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.

Business Travel Travel Industry

GDS & Business Travel: Definition Series

Business travel is an advancing, multi-faceted, and frankly, a pretty complicated industry. That’s why we’ll be breaking down some of the most confusing issues, terms, or functions within the industry in our definition blog series. We’ll identify specific business travel terms and explore its importance for companies, both big and small. We’ll also examine important tips or pain points to consider in your business travel management program. To start off, we will define the ‘GDS’ and how it is used in the business travel industry.

What is the GDS?

Called the Global Distribution System, or GDS for short, it is essentially the brain of the travel industry. A computerized network system, it provides real-time information to companies; including airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and travel agencies. Each of these industries use the GDS to see real-time inventory of other services in the travel industry.  For example, a travel agency can find the number of hotel rooms available, number of flight seats available or cars available on behalf of a client. One distinction is that the GDS is not a reservation system, but instead provides the information and a link to the services.

How do TMCs use the GDS?

Travel management companies use GDS systems to locate the best airline ticket, car rental, hotel room, etc., for their clients. They can customize information based on the traveler’s preferences, itinerary, etc. To further complicate things, there are different types of GDS systems available such as Worldspan, Sabre, or Galileo.

When a traveler requests travel from a travel agent, or travel management company, the agent will access the GDS to find the most accurate and cost effective itinerary for their traveler. The TMC is charged each time they access the GDS, but this is typically waved to the client. There is no way for the average person to access the GDS without help through a travel agency or other vendor.

How do online travel sites use the GDS?

Here’s the thing, they regularly don’t! Have you ever found an out-of-this-world low price on a ticket while using an online travel site?  But when you get to the final booking page, the ticket is ‘suddenly’ gone? You have every right to be annoyed, because it likely wasn’t available when you found it in the first place! Due to the cost of accessing the GDS, most online travel sites only look for prices once a day. Through a process called ‘screen scraping’, they take inventory of prices and seats available at one time and continually use that information until the next time they access the GDS. That means that most of their inventory is immediately out of date and typically more expensive.

Anything else I should know?

As with anything in life, there are a few quirks. For example, Southwest Airlines does not work with the GDS company, WorldSpan. Agents who use WorldSpan either do not book with Southwest or must look for pricing directly with Southwest Airlines. Something else that is newsworthy, is the content agreement in which airlines sign to work with GDSs, is up for renewal. Many in the industry are wondering if airlines will be renewing their relationship with certain GDSs. And if not, what does that mean for booking air for the travel agents and their clients?

We hope you learned something new about the business travel industry today. Check back as we dismantle the confusing world of business travel management in the next blog of our definition series. Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We’ve spent the last 60 years developing our unique approach to integrated technology and dedicated support. Learn more about us and our travel management services on our contact page.