

Leveraging Digital Solutions

Christopherson Business Travel provides digital business travel management solutions that help companies maximize their budgets and keep travelers safe and happy.

Our integrated software platform, AirPortal, provides the essential tools for successfully managing and navigating corporate travel.

From booking to approval to security to reporting, AirPortal streamlines critical processes. AirPortal also helps companies maximize their travel budgets and reduce costs with features like AirBank, which tracks unused airline tickets to eliminate waste and ensure re-use.

Companies are always looking for ways to protect their bottom line. AirPortal’s Value Scorecard allows you to assess the ROI of your travel management company partnership by identifying and quantifying both the savings and value you’ve achieved.

All of these tools and features are easily accessible via desktop and mobile. Your dashboards are also customizable to meet your unique needs and how you manage your program and workflow.

Industry-Leading Technologies and Personalized Service

No matter the size of your company or business travel volume, Christopherson’s personalized service and industry-leading technologies can help you take control of your corporate travel program. Contact us today.

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Business Travel Travel Management

What Does a Corporate Travel Manager Do? Understanding the Travel Management Company Partnership

A corporate travel manager oversees their company’s business travel program and facilitates the organization’s relationship with their travel management company.

Through the travel management company partnership, corporate travel managers are able to develop a strategic plan for their travel program, outline and enforce travel policies, oversee and monitor employees’ business travel activity, negotiate vendor relationships and rates, create risk management plans for employee travel safety, align expense and reporting needs, ensure the ROI of the overall travel program, and more.

For organizations with extensive business travel requirements, or who need to facilitate group travel, or that plan conferences, retreats, and other corporate events, a strong relationship between the organization’s corporate travel manager and a travel management company is essential to the success of the corporate travel program.

What Does A Corporate Travel Manager Do?

A day in the life of a corporate travel manager revolves around aligning the needs of their business travelers with the needs of the company. This alignment occurs in myriad ways, although business traveler safety and ROI are often the highest priorities.

Typically, a corporate travel managers tasks involve:

  • Building a strategic partnership with a travel management company
  • Ensuring traveler safety through risk management plans
  • Providing a travel program that serves the needs of their travelers and facilitates well-being
  • Budgeting and measuring the ROI of the corporate travel program
  • Negotiating rates for air, car rental, and hotel vendor contracts
  • Developing travel policies and enforcing compliance
  • Overseeing their organization’s booking channels and approval process
  • Creating and analyzing reports to understand patterns, find ways to reduce spend, and identify opportunities
  • Integrating corporate travel software that saves time and money
  • Training employees on their corporate travel program’s policies, processes, and technology

Because business travel safety is among a corporate travel manager’s top priorities, daily tasks may also include awareness of travelers on the road and global security issues. And because generating a positive ROI for a company’s travel program is so important, a corporate travel manager is constantly looking for opportunities to streamline costs and manage efficiencies.

Why Corporate Travel Managers Need a Strong Travel Management Company

Any organization that requires business travel should partner with a corporate travel management company. In addition to the support this relationship provides to the corporate travel manager, travel management companies have the expertise and buying power to:

  • Transform Your Corporate Travel Program and Improve Performance

A travel management company not only helps you find the best rates on business travel, but works with your corporate travel manager to understand your organization’s needs, outline goals, develop a travel management plan, and identify key performance indicators that showcase how well your travel program operates, reduces corporate travel spend, and delivers an ROI.

  • Save Money on Corporate Travel

By relying on the expertise of a travel management company, corporate travel managers are able to leverage their organization’s buying power to negotiate the best deals with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and other business travel service providers. Additionally, travel management companies help corporate travel managers integrate travel policies with booking options to ensure compliance, monitor the reuse of unused airline tickets, and provide both data and consultative services that ultimately save money.

  • Serve Business Travelers 24/7

When employees are business traveling, concerns and needs can arise anytime of the day. This means corporate travel managers need the 24/7 service travel management companies provide. In an emergency, your employees must have a line of communication to solve the issues they may face on the road and around the world.

  • Save Time Managing Your Corporate Travel Program

Corporate travel managers wear many hats. They do not have time to research the countless vendors, rates, and reviews to ensure employees are using the best airline for your company, staying in safe lodging, and renting from the car company that aligns with your goals for every trip. But corporate travel management companies have technology, experience, and expertise to automate your program’s processes, find best rates, and assure that employees are safe.

  • Keep Business Travelers Safe

A strong risk management plan is essential to keeping travelers safe. Corporate travel managers can implement and execute that plan with support from a travel management company who has the technology and relationships required to maintain awareness of global risks, locate travelers, and communicate alerts. And because your corporate travelers have access to 24/7 business travel support, you can be confident that issues will be resolved no matter where they are in the world.

  • Deliver Travel Management Software that Facilitates a Strong Corporate Travel Program

Corporate travel managers need software solutions that facilitate success and make their job easier. By utilizing Christopherson’s integrated business travel technology, corporate travel managers can work more efficiently, access real-time data, and often reduce travel spend.

As for your travelers, road warriors can also easily manage their business travel with Christopherson’s technology. Through convenient booking options, a traveler-centric dashboard, and mobile apps, they can view itineraries, check in for flights and hotels, integrate trip plans, receive alerts, and communicate with your corporate travel agent team.

What Should Corporate Travel Managers Look for in a Travel Management Company?

Corporate travel managers should look for one thing when partnering with a travel management company—proven experience.

A travel management company that has a strong history of client retention will undoubtedly deliver the critical support corporate travel managers need to manage a successful business travel program.

The ideal travel management company will also provide corporate travel managers with:

  • An understanding of and responsiveness to your travel program’s unique needs and goals
  • Helpful ‘round-the-clock support for travelers
  • Consistent, consultative communication
  • Supportive, integrated business travel technology
  • Easy-to-understand data and reporting options

In researching travel management companies, corporate travel managers should first determine their travel program’s needs, goals, and priorities. Then research and develop a list of potential partners. As you refine that prospect list, you can request demos and presentations, or send an RFI or RFP to help you rank respondents. Ultimately, the best travel management company will be able to prove the value of their partnership and answer the vital question—Why should I choose you?

Christopherson Business Travel—The Leading Corporate Travel Agency

While there are dozens of corporate travel management companies, only one provides the unique intersection of personalized support and digital solutions that can propel your travel program forward. With a client retention rate of 97%, Christopherson Business Travel has proven its value and expertise for more than 60 years.

Learn More About Our Travel Advisors

We provide consultative corporate travel services and business travel technologies that will unlock your travel program’s potential. Our dedicated team is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Request A Demo

 

 

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Hotel Sourcing Strategies for 2021 Business Travel

Twenty-twenty was an unprecedented year in the travel industry in many ways, one of the most surprising being what the Hotel Reservation Service (HRS) calls “the dawn of a buyer’s market” in the hotel industry.

Like all dawns, this one was preceded by darkness. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the hotel industry have been numerous, including:

  • overhauls to cleaning protocols;
  • implementation of social distancing and touchless options;
  • reducing and revamping food and beverage offerings and service;
  • revamping and limiting housekeeping services;
  • closing and reopening fitness centers, spas, and pools;
  • and, most importantly, numerous hotel closures, staff layoffs and furloughs, and impending bankruptcies.

In his annual trend analysis report, Bjorn Hanson, adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, says most hotel vendors are suddenly facing “the lowest occupancies in history (generally forecast to be 50 percent for the US for 2021) and the largest decrease in average daily rates in history (20 to 35 percent).”1

With health and safety protocols driving booming Zoom sales and other virtual meeting options like GoToMeeting, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, the pandemic has impacted travel buyers and managers, too, as they struggle to forecast when, where, and how much their employees will travel in 2021.

“It’s a buyer’s market. This is a certainty that may be clouded by the reduced level of corporate demand today, but it is nevertheless true. With rates down, occupancy down, and too much supply, travel buyers have the power to ask for better terms with hotels, which are desperate for volumes,” says TRIPBAM. “Yet, with the majority of corporates still halting or significantly holding back on business travel, delivering volume or providing accurate projections of expected volume for when travel resumes becomes difficult.”

In spite of these uncertainties, there are some concrete steps travel managers can take to secure better hotel rates in 2021.

1. Evaluate Changing Business Travel Patterns

If your employees frequently travel between your branch offices or to and from specific project sites, your 2021 hotel offerings may look similar to your 2020 or 2019 program’s.

However, Account Manager Carol Del Giudice suggests that most business travel patterns will be significantly different post-pandemic. “Companies that shut down physical offices now have virtual ones, so travel patterns are changing. They are meeting clients in neutral places because of those office closures.” And “neutral places” often means areas with hotels outside of negotiated contracts, so many travel managers should shift lodging options accordingly.

The question is whether you should respond to the shift by increasing or decreasing the number of hotels in your program, or both.

2. Assess Your Corporate Hotel Needs

Consider revising the number of properties/vendors in your hotel program if:

  • You are no longer traveling to a particular area as a result of office closures (yours or your client’s), a change from in-person to virtual meetings, a change in project location, border closures, etc.
  • You need to concentrate room nights at fewer properties to negotiate better rates
  • Your vendor has permanently closed a preferred property
  • You are willing to adjust your hotel program, including changing the number of properties and renegotiating rates, as the pandemic evolves and your travel needs change
  • Your vendor contacts have changed and you are no longer satisfied with the service
  • Your vendor is refusing to negotiate lower rates for 2021
  • Your employee duty-of-care policy requires properties with cleanliness/safety certification or accreditation
  • Your travelers have provided negative feedback regarding a vendor’s health and safety measures
  • You have new projects or offices requiring more convenient lodging locations
  • You can negotiate lower rates or different types of rates to decrease your hotel spend

3. Understand Your Rate Choices

Static rates—a flat rate implemented for an agreed-upon term but with seasonal fluctuations and date exceptions—are the most common type of negotiated rate. In addition to being available only 60–85 percent of the time, static rates may be a vestige of another era in travel. But they could still have a place in your travel program. As part of a dual-rate strategy, static rates can serve as a rate cap that controls travel spend when the market fluctuates.

For example, the Company Dime reported that TRIPBAM’s static rates were an average 3 percent higher than market rates in September 2020. That’s why TRIPBAM CEO Steve Reynolds suggests treating your negotiated static rate as a rate cap.

“In January, travel buyers were getting a 25–30 percent discount off market rates; now they’re getting 2 percent, or maybe even [sic] negative discount, because market rates have dropped 35 percent on average,” said Reynolds.

Dynamic rates—normally a percentage off the best available rate (BAR) that is negotiated with individual properties—are applicable 100 percent of the time. There are no room-type restrictions, blackout dates, or seasonal fluctuations. And when the market is difficult to predict, a dynamic rate lets travel managers take advantage of bargain basement room prices.

“We recommend a shift to dynamic rates,” said Client Consulting Services Manager Dallas Stewart. The discount won’t always be as high, but you’re still getting a better rate than BAR on blackout dates. It’s pretty standard for dynamic rates to be 10–15% off BAR.”

Chainwide rates—a flat percentage off BAR that is applicable to all hotels within a specific chain—generally don’t include amenities or provide last room availability. According to Stewart, chainwide discounts are most applicable to high-volume programs with an annual spend of $250,000 or more within the same chain family. They are also advantageous when your travelers stay at one hotel brand in various locations and may be more relevant in a pandemic market that emphasizes consistent health and safety measures above cost.

Amanda Hyun, Director of Sales and Marketing for Cambria Hotel Napa Valley, says that travel buyers’ number one concern is currently health and safety and notes that in this market it is “crucial now more than ever to outline the different cleanliness standards.”

4. Consider Using a Blend of Rate Types

As mentioned earlier, a dual-rate strategy may provide the best cost-control option in 2021. Implementation and Account Support Manager Adelina Litter suggests that travel buyers negotiate static and dynamic rates for 2021 to take advantage of the lowest rates throughout the year.

In September 2020, BCD Travel surveyed travel buyers to ascertain trends in rate sourcing. As shown in the graphic below, a significant majority—82%—said they would use a mixture of static and dynamic hotel rates in their 2021 travel programs.

“Creating just the right mix of rate types and amenities included in the negotiated rate process has always been a balancing act, even for the most seasoned sourcing professionals,” said Business Travel News in a recent white paper. “But in the next year or two, as the impact of the pandemic unfolds, the pressure to mix savings with safety, and flexibility with perks, will require even more finesse. Luckily, the vast majority of organizations are already starting from a good place in their programs—they just need to keep evolving in changeable times.”

According to Del Giudice, hotels are keeping lines of communication open to help travel managers understand these changes.

“Most hotels are reaching out to clients with an existing program. They are lowering rates and trying to get travelers back into their hotels. The onus is on the hotelier to make stays more appealing to the traveler, so they are offering more points, more amenities, and lower rates,” she said.

Hyun agrees that price is always near the top of travel buyer’s want lists. “One way we are combatting this for those who are on a static rate program is to offer the lowest rate guarantee at time of booking. Many of the national accounts are on this program now as it will default to the lowest rate available when searching on booking platforms and the GDS.”

5. Reconsider the Hotel RFP

With decreases in staff and fewer operating hotels, many relationships essential to the RFP process have dissolved. So travel managers must reach out to unfamiliar contacts and, in some cases, contacts in different positions within the company, to complete the RFP process.

“Travel managers are finding that some of their contacts are on furlough or have been let go. This makes it even harder to know who to reach out to and find a contact that’s familiar with them and their program,” said Client Consulting Services Manager Adelina Littler.

Hyun estimated that only 33% of RFPs were released during the traditional season and that “many are waiting until Q1 to submit or do a roll over with rates.” Hyun sees more companies—about 60%—switching to a dynamic pricing model “with anywhere from 10–25% off BAR on net, non-commissionable rates.”

6. Use Your Data

Whatever rate strategies you implement, keeping a close eye on travel patterns and travel spend enables you to adjust your program as the pandemic situation evolves and better prepare for 2022 rate negotiations. Littler and Stewart advise travel managers to audit hotel rates using benchmark options in the Prime Analytics reporting tool available in AirPortal.

“Track your discounts through your Domo and Prime Analytics reporting tools. Look at year-over-year spend and savings by benchmark, as well as by preferred properties. Track the savings at least every six months in preparation to negotiate rates for 2022,” said Littler.

According to a BTNGROUP white paper, most travel buyers agree with Littler’s recommendation: more than 50% of them review their hotel rates two to four times annually.

7. Consult Your Account Manager

If you’re unsure how to pursue rates for your travel 2021 program, take advantage of the consultative services offered by your account manager.

“We can offer the best approaches and give clients guidance whether they want to negotiate new rates or even pursue a hotel RFP,” said Stewart. “While we suggest that clients skip the RFP this year, since many hotels don’t currently have the sales reps to manage the RFP process, we can give them access to an RFP tool if they prefer.”

Suggested Strategies and Best Practices

With so much fluctuation in the travel industry, it’s important to remain focused on your lodging goals, whether that’s sourcing safer hotels, improving traveler satisfaction, or getting lower rates—or a combination of those elements. Keep these strategies and best practices in mind as you tailor your hotel program for 2021:

  • Use dynamic rates or a mixture of rates.
  • Review hotel health and safety measures before you roll-over or negotiate new rates.
  • Remove from your program hotels that don’t have pandemic-related health and safety accreditations or prominently displayed health and safety measures on their websites.
  • Concentrate your room nights at fewer properties to obtain greater savings.
  • Review and audit rates often—at least twice annually.
  • Use a hotel RFP tool only if absolutely necessary.
  • Keep abreast of ongoing marketplace changes.
  • Use benchmarking to audit hotel rates.
  • Evaluate the need to improve hotel attachment rates.
  • Educate travelers regarding the increased safety and savings that come with booking compliance using preferred vendors.
  • Mandate use of preferred vendors and consider implementing a liability waiver if travelers book off-channel.
  • Be prepared for hotel satisfaction metrics to change as hotels respond to returning business travel—your program may determine whether you negotiate contracts for shorter or longer durations.
  • Be prepared to add hotels to and remove hotels from your program as needed.
  • Verify that required amenities are included in your negotiated rates so your travelers don’t incur additional charges.
  • Consider obtaining lower rates for extended stays that result in less frequent travel for your employees (e.g., office to project base trips).

Endnotes

1 Hanson, Bjorn, PhD. US Corporate and Contract Hotel Rate Negotiations for 2021 Forecast – Negotiating at a Time of Unprecedented Uncertainty. Trend Analysis Report. September 22, 2020.

Disclaimer: As business travel needs vary from corporation to corporation, changes in vendors are company-specific managerial decisions, not a result of Christopherson Business Travel publications.

 

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Business Travel Safety Tips: 7 Things You Should Be Doing

The pandemic yanked travel manager and arranger positions from the office periphery to its center. The effort to bring travelers home before borders closed and lockdowns began demonstrated the need to verify traveler locations, check on their well-being, ensure their safety, fulfill duty of care responsibilities, and manage risk. And addressing this situation required developing new teams consisting of travel managers, HR, upper management, risk management, and other stakeholders.

While returning to travel is an office-specific effort, there are general traveler health and safety program modifications to involve your team in now. You’ll emerge on the other side of the Covid tunnel with a program that emphasizes traveler care and addresses their concerns about resuming travel, making it easier for employees to leave the office—even if they work from home.

1. Review your corporate travel insurance.

For many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic revealed just what was—and was not—covered by their travel insurance. As a result of the pandemic, some insurers quit selling travel insurance altogether and others excluded particular coronavirus claims, according to Forbes.

With business trips averaging $1,293, trip delay and cancellation insurance may be worth investigating, but travel insurance definitely helps fulfill employee duty-of-care responsibilities, as well as protecting your investment in the equipment your travelers take on the road.

Take advantage of travel downtime to review your coverage and ensure it aligns with your corporate needs, HR requirements, and emergent world situations, then stipulate a timeframe to regularly review your insurance coverage and a method of communicating your insurance coverage to your employees, such as in your benefits manual or as part of your traveler training program.

2. Revaluate how your program addresses traveler well-being.

Business travel can be stressful. According to On Call International, more than a third of business travelers said work-related travel increases their stress level—and that was before the pandemic.

“Businesses must consider and prioritize employees’ health, safety, and personal comfort levels as travel resumes,” Mike Koetting, SAP Concur chief product strategy officer told Fortune. “It’s the right thing to do, on top of having duty of care responsibilities to meet.”

As you anticipate sending employees back on the road, consider how being on the road impacts them. Query your employees about their travel concerns and wellness needs and make adjustments in your travel program to safeguard their mental, physical, and social welfare.

“Employees with high wellbeing are more resilient during widespread or personal tough times, are less likely to have unplanned days out of the office and have better performance than those with low wellbeing,” said Ryan Wolf, physical wellbeing lead at Gallup.

More information on how investing in employee well-being benefits your business and ways to create a traveler-friendly policy can be found here.

3. Implement a travel-approval tool.

The coronavirus revealed the need to review many travel program aspects, but none so much as duty of care and risk management. A recent SAP Concur survey showed that “ensuring personal health and safety while traveling is most important to business travelers, with 65% placing it in their top three considerations.”

According to HMHF Travel’s Terri Dembs, “Upper management wants to be involved in the decision as to whether or not trips are essential, and they want to be aware of where their travelers are going. Companies want their travelers to be safe, and they have a legal and moral responsibility to do so.”

Implementing a pre-trip tool, such as Christopherson Business Travel’s Travel Approval, which tracks the approval process digitally, gives managers and travelers the ability to keep tabs on not only approvals but also modifications and cancelations, and even helps enforce travel policy compliance. The Travel Approval dashboard also can be viewed by others in your organization who have access to AirPortal 360.

Has your team determined that some destinations are too high risk for your travelers? Block-listing destinations provides an additional way to approve travel. Our technology team can configure your SAP Concur online booking tool to block countries, cities, regions, and even continents, according to your travel policy.

4. Evaluate your preferred vendors’ health and safety measures and develop a contingency plan.

You’ve established preferred airlines, hotel chains, and rental car companies and even negotiated rates for your travel program, but have you checked on these vendors since the pandemic began to review their health and safety measures?

Some airlines are capping occupancy or blocking middle seats. Hotel chains may let rooms “rest” between occupants or seal doors after cleaning. Many suppliers have apps for contactless check-in and -out and car rental and drop-off. Most vendors require that their employees and customers wear masks in public areas, and cleaning frequency has been increased universally. But protocols differ between vendors, so now is a good time to review your suppliers’ efforts and determine your health and safety comfort level, using travelers as a sounding board if needed.

Christopherson’s Covid-19 Travel Vendor Health & Safety Guide provides an overview of vendor-specific measures so you can determine what is acceptable for your travelers and policy. Review health and safety measures now and revise your vendor preferences accordingly, with an eye on rate negotiations in 2021 or earlier.

Business Travel News’ Michael Baker says that this is also a good time to build supplier relationships, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises. “Hotels, for example, are not only hurting for business, but also have sales teams that likely are not occupied with large corporate clients, as they would be in a seller’s market. Not only will there be a long-term benefit in building the relationship, but it also will benefit short-term should issues arise as hotels face lower staffing levels and reduced services.”

On the road, your travelers may find discrepancies between a vendor’s intended safety measures and their actual application. It’s wise to do some advanced planning in case travelers don’t feel safe on a particular flight or at a particular property. What if the parking lot is uncomfortably packed when you arrive at the hotel, the employees aren’t adhering to mask mandates, or your room is dirty? Can your traveler opt to stay at an off-channel property or with another preferred vendor but at a higher rate? Deciding how to handle the situation—and communicating this to your travelers beforehand—eliminates some of the wariness of post-pandemic travel.

5. Develop a post-travel return-to-work plan.

With health and safety at the forefront of every travel decision, take this opportunity to consider what your travelers should do when they return from a business trip.

Legal firm Farella Braun & Martel suggests considering whether traveling employees will be allowed to return to the office and interact with coworkers. “The most cautious approach would be for the employee to work from home for two weeks to minimize their risk of infecting anyone else. Employers can also require employees to undergo COVID-19 testing before returning to the workplace so long as the testing is job-related and consistent with business necessity, and any out of pocket costs are reimbursed.”

Implementing a post-travel plan safeguards all employees from the potential spread of Covid-19, as well as other illnesses. Protocols to consider may include:

  • following state-mandated post-travel protocols
  • taking a mandatory Covid-19 test upon return
  • taking a second Covid-19 test 5–7 days after return
  • working remotely for XX days
  • screening health daily for XX days
  • filling out a return-to-work questionnaire
  • allowing PTO days following a trip
  • providing trip feedback including vendor safety

6. Communicate your duty of care policy and technology.

With border closures and quarantine mandates making return trips difficult for business travelers, the pandemic made travel managers, HR departments, and upper management acutely aware of employee duty of care.

But employees are also emphasizing their safety needs. In the SAP Concur survey, 96% of travelers said they “expect their employers to proactively take steps to improve traveler safety and lower the stress associated with travel.”

Before your employees begin traveling, communicate your duty of care approach by:

  • educating your travelers on your duty of care policy
  • training your travelers on your duty of care technology
    • demonstrate access to real-time Covid-19 information via Airtineraries
    • use SecurityLogic to demonstrate how off-channel booking increases traveler risk
    • update travelers’ alert preferences in AirPortal
    • send a test “Safety Check” to your travelers

We also offer a free risk-management kit to help you assess your program’s safety measures.

7. Develop a pre-travel checklist.

Developing and completing an employee pre-travel checklist helps ensure that your employees are trip-ready while contributing to your duty of care obligation. While your checklist should follow your specific corporate policy, standard items to consider include:

  • traveler’s name and vital information as it appears on official identification
  • photocopies of traveler’s current travel IDs (visa, passport, REAL ID)
  • travelers current emergency contact and backup contact information (name, phone number, email address)
  • trip-specific insurance information
  • verification of vaccinations required per destination
  • confirmation of employee’s safety/duty of care training, including emergency communication protocols
  • confirmation of hygiene kit distribution (hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, masks, etc.)
  • verification that employee’s AirPortal Traveler Profile is current/complete
  • confirmation that traveler downloaded necessary apps and received training on their use
  • verification of traveler’s completed health evaluation/testing as required per destination
  • shared pertinent information regarding any extended personal travel at the destination

Preparing now for the return of business travel ensures we stay safe out there!

Disclaimer: Business travel needs vary from corporation to corporation. This blog does not provide specific travel-restriction advice, and the information provided is not exhaustive. Changes in vendors are company-specific managerial decisions, not a result of Christopherson Business Travel publications.

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

7 Ways to Reduce Corporate Travel Spend

How to Reduce Corporate Travel Spend

Last-minute bookings, flight changes, additional amenities, hotel and airfare market rate fluctuations, and passenger changes can bloat your travel spend allowance, leaving you with expenses upper management may find hard to digest.

While business travel is notoriously hard to budget, travel management companies (TMCs) combine expert personnel with software and reporting tools to keep costs in check and align your travel program with your travel budget, no Alka-Seltzer® required.

In fact, the Global Business Travel Association estimates that TMCs save companies who spend at least $250,000 in annual travel from 5% to 50% of their travel spend, which is a significant savings.

Christopherson Business Travel can help you realize savings and reduce corporate travel spend using these seven methods.

1. Manage Unused Tickets

Before 2020, it was commonly estimated that 10% of business travel airline tickets went unused. However, the pandemic’s travel restrictions flooded many businesses with unused tickets, some with a total value of more than $1 million. That’s definitely an expense worth tracking and managing.

According to Christopherson Account Manager Patti Bragg, “The number one travel issue right now is unused tickets, especially when a company has guest travelers or non-profiled travelers. You need an unused ticket tracking and reporting system to see those tickets, be able to reuse them, and get those funds back. This one travel management feature really provides a lot of savings.”

To recoup unused ticket expenses, Christopherson provides a tool that tracks the entire life cycle of a ticket—from purchase to use—and automates unused ticket management, whether your travelers book online or through an advisor.

2. Capitalize on TMC Rates

You can reduce the rates you’re paying for airfare, lodging, and transportation by taking advantage of a TMC’s affiliate memberships and corporate buying power.

Hotels

Our memberships in the BCD Travel Global Hotel Program, Virtuoso, and the THOR Hotel Program provide clients with discounts, enhanced amenities, and benefits at more than 86,100 properties spanning 189 countries and 6 continents.

Depending on the property, our memberships can provide benefits such as free upgrades, breakfast, and Wi-Fi, as well as reductions on best rate pricing. So while you’re saving money, your travelers will enjoy additional perks.

“Our hotel programs really benefit clients who do lots of conference travel or group travel, clients for whom lodging is the major travel expense, and clients who don’t regularly log enough room nights to get company-specific rates. These clients can access our consortia rates. It’s a great value we bring to each account,” said Bragg.

Airlines

As an industry leader, Christopherson receives priority privileges and benefits from major carriers, which we pass on to you to improve your service and save you money.

You’ll also get preferred seating on multiple fare classes and exclusive access to international airfare, and your travelers will access Southwest Airlines’ full content, including Wanna Get Away fares, as well as TMC-only change and cancellation perks on major airlines, such as Delta, United, and American, that result in cost savings.

Rental Cars

If you don’t have company-specific negotiated rates, you can capitalize on Christopherson’s corporate buying power and standing negotiated rates with all major rental car companies, including National, Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, Budget, and others.

Your account managers may also help you obtain better rates by introducing you to additional vendors who can give you deeper discounts.

For example, a client who preferred renting cars from a particular company asked Christopherson Account Manager Susan Moon how they could reduce their rental car costs. Moon was able to look at the client’s travel spend and identify savings opportunities. By engaging two other vendors in the discussion, she introduced the client to other companies that could provide lower rates.

3. Obtain Automated Savings

Rate Monitoring Tools and Services

Finding a lower price after you’ve made a purchase is one of the most frustrating scenarios for consumers. That’s why we provide expert travel advisors and automated tools to ensure you receive lower rates when they are available for the trip options you’ve selected.

Airlines

We use a quality control fare-checking module to automatically search every itinerary for lower fares until the time of departure. When lower rates are found for an identical itinerary, that booking is returned to your travel advisor or our online team for review and response, ensuring that you receive the lower fare.

Hotels

Like the airline industry, hotels raise and lower their prices based on market conditions and inventory. Our hotel rate monitoring tool screens travel advisor-booked reservations for lower rates. Rates are checked 72 hours prior to travel and, if a lower rate is found for an “apples to apples” comparable room, your reservation will be changed and the savings tracked and reported.

To increase your savings through use of preferred vendors and negotiated rates, Christopherson also offers a tool that automates hotel program compliance and simplifies duty-of-care requirements.

After identifying itineraries without hotel bookings, the tool sends automated reminders to travelers requesting that they fill in this gap in their travel plans, which ultimately helps you get more bookings with your preferred hotels and increases your negotiating power.

4. Negotiate Lower Rates

Based on your travel spend and volume, Christopherson’s account managers can assist with hotel rate negotiations or provide you with automated tools to obtain the lowest possible rates within your travel policy parameters.

For example, one of our account managers used a tool to help a large account consolidate a 100-property hotel program that resulted in a 38.9% cost savings in hotel spend.

Moon reported a similar rate-reduction experience: “Earlier this year we negotiated with United Airlines on behalf of a client. Because of the client’s travel volume, we were able to save them $100,000 on airfare alone,” she said.

5. Receive Consultative Services

Providing consultative services—such as getting to know the client’s culture, discussing their travel policy and budgetary goals, and conducting account reviews—is a vital component of reducing corporate travel spend.

“Every account needs consultative services. Having a ton of preferred hotels isn’t necessarily best, because booking more nights at the same hotel chain increases the client’s buying power. We look at these kinds of travel patterns during the client’s travel program review to help them reduce corporate travel spend,” said Christopherson Account Manager Paul Foster.

6. Book Online

For many businesses, reducing corporate travel spend includes getting travelers to use an online booking tool. When travelers use an online booking tool, rogue travel spend—travel booked outside of your TMC—is brought back under the TMC “umbrella.”

The benefits of reigning in rogue travelers include booking more nights with your preferred hotels, which in turn leads to better rate negotiations, and accruing fewer booking fees, as all travel segments are booked at the same time, during a single transaction.

“If a client has a high number of bookings with travel advisors, we discuss the nature of their business and whether they can save fees by using the online booking tool more. We provide training as needed to make sure their travelers and travel managers have the necessary expertise to book online,” said Christopherson Account Manager M’Liss Hunter.

7. Act on Your Data

New clients and those with previously unmanaged programs are always surprised at how much information we can give them. We provide a platform that collects and consolidates your real-time travel data in one accessible place, offers powerful reporting tools, and can even alert you if your monthly travel expenditures exceed your year-to-date budget.

If your data reveal that “Matt” in “Department XYZ” is booking business class, you can act on those data to reduce your corporate travel spend by (1) revising your travel policy so business class isn’t an available option, or (2) you can discuss booking comfort class only with Matt and back up that conversation with visible, data-at-a-glance dashboard cards.

“If companies aren’t aware of their data, they can’t use it to reduce corporate travel spend,” said Hunter. “If they know about it, they can track it and analyze it.”

Data analysis is the confluence of consultative account management and data reporting tools: this combination of service and technology allows you to capitalize on your travel program and reduce your corporate travel spend. And that’s nothing to bellyache about.

After a year and a half I can clearly see the value based on the level of customer service and the transparency into our company’s travel spend.”

Jared Hughes, CFO, Forefront Healthcare

Want to reduce your corporate travel spend even more? Mandate your travel program, as explained here.

You can also  contact our Business Development Team for more information on Christopherson’s money-saving tools and services.

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Business Travel Guides Travel Management

Everything You Need To Know About The Business Travel Management RFP Process

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Navigating the Business Travel Management RFP Process

Your journey to find a business travel management company (TMC) doesn’t have to be a turbulent one. Whether you’re developing a travel policy to better manage your duty of care in a pandemic world, consolidating travel services to streamline your program, leading a periodic rebid requirement, or wanting a clearer picture of your travel data to inform your decision making, we’ve broken down the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to help you reach your final destination unscathed.

Step 1: Determine Needs and Goals

The RFP process is like hiring a new employee. Before you jump to requesting resumes, you need to develop a job description to advertise for the most qualified candidate, one who is interested in a long-term relationship with your organization, meshes with your institution’s culture, and performs at a consistently high level.

Similar to collaborating on a job description for an employee who will work with multiple departments in your organization, you need to assemble a team to conduct an internal evaluation of your company’s needs and expectations for the TMC position, both current and long term. Include all of your travel stakeholders—or a representative from your stakeholder groups—as well as upper and middle management who have a vested interest in developing your travel policy and fulfilling your travel program.

In light of the recent pandemic, we recommend including HR to review duty-of-care needs and traveler well-being.

Your evaluation team should look something like this, depending on your organization’s structure and travel needs:

  • Travel manager
  • Travel arrangers/schedulers
  • Frequent travelers
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CTO
  • CFO
  • HR

Conducting an internal evaluation of your company’s needs and expectations will prepare you to engage with TMCs. The process will help you determine whether a Request for Information (RFI) provides the insight and direction you need to “hire” a best-fit TMC for your company or whether your needs require a formal RFP.

Once you’ve agreed on position requirements, give them a hierarchy based on a percentage or points system. You’ll use these criteria to rank the RFPs during Step 6. Include the criteria and ranking in your RFP so TMCs better understand your program needs and can respond accordingly. An example ranking table is given below.

Step 2: Research TMCs and Develop a Prospect List

Now that you’ve developed your job description, you need to find likely candidates. As with Step 1, doing your homework here will produce the best outcome.

A Google search for “TMC” may overwhelm you with choices, so consider asking other businesses who their travel partners are and reach out to travel industry leaders, such as SAP Concur or the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), to ask for recommendations from their TMC networks. Develop a reasonable list of prospects to continue to vet. It’s easier to begin with more prospects during this step than it is to fall short at Step 5 or 7 and have to repeat the process.

Now you can Google those candidates and assess whether they might be a good fit for your organization. Start with the candidates’ websites and review their corporate backgrounds. Are they an award-winning firm? Do they maintain their accreditations and memberships in significant travel industry groups? Is their client list impressive? Have they been in the business long enough to weather changes in technology and the travel industry? Use this background information to trim your list as needed.

Because representing your firm in the best possible light is easy on your own website, also consider what others say about the TMC. Look for mentions in travel industry/business media and on their client’s websites, check their LinkedIn profile, and review their company ratings on Glassdoor or a similar site – because how the TMC’s employees rank the working relationship is significant to your potential partnership. If the TMC is difficult to work for, they are likely difficult to work with.

Start conversing with the TMCs on your list. Ask each one some standard questions formulated during your research and request a standard proposal from likely candidates. The TMC’s standard proposal, like a resume, presents all the benefits of working with them—services, technology solutions, experience, work history, etc. This provides more information to help you weed out TMC candidates so you don’t end up with a mountain of RFIs and/or RFPs to review. Why waste your time if you can determine early on that it’s not a good fit?

Step 3: Refine Prospect List

Now that you’ve found some solid candidates, narrow your list to a manageable amount. A good rule of thumb here is to peek at the back of the book (which we would never do with a novel) and work backwards. Take a look at Steps 4, 5, and 7, and estimate how many prospective TMCs you want to include at each stage of the process, ideally ending up with two or three candidates to “interview,” that is, to demonstrate their capabilities and answer your final questions.

If you’ve already ended up with a short list and your preferred candidates are sure to meet your criteria, skip Step 4 and move on to Step 5, the RFP.

Step 4: Send an RFI

Step 4 is like getting a massage: You want to make sure those knots receive the most attention. Structure the request around your organization’s most important issues and hot buttons, such as data collection and visibility, online adoption, duty-of-care, and unused ticket tracking.

From these responses, you can quickly evaluate the TMC’s value propositions and create a shortlist of companies with which to continue. Some companies can make a final decision from these RFI responses, but if that’s not you, move on to Step 5 – the RFP.

Step 5: Write/Revise and Distribute the RFP

The RFP process is not a one-size-fits-all document: If you’re 6’6″, you’re probably not buying a suit off the rack unless you have some tailoring done. Your RFP needs a custom fit, too, because your organization has its own culture, travel policy, and technical requirements.

There are dozens of RFP templates online (we provide one, below), and you may even have a serviceable RFP that just needs dusting off and some pandemic-related adjustments. However, it’s important to compare your template, if you decide to use one, with the weighted criteria you developed during Step 1 to ensure those criteria are covered .

Ask TMCs for additional information on these criteria. For example, if data-driven reporting is critical to keeping your program on track, in addition to asking about available reporting tools, ask for examples of the reports you need most frequently and the time frames for data population and report turn-around. If your travel bookings haven’t conformed to policy, ask what specific measures the TMC recommends implementing to improve policy compliance and how those measures function with an online booking tool and a full-service travel advisor. And if you’re having a hard time retaining your most frequent travelers, ask how you can increase traveler well-being to save rehiring and retraining costs.

Getting in-depth answers to your most vital concerns is essential in the RFP process, so request additional information to inform your decision, such as:

  • Technology overview
  • Example reporting
  • Service level agreement
  • Client success stories
  • Implementation plan
  • Account review example
  • Organizational chart

Make sure your published RFP timeline is reasonable and allows for a question and answer period. Your firm needs time for internal communications, executive approvals, and input from other departments, as appropriate, as well as their ongoing projects. Establish a realistic schedule, then pad it with a week or two to give your team some leeway. It’s easier to add time upfront than to communicate schedule changes to multiple TMCs, issue RFP addendums, communicate new deadlines to your team, and reschedule meetings.

Example RFP Schedule

Step 6: Rank RFP Respondents

Using the criteria established during Step 1, rank your proposals by percentages or points. You may have a clear winner at this point and can proceed to contract negotiations and award.

However, if a few firms are closely ranked, gather your evaluation team and develop a final set of questions for the presentation/demonstration phase. Again, weight your questions so you can tally scores during Step 7.

Step 7: Request Demonstrations and Rank Presenters

If you followed Step 3, you should have a two- or three-firm shortlist from which to select your TMC. Unless you’ve been given carte blanche, utilize the main decision makers from your evaluation team as your presentation panel. Use your weighted criteria from Step 6 and the total proposal score, as well as any internal conversations around the potential working relationship, to guide your award decision.

Step 8: Select TMC

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the RFP process and are ready to implement your new travel program.

We suggest you debrief the TMCs who presented to your team. Explaining why you didn’t select their services helps them strengthen their programs, which may benefit you in the future.

Need Additional Assistance?

If you have questions about the RFP process or Christopherson’s consultative approach and solution to travel management, please contact our business development team and download our sample RFP to help you get started.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”center” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][nectar_btn size=”large” open_new_tab=”true” button_style=”regular” button_color_2=”Extra-Color-3″ icon_family=”none” text=”Download RFP Template” url=”https://staging.cbtravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/SAMPLE-TMC-RFP-TEMPLATE_Provided-by-Christopherson-Business-Travel.pdf”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Business Travel Company News and Announcements Travel Management Travel Tips

7 Things Corporate Travel Managers Should Do Now

As travel managers approach the end of this challenging year filled with a pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, riots, murder hornets, and all, it’s important to identify ways to strengthen your organization’s travel program, prepare for the return of travel, and plan for the future. To that end, we sat down with a few members of our Account Management Team to discuss what travel managers should be doing now as you move towards the fourth quarter and set your sights on a New Year.

1. Review & Update Your Corporate Travel Policy

Many companies have travel policies, but quite often, they were written years ago and haven’t been reviewed since.

“I think the biggest thing companies learned from COVID-19 was that they have to have a solid travel policy in place,” said Dallas Stewart, Christopherson’s Manager of Client Consulting Services. “Those who did fared much better at keeping their travelers safe as the pandemic began to spread. Organizations that review their policies regularly, enjoy peace of mind and have clear risk management plans.”

Account Manager Susan Moon agreed, “Now is a good time to evaluate your travel policy and make sure you are prepared should something like COVID-19 arise again in the future.”

Every organization should review their policies to make sure they’re current and relevant. Christopherson’s Account Management Team continuously collaborates with clients to evaluate old policies, draft new ones, create addendums to existing policies, and share best practices.

Here is a sample of an addendum Christopherson developed for a customer as they revised their travel policy during the pandemic:

2. Organize Your Unused Airline Tickets

Unused airline tickets are top-of-mind for most companies, and understandably so. It’s a big piece of cleaning up from COVID-19. Companies are overflowing with unused ticket credits as travel was cancelled or postponed. Travel managers want to know: How do I find out about my organization’s unused tickets? What do we do with them? How do we make sure we don’t lose those funds?

“First and foremost, we want our clients to know we are here to help,” said Adelina Littler, Manager of Implementations and Account Support. “Travel managers don’t have to know every detail of every unused ticket, how to apply them, or all the changing rules each airline has. That’s what we’re here for as their travel management company. As their partner we can help them generate the list of their unused ticket credits in our tracking tool, AirBank. That report outlines which travelers have unused tickets on which airlines, when the credits expire, and the value of the ticket. And our travel advisors know exactly how and when to apply those unused ticket credits when travelers start booking again.”

Account Manager Valerie Buckler continued, “Travel managers should definitely take this opportunity to review their unused ticket credits before the end of the year. While AirBank will track the ticket, apply the airline rules, and encourage the reuse of those funds, your company may have credits attached to the profiles of team members who are no longer traveling or who aren’t with the company anymore. By knowing who has what, you can work with your travel management company to do any necessary name changes or review other options so you don’t lose those funds. It is so important to us that we help our clients use the full extent of their unused tickets that came from COVID-19.”

While Christopherson’s AirBank technology alerts travelers of soon-to-be expiring funds and will prompt reuse at the time of booking, travel managers may also want to communicate any company-specific instructions in the event a traveler isn’t able to use the ticket before expiration.

Read Next: What You Need to Know About Unused Airline Tickets

3. Consolidate Your Business Travel

Many organizations might have previously balked at the idea of consolidating (or mandating) their business travel. But in light of the challenges experienced in 2020, companies with non-mandated programs have realized they don’t always know where all their travelers are or how to track them and ensure their safety in an emergency. It is undeniable that organizations that consolidate save money on travel and have better risk management plans.

“COVID-19 proved just how priceless it is to have all travel booked and reported through one agency and one source,” Susan said. “Doing so allows you to know where your business travelers are, how they’re being affected by extenuating circumstances, and report on every detail of your program and your travelers.”

“The benefits of consolidation are real,” continued Manager of Client Consulting Services, Sue Schroeder. “You have better risk management. You’re able to track and ensure the reuse of unused tickets so you’re not losing money. In fact, you enjoy cost savings because you can use the full extent of your vendor contracts. And you have an agency with advisors on your side to help you when flights are cancelled or pandemics hit and you need to get home.”

4. Clean Up Traveler Profiles

Cleaning up traveler profiles isn’t something that happens on a regular basis. But as many companies are still not traveling at full capacity, now is a perfect time to sweep the profiles.

Some organizations reorganized their workforces during COVID-19 while others may have been forced to downsize due to the economic pressures of the pandemic. Some employees who previously traveled may no longer be doing so, now or in the future. Our Account Managers outlined the following steps to ensure a clean traveler profile database:

  • Review your list of employees approved for business travel.
  • Identify any travelers who are no longer traveling. Make sure you transfer any unused ticket credits they may have before deactivating or deleting their profiles.
  • Set up profiles for any new travelers.
  • Have travelers review their traveler reward numbers to ensure they are capturing the full extent of their rewards, miles, and benefits once travel resumes.
  • Ensure that credit cards used for bookings and virtual payments are correct with expiration dates updated.
  • Verify that every traveler has an emergency contact listed in their profile.

“Maintaining a perfect profile bank is always a moving target,” Valerie shared, “but your Account Manager can help you with this and it’s great to start a New Year with a fully audited list of travelers.”

5. Take Advantage of Technology & Learn How to Use Your Full Suite of Tools

“Now more than ever, travel managers should be leaning on the technology their travel management company provides,” said Sue. And indeed, technology delivers the most up-to-date access to unused airline tickets, traveler safety, data, reporting, itineraries, and more. Technology allows you to work smarter and faster and run a more streamlined travel program.

Developing technology for corporate travel management has been core to Christopherson’s value proposition for more than 20 years. Our software platform, AirPortal, generates considerable cost savings for travel programs by delivering immediate access to valuable data and essential travel management tools.

Now is a perfect time to connect with your Account Manager to learn the ins and outs of a particular tool you may not be using or to dive deeper into the capabilities of one you use every day. Another way to take full advantage of the tools available to you is to evaluate your reporting.

“Many companies receive the same reports month after month for years, never stopping to think if it’s truly helpful,” Adelina explained. “I’ve encouraged my clients to review their reporting and ask themselves if these are the right reports and if they need any new information with everything that’s transpired over the last six months. Then I work with them to fill any gaps so they have the data and information they need once they resume traveling.”

6. Communicate with Your Travelers

Travel managers need to be communicating regularly with their travelers. They understand the uncertainty surrounding the travel industry and want clear messages from management as to how their organization is handling business travel and their safety.

“By committing to routine communication,” Valerie said, “you’ll get a better sense of how your travelers are feeling about the current environment. It also helps them know the company cares about them and their well-being.”

“Traveler well-being is becoming a buzz word in the industry and with good reason,” Dallas continued. “Companies need to understand how their travelers feel about business travel in the wake of the pandemic. Travel managers may want to consider sending out a traveler survey to get a pulse on what travelers are comfortable with. Their input will be invaluable.”

Travel is a very personal thing, even if it’s for business, and providing employees an opportunity to weigh in on policies and procedures will go a long way to increasing good will toward any changes that result from COVID-19.

7. Collaborate Within Your Company

As travel managers face a new, post-pandemic landscape, many are experiencing shifting realities or responsibilities. Travel managers may even feel the need to reinvent their position. We encourage you to lean into those changes and work with other departments to collaborate and improve the value of your travel program and department.

“Travel programs often ran independently, or siloed, from other departments in the past,” Dallas explained. “But the pandemic made it increasingly apparent that there needs to be more collaboration between travel, HR, legal, procurement, reporting, and executives. Doing this allows everyone to focus together on helpful creating policies and procedures that mitigate both traveler risk and company risk, while keeping employees safe and healthy.”

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Business Travel Travel Management

Transform Your Travel Program with Data-Driven Decision Making

Are you still trusting your gut rather than making data-driven decisions? Even in our tech-savvy world, that’s a common conflict. But Christopherson is resolving data doubt for corporate travel managers through our integration with Domo, the leading business intelligence and data visualization software. With our Domo integration, you can see the story your data tells through real-time analytics and act on data insights that benefit your travel program today.

Assessing the Data Conflict

Data is one of your business’s most valuable assets (85% of us believe this), but surveys show that U.S. businesses don’t trust 32% of their data because it’s “dirty.” And this figure is rising. Dirty data—outdated, inconsistent, inaccurate, or inconsistent data—results from many factors.

What contributes to “data grunge?” Many things:

  • Merging data from multiple sources
  • Human error in data entry and interpretation
  • Disparate data processing methods
  • Lag time between data generation and reporting activities
  • Sharing data from different departments or “data silos” across the workplace

Even simple differences, such as showing dates in different formats (YYYY-MM-DD in accounting but DD-MM-YY in HR) may muddy your data and cost you money. In fact, IBM estimated that dirty data costs the U.S. economy over $3 trillion annually.

Data may also cause inefficiencies just because there’s so much of it. Most companies are engaged in nonstop data accumulation, leaving decision makers drowning in the very figures that should provide management insights. Disparate data sources compound the problem. If managers can’t align data from HR with data from accounting, they can’t see the story their data tells.

As a result, data-related careers are booming. However, many who work with data lack the training to understand or interpret it well enough to use it as a basis for arguments and decisions, making data literacy a problem for many businesses.

And if you can’t visualize or understand your data or you doubt its accuracy, you can’t implement data-driven decision making.

Providing a Domo-integrated Data Solution

This data conflict left Christopherson with a real conundrum. We wanted to provide clients with real-time, aggregated, accessible travel program data in a visual format that turned data users into data experts.

“We were looking for speed to data. A good BI tool allows you to build charts and infographics quickly, with speed to creation much quicker than with Excel spreadsheets.”

Josh Cameron, head of strategic initiatives, Christopherson Business Travel

With an established approach of reviewing technical enhancements through the lens of “buy or build,” we looked for an existing business intelligence (BI) solution that would benefit customers and integrate with our proprietary AirPortal travel management platform.

The BI solution, we knew, had to connect to accounting, finance, marketing, and travel systems, and use real-time data analytics for the visualization and report building that would enable data-driven decision making.

A BI solution would also resolve the aging data issue businesses faced when reviewing static reports broadcast on monthly or weekly basis by providing real-time analytics and empowering data-driven decision making. Real-time analytics eliminate the worry that data will change in the middle of collecting statistics or obtaining a report and provide current, actionable data for data-based decision making.

“With instant reporting I can see what was spent yesterday. I don’t need to wait until my credit card statement or any other report to come out at the end of the month.”

Gordon C., Travel Manager, CHG Healthcare

Data access was also key. If businesses have hands-on, self-service reporting capabilities, it eliminates the lag time between client questions and account manager responses. Instead of reviewing travel programs monthly and annually, with data and travel spend monopolizing the conversation, the relationship between account and travel managers could be more consultative, more about increasing efficiency, setting goals, and aligning policy, and less about reviewing numbers.

Delivering Real-Time Data Analytics

Domo delivered what we were searching for: real-time data analytics in a dashboard that gives clients and internal employees better insights into travel budget spending.

“It’s great for travel managers and account managers. Since everything is already populated there’s no of running reports. We used to run 20–25 reports for account reviews, processing them by hand. Now these same reports can be downloaded into a presentation and we can focus on addressing client questions.”

Adelina Littler, Account Support Manager, Christopherson Business Travel

In addition to essentially quadrupling the data available to businesses at a glance, our Domo partnership provides clients with an all-encompassing BI tool that gathers, aligns, and connects those data while making real-time data analytics visible, beautiful, and easy to use. Visible data, in turn, fosters data-driven decision making.

“In today’s world, you have to bring technology to the front and provide meaningful tools to move business forward. Without it, travel managers will fall behind.” We find clients often avoid analyzing their travel data altogether, never seeing the insights that their program and travelers really need. That was our motivation behind developing a solution that makes travel data easier to understand. “Being able to visualize the story their data tells allows them to take informed action that ultimately helps them run a more cost-effective travel program.”

Mike Cameron, CEO, Christopherson Business Travel

“I am using the data to track the volume of travel per each contract we have, track and assess the impacts of ticket changes related to advance ticketing—which allows me to evaluate our recommendation for advance booking—and track volume of travel per individual.”

Stephanie P., Director of Administration/Facilities/Security, Sigmatech

Converting Travel Data into Travel Insights

Domo’s data cards, which are visual aggregations of data, provide high-level travel program views and the ability to drill down data to a granular level.

With this data visibility, businesses can easily identify and rectify data anomalies. An actual hotel error that resulted in a $59 million nightly charge was easy to pinpoint and correct because it produced a giant spike in a three-year data period.

Domo data summaries also reveal that modifying travel patterns can result in savings. By looking at advanced purchases and ticket exchanges, a travel manager determined that their employees were purchasing nonrefundable tickets too far in advance, resulting in a pattern of rescheduling travel, rebooking travel, and ticket loss. Waiting until travel schedules solidified resulted in cost savings for this client.

Conversely, another travel manager looked at cost percentages for flight bookings and acted on the data by identifying booking procrastinators and altering their pattern of last-minute airfare bookings. Booking further in advance brought this company better rates.

Speaking of travel costs, would you be surprised to discover that your most expensive traveler isn’t your most frequent traveler? By drilling to the granular level of the “top travelers” data card (clicking on a pie chart, clicking on a slice of pie, and clicking on an individual traveler), you can identify your costliest traveler and determine what inflates their expenses.

Maybe it’s an increase in international airfare rates, but perhaps Ryan is booking business-class flights and renting SUVs out of policy. Or Angela has 97 separate bookings for only 30 trips because she’s booking in stages—airfare, then hotel, then rental car—and you’re paying a fee for each booking.

Data visualization and drilling insights empower your conversations with travelers and inform your travel policy. You’ll realize savings when Ryan scales back to policy-approved comfort economy flights and smaller vehicles or your policy is amended to require that Angela book airfare, hotel, and rental car in a single transaction.

“Domo makes it extremely easy to identify problem areas—how many exchanges, and who violates the most often.”

Gordon C., Travel Manager, CHG Healthcare

In addition to providing actionable data, Domo can automate event-triggered notifications. Say you want to keep your travel spend in line with passing calendar time. Domo can provide a “gas gauge” of travel spend, notifying you that you’re over budget year-to-date.

“By continually visualizing their travel spend, travel managers have a lighter load. Instead of downloading and analyzing spreadsheets, they have a good, instant snapshot of how they’re doing on travel spend, which lets managers focus on other things but gets them the same information.”

Taylor Daily, Business Intelligence Analyst

Informing Data-driven Decision Making

Like the travel manager and traveler relationship, Domo’s data visibility changes the dynamic between upper management and travel managers. Since decision makers can access, visualize, and share real-time data, it’s easier to reach a consensus for action.

This evolution was demonstrated by a travel manager who, using visible data in Domo along with Concur Travel and Expense, showed potential savings if her company moved to an online booking tool. Not only could management see more was currently being spent for full-service bookings, they could also see travel spend was leaking outside of negotiated contracts and the Christopherson umbrella. Adding this rogue travel spend to contractual agreements improved the client’s negotiating power to justify lower rates because they used real-time data analytics to inform their decision. That’s data-driven decision making.

Negotiating power can also be drawn from viewing and acting on travel vendor data. Looking at hotel bookings by state and then by chain may reveal that you need to request/require travelers to book with your preferred vendors or you need to negotiate a contract with a vendor in a new area. One client discovered savings by requesting that travelers book a hotel in a different zip code—right across the street from the property where they were staying.

“We can easily see how much we are spending in each category (air, car, hotel) and/or with each vendor. For example, if we need to increase spending with a certain vendor to reach a threshold we can easily see where we are. Also, we can compare costs and see any potential problems. For example, in a specific city we can compare our hotel spend and identify properties that are more expensive and exceed our caps.”

Gordon C., Travel Manager, CHG Healthcare

Christopherson uses Domo not only to assess how your travel program is running but also as an internal resource for our own data challenge—assessing constant feedback on our travel management services.

“Domo is one of the most important things we done in last few years, because analyzing travel spend is core to managing a successful overall travel program.”

Matt Cameron, COO, Christopherson Business Travel

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

How to Lookup Current/Future Trips in AirPortal & Download Reports

Follow the below steps to look up current or future trips in your AirPortal 360 dashboard:

Trip Lookup in AirPortal 360
  1. Login to AirPorta
  2. Click on the Trips tab on the left side navigation menu 
  3. Next click on the Current/Future trips tab 
  4. You can search by a traveler or arrival city 
  5. Arrange the table by clicking on the traveler, departure city, arrival city, departure date, return date, or agency locator
  6. Click on Table Actions to download a full report of all travelers  

Things to note:

  • If there is a blank departure or arrival city, this trip or a segment of this trip has been canceled
  • “View” Airtinerary, click on “HISTORY” to see the timeline of the transaction.
    • Viewing the past transactions allows you to see the estimated fares, the booked fares and even exchanges that might have been done. 
This 2-minute Airtinerary look up video shows travel managers how to access their travelers’ trips in AirPortal.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

How to Cancel a Trip in Concur Travel

Below are the steps you can take to cancel a trip in Concur Travel:

  1. On the home travel page in Concur, click on Travel at the top of the Menu Bar.
  2. Then click on the Upcoming Trips tab to see future trips.
  3. Click on the right to cancel the trip.  This will Cancel the entire itinerary (all vendors in the record).

If the traveler has a hotel booked included in the record they cancel, they will need to make sure they receive a hotel cancellation number after the cancel. 

If they DO NOT get a cancellation number they could be trying to cancel within the penalty timeline and could get a no-show charge from the hotel.

The screenshot below outlines how to see withdrawn (canceled) trips in the Trip Library in Concur

  1. In the Trip Library, travelers can search for past travel using the date range box. 
  2. They can check the box to include withdrawn trips to see trips canceled in Concur. 
  3. The traveler can then click on a specific trip for a canceled hotel reservation and they will see the hotel cancellation number.
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Business Travel Travel Management

What Are The Benefits Of A Corporate Travel Management Company?

Benefits of partnering with a corporate travel management company (TMC) include: access to a dedicated support team, reduced travel spend, risk management assistance, access to travel technology, enhanced reporting, travel policy creation and integration, and time savings. Read on to see how each of these benefits relates to both the travel manager and the business traveler.

7 Benefits of Using a Corporate Travel Management Company are:

  1. Access to a Dedicated Support Team 
  2. Cost Saving Strategies 
  3. Assistance with Risk Management
  4. Access to Technology and Tools 
  5. Enhanced Reporting
  6. Travel Policy Creation and Integration 
  7. Time Savings for Travel Managers and Traveler

1. Access to a Dedicated Support Team 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

A corporate travel management company (TMC) should offer its clients a dedicated support team. As a travel manager, you are responsible for creating and maintaining an evolving, complex program. Working with a dedicated support team to help manage your program has many benefits.

First, you can lean on a team of experts. Whether you are creating a new travel program or you are looking to improve your current one, a TMC should be able to make recommendations to help you meet your goals. 

At Christopherson Business Travel (Christopherson), our travel management experts average more than 25 years of experience in business travel. We have helped hundreds of organizations overcome the challenges of business travel and achieve a variety of goals. Not only do we recommend adjustments our clients can make to their programs, but we also specifically point out how we can help them get there. 

Another benefit of having a dedicated support team is that travel managers can rely on experts to provide best practices, industry updates, and seasoned expertise. When a business travel program is outdated, corporate travelers become frustrated. In a dynamic industry that changes rapidly, it’s important for travel managers to stay informed about current and emerging trends.   

Benefits for the Business Traveler

Depending on your booking and service needs, your travelers might have access to a dedicated travel advisor team, a certified online support team, or a combination of the two. By partnering with a corporate travel management company, your business travelers can feel confident knowing they always have trusted experts to turn to 24/7, 365 days a year. 

Having a dedicated support team to assist with travel challenges (like delayed flights or overbooked hotels) significantly improves the overall traveler experience. A TMC also considers traveler preferences and loyalty information when helping them book travel within policy. At Christopherson, your travelers can access a small, dedicated team of travel advisors, so they always know who to contact for support. 

Some TMCs offer support via a call center, which can be frustrating. Call center agents won’t be familiar with your travel preferences or policies, and travelers often don’t receive the level of customer service they deserve. With a dedicated team, you’ll have personalized service and relationships you can count on.

Another benefit of having a dedicated support team is providing VIP services for your executive travelers. At Christopherson, priority response time, requesting special accommodations, and frequent traveler enrollment assistance are just a few of the VIP services we provide.

2. Cost Saving Strategies 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

Corporate travel management companies help businesses save money by securing the lowest possible rates on travel. Consider the following hypothetical scenario: You reach out to a large hotel chain to negotiate a corporate rate for your business. You attempt to use your predicted number of reservations of 150 nights as leverage for a lower rate. The hotel is able to offer you a discounted rate of $160 a night. 

Now imagine that your corporate travel management company reaches out to the same hotel chain. Instead of 150 nights, your TMC is leveraging the 15,000 nights they anticipate booking among  75 different accounts. It probably comes as no surprise that the hotel is able to offer your TMC an even lower rate of $140 a night.

This example illustrates how working with a TMC increases your buying power and, ultimately, saves you money. Also, by consolidating your hotel spend, a TMC can continue to negotiate lower rates on your behalf year after year.

When it comes to your travel policy, corporate travel management companies make compliance effortless through integrated technology. You can find more details about this below, but one of the reasons travel policies exist is to help manage costs. If your travelers are booking outside of your policy, chances are they are paying more than you would like because they’re not accessing your negotiated rates. 

Next, let’s consider unused airline ticket funds. It’s inevitable that business travelers will have to cancel trips due to scheduling changes, which can potentially leave money on the table. Nearly 10% of all business travel airline tickets go unused. As a travel manager, how do you ensure these unused ticket funds aren’t impacting your bottom line? A TMC can monitor these funds, helping ensure they are used before they expire. 

Christopherson’s AirBank tool is our solution to managing unused airline tickets. AirBank captures those funds in a centralized database and then prompts travelers to reuse them during their next booking. AirBank’s transparency encourages active participation in the reuse of the ticket. This helps prevent loss of funds, cut costs, and eliminate waste. Managers can also access real-time status updates and reports on those unused tickets and the subsequent available funds.

Lastly, when partnering with a corporate travel management company that charges fair and transparent fees, travel managers are able to more accurately budget for their travel program costs. Christopherson’s all-inclusive pricing structure includes all account management, technology, integrated reporting systems, and tools. Some TMCs operate on an “a la carte” model which can quickly become costly and unpredictable making it more difficult to budget.

Benefits for the Business Traveler

By negotiating lower rates, travelers are often able to choose from higher-end hotels than they would be offered without the purchasing power of a TMC. This improves their overall travel experience and makes for happy travelers. 

Unless a tool or system like AirBank is in place, it is easy for travelers to forget about the unused airline tickets they have at their disposal. By providing travelers with money-saving tools like AirBank, travelers can easily cash in on those tickets whether booking online or with an advisor.  

3. Assistance with Risk Management 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

Businesses have a legal and moral responsibility to keep their travelers safe from threats while they are on the road. Threats can range from something as serious as an outbreak of an infectious disease to losing a passport. Regardless of the circumstance, it’s important that travel managers are aware of threats as soon as possible and have a process in place to keep their travelers safe. 

Assistance with risk management is a huge benefit of working with a corporate travel management company. In a recent study, only half of the travel managers surveyed felt confident that they could locate their travelers within two hours of an emergency. When working with a TMC, travel managers often have access to risk management tools that make them more efficient and effective in times of crisis.

Christopherson’s SecurityLogic tool provides travel managers real-time information regarding which of their team members are currently traveling and where those travelers are

For example, Christopherson’s SecurityLogic tool (available within our AirPortal platform) provides travel managers real-time information regarding which of their team members are currently traveling and where those travelers are. SecurityLogic allows you to quickly see if your travelers are in or will be in an affected area. 

SecurityLogic’s alerts inform travel managers of events that could impact employee travel or compromise their safety, and the Safety Check feature can be used to verify traveler safety. 

Travel Risk Management Tool

Benefits for the Business Traveler

When businesses utilize the full range of benefits tools like SecurityLogic provide, travelers feel safe and secure while on the road. When traveling, staying up-to-date on breaking news can be a challenge. Travelers will find comfort in knowing that if they are in or traveling to a potentially dangerous area, their employer is proactively warning them of any threats and has a plan in place to keep them safe. 

4. Access to Technology and Tools 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

Without updated technology, travel managers are left to manage their travel programs manually using spreadsheets and emails, which can be time-intensive. Integrating best-in-class technology into your travel program is a sure way to save you time and money. 

Corporate travel management partners streamline your processes for requesting travel, approving travel plans, and expense reporting. Christopherson’s AirPortal software platform has your negotiated vendor contracts, travel policy, and travel approval system built-in, ensuring compliant travel booking. All reservations filter into your custom reports and align with your managed travel program. AirPortal can be integrated with valuable benchmarking tools, preferred booking tools, and your HR feed. These technologies make your program efficient and integrated. 

Mobile App For Corporate travel Managers

AirPortal 360 Mobile, the mobile version of our travel manager dashboard, is the first and only comprehensive mobile app for travel managers that allows you to manage your entire travel program from the palm of your hand. With AirPortal 360 Mobile, travel managers can locate travelers in real-time, verify their safety, view itineraries, monitor travel plans, enroll/deactivate travelers, and manage traveler profiles from anywhere.

When working with a corporate travel management partner like Christopherson, you will also have access to tools like Virtual Pay. Virtual Pay eliminates faxing credit card information to hotels by creating single-use credit cards for each hotel booking. The unique card is then sent to the hotel for booking payment. This process helps eliminate traveler reimbursements, improve billing accuracy, and consolidate hotel spend.

Benefits for the Business Traveler

With access to a robust set of tools and technology, travelers are more organized, efficient, and satisfied with their travel program. Booking compliant travel, reimbursing expenses,  and locating travel plans becomes a breeze. Traveler profiles ensure that loyalty programs and preferences are always considered at the time of booking. 

5. Enhanced Reporting 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

Arguably the most important aspect of any successful program is the ability to access, aggregate, and visualize the data to inform decisions. Some corporate travel management companies offer reporting tools that allow you to view your entire travel program in one location.

Domo, AirPortal’s integrated business intelligence and data visualization program, delivers real-time insights that help you take action and manage a smarter travel program. By aligning metrics that matter to you in one centralized location, you can start to visualize the story your data creates. 

With complete visibility into your travel program, you can quickly identify the departments that spend the most on travel or which hotels are booked the most. This allows you to draw meaningful conclusions that help you improve processes and save money. 

With Christopherson’s ValueLogic technology, travel managers can also assess the ROI of our partnership. Customizable reports show exactly how and where we’re saving our clients’ money.

Benefits for the Business Traveler

While travelers don’t necessarily need access to the full range of reporting options that travel managers need, data from these reports is essential to your travelers’ ability to book within policy, reconcile credit cards, monitor unused tickets, and identify when their profile information needs to be updated. Good data also makes life easier for travelers in the long run. 

6. Helps Create and Maintain Your Travel Policy 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

When creating or updating a policy, it’s helpful to have experts consult with you on current best practices in your industry. A travel policy should be a living concept and evolve with the industry. Corporate travel management companies help ensure your travel policy is up to date and integrated throughout your booking tools, benchmarking tools, and HR feed. 

Benefits for the Business Traveler

Keeping your travel policy current is a great way to keep your travelers happy. And with policy integration, travelers can be confident their bookings are always compliant. 

7. Saves Travel Managers and Travelers Time 

Benefits for the Travel Manager 

Streamlined and integrated travel programs save travel managers time by keeping them organized and efficient. Whether you’re managing the ins and outs of a large global travel program or have a small team of road warriors, working with a TMC makes your day-to-day efforts easier by helping you implement the processes and plans that will help you reach your goals and support your travelers. 

Benefits for the Business Traveler

Centralized, integrated travel programs save travelers time by simplifying the booking process, making it easy to get travel approved, providing the resources and service needed to make their actual trip a breeze. Gone are the days of frantic inbox searches for flight plans, not knowing whether your booking falls within policy or where your frequent flyer number is. Travelers can spend time actually doing what they were hired to do rather than wasting time weighing the costs of different flight options or figuring out logistics of an upcoming trip. A travel management company has the expertise they can rely on.

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel News

How to Support Your Business Travelers During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Originally published Feb 27, 2020 at 4:02 PM, updated March 09, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to affect business travel, we want to provide corporate travel managers with helpful tools, resources, and information to best support their travelers. For the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. 

CDC Travel Guidelines

The following warning and alert classifications have been outlined by the CDC. We encourage travel managers to review the warnings and make informed decisions to protect their travelers.

Warning Level 3 

Nonessential travel to these highest-risk locations should be avoided. This currently includes China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.

Alert Level 2 

Due to sustained community transmission of the virus in Japan, the CDC recommends that older adults and those suffering from chronic medical conditions postpone travel to these areas. Corporate travel managers could also consider adding an additional level of approval for these business trips by having senior leaders review them on a case-by-case basis. 

Watch Level 1 

The CDC recommends practiving usual precaustions when traveling to Hong Kong at this time. The CDC will continue to update its recommendations on their website. Companies with employees traveling to level 1 watch areas may want to consider implementing additional health and security protocols to ensure traveler safety.  

Personal Travel 

While personal travel does fall outside the realms of a corporate travel manager’s purview, companies may want to encourage employees to travel with caution and remain aware of this ongoing situation. If an employee has personal plans to visit or has visited one of the warning level areas, you could consider having them self-quarantine for 14 days. If an employee participates in any travel, regardless of the area, and shows signs of being sick, you could also ask them to follow the same 14-day self-quarantine. 

Reminder to Only Book Within Approved Corporate Tools 

Travel managers should reiterate the importance of booking business travel within the organization’s approved corporate booking tools and enforce these policies. Booking within policy ensures you always know where your travelers are so that you can best support them and communicate critical information in a timely manner. 

Review Your Risk Management Policy and Update if Needed

Be sure you have included a protocol for an infectious disease outbreak like this in your risk management plan. Events that could trigger action include travelers becoming infected or being stranded in an infected area. Do you have a plan in place to quickly and appropriately support your travelers? 

Remind Travelers to Follow These Best Practices While Traveling 

Ask business travelers to follow these actions recommended by the World Health Organization when traveling. 

  1. Wash hands frequently
  2. Maintain social distancing 
  3. Avoid touching eyes nose and mouth 
  4. Practice respiratory hygiene
  5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
  6. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider

Additional Resources

For more resources to help you plan and respond to this situation, visit the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019

BCD Travel also has a current list of airline updates and advisories by country. 

The information presented here is up-to-date as of March 9 and is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Christopherson does not give recommendations on the prudence of travel to affected areas. Our aim is to provide helpful information that allows companies and travelers to make informed decisions. As the situation continues to unfold, companies can access real-time information through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization website.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

What Does a Travel Management Company do?

A travel management company (TMC) is a travel agency that provides extensive business travel support to organizations of all sizes. A TMC can simplify your workload, help you manage travel risks, reduce travel spend, serve your travelers, and provide integrated and centralized data reporting.

1. Simplifies and Streamlines Your Workload

Corporate travel management is complex. As a travel manager, you are often juggling a lot of different tasks within your company. Trying to keep track of employee travel preferences, travel plans, unused tickets, and more can be a daunting task. Travel management companies streamline your processes and support your business travel program through service and technology.

Christopherson Business Travel understands that technology is key to simplifying your workload. That’s why we built our AirPortal software platform. AirPortal provides customized dashboards for both travel managers and travelers with access to all the tools each stakeholder needs to manage the travel program and their business travel, respectively. This suite of tools within AirPortal streamlines the ability to manage risk, spend, profiles, travel plans, unused tickets, booking options, and more.

Each traveler is able to create a unique profile within our travel management platform that securely stores their travel preferences and loyalty program information. These profile details are fully integrated to ensure ease and convenience at the time of booking. When working with a TMC, travelers are able to book travel online or with an expert travel agent, based on your unique service needs. Your company travel policy is also custom-built and integrated to ensure all bookings are compliant.

AirPortal uses artificial intelligence to show the user what’s most important. On both the travel manager and traveler dashboards, AirPortal provides My Action Items, a feature that lists pressing or time-sensitive tasks and reminders so you always know what’s most important today. For example, if a traveler books their flight and rental car, but not a hotel reservation, a line will populate in their My Action Items alerting them of this gap in their travel plans. Or maybe a travel manager missed a travel approval request. This too will appear in the My Action Items feature of their dashboard, along with any other pressing tasks.AirPortal360 Travel Management Company

Some travel management companies like Christopherson also integrate their travel management software directly into valuable benchmarking tools, preferred booking tools, and your HR feed. Facilitating these integrations allows you to access everything you need from one centralized location, saving travelers and travel managers time, and ultimately money.

Providing guidance through account management is another way a travel management company can streamline and focus your travel program toward reaching your goals. Account managers should work with you to carefully analyze your program to see where you’re succeeding and where the gaps are. Based on that analysis, they should then provide a custom travel management plan to help you know where improvements can be made. This kind of consultative account management allows travel managers to lean on the expertise of seasoned industry professionals

2. Helps You Manage Risk

Duty of Care is the legal and moral responsibility each organization has to keep its employees safe from threats. Such threats could include extreme weather or natural disasters, political strikes and civil unrest, car accidents, theft, personal attacks, or terrorism—the list goes on. As a travel manager, how do you maintain confidence that you are upholding your obligation to protect and care for your travelers?

A travel management company can help expedite your knowledge of threatening situations in areas where you have travelers and facilitate your response and/or assistance. At Christopherson Business Travel, our clients utilize our SecurityLogic tool to access critical, real-time security data, quickly locate travelers and verify traveler safety.

SecurityLogic Corporate Travel Management Company Example

In a recent study, only half of the travel managers surveyed felt confident that they could locate their travelers within two hours of an emergency. If your travelers’ plans are not stored, managed, or accessible from one centralized location, trying to locate employees during a crisis could be a messy and stressful task, not to mention potentially disastrous.

SecurityLogic provides travel managers with a real-time list of who is currently traveling and where those travelers are. SecurityLogic also allows you to quickly see if your travelers are in or are going to be in an affected area.

Travel alerts inform you of events that could impact employee travel or compromise their safety. Travel managers have the option to click through to the news source to get even more information. For extra security, you can set up auto-alerts that push directly to travelers via text and email to verify safety.

Click here to see a quick video tutorial on SecurityLogic.

3. Reduces Your Travel Costs

Partnering with a corporate travel management company can significantly reduce your overall travel costs. TMCs have expert knowledge in all aspects of the travel industry, including contract negotiations. Your account manager should be able to negotiate with your preferred vendors to ensure you are paying the lowest amount possible.

Cost Savings from University Corporate Travel ColoradoBusiness travel plans often change or get canceled. Did you know that nearly 10% of all business travel airline tickets go unused? As a travel manager, how do you ensure those funds from unused airline tickets are used before they expire? Keeping track of all the changes in your traveler’s plans could be a fulltime job in and of itself.

Travel Management Companies should ensure your unused tickets don’t impact your bottom line. Christopherson’s AirBank tool, found within AirPortal, captures those unused airline tickets and prevents the loss of those funds by prompting their reuse at the time of booking, whether online or with a full-service advisor.

Working with a business travel agency also ensures employees are booking within your company travel policy. By booking within policy, you can take advantage of your corporate rates, ensure you aren’t overspending, and make expense tracking and reporting a breeze.

Lastly, by partnering with a TMC you are saving time. Every hour you do not have to spend dealing with a travel headache, is an hour you can utilize elsewhere. Travel managers shouldn’t have to troubleshoot flight delays, manually keep track of itineraries, or pull reports from multiple locations. Travelers can find information quicker, make last-minute updates to travel plans, access 24/7 support from a trusted travel expert, and locate all expense receipts in one location.

4. Serves Your Travelers

Companies rely on corporate travel to close new business, foster relationships with current accounts, or inspire and connect departments within their own organization. In order to ensure those travel dollars are well spent, businesses need to prioritize the traveler experience to avoid fatigue and travel burnout. This is where a travel management company can shine.

By utilizing a tool like AirPortal, travelers can access all their travel plans in one location. No more frustrated inbox searching! Travelers are also alerted when they have incomplete trip plans. This allows you to avoid the high-stress situation of arriving at a new destination and realizing you forgot to book a hotel. Avoiding these small hiccups makes for a better traveler experience overall.

Let’s dive deeper into the actual booking process. Whether your travelers like to book online themselves or with a travel agent, partnering with the right travel management company can provide huge upside.

First, adhering to company travel policy is effortless. Regardless of which booking option they choose, your travelers are only offered options that fit within your policy. Traveler preferences are also documented, integrated, and considered before any bookings are confirmed, which makes for happy travelers!

Most importantly, TMCs should offer around-the-clock expert support and consultation. We all know that flights are sometimes delayed or canceled. Occasionally hotels are overbooked. Having access to a dedicated travel advisor team or a certified online support team means your travelers can feel confident in knowing they always have a trusted expert to turn to.

High-stress circumstances during business travel can lead to traveler anger and resentment towards their employer. These situations need to be solved quickly and with little effort from the traveler. With Christopherson Business Travel, your travelers have an expert in their corner to deal with unforeseen issues no matter the day or time.

5. Provides Integrated and Centralized Data Reporting

Next, let’s dig into how a travel management company can help the travel manager as well as the finance department. Many businesses struggle to analyze data because this information is coming from multiple departments and software. Christopherson’s AirPortal platform takes all your data points and presents them in a meaningful and centralized way.

Your AirPortal reporting and analytics tools can help you identify which departments or individuals spend the most on travel, which travelers book outside of your policy, and trends to see where you can save money. Having clear, concise reporting ensures accountability across all departments and helps you to make better-informed business decisions.

In addition to AirPortal’s benchmarking and analytics options, you can also access ValueLogic, an ROI tool that allows you to see exactly how and where we’re saving you money. And since not all travel programs are the same, AirPortal’s reports can be customized to your specific needs, so you see what matters to you. The end result? Cost savings and a well-managed travel program.

 

Read our blog post, What are the benefits of a corporate travel management company?” to learn about more benefits a TMC can provide. 

 

Do You Need A Travel Management Company?  Customer Testimonial for CBT Travel Management

From Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits to start-ups, any organization that wants to save time or money on travel can benefit from using a TMC. Download our whitepaper “Do I Need A Travel Management Company?” to better understand how your travel program could benefit from a TMC.

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Is It Time For A Business Travel Program Review?

Let’s say your company has an implemented and active travel program. You have processes in place, the correct people in charge, and travelers on the road. Everything is as it should be, right? You may actually be missing one important part of the process—an overall program review. Similar to finance or investments, it’s necessary to take a broad assessment of your travel program and your company every so often. So, is your travel program still on target? We’ve compiled these common questions to help your company decide if it’s time for a business travel program review.

Is your travel program still on target? Here’s what you should be asking:

When was the last time you reviewed your travel program? 

One year? Five years? Though yearly and quarterly reviews and assessments are imperative to a healthy travel program, we find most companies take a deeper look at their existing travel program every three to five years.

Has your company grown or shrunk since you first implemented your travel program? 

Could the person in charge of your travel need an additional set of hands to get through everything? Most often we find that companies simply outgrow their existing travel program. Additionally, your industry landscape may be completely different from when you first established your travel policy and program. Do you have new or different competitors? Are there new territories you team visits? It may be time to do a competitive review as well.

What’s new in the business travel industry? 

Business travel continues to advance at the speed of light. It’s surprising to think that ride sharing and vacation rentals like airbnb have really just entered the business travel sector. Is your team utilizing these latest advances? Or would they benefit from adding it to your program?

Are you getting the most advanced technology options on the market?  

In addition to the overall changes in the business travel industry, is the technology itself. Would your company’s travel be smoother with the use of easy-to-access itineraries, risk management support, online booking options, or real-time analysis tools? Travel technology and custom integrations can often be limited in smaller or boutique travel management companies. It might be time to research the latest in travel technology and its benefits for your company.

Is your team getting the support they need?

As your company grows, so should its support or services. What happens to your travel on the weekends or after 5pm? Smaller in-house programs or boutique TMCs often no longer provide the support, hours of service or attention that’s needed for growing companies.

Are there other travel management services that could be included?

Businesses often have an assortment of travel needs. Business travel is the most obvious, but what about VIP travel, event or meeting planning, humanitarian travel, or incentive trips? Though these types of travel can be planned through different travel companies, it is often easier and saves costs in the long run to consolidate all travel needs with one TMC.

 

As companies grow, new challenges and needs grow as well. One area that is usually overlooked is the travel program. It can be tempting to stick with an existing travel program during these times of growth. But the fact is that it may no longer effectively benefit your company or travelers. Taking the time to ask yourself these questions will put you in the right track to evaluate your travel program.

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson’s Online Travel Support & Tools

Not surprisingly, the ability to book travel online is important for many busy professionals. Because we’re known for our travel advisor services and consultative approach; our exceptional online booking tools and support team can sometimes fly under the radar. With our team of industry experts and our company’s preferred partnerships, they are often the unsung heroes of easy booking and travel solutions. So, what makes our online travel support superior above others?

What does our online travel support look like?

Booking travel quickly and easily is a top priority for our busy clients. With our many years in corporate travel management, we’re well-versed in the unique challenges of online booking and support. That’s why we provide three specialized support teams and various online booking tools for our clients. Reliability is a necessity, and our services and technology ensures it runs smoothly.

Christopherson’s online support teams

It can be surprising to learn how complex online booking and support can be on the back end. It’s much more than just connecting buttons and going live. Designing our support team into three specialized groups has proven to be the best way to provide proactive and expert service for our clients. What’s even better, is our online support team are also experienced travel advisors. They often assist in other ways if needed! Here’s a closer look at our online support teams:

  1. Frontline support team – This team is dedicated to the phone and email support of the travelers. They are available to assist with anything the traveler may need while booking online. While most TMCs charge to speak with a support team, this is included at no additional cost for our clients.
  2. Reservation support team – They monitor the reservations going through our automated systems to ensure everything is working smoothly.  They contact travelers when there may be a payment issue, schedule change and handle the processing of our Airbank tickets to online reservations.
  3. Online tech team – This team handles the implementations, updates, audits and general maintenance of our 1000+ online sites.  Working directly with SAP Concur on any outstanding issues and builds, they are SAP Concur certified and regularly attend trainings.

Christopherson’s online booking tools

We work with three online booking tools: Concur Travel, Deem, and nuTravel. Because of our Concur Preferred Partner status and associated customer benefits, we often recommend our clients book through Concur Travel.

Being a Concur Preferred Partner

A Concur Preferred Partner is a travel management company that is recognized by SAP Concur to be fully equipped to manage travel needs, based on their relentless commitment to their clients and technical advancements. The company must also be a leader in the industry and fully aligned with SAP Concur’s mission and vision. They also have a history of constant collaboration with the Concur Travel team.

Christopherson is one of only 23 companies nationwide that hold this exclusive membership. In fact, we were one of the first to receive this distinction as a result of our innovation and integrations. We have worked closely with SAP Concur since 2003, and currently manage more than 1,000 sites for more than 750 companies using SAP Concur.

We are also the first agency to become a Concur Certified Agency. This new designation was earned by Christopherson’s online technology specialists, through training and testing, to ensure complete proficiency in the design and maintenance of Concur Travel sites.

What are the benefits of working with a TMC with Concur Preferred Partner status?

This preferred status is more than just a fancy title. It comes with perksmany that directly benefit the customer. So what does that include?

  • Full and open integration – Being a preferred partner enables us to offer comprehensive service and a commitment to innovation.
  • Priority escalation of Concur Travel issues – Think of this like cutting in line when an issue arises. Our perks are your perks.
  • Cutting-edge service and support – As your company grows, so will your travel program. Being a preferred partner gives us the ability to evolve, not only in the industry, but also as your travel needs change.
  • High quality service and responsive interaction – Being a longtime direct reseller of SAP Concur, you can be assured of high quality service and responsive interaction.
  • Access to Christopherson’s SAP Concur Certified Online Tech Support Team – Our specialists know the inside and out of SAP Concur, and are always available via phone or email.

See why our online travel solutions are continually recognized as one of the best in the industry?  And this is just skimming the surface of our extensive and ongoing services. Interested in learning more? Contact us with any questions or for a demo of our AirPortal technology.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Do You Know The Most Common Business Travel Expense?

What do you think is the most common expense from business travelers? They need to get to their destination, so you might think it’s airfare or maybe a car service. They also need to sleep, so hotels would be another good guess. Would you be surprised to find that it’s actually dining expenses?

That’s right, Certify recently released a study examining more than 50 million expenses on their platform. Trying to understand how business travelers spend their money, they discovered a few insights along the way. 

Common expenses for business travelers

  • Dining is not only the most common expense, but also the expense that has increased the highest in the last three years. The average meal is now $5 more than it was in 2016.
  • Within those dining expenses, Starbucks remained the most popular vendor in 2018. Not really a surprise to fellow business travelers, right? It represented 23.4% of all dining expenses.
  • Hotels and fuel have also increased in the last few years. Hotels are on average $50 more expensive.
  • Airfares and ride hailing services have declined in price. (Thanks Uber and Lyft!) Airfares are about $40 less on average.

What does this mean for your business travelers:

  • Travelers are now accustomed to convenience and getting exactly what they want, when they want it. Having a travel program with this flexibility will keep your travelers more comfortable in the long run. If you don’t it’s time to start thinking of ways to include this in your travel policy and program.
  • Understand that costs overall have increased for the travel industry. Yes, flights have decreased and the sharing economy has also helped changed the game. But overall, travel is increasing and is expected to continue that way. Though obviously one of your main objectives is to keep costs low, try to be fair to your business travelers and their needs. They shouldn’t get the short end of the stick because fuel is more expensive.
  • Understand which expenses are most important to your travelers.  See if there is a way to provide that service within the travel policy at a better price point. Negotiate with vendors if possible and don’t be afraid to get creative.
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Business Travel Travel Management

Fly America Act and Travel Management

In this installment of our definition series, we’re diving into the Fly America Act and its importance within travel management. The Fly America Act typically applies to federal travelers, including government contractors, who are working on behalf of the United States. As with most government contractor regulations, the Fly America Act needs to be understood and adhered to specifically. That’s why it’s important to partner with a TMC who specializes with government contractor travel

 

The Fly America Act

So what is the Fly America Act and why is it so important?

  • Called 49 U.C. 40118, it is (fortunately) more commonly known as the Fly America Act.
  • It requires federal travelers to use U.S. air carrier service for all air travel and cargo transportation services that is funded by the U.S. government.
  • These air carriers that are included in the Fly America Act are called U.S. flag air carrier.
  • This includes companies not just in the 50 states, but also the District of Columbia, and the territories of the U.S. 
  • To comply with this act, air transportation needs to be performed by or under a code sharing arrangement with a U.S. flag air carrier id service. It is also done if a carrier is available – regardless of cost, convenience, or destination.
  • Tickets must also identify the air carrier’s designator code and flight number. 

 

Are there any exceptions to the Fly America Act?

Yes. And if you can believe it, this is where it gets confusing. There are different exceptions for different circumstances. For instance, travelers flying solely outside the United States have different exceptions than travelers flying between the U.S. and a different country.

Some common exceptions are:

  • If the length of travel will be extended by 24 hours or more.
  • When the costs of transportation will be fully reimbursed by a third-party.
  • If the U.S. carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service between the origin and destination. Of course, there are additional requirements if this case occurs. For example, a U.S. air carrier should be used for every leg of the journey, notwithstanding additional exceptions.
  • When Open Skies Agreement is in place.  The use of a foreign carrier is allowed if the transportation involves the United States, the European Union (E.U.), Australia, Japan, or Switzerland. 

 

See what we mean about complexities involving the Fly America Act? If you are a government contractor, it is imperative that you have a corporate travel management company that can correctly lead you through the complicated world of the Fly America Act. Christopherson is a travel management company with extensive experience in government contractor travel. If you are interested in learning more or have additional questions about the Fly America Act, please contact us today.

 

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Business Travel Travel Management

2019 Travel Risks You Should Know

Having reliable risk management solutions is crucial for a well-rounded travel program. This is especially true if you are an international company or have travelers flying internationally. Last month, I attended a travel risk seminar presented by International SOS. As leaders in the travel risk field, it focused on latest stats and 2019 travel risks.

Top risks for business travelers in 2019

For good or bad, not a lot is expected to change in 2019 when in comes to travel risks. The risk of dangerous or extreme events is predicted to be about the same as compared to 2018. In fact, perceived risk from business travelers has been on the decline over the past couple of years. This of course, does not mean that hazards have disappeared. Instead, business travelers  may be more accustomed to the risks that they face.

  1. Natural disasters and extreme weather – In 2018, the U.S. faced devastating hurricanes and wildfires. We also saw earthquakes and typhoons shake countries across the globe. While many areas are still recovering, tumultuous weather and extreme storms are expected to continue in 2019 at the same rate.
  2. Epidemic and re-emerging diseases – With our fast news cycles, it’s easy to forget about growing diseases like Zika, Ebola and other infectious diseases found in other countries. Before traveling, be sure to research the diseases found in your destination area and prepare accordingly. 
  3. Terrorism and attacks in low risk destinations – Places we once considered low-threat are seeing increased rates of terrorist attacks, for example the UK and areas in Europe. This is anticipated to continue in 2019.   
  4. Increasing traveler volumes and the rise of global mobility – With lower airline fares and a better economy in the U.S., more people are traveling locally, as well as abroad. This rise in masses has its hand in increasing other risks, like illness, traffic and overcrowding.
  5. Political unrest – Did you know that six countries in South America will have a change in power this year? Shifts in power, like a new political party in office can sometimes lead to political unrest and even protests. It is important to be aware of the cultural and political energy in any area you plan a trip.  

Top ways for companies to stay ahead in 2019

  1. Review and update current travel policies – As technology and communication continues to advance, it’s important that your travel policies and protocols are reflected for the benefit of your travelers.
  2. Improve preparation and training – This goes hand-in-hand with the first bullet point. Understand where your policies may be lacking, but also update your team and provide additional training if needed. As with other security protocols, it’s essential your team knows what to do in case of an emergency.
  3. Expand with enterprise-wide solutions – Depending on the size of your company and the number of travelers, relying on a third-party travel risk management company may be your best option for handling travel emergencies.  
  4. Understand the protocol, should an emergency occur – Just a friendly reminder, some international travelers call their TMCs looking for assistance in the time of crisis. While TMCs provide essential information, it’s important to use it in conjunction with travel risk management companies, like International SOS. They are the emergency procedure experts, and who you want in charge in a dangerous situation. Ensuring your internal staff knows who to call, and under which circumstances, can eliminate hiccups when an emergency occurs.  
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Business Travel Travel Management

Increasing Employee Compliance With New Travel Policies

Implementing new travel policies can get tricky. Yet often the real battle comes later, when you’re trying to get employee compliance on these new changes. More often than not, these new policies were sculpted with the traveler’s needs and happiness in mind. The truth is there are many reasons business travelers should want to comply, not just because the company seems to demand it.

What employees receive when they comply with the travel program:

  1. Their safety. It’s the company’s duty of care responsibility to ensure their traveler’s wellbeing while they’re traveling on the company’s behalf. Should an emergency arise, there will be no confusion if a traveler has followed the protocol of the travel policy. Plus, tools like our SecurityLogic provides instant location information, based off of their itineraries.
  2. Saves costs for the company. Vendor contracts have been painstakingly created and negotiated. It only makes sense to stay within guidelines.
  3. If done correctly, increases traveler satisfaction. As important as overall costs are for the company, ensuring their travelers are comfortable often leads to more productive meetings. By understanding what will keep your travelers happy, and ensuring they rely on your travel program to receive it, makes it a win/win for everyone.

5 ways to use traveler satisfaction to increase compliance

    1. First and foremost, talk to your travelers. Survey your employees and try to negotiate the inclusions that are important to them. They are, after all, the people enduring the trip.
    2. Recognize frequently expensed items like lounge access or Wi-Fi. Try to get these things included for frequent travelers.
    3. Don’t be afraid to get creative in negotiations. For example, if travelers are frequently expensing Starbucks, consider negating a breakfast credit to be used either in the restaurant or coffee shop (rather than a traditional breakfast) at your preferred hotel.
    4. Travelers are more likely to comply to vendors if you provide them the WIFM (what’s in it for me). Traveling for business in general may be enough of a perk of the job for some. So make sure they understand the additional benefits included in their policy. You’ve worked hard to get them these perks, so make sure they know they have it available.
    5. Continued internal communication about travel programs. This tip seems so basic, but is often overlooked. Travel management has a tendency to become a siloed conversation within companies. Sure, new employees are briefed when they come on, but how many really know what’s included in their travel policy? Many may not even realize they’re booking outside of the policy. Or reasonable alternatives to their preferences are available. Try by taking a step back and putting yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. When was the last time they were briefed on employee compliance and the travel policy? What information is available when they’re booking or if they have questions? Do you have communications protocol if a new vendor contract is created? You could make a goal to send out a quarterly update email entailing any changes or reminders of basic protocols.

Overall, getting employee compliance with travel policies requires help from both sides of the table – the company and the traveler. By understanding their needs, you can help create a superior travel experience. And hopefully the travelers will understand the importance of complying with the policy when they see the benefits for their wellbeing and safety.

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Business Travel Travel Management

What Common Password Mistakes Are Putting You At Risk?

Is your password still your birthday? Do you get that guilty feeling every time you use it, swearing you’ll be more creative next time you login? For good or bad, you’re not alone. 91% of people in a recent survey said they knew they shouldn’t reuse passwords, but 59% continue to do so.  Unfortunately, we live in a time when data breaches are part of the norm. In fact, in the time it takes to finish this sentence, there will be approximately 280 data records stolen. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but your company and coworkers as well. It’s time to stamp out those nasty password mistakes and start on the right foot.

The most common password mistakes

  • Thinking a weak password is ok for some accounts. You may be thinking that hackers are more interested in your PayPal account than your FitnessPal. And you’re right — for the most part. Hackers will often start with a login on a less important account as a way to climb the ladder to your more valuable accounts. Users should be aware that every login is important for a hacker, whether it’s your banking password or online shopping account.
  • Reusing passwords, especially from home to office. Turns out slight adjustments to your tried-and-true password is not enough of a change to thwart off hackers. It becomes even more problematic when you use the same passwords across personal and business accounts. Once this gap is breached, confidential information for your business, coworkers and even clients may be exposed. For example, an employee of Dropbox reused a personal password, ultimately leading to the credentials of over 60 million accounts being seized.
  • Sticking to the default password. Always remember to change any new logins created by your tech department. ‘Admin’, ‘password’, or ‘12345’ might be easy to remember, but it’s not worth the risk. Plus, it’s often the first words hackers try.
  • Not using two-factor authentication when available. You have likely used this process recently. It requires a second verification to log into an account, typically it’s an additional pin sent to your phone or fingerprint scan. This added step in security ensures that no one other than you will be able to access your account. If given the option, always activate the two-factor verification process.

Tricks to creating a secure password that you’ll actually remember

If you’re anything like the majority of people, you should probably update your passwords. The hurdle for most people is the fear of forgetting their new password. In fact, the same study found that only 55% of victims change their password after they discovered they were hacked. The truth is, secure password habits is actually pretty easy to learn and utilize. The trick to a hard-to-crack password is one that is unique, easy for you to remember, but also hard to guess. Just follow our tricks below and you’re accounts will be like Fort Knox in no time.

  • Make passwords lengthy and complex. A secure password should contain at least 12 characters, with uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols.
  • Avoid using painfully obvious passwords, or commonly used words in passwords. For example, ‘12345’, ‘asdfghjkl;’, or ‘password’.
  • Don’t use information that a friend or family member would be able to guess. Hackers would likely be able to decipher it as well. Avoid using information like you or your family member’s birthdays, your favorite band, your home address, maiden name etc. If it’s something a facebook search could reveal, avoid using it in your password. You can still make it personal and memorable to you without using these general and searchable facts.
  • Try using a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase is a string of letters or words put together, making it unique and harder to crack. You can still personalize it to make it memorable. For example, use your favorite breakfast, ‘startthedaywith_Eggs&bacon.’
  • Use a phrase or acronym to keep it memorable but also obscure. For example, ‘2BorNot2B_ThatisThe?’ (To be or not to be, that is the question) or ‘4Score&7YrsAgo’ (Four score and seven years ago).
  • You can also be systematic about your process. Use passwords with common elements, but customize for the account. For example, ‘ABT2_uz_AMZ!’ (about to use Amazon) ‘ABT2_uz_BoA!’ (about to use Bank of America)
  • Use the keyboard as your reminder. Create a password by creating a shape on the keyboard. For example, by creating a big W starting at 1, my new password is ‘1qsxfthmko0’. That’s pretty tricky to decipher to an outsider, while still being relatively easy to recreate. Try different patterns, like smiley faces, hearts, or a letter you will remember. Just be sure to avoid completely straight lines across the keyboard.
  • Get in the habit of changing passwords regularly. Start with National Change Your Password Day on February 1.
  • If you’re still wary of forgetting passwords, use a password manager to generate and store your passwords. Here are some the the top rated managers on the market.
  • Hopefully this is a no-brainer, but should be repeated for any roadwarriors out there – always use a secure wifi connection when creating a new password or logging into an account. Wait until your home or in the office to make any changes. Hotel wifi is often not secure enough for sensitive information.

Passwords are truly the first line of defense against identity theft. Whether it’s a food delivery app or banking account, it needs to hold a strong defense against impending attacks. These simple tricks may taxing to start with, but will keep you and potentially your company’s information safe.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Travel Smarter—With Our Travel Analytics Tools

We are excited to announce our latest innovation in travel management technology at this year’s GBTA Convention in San Diego, CA. In connection with Domo, the world’s leading data visualization platform, we are premiering our advanced travel analytics tools. Integrated within our AirPortal platform, these 16 tools allow our customers to visualize their travel data in new ways, empowering them to make data-driven decisions.

Our CEO, Mike Cameron says, “In today’s world, you have to bring technology to the front and provide meaningful tools to move business forward. Without it, travel managers will fall behind.” We find clients often avoid analyzing their travel data altogether, never seeing the insights that their program and travelers really need. That was our motivation behind developing a solution that makes travel data easier to understand. “Being able to visualize the story their data tells allows them to take informed action that ultimately helps them run a more cost-effective travel program.”

What are the additional benefits of our travel analytics tools?

  • Easy accessibility – Located on the AirPortal 360 dashboard, travel managers will find a comprehensive overview of their travel data in one convenient location. With 16 data cards on display, additional information and filters can be accessed within each card. Further customization and display settings are also available.
  • Reduces travel spend – Understand the story your travel program is telling you and use it to reduce costs. For example, by using the ‘Online vs. Full Service’ or ‘Top 25 Travelers’ data cards, a travel manager can understand their travelers’ habits or preferences. By then aligning travel policies, they can ultimately save the company money while meeting the needs of their employees.
  • Helps negotiate better vendor contracts – Identify the trends hiding in your data. By using the ‘Hotel By State’ or ‘Top 10 Hotel Chains’ data cards, travel managers can analyze patterns within their travel data. Through this easy analysis, they may recognize increased hotel bookings within one state or chain, providing a chance to negotiate better vendor contracts.

By providing easier visualizations of their data, travel managers can more effectively understand their travel program, ultimately empowering them make data-driven decisions. Stop by our expo booth 535 for a first hand look at our premier technology tools or schedule an appointment with our team through the convention planner.

Hope to see you at GBTA this week!

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Business Travel Travel Management

Looking For Quality Of Service In A TMC

Having a travel management company that you can continually rely on is one of the most important features of managed travel. And surprisingly, it’s one that’s most often overlooked. When our sales teams begins discussions with potential new clients, 9 out of 10 times we discover they are dissatisfied with their current travel management procedures. Occasionally they’re companies who manage their own travel and are looking for a better solution. But often, they are already working with a TMC and are dissatisfied with their current level of service. They’ve typically seen issues like no follow-up support or limited after-hours care. Frequently it’s more broad, like a lack of overall account management on their travel or admin services. If you or your company are looking for a new TMC or a change, it’s important to understand what qualities make a TMC top notch in travel support service.

Important factors that note high quality of service and support in TMCs:

  • After-hours care and support is included –Things don’t always go as planned. Flights get delayed, meetings go long, blizzards blizzard. It’s important to not overlook comprehensive after-hours care when partnering with a TMC. In addition to our top of the line after hours support, all of our advisors are highly experienced and located within the United States. That means you can talk to someone from home when it really counts.
  • Proactive duty of care approach –A quality TMC should additionally provide support and communication tools to use when your employees are traveling. For example, our SecurityLogic tool helps locate and communicate with their travelers quickly in case of an emergency. It also provides alerts to travelers or travel managers, should an event occur nearby.
  • Good standing relationship with airlines – A working relationship with different airlines has its perks. Because of our stellar relationship with many major airlines, we are able to provide superior service for our clients, including accommodation support.  It also often results in additional deals and savings for your company.
  • A consultative approach – Our account managers, not only love their accounts like family, but also have goals tied to how they are rated in Christopherson. Your success is literally their success. Our Airportal system allows them to be more consultative than other TMCs.

Quality of service is one of the more important features needed in a successful travel management program. Around the clock support and a consultative approach is important, but also superior risk management and industry relations. If you would like to learn more about how Christopherson continually goes above and beyond for our clients, please contact us.

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Travel Management 101 For Government Contractors

As with most things involving the government and larger institutions, government contractors are held to specific requirements and practices. Their compliance with activities like business travel is no different. Unfortunately, finding the right travel management company that can support their needs is not always an easy task. Though there are many travel management companies, only a few specialize in travel management for government contractors. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of specific items government contractors should consider before partnering with a TMC.

10 points government contractors need to know before partnering with a tmc:

  1. Understands the importance of compliance. Government contractors are somewhat unique in the business travel industry. Unlike most companies which has compliance as a goal, it must be followed to a tee for government contractors. That’s why partnering with a TMC that fully understands the ins-and-outs of specifics related to your travel policy is essential.
  2. Specialized experience. Look for a TMC that has the experience of working with government contractors and the years to back it up.
  3. Customized online booking tool for compliance and control. Ensure your team can customize your travel policy when necessary.
  4. Customized electronic travel approval. Easy to use automations are key for your travel managers, travelers, and even whole departments to efficiently get things done. Feeling confident that you can trust the backend of your travel approval process eliminates many travel management related headaches.
  5. JTR, or Joint Travel Requirements. If you are members of the Uniformed Services of the United States and DoD civilian employees and civilians who travel using DoD funding, you will need to set up a JTR. This is a key element that your TMC should bring your company. The JTR contains regulations related to per diem, travel and transportation allowances, and relocation allowances, among others. Having a TMC on your side to navigate what’s best for your company is essential.
  6. Access to per diem for your employees. Ensuring your travelers have the use of per diem while they travel is often a second thought for government contractors. Be sure this is one of the first questions to ask TMCs before requesting RFPs or moving forward in a discussion.
  7. Fly America Act. This act is a federal regulation that requires the use of U.S. flag air carriers for travel paid for or reimbursed by federal grants and contracts. Finding a TMC that can navigate your team through additional acts and compliances, like the Fly America Act or Open Skies Agreement is essential in getting your travel program up and running efficiently.
  8. Travel access to traditionally remote areas. Sometimes government contracts means needing to access typically remote or inhospitable regions. Having a TMC with connections that get your travelers to the front lines is crucial. For example, our connections with Workforce Charter companies enables our CBT contractor expert travel advisors to provide travel wherever your contracts take your travelers. We’ve found other TMCs often don’t have these connections.
  9. Custom reporting for reconciliation and auditing. Customized reporting for what you need to see, not what works best for the general public.
  10. 24/7 service and support. Having a TMC that is always available day or night, is not something that should be taken lightly.

Government contractors need a travel management company that will not only knows the fine details of the industry, but will go above and beyond to support your travelers whenever possible. You should feel confident in choosing the right TMC for your contract or funding. If you are interested in understanding more about how TMCs assist government contractors, or seeing how Christopherson has supported our government contractors for more that 20 years, please contact one of our business travel experts.

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Business Travel Travel Management

The Overlooked Risks of Unmanaged Business Travel

Booking and managing travel is usually a breeze when everything goes as planned. It’s even kind of fun, right? Researching new destination cities is a change of pace from the norm. And finding a good bargain on hotel or airline prices is always a win.  Heck, why do you think we like travel management so much too? But as entertaining as planning business travel can be, most professionals are unaware of the negatives that come with it. Online travel booking sites are easy to use, but truly can’t provide the support that companies need for efficient business travel. The risks of unmanaged business travel, that come without using a travel management company, vary from minor to potentially serious.

7 risks of unmanaged business travel

  • Lacking access to travel experts. Growing accustomed to booking your own travel can be a learning experience, but you’ll likely never gain the years of expert travel tips that experienced account managers or travel agents acquire first hand. Relying on their know-how is one of the top benefits of working with a business travel company.
  • Losing out on loyalty programs, discounts, other offers. There are so many tips, tricks, memberships, vendor contracts, etc that most companies have never even heard of before.  Without a TMC to guide you, most companies miss out on serious cost saving benefits without even knowing it.
  • No framework to ensure compliance. Booking travel is one thing, but managing, reporting and analyzing the data is a whole other ballgame for most busy professionals. Having support to ensure compliance, ultimately reducing travel spend, is a major goal that most companies just can’t realistically afford to do on their own.
  • Leveraging the company’s travel spend appropriately. Instead of loosely managing, a TMC will be able to keep a close eye on your costs and any leakage along the way.
  • Comfort for your employees while they travel. A happy traveler is usually a more productive traveler. Automatically booking them on seats or rooms based on their preferences is one easy way to keep your travelers comfortable and efficient.
  • Overall management and order to travel. Keep all itineraries, preferences, and reporting in one place. No more searching through your inbox to find your traveler’s information. Travel technology, like our AirPortal Suite, is designed to keep everything you or your travelers need readily available and in one secure place.
  • Risk management and duty of care support. One of the growing major risks of unmanaged business travel is duty of care responsibility, or lack thereof. What if an emergency arises in an area that your employee is currently traveling? Staying in communication with them, and alerted should something arise is imperative in our world today. And sadly it’s often overlooked by most companies who manage their own travel.

While most online public travel sites are easy-to-use and appear cheaper on the surface, they ultimately can’t provide the cost savings, quality of service, or duty of care support that travel management companies can overall. Ready to learn more about how Christopherson helps companies stay organized, ensure compliance, and assist with risk management? Let’s chat.

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

What Is A Corporate Travel Policy? Definition Series

When a new client comes aboard with Christopherson, one of the first items on the agenda is aligning their goals with the right corporate travel policy. But what is a corporate travel policy anyway? And how does it influence or affect the success of a company’s travel program? As part of our definition series blogs, we’ll examine this business travel industry topics, along with its subtleties and additional items to consider.

Corporate Travel Policy Definition:

A corporate travel policy is a set of guidelines created by a company for their business travel. Used by their travel managers and employees as they plan trips on behalf of the company, to typically outlines protocol on travel. For example, the requirements needed to book business class seats. The main objective of an effective travel policy is to keep travelers safe, while also adhering to the company’s guidelines. Reducing travel costs is usually a high priority too. If a corporate travel policy is easy to understand, oversees traveler’s security, and up-to-date; overall compliance of the policy will likely be higher as well.

Creating a Travel Policy for Everyone

This is one of the most difficult parts of creating a travel policy. How can you make a travel policy as efficient as possible for company’s bottomline, but also easy to use and convenient for the employee traveling on the policy? For example, a company creates a policy that requires the traveler to always select the cheapest ticket possible. Sounds like a solution for reducing travel costs, right? What’s often overlooked is the added stressors put on the traveler. What if the cheapest flight is a red eye with a 5 hour layover? Yes, it’s cheaper, but it’s hard to sustain employees morale when they’re facing the brunt of the ramifications. As Scott Gillespie, a travel industry expert, points out, an unhappy business traveler often leads to ineffective work. This ultimately results in lower ROI and even employee’s leaving the company. Is saving on travel costs worth possibly losing accounts or going through the rehiring process?

An effective travel policy finds the right balance of rewards and pleasures for the traveler, while also limiting what is ultimately unnecessary. For example, most companies have found that travelers are more compliant with the policy if they keep their accumulated flight and hotel reward points from their trips. A restriction may be a certain length of flight is requires before business class seats are considered for travel. By understanding the desires of your traveler, and setting reasonable limits, a company is more likely to find the middle balance of corporate travel policy.

Anything else I should know about travel policies?

Getting employees to comply to a travel policy is always difficult. And it’s usually for a few different reasons. One, is not enough education on the new policy. Sometimes travelers just don’t know they should be booking flights a certain way. Another is difficulty reporting travel. If expenses are missing or late, it could be a user experience issue. Business travel is hard enough, adding on a bulky or slow expense reporting system is usually a recipe for disaster. One interesting item that should be noted is the rate of compliance by different generations. How Baby Boomers and Millennials prefer to interact with data and compliance is quite different. Not surprisingly, Millennials are often more compliant when it can be done quickly through an email or app on their smartphone. Having a reporting or booking process that aligns with the behaviors of your business travelers is often essential. Read more about it in our in our Millennial travel policy blog.

Because the corporate travel policy is often the heart of a travel program, it is one of the first items we create or adjust when a client joins us. Our experienced account managers know what will work to reach your goals, alongside your company culture. Combined with our vendor relationships and specifically created technology to adhere to your policy, we ensure your travel program goals are always met. To learn more about our approach, technology, or cost-savings tactics, please feel free to contact one or our experts.

For a more thorough look at corporate travel policies, read our guide to creating an effective travel policy.

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Business Travel Travel Management

How Christopherson Reduces Travel Costs

You most likely know that partnering with a travel management company will streamline your travel experience. Your company will also be more organized with easy access to all your information. And the added peace of mind for the security and communication with your traveling employees doesn’t hurt either.  But the additional question we’re frequently asked is – how is Christopherson going to save my company money? Well let’s talk through some of the main ways that we are able to reduce travel costs for our clients.

How Christopherson reduces travel costs for our clients

  • Our AirPortal technology allows our clients to track just about everything. Our new clients often discover that they’ve been previously losing money without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s black holes within compliance. Our AirPortal dashboard provides a top-level view of travel management programs, often providing insight into previously unknown areas of your travel program. By providing a transparent look at your travel program, you can fully understand ways it’s working, but also areas for improvement.
  • Part of the AirPortal suite includes our AirBank technology tool. It tracks all unused air tickets, ensuring you never miss out.
  • Our experienced account management team. As part of their role as your designated account manager, they will always be on the lookout for ways to additionally save your company extra money.
  • Superior vendor relationships. One way our account managers provide above and beyond cost savings, is with their various vendor relationships. Through our connections, we can pass on great deals and contracts to our clients, ultimately saving you money.
  • Our relationship with airlines. One of our favorite tricks is passing on discounts we personally get from the airlines directly to our clients.

 

Our clients often come to us with differing pain points. But cost savings is typically high on everyone’s list.  That’s why we work so diligently to continually provide ways that Christopherson lowers the cost of your travel. If you are interested in learning more about how we can specifically save your company money, please contact us for a free consultation.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Decreasing Your Business Traveler’s Friction

Anyone who has traveled for business understands the additional strain that inevitably comes with it. It’s a race to catch up on emails and deadlines. And jet lag is always a nuisance. Unfortunately, a recent study suggests business traveler’s friction may have more serious consequences.  This study found that business travelers, who travel for more than two weeks out of the month, may have more anxiety and sleeping problems. They are also more likely to smoke, drink, and lead a sedentary lifestyle. This in turn could lead to associated chronic diseases. With emerging studies like this, it’s evident that travel does have an affect on your travelers. For their well being and your duty of care responsibility, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your travelers are happy and healthy.

Understanding business traveler’s hierarchy of needs to reduce traveler friction

hierarchy of business travelers needsAn interesting theory to understanding the strain on your business travelers, is thinking of traveler friction as a hierarchy of needs. From Scott Gillepsie, the idea is very similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The concept is simple. Business travelers cannot reach the increasing levels on the pyramid if their basic needs at the lower levels have not been met. Health and Safety are the base of the pyramid. First and foremost, your employees should feel safe while traveling. Such as having a hotel reservation and food stipends for their trip. The second level, Productivity, leads to Engagement. If they are safe and healthy, your employees can focus on their work and engage with others proactively. This leads to Impact at the top of the pyramid. Your business traveler can efficiently complete tasks, such as closing the account or resolving client issues.

Scott Gillepsie found that business travelers that have a higher travel friction, or stay lower on the pyramid, are usually less productive. Even with constant travel, they close deals less often. Ultimately costing the company more money in the long run. What’s the point, if an imbalanced travel policy is ultimately losing the company money as well as harming your employee’s wellbeing?

How to reduce business traveler friction, for the health of your employees

So what can companies do to ensure their business travelers are happy? Having a travel policy that’s not just bare bones is great starting point. Sometimes it comes down to the little perks.

    • Give them a chance to stay home. Yes, business trips are often great job experience, worth the investment and provide opportunities for employees to prove themselves. But capping travel after a certain amount of time may be good option if applicable for your company. Give your employees a chance to recuperate and enjoy time at home.
    • Give them the perks they want, when possible. If they have to travel, at least make it enjoyable and as comforting as possible. Let them keep the reward points. Give them economy seating if the plane trip is over 6 hours. Reimburse for TSA Pre-Check, lounge access or wifi access. Allow use of black car services if your traveler’s plane arrives after 9pm.
    • Talk to your travelers. You may think you know what they want, but it could be small details that you don’t realize.
    • Incentivise their health and fitness. Create a company-wide competition for working out and eating healthy. Keep them motivated.
    • Make expense reporting as easy as possible. Keep the travel-associated tasks as easy as possible to complete.
    • Provide time off for the additional time spent traveling and working outside of regular work hours.
    • Discourage late flights, early flights or weekend travel.
    • Encourage bleisure travel trips.
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Business Travel Travel Management

Why Duty Of Care For Universities Is The Real Reason To Mandate Travel

From study abroad students to professors on sabbatical; universities have their own ecosystem when is comes to travel management. Just think of it, potentially thousands of students, administrators, professors and contractors can be traveling on behalf of an academic institution at any one time. That’s why it’s so surprising to learn that many universities and colleges do not utilize travel management companies for their complex travel needs. Many know that mandating travel would help them stay organized and reduce travel costs. But unfortunately, finding the right TMC often becomes a ‘back-burner’ item. Additionally, as the global and political climate become more unpredictable, the responsibility of duty of care for universities is also growing. Can learning institutions really afford not have a mandated travel management program in this day and age?

Increase in travel risk requires more duty of care for universities

Duty of care responsibility and the travel risk management that is required to maintain it, is a large task for even small startups. The responsibility required by a university or college can be mind boggling. Whether it be theft, terrorism, disease, or weather; the risks associated with travel have always been around. And unfortunately, it appears to be increasing. iJET, a leader in integrated travel management, found that 98% of their alerts were issued in just the past five years. Additionally, 78% of travel managers plan on making risk management a higher priority this year. Risk, from pickpockets to something catastrophic, is a global issue that only seems to be growing. It is naive to think that universities and colleges of any size can adequately protect their students and employees without the assistance of a travel management program.

How a lack of duty of care lead to disaster

In 2007, Cara Munn was an active 15 year-old excited to attend a school trip to China. Her private boarding school, The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, lead a month-long excursion around the country. Part of the trip included a hike on Mount Panshan. We now know that the trip leaders never told the students to put on bug spray. She was also allowed to hike down the mountain unsupervised rather than take a cable car with the group. Ten days later, Munn was rushed to Beijing hospital with a high fever, headache and wooziness. She eventually was airlifted back to New York. Due to the hike without bug spray, Munn contracted tick-borne encephalitis. This viral infection caused by ticks commonly manifests as meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis. Though Munn went on to finish high school and attended Trinity College, she has lost the ability to speak and some cognitive functions.

Ten years later, Hotchkiss School and the Munn family are still in the middle of a heated lawsuit. The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled to uphold a $41.5 million verdict for the family. They found that the school lacked duty of care responsibility when they failed to warn or protect their students against the risk of a serious insect-borne disease. Though the case is now pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the amount of time, money, stress and energy spent by the school has been insurmountable. And with the court cases appearing to favor the student, it’s becoming more and more apparent that education institutions need to have their duty of care and travel risk management protocol in place and in action should an incident arise.

The necessity of duty of care solutions for universities

Basically it comes down to one question. Can your institution afford to not have duty of care responsibility? Could you afford ten years worth of court fees like this example? What about the bad publicity and tarnished reputation that would come with it?

We’re lucky enough to live in a time where technology has made previously convoluted and confusing tasks simple and straightforward. Travel technology, like our AirPortal 360 Suite, provides support and guidance from the very beginning of your traveler’s process. Ensure they are booking within policy and easily keep track of their itinerary and preferences. Once they travel, monitor their progress and receive travel alerts around their location. Travel management and duty of care responsibility are more important now than ever, but luckily, our travel technology is easy to use and provides peace of mind. If you or your university is interested in learning more about travel management services, please contact us.

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

7 Questions Every Business Should Ask Before Contracting With A TMC – Part 2

Once your company decides to partner with a TMC, finding one that suits your company’s needs becomes the next challenge. If you missed it, see our part 1 of this blog series, addressing the initial questions to ask any travel management company during the vetting process. Now that you’ve asked the first round of questions from your perspective TMCs, it’s time to dive deeper. We’ve compiled additional questions to ask, regardless if this the first time you’re working with a TMC or just looking for a new fit.

Questions to ask before contracting with a TMC

  1. What are the typical savings for your clients? What’s the biggest bang for your buck? Unfortunately, when it comes to cost savings, travel management is not so black and white. Cost is often a major factor, but what are the other pain points affecting your company and its travelers? Having an understanding of what savings looks like to a TMC is an important perspective. 
  2. How much back and forth is needed to finalize travel plans? Depending on your set up and preferences, every company’s answer is going to look different. Seeing how each TMC handles this question can provide excellent insight into their customization options and overall customer service.
  3. Will I be working with a dedicated team? AKA – when the going gets tough, can I rely on people who know the ins-and-outs of my travel needs and preferences? Having reliable back up when you’re stranded alone in an airport at 2:30 am is what makes the difference between a good TMC and a great TMC. At Christopherson, you will have an account manager who always has your back, plus a collection of advisers.
  4. How do you handle travel mishaps? What happens if a traveler misses their flight? Or has a family emergency and needs to quickly change their itinerary? Asking how each company resolves unforeseen travel issues can save you time and energy in the future.
  5. Is there a general travel insurance provider? How well do they know business travel industries as a whole? Are they well-equipped to assist in other travel-related needs, like travel insurance or credit card pre-payment?
  6. Do you provide after hours support? When the unforeseen happens after 5pm, what it the procedure to assisting your travelers. Will they be waiting for a callback? Or will they receive immediate service and support?
  7. How are you different from other TMCs? Ask them for their elevator pitch. Make sure your concerns and their priorities are aligned before contracting with a TMC.

A reliable TMC who always has your back is an essential factor for any growing business. Make sure you choose the corporate travel partner that’s right for your company’s needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for a TMC, or, just interested in more about TMCs in general. We’re always here to talk.

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Business Travel Guides Travel Management

The First Questions To Ask TMCs – Part 1

Deciding to manage travel with a TMC is an exciting transition for any company. Knowing that your travel will be in the hands of experts is relieving, and getting time back in your day back is an appealing perk too. So, now that your company is ready to move forward – where do you start?  What traits are essential for a qualified travel management company? And more importantly, which one is the right fit for your business’ specific needs?

We understand this venture can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these beginning questions to ask TMCs. These are questions we’re frequently asked by interested companies. We’ve also included additional tips and thoughts to consider during the process.

The first 6 questions to ask TMCs

  1. How much money are you going to save me? This is the million dollar question, isn’t it? It’s the question we hear most frequently, and I’m sure it’s the first question your CEO is going to ask you too. Yes, this is an important question, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor either. At Christopherson, our clients can expect to save 15-18% on travel costs on average. But it’s important to also keep in mind other factors; like price of the tickets, time, stress and ancillary costs. Items like these are often not factored into blanket cost statements. Many factors go into a healthy and successful travel management program. Cost is just one of the many considering factors.
  2. What technology do you offer? What solutions are you looking to solve in a travel management software? In your research, you may find there are tools for problems that you didn’t even know existed. Our proprietary technology, AirPortal 360, is a powerful, extensive travel technology tool. With a tool set for travel managers, as well as travelers, you can rest assured that everyone is on the same page. Stay on top of your travel with tools that assist with risk management, hotel pre-pay solutions, unused ticket assistance, and much more.
  3. What is the employee turnover rate at your company? Knowing this answer before signing on with a TMC can truly save time and wasted energy down the line. It can be the difference between and happy and long-term relationship with your account manager, or skipping to new account managers every few months. Having a company by your side that not only takes good care of you, but also their employees is important when it comes to customer satisfaction in the long run.
  4. What is your client retention rate? A very similar question. A low retention of current clients can indicate an issue with performance at a travel management company.
  5. Are there additional inclusions into the travel program? Will the TMC have an initial low price, but nickel and dime you for additional features and actions? This is one reason why the ‘how much are you going to save me’ question can be misleading and necessary to dive further.
  6. Do you provide custom solutions? Is the product and travel program a simple ‘off-the-shelf’ model?  It’s important to understand if your program will have the customization you need to run an efficient travel management program.

At Christopherson Business Travel, our approach is dedicated account management with custom travel programs. Feel confidant that your business is in the right hands with our experienced team and 24/7 service. Please contact us to learn more about how Christopherson can fit your travel needs.

Continue on our part 2 of the series: 7 questions every business should ask before partnering with a TMC

Categories
Travel Management

Leaving Houston Before Hurricane Harvey’s Landfall

When I arrived in Houston for the Concur Fusion Exchange event the last week of August, little did I know of the growing threat brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, was headed straight for the Texas Gulf Coast and Houston. I had never been so close to a hurricane, and as I continued to watch the news and engage in conversations, I grew a little nervous.  With my flight scheduled the same day as the forecasted landfall, I wondered how long I might be in Houston. Would the weather prevented my travels out of town?

In stepped Tina, our wonderful agent at Christopherson Business Travel!  With traffic backing up on the highways to get out of town, and with the airlines inundated with calls to accommodate flights home, Tina told me to just concentrate on my day while she handled my travel plans.  Just her communications alone was enough to calm my nerves. And as the day approached its end, Tina let me know that she secured a spot for me on a packed flight out of town!

I was very appreciative to experience the incredible service that our Christopherson agents provide, and my family was excited to hear that I would be out of harms way.  When travels go smoothly, we don’t often recognize the value of being supported by a terrific team of agents, but when interruptions occur, its a great feeling to know that they are in your corner!

Thank you to Tina, and best wishes to all those affected by Harvey (and Irma) as the rebuilding continues!

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Qualities of a Great Corporate Travel Manager

Whether you’re switching from in-house travel management or changing providers, knowing what a good corporate travel manager looks like can be difficult. You want to make sure you and your employees are in good hands; and the best way to do that is ensure your corporate travel manager is up to snuff.

Top qualities of an excellent corporate travel manager

  1. Connections in the industry. Sometimes solving problems comes down to your connections or past experiences. An exceptional manager typically has years of experience under their belt, with a network of contacts to get things done quickly and smoothly. Their connections may even help you get a great deal with a vendor or accommodations.
  2. Has the experience to guide you. Travel pricing can fluctuate by the hour. Having a travel manager that can see the value in a good price or smooth itinerary can be invaluable.
  3. Works well with both large and small accounts. Companies of different sizes have different pain points. Knowing how to effectively and seamlessly work with accounts of each size is the sign of a great travel manager.
  4. Respects privacy and security. Your travel manager will have exposure to personal information. They should be utilizing the latest security tools to protect you and your travelers to help protect it.
  5. Works well on their feet. Impending weather, meeting cancellations, emergencies – there are many variables that can quickly derail travel itineraries. That’s why it’s so important to have a travel manager who can quickly pick up the pieces and move on with an effective plan.
  6. Backed by a powerful agency.  Large travel management companies, like Christopherson often have deals and connections with airlines, hotels or car services. Working through a TMC often saves you time and stress, but more often than not, a lot of money too.
Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Christopherson and Domo Partnership

At Christopherson, we’ve built a reputation of being the most innovative, technologically-savvy TMC in the industry. Whether we build it ourselves or integrate with other cutting-edge companies, we are committed to being the first in travel technology and a leader in delivering our clients digital tools to solve their problems. Which is why we are excited to announce our latest solution for busy companies and their employees. Christopherson Business Travel and Domo, a business analytics company, have paired up to streamline travel management data. Using Domo’s ability to quickly turn data into insights, and our technology suite to enhance your travel program, we’re again the first to bring unparalleled service to business travel.

Christopherson and Domo—bringing two leaders together

Domo connects directly to any source of data to streamline its reporting. It can combine, cleanse, and transform data in a flash, uncovering insights in just a few clicks. It allows users to visualize and share data across your organization with ease.

Christopherson and Domo have a multifaceted relationship. We have been using Domo to provide actionable insights for our own business for four years. And we are Domo’s premier travel management company. With a symbiotic relationship like ours, it was only inevitable that we would build something great together.

As the first travel management app developer within their ecosystem, the possibilities to integrate were intriguing. Domo and our travel management software, AirPortal, now integrate at ten different data sources. These ten Domo data connectors help us to gain valuable insight and answer questions with intuitive data exploration and filtering. Our account managers receive alerts when a client’s travel spend makes a significant change, up or down. Our sales team and our OPs managers are also able to make smarter, faster decisions to improve their business results.

Introducing our Domo-Partnered Apps:

We’re excited about our three new Domo Partner apps that will be released at the Global Business Travel Association Convention this week. The first in an ongoing series of apps, they pinpoint managed travel frustrations and easily finds solutions.

Travel Leakage Analyzer

This app provides insight into travel spend, revealing pieces previously hidden.  It integrates directly to a feed from a our Airportal, a general ledger, or Concur Expense, and compares it to bookings made through Christopherson. From there it analyzes travel compliance, and more importantly, finds non-compliance. The drill down functionality also allows you to be as granular as needed. With this tool, you can understand your entire picture of compliance, and know where to start to change it around.

Travel Map Insights

With this app you can effectively determine the best locations for future hotel RFPs, based upon a real time data. By looking at hotel locations, total room nights, average daily rate and total spend, your travel manager can make a more informed decision to future vendor negations. Travel managers will be able to easily see and sort the data to make better decisions.

Domo

This is a set of apps offering powerful analytics tools to travel managers. It accesses their data in real-time, making it fast and simple to gleen powerful insights for travel executives and managers.

The Christopherson and Domo Relationship

Premiering at GBTA, this is just the first of an exciting future for powerful and real-time solutions in the travel management industry. With our powerful travel technology suite, coupled with Domo’s cloud-based analysis system, the potential to revolutionize travel management headaches are endless. If you are attending the GBTA convention in Boston this week, we invite you to join us at booth 1175. We will be demo-ing our  integrated apps with Domo, as well as exciting updates to our AirPortal 360 suite. Hope to see you there!

Categories
Travel Industry Travel Management

Enterprise/National as a Ground Transportation Supplier

To be effective, corporate travel programs require many moving parts. One critical area involves nurturing wonderful supplier relationships, including ground transportation. We’ve found that Enterprise/National offers customized benefits for many of our clients.

Customized benefits from Enterprise/National:

  • Dual Brand Agreement (National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car). Programs are customized and negotiated based on the company’s specific travel patterns and traveler needs.
  • One loyalty number “Emerald Club” that is provided and works for both brands globally.
  • Global Billing options are available.
  • Local Account Management and support provided for any customized agreement.
  • 100% location compliance with corporate pricing.
  • Supporting lines of business that can help with other areas of ground transportation: Enterprise RideShare, Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Truck Rental, Exotics by Enterprise, Enterprise Car Sales.

Christopherson Business Travel maintains excellent communication with the many Enterprise/National Representatives throughout the country.  If you need a referral to the right contact in your area, please allow us to be your resource for making an introduction.

We’ve spent the last 60 years dedicated to finding travel management solutions for busy companies. From customized travel programs to advanced technology, we provide peace of mind. Contact us to learn more about how Christopherson, along with our preferred partners, and assist you with your travel needs.

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Business Travel Travel Management

How Do TMCs Assist Travelers?

On our blog, we often talk about the benefits of a managed travel program for corporations.  But what about the traveler?  Whether traveling every single week or only once a year, a company’s managed travel program should assist travelers as well.
Traveling itself is taxing. And that’s not even counting in the stress from meetings, staying on top of emails and time management. We support companies, but more importantly their employees, with the eccentricities of travel. Christopherson provides  a wealth of essential resources, just for travelers.

How Christopherson assists travelers:

  • One-stop Shopping. Book your air, hotel and car from one source.  All discounts and negotiated rates are at your fingertips.
  • Guaranteed Lowest Fare. The traveler will receive a refund if a lower fare is found that meets the same qualifications as the original fare.
  • Afterhours. Christopherson is available 24/7  You will receive experienced, efficient, and courteous support round the clock, no matter where they are in the world.
  • Unused Ticket Tracking. Unused tickets are tracked and made available to you immediately upon cancellation of the original ticket.
  • Traveler Profile. Avoid wasted time and hassle of having to communicate or re-entering your unique travel preferences every time you book your travel.

You have enough on your plate. We cover the tiny details of travel so you can focus on the more important items.

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Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning travel management company with more that 60 years of experience.  From our custom-built technology to our experts employees, we’ve succeeded by providing superior support for all the unique problems travel hands out. If you think your company could benefit from additional travel management solutions, contact us today.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Federal Employees Can Now Expense Sharing Economy Purchases

Earlier this month, President Trump signed a law expanding the acceptance of sharing economy purchases. Called the Modernizing Government Travel Act, it allows federal employees to use sharing economy transportation while traveling on business. These are services like Uber, Lyft and other transportation network operators.

About the Modernizing Government Travel Act

Originally proposed by Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, it passed the House in January. This month it passed the Senate.

Currently, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees civilian travel programs, has already given the go-ahead to reimburse travel network companies.
According to the April Senate report, this new act “codifies and reinforces the GSA’s existing policy to give certainty to agency officials regarding what types of travel can be reimbursed.”

The GSA in known for reimbursing federal employees for the more traditional forms of transportation costs. Things like train, bus or taxi cab. This act simply updates to include the additional transportation types.

Addressing uncertainty in travel policies

Because of the gradual use of  services like Uber or Lyft, business travel compliance has had quite a few gray areas. Both travel managers and travelers have at one time or another been unsure if these transportation services would be covered by their company travel policy. Essentially, this law eliminates that uncertainty of compliance when using sharing economy transportation, at least for federal employees.
Their decision seems to be in line with that of the private sector as well. A Global Business Travel Association survey recently found that reimbursement for sharing economy expenses has increased nearly 15% since June 2016. It is increasingly looking like the sharing economy is here to stay.

Read next:

 

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Surviving a One-Day Buisness Trip

We are all so busy that, at times, a one-day business trip can have a lot of benefits. First, it saves your company money on an overnight in a hotel. Second, it takes less time away from any personal and professional duties and can make a person more productive. While the benefits are strong, the concept of doing such a trip can be daunting to some people.

Tips to surviving a one-day business trip:

1) Stay healthy. Catching an early flight, attending meetings, and then catching another flight at the end of the day is exhausting. Combat this by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy to ensure you have plenty of energy to get you through the day.
2) Dress comfortably. Without access to a hotel, you will need to wear business clothes for the entire day. Invest in some that are wrinkle free and wear comfortable shoes.
3) Pack a small “what if” bag. You’ll need to be prepared in the event that you need to stay over. Extra undergarments, travel sized toiletries and a toothbrush can put your mind at ease.
4) Take advantage of any travel perks. If you have access to an airport lounge or a business center, these can be a great place to catch up on work. If you don’t have such access, you may consider using your extra time to enjoy your destination for an hour or two.
5) Lastly, if your trip includes a red- eye flight, you might consider purchasing an upgrade to ensure you get enough sleep to continue to be productive once you land.

A one-day business trip is eventually inevitable for most professionals.  But if you tackle it strategically, you can walk away with a productive and energetic day under your belt.

Categories
Travel Management

Christopherson’s Simple Implementation Process From Public Travel Sites

For several years, Christopherson has outlined all of the reasons why companies should use a travel agency.  We’ve outlined why public travel sites don’t work.  But what we haven’t talked about is just how simple it is to make a change to a “managed” program.

Christopherson’s managed travel implementation is simple

In some instances, companies know they need to make the change, but they’re worried it’ll take too much time and too many resources.  Will IT need to be involved?  Who will communicate the change to the travelers?  Building a custom online booking site sounds daunting.  Is it?  How do we get the travelers to use the new system?

It’s actually very easy. Christopherson Business Travel can implement a brand new program in less that 2 weeks.  We’ve been implementing accounts for decades and we have the process down to a science!  No, your IT department does not need to be involved.  Our online booking tools are web-based so there is no pull on your internal systems.  Let’s take this step-by-step:

Frequently asked questions about our implementation process

Who will communicate the change to the travelers?  Christopherson has a plethora of sample communication letters for you to wordsmith.  It’s best to have this communication come from the CEO or President, but we provide you all the content you need.

How long does it take?  2 weeks! And we hand hold you through the entire process.  After the initial implementation call (see below), we schedule as many follow up calls as needed for a simple, on-time roll out.

What goes into building a custom online booking tool site?  The first implementation call will take 30-60 minutes.  Our account managers will provide you a check list of items needed (including form of payment, policy info, hotel contracts, car rental agreement numbers, etc., when applicable).  Then, our gurus in the in-house Online Support team does the rest. The site is built, tested, and ready to go.

Who trains the travelers?  We do!  Depending on the size and number of locations, we customize training based on your needs.  In most cases, a 30-60 minute GoToMeeting is all it takes.  Need more training?  No problem.  That’s what we are here for.

There will be many complex systems you’ll need to implement for your company.  Travel isn’t one of them.  As one of our account managers says, “It isn’t rocket science”.

Let us outline how we can get your company on the path to better financial controls, travel policy adherence, safety and efficiency in as little as two weeks.  And remember, we do all the heavy lifting.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Why Universities Use TMCs

When I tell people what I do for a living, they always look surprised when I mention working with universities and higher education. Because Christopherson Business Travel has the word ‘business’ in its name, it’s easy to assume that that’s our only client base. The truth is that colleges and universities need as much travel management as corporations. Here is why many institutions of higher education choose to take travel off of their own shoulders and work with a TMC:

Reasons universities work with travel management companies (TMCs)

1) Universities often have many departments. All of those departments can be a lot for one person or one department to manage. The average university travel program includes; athletics, faculty and staff business travel, study abroad/ student trips and groups. This means at any one time, a university has dozens of people, with varying ages and levels of travel experience on the road. Christopherson employs a University Travel Team of agents who are highly experienced in booking all segments of university travel.

2) As an employer, a university has a duty to ensure the safety of their travelers. This is where we come in. With SecurityLogic, which is housed in our proprietary AirPortal 360 technology, travel arrangers are able to stay informed of the location and security of all travelers. SecurityLogic is a dynamic reporting and communication tool created to facilitate your duty of care responsibilities.

3) Keeping payment methods secure. It is very rare that all university travelers will have their own university specific credit card. So it is quite common for schools to elect to use a departmental card, or ghost card, to be utilized by several travelers. With Christopherson, regardless of your payment configuration, the appropriate card is stored in the Traveler Profile. Once it is stored, it is masked for your protection.

4) 24/7/365 agent access. Things happen when your travelers are on the road and we are here to help your travelers find options. Between our University Team of Agents and our after- hours support, we have you covered.

5) Consultative account management. Managing a university travel program can be a daunting task and you want someone in your corner with more than just a little experience. Our highly experienced account managers take a consultative approach in ensuring the success of your program.

Christopherson Business Travel has been successfully fulfilling the travel needs of higher education clients for more than 30 years and currently manages travel programs for more than 30 colleges and universities.

Categories
Travel Management Travel Tips

CV Travel Is A Humanitarian Travel Lifesaver

Rose Pylidis, a Christopherson Business Travel Executive, volunteers her time with a humanitarian organization in South Africa every year. Their goal is to create awareness and funding for food, clothing, shelter and education for women and children affected by poverty, abandonment and HIV/Aids. She flies out every year, bags in tow, to visit places such as Mabopane and Makanyane to volunteer her time and energy.

Rose has been volunteering with this non-profit for 16 years, but this is her first time traveling with the help of CV Travel, a recently acquired Christopherson Andavo company. Specializing in humanitarian travel and faith-based travel, they organize travel and provide travel support. This is Rose’s recent experience traveling with their help.

Humanitarian travel with CV Travel

How did you book travel before using CV Travel? 

Normally I would just book my trips via the Delta website.  This time, I used CV Travel to book my trip. They took care of everything!  In addition to the discount pricing, the thing I most appreciated was the ability to take 3 pieces of luggage per person.  With six of us in the group, that enabled us to bring much-needed clothing for women, children, and babies, as well as additional school supplies.
What info did you need to provide CV Travel? 

What I so appreciated was their ability to offer us different flight options/pricing within 2-3 day arrival/departure variable.  All she needed was our names as they appeared on our passports to hold the space and then we had several weeks before we had to make the final payment.

How was it different than how you previously booked humanitarian travel? I had such

I had such peace of mind knowing that I could contact CV Travel with any questions or possible changes.  Also, the fact that everyone in our party was able to take 3 suitcases at no additional charge.

Do you have any humanitarian travel tips for others?

On a personal note, I do keep a checklist for my international trips and always make sure to include an adaptor for charging phones, computers, etc.   Also, I spray colloidal silver on any surface that will be used to put my food on, especially the tray on the airlines, as well as spray some in my mouth.   Regardless of the area, I always make sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray.   Another important thing to consider is to take clothes that can be layered.  Also, closed-toes shoes are important.   Even though bottled water is normally available, it wouldn’t hurt to take some type of water purification device, even iodine tablets.    For humanitarian purposes, packing items that don’t require a lot of space or don’t weigh much including – stickers, socks, toothbrushes, washcloths, hair ribbons and postcards from your local area. They love seeing where you come from and understanding how other people live.

Christopherson Andavo Travel is a full-service travel company, providing assistance with corporate, leisure, and humanitarian travel management. Contact us to arrange your next excursion.

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Business Travel Travel Management

The Overlooked Factor In Efficient Travel Programs

In February, the GBTA- North Carolina chapter had the pleasure of hosting Scott Gillespie, a true travel management thought leader.  Mr. Gillepsie is the CEO of t-Clara and frequent contributor to Business Travel News. His presentation focused on a question travel managers often find themselves thinking – how do I gauge success with my travel management process?

Identifying the difference in efficient travel programs

Gillespie based his findings from a recent study, sponsored by ARC, American Express Global Business Travel, and his firm, tClara.  Participants were 700 US-based road warriors who answered questions about their company’s travel policy. The questions focused on if their travel management policies emphasized convenience or budget.

Not surprisingly, travelers operating under strict cost-focused travel programs tended to be more dissatisfied. They admitted to nearly 13% less compliance with their travel policies. They also indicated a 15% higher rate of burn-out and were significantly less willing to travel within two years time.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, travelers with companies that had convenience-based travel policies tended to be more productive on the road and had an overall better outlook about their jobs.

What travel managers should also be measuring:

So are these companies specifically prioritizing cost over the wellbeing of their employees? Of course not! Most companies just aren’t measuring employee satisfaction as a KPI. Gillepsie advised that each travel manager obtain an employee turnover report for employees in traveling roles from their HR department. Getting insights on high turnover rate is the first step to see if adjustments to the travel policy to result in higher employee retention. From there, it may make sense to look at other priorities for travel policies than budget.

Read Scott Gillepsie’s article for other key performance indicators and details on the survey.

 

With our 24/7 service, online support and exceptional service delivered by our travel agents, Christopherson helps ease any challenges that occur when your travelers on the road. In addition, your consultative account manager will assist you in making the necessary changes to your travel policy to decrease traveler dissatisfaction and increase productivity!

Categories
Travel Industry Travel Management

Business Travelers Increasingly Moving To Sharing Economy

The times, they are a-changin’. One of the biggest adjustments in the business travel industry in recent years is the growing trend of sharing economy options. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have created an alternative from big-business hotels and car services. The results are often informal connections and saving money. So how are companies reacting to this industry change?

Sharing Economy is growing in the business travel industry

A survey by the Global Business Travel Association found that businesses are increasingly allowing the use of rides sharing services, like Uber or Lyft. This compliance has increased nearly 15% since June 2016. Over the same period, permission to book through Airbnb or other lodging services increased by 20%.

Though the compliance growth has been substantial for it’s short time, these sharing economy companies have a long way to go to gain the majority of the market. According to GBTA, half of corporate travel policies still don’t explicitly allow employees to use ride-hailing apps. 70% also make no mention of using home-rental services.

Hurdles in travel management compliance?

Let’s say your company allows sharing economy for business travel. Is the company’s internal communication strong enough to get the message out? This seems to be one of the biggest setbacks the sharing economy is facing right now. In another study by the GBTA, of 24% of companies that permit ride-hailing apps, only 12% of their employees were aware of the compliance. Begging the larger question– what good is a modern and updated travel policy if no one sees it?

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning Travel Management Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. With more than 60 years of experience, we provide travel solutions with our proprietary technology and customized account management. Contact us to learn more about our unique business model or to schedule a demo.

 

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Travel Management

The Bachelor – Travel Manager Edition

Now on for more than 20 seasons, The Bachelor has become a sweeping television phenomenon. The shows premise is one of reality tv, drama, and ridiculous courtship. One eligible bachelor who is searching for love dates 25 women before deciding who he loves and would like to marry.  Watching the new season, I can’t help but draw similarities to the travel industry. As travel managers search for new travel management options, they often pursue a few different companies. Like The Bachelor, they meet and ‘court’ these bachelorettes, the travel management companies. Based on similar interests, personalities, or values, the travel manager selects one company to provide their travel management services.

Travel managers – the bachelors of travel management

So who wins the relationship proposal in the end?  There’s a lot of choices, but I’ve found that the contestants often fall into three categories:

  • The flashy big-city contestant: big, bold, and less flexible to change.
  • The down-to-earth contestant: well-rounded and everyone’s favorite.
  • The oddly-interesting contestant: quirky, inconsistent, and risky.

Sometimes the pursuit of flash or risk makes for an entertaining episode, but it is often the pursuit of the well-rounded “bachelorette” that ends up resulting in a lasting marriage! Travel management companies fall into similar categories. Each brings different characteristics and benefits to the table, and usually, the company most in-line with the company’s needs will win the bid.  However, in the end, it’s up to the travel manager to award the ‘final rose’.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning travel management company for businesses. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, we have been at the forefront of innovative travel technology and exceptional account management since 1990. Contact us to learn more about our award-winning travel management solutions.

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Travel Management

Closing The Gap on Travel Policy Perception and Reality

Not surprisingly, one of the hardest feats of an effective travel policy is an active implementation. No matter how well planned or laid out, there always seems to be a disconnect between the company’s travel policy and the travelers who use it. Unfortunately this beast isn’t just compliance, but also what the travelers believe the policy allows. A new report from the GBTA Foundation and HRS recently provided data on just how large this perception gap is. Unfortunately, it’s larger than most of us had hoped.

According to the report, 96 percent of North American business travelers say they are knowledgeable about their company’s travel policy. On a broad scale this looks pretty good, right? The inconsistencies come down to the smaller details of the travel policies. For example, half of the surveyed travelers said their policies are mandated. According to the travel managers, it is really only a third. Another example of dissonance is ride sharing. 24 percent of travel managers say ride sharing is prohibited under their travel policy, while half as many travelers believed that as well. It sounds like a no-brainer, but most often a lack of communication causes this disparity.

These travel policy miscommunications may be costing your company money

Noncompliance of any kind can run up travel costs. Without a constant eye on expenses and billing, things can get out of control quickly. But something often overlooked is the value lost caused by this policy miscommunication. For example, 89 percent of the travel managers surveyed had negotiated free wi-fi in hotels for their travelers. Unfortunately, 22 percent of the business travelers were still expensing for wi-fi. The report concluded that they were simply unaware of the negotiation.

How to increase travel policy communication

One key discovery in this report is that perception is more important than reality when it comes to relaying travel policy guidelines. If your traveler does not see or recall seeing an email sent with pre-boarding information, was it helpful in the end? Understanding how your travelers and company as a whole can best understand your travel policy decisions can improve compliance. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, age and generation has been found to play a factor into how information is best communicated. This report found Generation Y and younger preferred being about travel policies directly. GBTA Foundation hypothesized it may be the employee’s first introduction into business travel policy, and they want to fully understand the process. Understanding how your travelers work best, and their comfort level with compliance will certainly get everyone on the right foot.

Closing the gap between traveler perception and policy reality

Increased communication and through the right channels will hopefully improve your own compliance. Here are a few other tips to close this gap even further.

  • Set up an approval process ensuring the travel policy is enforced.
  • Alert travelers to noncompliant behavior before they book.
  • Keep happy employees by taking note of their traveling preferences.
  • Use different channels to communicate and disseminate information. 

Read next:

Categories
Travel Management

5 Questions For Your Potential TMC

Travel managers and corporate executives spend considerable time researching and bidding TMCs, and partnering with the right one to deliver cost-savings and travel efficiency. Occasionally though, the chosen TMC is purchased or sold to another company. In today’s business environment, consolidation is rampant.

Larger companies look to buy-up the competition for many reasons: technology gains, customer acquisition, or simply to eliminate a growing threat.  Not surprisingly, the travel management industry can be affected as well. Unfortunately, this can leave the travel managers and corporate executives caught in the middle. I believe, that when looking for a new travel management company, it’s important to consider this possibility. Often times there is too much emphasis on the now, when the past and the future of the company should be considered as well. Companies seeking a long-term TMC should research the following, so that the TMC they choose today, doesn’t change tomorrow:

Questions to consider when looking for a long-term TMC:

  • What is the history of ownership?
  • Have they previously bought up small companies to grow, and then sold their company in the past?
  • Are they portraying the same history under their current TMC name?
  • What is their organizational health?
  • Are there any ‘red flags’ like poor growth, employee turnover, client retention, or percentage of debt? In an environment of consolidation, weakness equals opportunity.

Bottom-line is that if you want a long-term relationship with your chosen TMC, be sure you understand their past and their vision of the future. Ask questions and ‘peel the onion’ to make a better determination before signing a contract.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, we have been privately owned by Mike and Camille Cameron since 1990. Since then, we have grown to be one of the top travel management companies in the nation, with five offices and more than 380 travel employees. If you would like to learn more about our history or our future vision, please feel free to contact us.

Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

SecurityLogic Provides Immediate Communication During Disaster

Does anyone else remember the nightly news slogan from years ago, “It’s 10 o’clock… do you know where your children are?”  This catchphrase, of keeping an eye on your loved ones, still resonates today. The past few weeks the airwaves have been flooded with terrorists attacks in New Jersey, New York, Washington State and Minnesota. And now, Hurricane Matthew is about to hit the east coast, potentially causing massive damage.  I also find myself thinking of family, but also co-workers and other business travelers when distaster strikes.

Working in an industry filled constantly with travel and constantly changing schedules, it’s hard to know where everyone is in a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, it’s important now more than ever to not only get in touch with employees or co-workers, but have a plan in place should disaster occur.

Communicating with your business travelers during a disaster

Having an established plan in case of an emergency is the first step. Ask yourself, what is your company’s current protocol should an event occur in a city your employee is currently traveling? Do you have their email and cell number readily available? Will you need to dig through emails to find their itinerary? Who will be in charge of making these safety calls to traveling employees?

Answering these questions ahead of time will make your company more prepared, should an event occur. Developing a travel policy usually helps to establish these protocols. If you don’t have a travel policy, check out our travel policy FAQ to get started.

SecurityLogic provides peace of mind for travel managers

One of my favorite features of the Christopherson software is our SecurityLogic technology. Perhaps it’s because I can be a worrywart, but the value of this immediate and interactive technology is a lifesaver in dire situations.

For a travel manager, the goal is simple – locate all of your business travelers instantly. Through our AirPortal360 interface, you immediately know how many employees are traveling at a moment’s notice.  We supply a world map view, with pins representing your travelers. From there, you can overlay alerts, warnings, and weather. Really anything that may influence your business travelers is viewable from the map.

SecurityLogic by Christopherson

Using the rest of our technology suite, we offer easy access to your traveler’s itinerary and contact information. Travel, security, and human resource managers are able to locate  travelers and send them messages. Your business travelers can then respond to the security check and let you know they are safe. Our SecurityLogic takes the guessing out of what could be a hectic situation and provides immediate answers.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We’re passionate about assisting companies with their travel, and we think our travel technology and consultative account management does a pretty great job at it.  Contact us to learn more about SecurityLogic or our other travel technology tools.

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Business Travel Guides Travel Management

Guide To Creating An Effective Business Travel Policy

We’ve said before that the cornerstone of an effective travel management program is the business travel policy. Travel policies that are practical and easy to understand have a higher compliance rate and save more money for the company. But where do you start? No business is the same, and neither is their travel policy. Whether you create your own travel policy or with the help of a travel management company, we developed this guide to familiarize professionals with the basics of creating business travel policies.

What is a business travel policy?

A business travel policy is a set of guidelines to be used by companies, travel managers and employees for travel and its related planning. The main objective of an effective travel policy is to keep travelers safe while also adhering to the company’s guidelines, including budget. If your policy is easy to understand, oversees traveler’s security, and up-to-date; compliance will likely be higher as well.

What are the benefits of having a business travel policy?

There are many advantages of utilizing a travel policy for your company. One of the most valuable is establishing clear guidelines. For example, your company might decide to allow business class seating, but only for international travel. This is then stated in the travel policy, so your present and future employees will understand its stipulations.

Travel policies also regulate cost control and savings for your budget. By regulating your traveler’s travel, you can have a better understanding of your budget and where to save moving forward. For example, just by outlining when business class tickets should be used can positively affect your travel budget! Additionally, duty of care responsibilities and safety protocols can be established and outlined. In case of an emergency, these protocols can be immediately adhered and followed.

Is every travel policy the same?

No. Every business travel policy should be created specifically for the company’s needs. No two companies are exactly the same, and neither should be their travel policy. Actually, some companies find they don’t even need a defined travel policy. How often employees travel and who pays for the travel are two important factors. If only one employee travels a couple times a year, you may be able to budget and communicate effectively without needing a full travel policy. Or, if your clients are billed for travel, budget may not be a large concern for your business model. Take a look at your company as a whole and see if it makes sense to create a travel policy. If you find you don’t need one, it’s still important to outline duty of care and safety procedures. 

How do travel policies differ?

Policies should be comprehensive and consistent, but also consider cultural nuances. This is done by differentiating between global and local policies. As the Business Travel Buyer’s Handbook 2016 said, ‘The global policy should rule, and local policies should be stricter.’ If your company is worldwide, you will have conditions that apply to everyone. Then, consider local laws and constraints for travelers in different locations.  What works best for people in the U.S. may be less advisable for people in Asian markets. You can try creating regional travel policies for countries with similar travel management needs. 

How strict should your travel policy be?

Policy rules often depend on the level of control your company wishes to exercise.  For example, some companies stipulate that the cheapest ticket must always be purchased, as long as a layover does not exceed three hours. This policy is focused on cost savings, but pretty strict. Other companies decide not to drill down as harshly. Consider what is most important to the company and the best way to accomplish that objective. Be aware that overly strict policies can hinder compliance and even your traveler’s happiness. If your frequent business travelers have three hour layovers multiple times a week, how will that affect their productivity and job satisfaction? Consider your company culture and its future before implementing a strict policy. 

What is important to include in a business travel policy?

This depends on your objectives and scope of control.  Below are common items often listed in travel policies: 

  • Air travel – Will your travelers have a budget? Should the lowest priced ticket always be purchased? Should non-stop vs. direct flights be defined? 
  • Travel approval – Will managers approve the travel itinerary before it is booked? How will this be done?
  • Hotel suppliers – Will employees always stay with the same hotel supplier? What happens when there is a lower priced room at a different hotel?
  • Car rental – Should you specify what type of cars are allowed as rentals? Compact cars vs. limos? What about using sharing economy cars like Uber? 
  • Reimbursement systems – How will employees be reimbursed for travel expenses? Or will they use a company credit card? Are there repercussions for not submitting receipts? 

Who should create the travel policy?

Input from every department works the best. Having input from a CEO or stakeholder often speeds up the process, as their approval is usually needed anyway. Discuss with HR, accounting, IT and heads of other departments to ensure their cooperation and input. Also, discuss the needs and experiences of current travelers and road warriors. What they consider important may be different than the stakeholders. 

Who is covered under a travel policy?

Travel policies should cover everyone who travels on behalf of your company. Additionally, and this may be the most important tip – keep the policy brief and clear so everyone is covered and understands the policies. Compliance will go out the window if no one understands what’s in the policy.  

Specific details can be outlined for individuals or departments. Some companies differentiate policy guidelines with special consideration for high ranking execs. You probably won’t have interns flying first class, but you also aren’t going to make the CEO fly coach either. Some companies mitigate potential disaster by not allowing more than two or three executives to fly on the same plane should disaster strike. These particular policies are often drafted in an executive level policy, so they are not known to lower level employees.

Road warriors often have their own stipulations. You can specify mileage, reimbursement, or overnight stay threshold within the travel policy too.

Other things to consider when creating a business travel policy

Customized and personalized experiences are becoming more important to travelers. Mobile devices and apps are being used more frequently, catering to specific experiences. If you want compliance to stay high, make it as easy as possible to comply with your policy. Using mobile apps or alternative communication often increases compliance. 

 

Read next from our corporate travel blog:

 

Categories
Business and Leadership Travel Industry Travel Management

Increasing Compliance With Your Millennial Business Travelers

In case you haven’t noticed, the Millennial generation have recently become the butt of  jokes at conferences, twitter chats, and professional gatherings. Millennials, or Generation Ys,  are the most recent generation to enter the workforce. Currently in their early 20s – early 30s, they are putting the traditional workforce into a spin with their differing work styles and priorities. Whether you are from the camp believing they have a productive work ethic or they are self-entitled children, we as a society need to learn how to adjust our work environments to productively work with them. As Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors of the book ‘Managing Generation Y’ said “Organizations that can’t – or won’t customize training, career paths, incentives, and work responsibilities need a wake up call.”

Millennial Generation Characteristics

  • Millennials expect everything to be customizable to their preferences. If they don’t like their profile picture on Facebook, they change it. They can have just about anything shipped directly to their house. It’s how our world works now; almost everything is customizable and instantaneous. The difference is they’ve grown up with the expectation that if you don’t like something, there is always another solution available.  
  • They are on average highly educated, but value a higher work-life balance. This often makes them appear lazy and lacking respect when they take long lunches or work from home.
  • Growing up with computers and quickly advancing technology, they are quick learners to new technology and can easy adjust to new protocols or changes in the company.
  • They value experiences, especially travel. Millennials can make the best roadwarriors. Every city they enter is new and full of promise.
  • Sharing these experiences are highly valued. Why go to a new city and not take pictures?
  • Communication is important, but not in the traditional sense. Good luck getting them on the phone. They are more apt to sending a email or text than leave a voicemail.

Millennials and Reporting Compliance

Regarding travel management, Millennials have the highest rate of non-compliance. According to Tim Hines, the presenter at a Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association luncheon, they average 46% compliance. Compared to Baby Boomers, who are on average 80% compliant, the difference is concerning. If Millennials are always connected, why are they so bad at reporting their travel expenses? Well, the devil may be in the details here. Often the reporting process is lengthy or slow. For a group that expects results instantaneously, this can be a giant hurdle.   If you need something done, it should have a quick and easy approach.

6 Tips For Improving Compliance Rates:

  • Allow customization of the reporting platform and the ability to make adjustments.
  • Make the process as automated as possible. Use text alerts or automatic updates.
  • Enhance traveler experience, possibly with incenetives.
  • Leverage social tools, like Concur, TripIt, or Airtinerary.
  • Explore alternative communication methods like Twitter, Google Chat or Slack. Providing additional channels may open up lines of communication you didn’t know was needed.
  • Put them in charge of creating a new system for regulating compliance. They are quick to learn new technology. If they are responsible for finding something that will work for them, compliance will certainly be higher.
Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

How AirPortal 360 Provides Actionable Intelligence

At Christopherson Business Travel, we strive to continually develop travel technology that effortlessly eases travel and travel management headaches.  We’ve learned that while an engaging and useable platform is necessary, quick analysis and actionable take-aways are becoming crucial components to our clients. That’s why we further developed our AirPortal 360 technology to include actionable intelligence. We provide actionable items that your team can run with immediately in addition to our existing technology.

AirPortal includes many tools that help travel managers and travelers. Travel managers can keep tabs on various aspects of their travel programs.  We have always focused on creating tools that are elegant and easy to use.  Now with actionable intelligence, we take it one step further by reaching into the various products and retrieving the items that actually need attention. This helps ensure that important items do not slip through the cracks. This give travel managers the confidence that they are supporting both their travelers and their managed travel program.  

Travel Manager’s Actionable Intelligence includes:

  1. Travel Approvals Pending
  2. Hotel Payment Authorizations Failed
  3. Safety Check Assistance Requests
  4. New Traveler Enrollment Requests
  5. Trips Missing Hotels
  6. Unused Tickets Expiring
  7. Vendor Contracts Expiring

Additionally, we make sure travelers have their own dashboard to view their itinerary and documents. With our My Travel dashboard, they can quickly access their travel information in one place. Here they can effectively communicate their hotel plans, unused tickets and additional items, further completing compliance and duty of care responsibilities.  

Traveler’s Actionable Intelligence includes:

  1. Travel Approvals Pending
  2. Trips Missing Hotels
  3. Unused Tickets Expiring
  4. Credit Card Expiring (coming soon)
  5. Passport Expiring (coming soon)

AirPortal users receive a daily digest email with a list of their action items.  The user can choose the time of day they would like their daily digest delivered.  From the email they login into AirPortal Actionable Intelligence Dashboard and handle the items that require their attention.  

To learn more about our new AirPortal 360 Dashboard, contact your Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager or fill our the contact form on this page. Want to learn more? Read our company philosophy or additional travel technology solutions.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Questions To Ask When Looking For A New TMC

Every travel program is different and we get A LOT of different kinds of questions during our initial conversations with our clients. These questions can cover such topics as duty of care, technology, quality control, integrations with third party tools, etc. You need to make sure your new TMC is equipped to provide the travel program unique to your own needs for the company and your travelers.

The 4 need-to-know questions to ask your potential TMCs:

1) Please include and EXPLAIN your pricing. Some companies will present a seemingly affordable and simple fee structure with a lot of fine print. At Christopherson, we offer simplified pricing every time, without the fine print.
2) Who will we be working with? A potential travel management partner should be able to provide detail on the service team assigned to the account. The Account Manager is responsible for working with you to make your travel program a success. No matter what your desired service configuration is, at some point your travelers will work with an agent and that experience should be stress-free. Christopherson proudly employs some of the best travel professionals in the industry with our account managers averaging over 20 years of experience and our agents averaging over 25 years of experience.
3) Explain your implementation and training processes. You want your travel program to be successful and your travel management partner should strive to make the onboarding process as painless as possible for your travelers. At Christopherson, our priority is to quickly and efficiently transition your travel program while tailoring our timeline to meet your needs. During implementation, we will collaborate with your travel arrangers to design a training and onboarding program which fits into your company culture.
4) What about your technology platform sets you apart from the competition? Christopherson offers both AirPortal 360, a technology platform that integrates both full-service and online travel management, and a choice of three powerful online booking tools. There is so much about our technology that sets us apart, they need their own blog to showcase each feature! Like how we address duty of care responsibilities, hotel attachment rates, or technology integration.

Read next:

Categories
Travel Management Travel Tips

Respecting Business Traveler’s Privacy Even In The Face Of Zika

One of the first thoughts for a travel manager concerning the Zika virus is ‘how does duty of care responsibility come into play?’  After all, it is your responsibility to protect the safety and security of your employees, even while they are traveling. 

Zika and business travel

Zika typically has mild symptoms in adults, such as fever, rash, headache and joint pain. These symptoms are so mild that most people don’t even know they contracted Zika. Unfortunately, there are greater concerns for women who are pregnant or planning to start a family.  Pregnant women that contract Zika can have very serious side effects for their unborn child. They can contract microcephaly, a birth defect resulting in small head and brain size. New research has found it could also result in blindness, deafness, or learning and behavioral difficulties.

Your first reaction might be to just avoid all health concerns and not send women of child-bearing age on business trips to these infected areas.  Wrong. This violates laws of gender and pregnancy discrimination.  On the other hand, they have the right to not disclose family planning and future employment decisions. This is a real catch-22. You can’t keep them from traveling, but you can’t assume they want to avoid the area either.

So, what are employers to do?

Overall, as long as employers inform all of their employees of possible Zika risks, especially those of child-bearing age, and avoid other discriminatory actions, they can’t be held liable for any negative outcomes on fetal health. But you can be helpful and provide additional information for all employees.

Here are some additional ways to provide support and information to employees potentially traveling to Zika-affected areas without overstepping bounds:

  • Look for volunteers for travel.
  • Provide employees traveling to these regions with long clothing and mosquito repellent. Plan to keep them indoors with air conditioning whenever possible.
  • Keep open communication between your employees about concerns or questions.
  • If they are hesitant to travel to a these areas, provide them with additional resources and information so they can make a well-informed decision.
  • Never pressure your employees to travel if they are concerned for their safety or security.
  • Stay informed through the CDC government website. Currently over 50 countries and territories are included in recent Zika travel alert.

Want to learn more? Read our previous blog on Zika and Duty of Care

 

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

7 Tips For Keeping Your Employees Safe While Traveling

Recent events like terrorist attacks across Europe and home-bred violence have left many questioning the safety and security of traveling. And unfortunately for some industries, travel is unavoidable. As an employer overseeing your employees,  it is your responsibility to ensure their safety, even while traveling on your company’s behalf. Duty of care and security issues are a growing concern in recent years, and they are expected to continue. So what can you do to create a safe environment even with these growing safety trends?

According to Business Insurance, the best way to keep concerns at bay is to keep both the company and its business travelers informed with facts and tips. Ensuring that everyone has been briefed with information and on the same page can be vital if the unexpected arises. So during this time of growing uncertainty, how can you and your employees feel more confident about traveling for business? Read our 7 tips below.

7 ways to keep employees safe while traveling

  • One of the first steps is providing information about the upcoming area. Having a real sense of what your road warriors are heading into or what can be expected is often the biggest comfort. Research and briefing on the country, city or neighborhood can often reveal interesting facts or tips. Also providing guidelines or schedules can provide more structure and context for travelers.
    • An interactive resource includes the U.S. State Department’s online Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows U.S. citizens to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling or living abroad. The purpose is to provide latest safety and security  information in the area, and inform the U.S. Embassy of your whereabouts, in case of an emergency.
    • Additional research can be beneficial depending on the area of the traveler. For instance, the US government has released an app for U.S.travelers attending the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. It provides tourist and safety information about the area, including the location of embassies, hospitals and emergency numbers.
  • Additional duty of care responsibilities for travelers. We know assessing this risk is your biggest responsibility. Has your organization demonstrated you have taken all practicable steps to meet your employee’s health, safety and well-being needs? Is it credible and well documented? Having open and clear communication with your employees are necessary for this assessment. And of course, if your employee does not feel comfortable traveling, you need to listen to these concerns and assess the situation.
  • Know your travelers specific travel needs. Be aware of any individual requirements needed by the traveler, and ensure they are given the appropriate information in order to manage, reduce or eliminate specific risks. Employers should be aware of pre existing medical conditions and confirm the traveling country has adequate medical facilities.
  • Invest in a business travel policy.  Travel policies are created to establish that companies are providing efficient support for their travelers, and travelers are aware of the support given too. Again, communication about what is provided and what to expect can go a long way.
  • Encourage employees to take appropriate health measures beforehand. Providing guidelines on the area to which they are traveling can prepare them for health measures as well.  Recommend your traveler visits their doctor to go over specific risks and prevention methods.
  • Ensure tech and cyber security has been discussed. This is another growing area of concern. Discuss cyber threat methods and the best ways to thwart them.
  • Finally, Make an evacuation plan or communication plan in case the unexpected arises. If the worst does happen, are you prepared? Are you able to immediately communicate with your road warriors if they are in an insecure area? Do they know the communication protocol should something arise? Unfortunately, the answer is usually ‘no’. That’s why we created SecurityLogic as part of our travel technology suite. This application alerts travel managers if a traveler is in an area experiencing threats or attacks. The travel manager can then immediately text or email from the application to immediately make contact and ensure the traveler is safe.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company, dedicated to providing travel solutions for busy businesses. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in learning more about travel policies, our proprietary technology, or how we continually save companies time and money.

Read next:

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Travel Management Travel Technology

Seamless Technology Integration Is Vital For Travel Management

While Travel Management Companies (TMCs) provide many solutions for businesses, I’ve found that one of the most valuable is offering effective system integrations.  A managed travel program needs the flexibility to easily connect to many diverse systems that are required for a complete and effective travel management system.

That’s one reason why we created our own proprietary system, AirPortal. Not only does this provide access to our own unique travel solutions, but it manages all of the information flowing between these systems as well.  AirPortal also provides the user interface for our clients, giving them one central location from which to manage their travel program. 

Our new AirPortal Integrations highlights many of the integrations that we offer, including some ‘one click’ installs.  Take a look and see what we can do for your travel program.  If you have a key vendor that is not on the list, give us a call — we are always adding additional integrations.

integrations8-9

The following are some of the category choices that we offer:

  • Data Feeds/Reporting
  • Traveler Safety/Security
  • Virtual Payment Solutions
  • Online Expense Tools
  • Online Booking Tools
  • Traveler Apps/Integrations

So, leave the heavy lifting to us and get on with the rest of your day. Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company that specializes in innovative travel technology and consultative customer service. Contact us to learn more about our proprietary technology and how we continually save our clients time and money.

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Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Management

Concerns for Corporations using Public Online Booking Sites

Sure, it’s quick and easy for business travelers to search for flights on public travel websites.  Watching the ticket price continually drop in front of your eyes; it’s hard to believe there’s a better deal anywhere else! But in the end that’s not always the truth. Both the traveler and their employer are missing out on additional benefits when they use public booking sites for business travel. There are many variables that play a part in efficient travel service and price, many are often overlooked in the process of using those simple public online booking sites.

What you need to know about public online booking sites

  • Hidden transaction fees. Some sites include their transaction fees in a small hidden link called “additional taxes & fees”.  Users assume those are sales taxes, etc., but in some cases, an additional transaction fee is also slipped in.
  • Hotel cancellation fees and discounts. Yes, there are great hotel prices on public sites.  But those are usually non-refundable, non-changeable and you have to pre-pay the full stay.  Even if you end up cancelling once, those charges often outweigh any savings you attained throughout the whole year. If you end up cancelling only one hotel stay in a entire year, those charges can outweigh any savings you attained throughout the year.
  • No duty of care.  There is a moral and legal obligation for employers to know where their employees are when traveling for the company. Employees must email their employers their itinerary.  Who manages that? The traveler’s boss?  The travel manager?  The office manager?  In the event of an emergency,  who in the company will be digging through their emails to determine if their traveler is in harm’s way. Public online booking sites are not equipped for handling duty of care responsibilities.
  • Poor after-hours care.  Who wants to call an 800 number at 10pm when the snowstorm hits the Eastern seaboard and every other traveler is doing the exact same thing? Hold times are outrageous.  On top of your personality sanity, these public booking websites don’t know what your company’s policy is around re-booking flights.
  • No built-in travel policy.  What stops your traveler from booking the Four Seasons or Business Class on a public site?  What stops your traveler from booking the $400 flight on Delta when there is a similar flight on United for only $310?  We’d all like to think that our employee will “do the right thing”, but that’s not always the case.

Public online sites may seem like the easiest and cheapest route for corporations, but in the long run these corporations are falling short.  Travel management companies on the other hand give travelers the tools they need to make the correct choices for booking their business trips.  Pricing is transparent and policies are followed.  The company’s travel policy is built in to the online booking tool so the traveler can choose the best option within the company’s guidelines.  And if a flight is cancelled or delayed, the traveler will receive prompt and friendly assistance from an agent that knows the company and knows the traveler.  In the event of an emergency or disaster, the company can quickly locate and alert each and every traveler and assist those travelers when in need.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience in the field. We pride ourselves on our efficient travel technology and consultative customer service.

Read Next-

The Downside of Using Online Booking Sites

What Is Duty Of Care

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Travel Management

Senior Level Employees Are The Most Frequent Expense Fraud Offenders

With our clients being travel management professionals and their business travelers, we understand how cognizant you are of staying on top of your travel budget. It can be a difficult and time consuming task. It can also be upsetting when business travelers take advantage of, or completely disregard, the travel policies in place. That’s how we felt reading this recent study analyzing reimbursement fraud in more than 114 countries.

The study was conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), analyzing data from more than 2,410 cases between January 2014 and October 2015.  They found that top executives were the biggest culprits of expense reimbursement fraud, accounting for about 24 percent of the cases. “The correlation between authority and loss most likely occurs because high-level fraudsters tend to have greater access to their organizations’ assets than lower-level employees, as well as a better ability to evade or override anti-fraud controls,” according to the report.

Expense reimbursement fraud was most prevalent in the technology field, found in 27% of cases examined. Following the tech industry, incidents of fraud were also high in religious charities and social services sector (25 percent of cases), manufacturing (22.9 percent), construction (20.9 percent), and health care (20.1 percent).

Small businesses with less than 100 employees had higher incidents of fraud, at 16.7 percent. Fraud culprits were also typically male. Globally, the rate of men involved in fraud cases was 69 percent, although it was 56 percent in the United States. Expense inaccuracies remained undetected an average of two years before they were found.

Studies like this exemplify the importance of having a clear travel policy with approval processes determined. Software like our PolicyLogic helps companies so travel policies have to be applied at or before booking. For example, first-class seating can be restricted. If a first-class seat is booked, the travel manager is notified and the ticket has to be approved before being issued. Such approval helps eliminate expense fraud opportunities. Your company works hard to keep to a specific travel budget; it’s beneficial to make sure there are checkpoints in place too.

Christopherson is a corporate travel management company, specializing in proprietary travel technology and expert customer service. Learn more about our award-winning team by contacting us.

Read Next: Christopherson Business Travel Helps Companies Achieve Maximum Travel Policy Compliance

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Travel Management Travel Technology

What Is Duty of Care?

I recently wrote the blog,  What does a Travel Management Company do?  In the process of writing it, I realized that we use industry phrases, assuming everyone understands what we are referring to.  Take Duty of Care for instance.  If you were to ask your next door neighbor, your hair dresser and your mother what Duty of Care is, you will probably get three totally different answers.  I even googled Duty of Care and found more than three different definitions! But this definition by Merriam-Webster was the most simple and straightforward: ‘a duty to use due care toward others in order to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm’.

Duty of Care and your travel management program

So what does that mean for travel?  Simply put, it is an employers moral and legal obligation for the safety of their employees while traveling.  In the university setting, this even includes students!  Many countries, including the US, are in the process of developing strict laws to help protect business travelers. But until these laws are worldwide and regulated, corporations and universities without a managed travel program run the risk of serious consequences in the event of an emergency.

How SecurityLogic assists with Duty of Care responsibility

To assist corporations and universities with their duty of care obligations, Christopherson Business Travel developed SecurityLogic.  Our clients have access to global alerts and valuable tools to ensure the safety of your travelers.  With SecurityLogic, travel managers can access real-time security, weather, flight delays, and disaster alerts. They are then automatically pushed to travelers via text and email. And, with the intuitive Safety Check feature, you can also request safety verification from your travelers anywhere in the world.

SecurityLogic provides multiple global map overlays, and because all travel information is geocoded to street-level accuracy, you can zoom in on any country, city, or street to find your travelers through the tool’s customized search options. With customized search options our clients can quickly locate their travelers by name, department, date, and/or location.

An effective duty of care program is essential for every corporation and university. To discuss if SecurityLogic is a good fit for your company, feel free to contact us using the form on this page.

Read next – How To Get Started – Duty Of Care Advice

 

 

Categories
Travel Management

The Downside Of Using Online Booking Sites

When the time comes to book upcoming business travel, many companies ask their employees to take on the responsibility. They are often told to use public online booking sites or book directly through the website of a specific airline or hotel.  Though this may initially seem like the easiest way to book travel, it often isn’t the best solution for a company.  Here are our top five reasons why booking through online sites are not always the best option for corporate travel management:

What every company should know about online booking sites:

  • Time.  It takes time to shop every airline website for the best deal. Your employees should be focusing on their ‘real’ job, not bogged down by price checking travel on different sites.
  • Hidden Charges.  Most online booking websites and airline websites charge a service fee.  In many cases, it is hidden in the small print with the taxes and then further buried in a hyperlink.  Additionally, they are often missing out on vendor discounts or bundled deals by booking for themselves.
  • No Travel Policy Enforcement. What stops your employee from booking a more expensive hotel or choosing a first class seat? Without an enforcement on travel policy, what may seem like a tiny splurge to them, could be taking a toll on your bottom line.
  • Duty of Care. When a traveler books from an outside source or multiple sources, the only way the company can provide their duty of care obligation is to have the traveler email a copy of each segment of their trip to one person in the organization.  It is that person’s responsibility to keep track of each traveler. That can easily get confusing and stressful should something go wrong.
  • No Data. Companies typically have no data to negotiate better rates when available. We often see that internal reporting and analysis of their travel management is also lacking.

Working with a TMC provides additional benefits

Travel management companies, including Christopherson Business Travel, specialize in understanding these downfalls and provide solutions for your business travel needs. Whether it’s keeping employees within your travel policy, or just the convenience of booking, there are many benefits to using a travel management company. Though our clients can customize their plans, below are a few of the benefits that are always included for our clients.

  • Discounted and negotiated airfares, hotel and car rental discounts.
  • Company travel policy, so your travelers can’t book Business Class and stay at the Four Seasons without your knowledge.
  • Christopherson’s partner discounts – we have discounts with airlines and at more than 40,000 hotels in over 170 countries.
  • Travel approval notification for managers, if desired.
  • Safety and security alerts for Duty of Care responsibility, using geo-location technology in case of an emergency.

Christopherson Business Travel has more than 60 years of experience with business travel management. Combine that with our mobile travel technology and superior customer service, and it’s no surprise we have a 97 percent client retention rate. Please contact us to learn more about our corporate travel packages or read or recommended blogs below.

Read next: What Are The Benefits Of A Travel Management Company

 

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

How To Stay Under Your Corporate Travel Budget

Managing corporate travel is a tough job with many moving parts. Not only are you, as the travel manager, accountable for everything going smoothly, but also responsible for any unforeseen glitches. The biggest frustration is often budget. Check out our seven tips to keep you under your corporate travel budget.

7 tips to stay under corporate travel budget

  1. Book travel early. Did you know that even just a two day difference in purchasing a plane ticket can make a big difference? One study looking at the difference in business travel purchase behavior between men and women, found that waiting only two days for a ticket was a difference of 113 dollars. We know that business travel is often last minute, but keep in mind–even an extra day in booking can make a big difference.
  2. Take into account all the details and agendas before booking. How long will your travelers be staying? Are there any alternatives that may work better than the norm? For instance, it might make more sense to purchase metro cards for travelers in New York City, rather than renting a car. Driving and parking in large cities are often a pain anyway, and you will also avoid parking fees.
  3. Review travel receipts in more detail. Give yourself more time to look through the details of submitted travel receipts. Does anything unnecessary pop out at you? Nipping those unnecessary expenses can add up to big savings.
  4. Create and actively use travel incentives. Give your team of business travelers incentives to stay under budget. This keeps them motivated to shop for the best price. You can also encourage them to become loyalty members with your preferred vendors. This allows you to fulfill your contract agreements while your travelers rack up personal travel points.
  5. Stay organized. Work to proactively take control of the next trip. Know what’s needed and don’t be caught scrambling to make travel plans at the last minute.
  6. Establish preferred vendor relationships. Developing these relationships will definitely benefit you in the long run.
  7. Hire a travel management company. Sometimes the best solution is having an expert manage your travel in order to get the most out of your budget and valuable time. Most travel management companies, including Christopherson, are affiliates of global companies. This allows them to provide the individualized customer service experience you need, with global relationships and discounts that help you always get you the best price on business travel.

Staying on top of your travel is not difficult, but it does take additional time and forethought. Try out our tips this month and see if you notice any difference in travel costs. Let us know what you find. Or, contact us if you would like to know more about how Christopherson Business Travel can save you time and money.

Categories
Travel Management

The Balancing Act of Business Travel Rewards and Business Travel Expense

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a road-warrior, traveling 75 percent of the work week. In the business travel environment, you’re bound to connect with other road-warriors. Whether it’s over a meal or during a layover, you often find yourself sharing the tricks of the trade. Now that I’m not traveling as much, I don’t find myself discussing packing tips or how to negotiate an upgrade with as much frequency. What I do share with fellow business professionals though, is how to maximize their personal travel benefits while traveling for business.

While there are tricks to boosting personal travel rewards, they often come at the employer’s expense. And some may think, “well, why not?” From the road warrior’s perspective: doesn’t the employer owe them for their time? Doesn’t the employer realize how much revenue their road-warriors create for them? Despite an employer’s investment in a positive corporate culture and benefits to encourage their travelers’ satisfaction, some road-warriors still feel entitled to more. Loyalty points are an easy way to make them feel repaid. Take, for example, direct bookings with hotels. If you book on a hotel chain’s app, a $129/night standard room may be $159/night. While the cost difference is only $30, the reward difference for the business traveler is an extra 5,000 bonus points.

What about airlines? A business traveler may book their ticket on a low-cost carrier where bags are included, and it appears they’re trying to watch the company’s bottom line. But did anyone catch that the ticket was booked at the highest-priced tier for $200 more? The difference for the business traveler is that they’ve just gotten double miles, priority status, and their companion pass in sight. If that same business traveler is on the road every week, buying tickets based on their rewards rather than cost, that $200 extra per ticket, quickly becomes $800/month and $10,400/year. Were a company to have a team of 10 road-warriors with the same buying practices as their perk-seeking colleague, the company could potentially accrue $104,000 in lost costs each year.

As you can see, the balancing act between taking care of the people who take care of your business, while also making sure that their travel expenses don’t come with detriment to the bottom line, can be delicate. While it is certainly understandable for a business traveler to want compensation for their time and energy, the downside is that they often don’t see the repercussions until those costs are added up. The reality is that it’s not just a few extra perks here and there, but can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for the business.

If you’re trying to figure out how to balance costs and traveler rewards, it may be beneficial to consider a managed travel program. As a corporate travel management agency, we encourage companies to allow their travelers to accrue the loyalty points they deserve at a cost that makes sense, and we show you how. By outlining your travel policy and creating stop gaps, unruly spending can be taken under control and business travelers can still be rewarded. Christopherson Business Travel’s cost-saving solutions and consultative account management helps do just that. Interested in learning more about how to control corporate travel expenses? Contact us to talk to one of our experienced business travel experts.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Top 10 Reasons You DON’T Need a Travel Management Company

Nowadays, it seems like there’s list after list of reasons that you “NEED” to do something.  But sometimes, perspectives need to be altered. That’s why today we are focusing on the top 10 reasons you don’t need a travel management company to assist with your business travel needs.

10 Reasons You Don’t Need a TMC:

  1. Saving the company money simply isn’t that important to you or the company
  2. Ensuring the safety of your travelers isn’t a critical responsibility
  3. Its not important for the company’s employees to be more efficient
  4. Paying travel suppliers more than needed sounds like a great idea
  5. It doesn’t matter if unused tickets expire, or are being misused
  6. Maintaining a spreadsheet is preferred to a professional reporting system
  7. A preference for getting nothing vs. earning corporate travel loyalty points
  8. Love living by the saying: “We’ve always done it this way, so why change now?”
  9. When there’s a travel problem, it’s a ‘thrill’ to spend 2hrs on the phone solving it
  10. Enjoy having no one to call for help, after missing the day’s last flight home

The bottom-line is that if you travel any more than never, it probably doesn’t hurt to have a travel management company on your side.  Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning travel management company. With more than 60 years of experience, our cost-saving solutions and dedicated travel experts have saved companies thousands every year. Contact us to learn more. Or, keep reading about the benefits of using a travel management company.

Categories
Travel Management

Relating Seinfeld’s “Red Dot” Episode with Corporate Travel

Seinfeld logoA cashmere sweater for $85; marked down from $600!  George from the classic tv show, Seinfeld, knows a deal when he sees one. Or is he just blinded by the ridiculously low price?  As the episode continues, we learn that the beautiful cashmere sweater is damaged with a small red dot.  However, George marches on with his purchase, only to find out that no one wants the cashmere sweater.  It’s priced low for a reason: the quality falls short of the expectation.

So how does this relate to corporate travel?  Well, nowadays, there’s a number of travel management companies offering “cashmere” quality service, for an unbelievable price…as long as you don’t mind the “red dot.”

So how do you know?  Like anything in life, ask questions!  Ask yourself the following questions when presented with a ‘red dot’ quality deal:

  • Additional Fees. Is everything included in your corporate travel agreement, or are there additional fees? A few examples of items that are often included as additional fees are; after-hours calls, premium/proprietary technology, dedicated Account Management and Agent team, implementation, and supplier negotiation assistance.   
  • Flexibility. Are you going to be locked into a contractual term?  What are the annual fees and early termination fees?
  • Customization. Are they willing to customize your solution, including access to their premium/proprietary technology?
  • Service. Will your travelers be subject to a Call Center environment when they need assistance? Or will you have a reliable account manager to ensure everything is set up correctly? What is their client retention rate, employee turnover rate, and employee’s years of experience? These are all questions you should ask before committing to a new corporate travel management company.

I know that it sounds like a lot, and while there are many other questions that you can ask, just be sure to dig a little deeper!  Don’t get caught with what you believe is quality cashmere, only to find out that it has a red dot!

Read Next: Have You Reviewed Or Updated Your Corporate Travel Program?

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

5 Signs You Need A Corporate Travel Management Company

You are busy. Between today’s deadlines and propelling your company to the next level, you likely don’t have time to sort through details. And corporate travel may be one of those details you are ignoring. Unfortunately, this aspect of business plays a major role in the functionality of your company as well as the lives of your employees. Without a corporate travel management company (TMC) to assist you, you may be missing out on valuable resources and savings. But how do you know if you would benefit from a TMC?

5 Signs That You Could Use a Corporate Travel Management Company

  • You lack the human resources. The task of travel management often falls on someone with a completely different title, who likely hasn’t been trained in corporate travel. This wastes company time and money when that person should be doing their “real” job, but is stuck trying to buy tickets and wrangle itineraries.
  • You lack patience. Do you struggle to know which deals are the best deals? Do you have other things to do than spend the afternoon comparing sites, flight routes, and prices? With a travel management company, let someone else find the best deals.
  • You have little or no travel management industry knowledge. Do you know the most effective practices for corporate travel policies? How about negotiating airline or hotel contracts? You may be missing out on standard practices or budget saving tips.
  • Your analytics and reporting are non-existent. Just like other areas of your business, analyzing and managing the expenses and trends of your corporate travel program is important for running your business overall.
  • You don’t have an emergency plan for travelers. Should your employees face an emergency when traveling, do you have a plan? Do they know what to do next? Travel management companies can provide additional duty of care support when you need it the most.

If you answered “yes” to any of the signs above, you would certainly benefit from using a business travel management company. Let the corporate travel experts handle the details, while you focus on your company’s growth and success. Christopherson Business Travel has more than 60 years of experience, and continually ranks one of the top travel management companies in the country. Learn more about our advanced travel technology and what else makes us different.

Categories
Travel Industry Travel Management

Higher Education Travel Experts

Colleges and universities need convenient and cost-saving travel management. With more than three decades of experience managing higher education travel, Christopherson provides that expertise. In 2014, we created a University Travel Team, dedicated to meeting the distinct needs of colleges and universities. Understanding the unique challenges that higher education institutions face, we developed solutions to meet those needs. Christopherson offers the perfect blend of mega-agency buying power and high-touch, consultative service.

Christopherson Specializes In Higher Education Travel Management

Christopherson’s University Travel Team and online options provide domestic and international travel arrangements for faculty, staff, athletics, and university executives. We also coordinate air and ground transportation, hotel accommodations, study abroad programs, educational tours, and team travel.

Configuration

Christopherson customizes your university’s service configuration. Whether you book with our University Travel Team agents, the online booking tool, or even on-campus agents, we tailor your configuration to meet the needs of each university. We also offer a VIP desk for university executives.

Customization

Christopherson fully customizes each University online booking tool site to include travel policy, preferred suppliers, grant tracking, approval policies, and more. Furthermore, we offer our online support team to assist travelers with navigational and system questions via phone or email.

Dedicated Account Managers

Account Managers with higher education experience will oversee your account, offering consultative services and insight into higher ed best practices. Your travel dollars are maximized as they apply their proven proficiencies and extend the following account management services:

  • Analyzing travel patterns and offering suggestions for money-saving improvements
  • Uncovering new savings opportunities and negotiating with vendors
  • Validating the quality of your travel program through ongoing evaluations and reviews ensuring that quality standards are met

Christopherson has been a frontrunner in implementing collegiate and university travel programs. Recently, after implementing a comprehensive travel program at a large southeastern university (which had previously been unmanaged), the school, in less than a year, boasted an agency compliance average of more than 90 percent and more than 55 percent online adoption. (The remaining 45 percent of the university’s bookings are group travel, athletic travel, and international bookings being made by Christopherson’s University Travel Team.) Similarly, Christopherson consolidated another large, multi-campus, fragmented travel program from 12 agencies to one. Today, this university has achieved agency compliance of more than 90 percent and more than 60 percent online booking tool compliance (five percent more than their initial goal).

Interested in learning more? Contact us to get in touch with one of our business executives, or keep reading about our university-focused services.

Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

How To Get Started – Duty Of Care Advice

Traveling is so much more than booking a ticket and getting the seat assignment you want on the plane. From a company’s perspective, safety of the traveler is a major concern. Considering duty of care, the company holds responsibility for the traveler’s well being. Many companies use a risk management team to educate their travelers. But what if your company has not yet implemented a plan? Read our tips below to start implementing a duty of care travel security plan for your corporation.

Duty of care advice for busy companies:

  • Consider working with a third party-risk management organization like iSOS or iJET.  Specializing in only medical and travel security assistance, they could be a good fit if you are only looking for assistance with safety. Review all costs associated prior to contracting.
  • Have a team approach. It is best to have all stakeholders involved in this decision including: travel department, security, HR, senior management, risk staff, and your designated travel management company.
  • Keep your travelers educated. Try different mediums of information like: travel policies, smart travel communications, web pages, and special alerts.
  • Keep communications simple and clear on who your travelers should call and what they should do in emergencies.
  • Travelers need to understand their ownership of their trip. If their trip is rescheduled or changed by the airline directly, your corporate travel management company will not get the updates so it is up to the travelers to notify the travel manager or key contact so contracted services can be rendered.
  • International travel comes with additional precautions. Travelers need to review their insurance coverage and ensure they have the ability to make larger payments for emergency tickets, hotel rooms and charter flights at a moment’s notice in case of evacuations.
  • Seek feedback from your business travelers to see what is working and not working.
  • Christopherson Business Travel has propriety technology called SecurityLogic® that will offer a jump start into launching a risk management program.

Read Next: Christopherson Business Travel Helps With Duty Of Care blog.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Who Books Business Travel Earlier – Men or Women?

A recent study from the Harvard Business Review indicates men and women demonstrate different habits when planning and booking travel. The study, which analyzed 6.4 million flight bookings, indicates that women’s actions are, on average, more proactive. When this travel is for business, such proactivity helps the company’s bottom line by saving additional costs and fees. Below are a few related facts found by the study:

  • On average, women buy air travel two days earlier than men. Millennial women show the smallest difference in advance planning.
  • The more one travels per year (28 trips or more a year) results in less advance booking. There seems to be no difference for so-called road warriors.
  • The older any traveler gets, regardless of gender, the earlier they book. Women, however, book earlier than men at every age group.
  • The overall average difference in ticket costs in the study’s uncontrolled result was more than $133 per ticket.

business travel stats men vs women One reason for this difference may be that women anticipate the higher stress experience in purchasing a ticket close to the travel date. As a way to offset this anticipated travel stress, women may be more organized before, during, and after their trip.  The study mentions other factors, but ultimately provides this as a variable influencing higher costs for companies. Using this data, it might be beneficial for corporate travel managers to create incentives for travelers who book their tickets earlier.

Looking for other business travel tips? Read 5 Tips for Managing Business Travel Expenses.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Duty of Care and the Zika Virus