2017 Business Travel Buyer's Handbook

Every year, BTN updates its Business Travel Buyer's Handbook to offer the most current guidance for establishing or extending your company's travel management program. Since 2015, we've incorporated a full section on strategic meetings management, along with highlights on the sharing economy, corporate housing and emerging travel management technologies. In 2017, BTN turns its attention to travel risk management. While ensuring traveler safety has been a strong rationale for managing corporate travel, 65 percent of travelers surveyed by BTN in February said their companies had increased focus on the corporation's duty of care to its traveling employees and on formalizing travel risk education and mitigation.

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Structuring a Managed Travel Program

Managing travel today is an exercise in balance. A well-managed program must balance cost containment with traveler satisfaction, the importance of traveler compliance with ensuring the ability to be productive on the road, and traveler comfort and convenience with safety and security. Constructing such a program that aligns with the goals and culture of the overall organization is no small feat, and requires flexibility, creativity and a pinch of stubbornness. The following is a guide that can help direct the first steps to successful program development. Download Now

Establishing a Travel & Expense Policy

A well-crafted policy should serve as the foundation upon which a strong travel program is built. While each travel and expense policy must reflect the specific goals and culture of an organization, the most effective ones are sturdy enough to help drive the objectives of the organization while remaining sufficiently flexible to encompass industry changes and technological developments. There are many avenues to reach that goal, however. Some organizations prefer a strictly mandated policy that deeply restricts traveler choices and punishes noncompliance, while others take a softer-handed approach, allowing travelers more latitude to make decisions that will benefit them and the organization. Some cover all the details of their employees' potential travel options, while others prefer simply to lay out broad guidelines. Whichever path works best for your organization, consider the following a guide to the possibilities of policy. Download Now

Selecting a Travel Management Company

Travel management companies have many roles to play within a managed travel program, assisting at times with an organization's negotiations with suppliers, internal development of travel policy and procedures, analysis of industry trends and deployment of technology. There are several different configurations of relationships with travel management companies available to organizations, as well as TMCs of many sizes, types, specialties and cultures. It's true that finding and choosing the right TMC (or TMCs) and the right configuration with them can be a challenging, complex process, but one that can pay significant dividends in operating an efficient, comprehensive program that maximizes traveler productivity, satisfaction and security. The following is a guide to help do so. Download Now

Getting Started with Meetings Management

Strategic meetings management during the past few decades has evolved from a niche concept popular in a few industries to a widespread pillar of corporate travel management and procurement. Many companies have deployed at least some aspects of model SMM programs, like technology implementation, sourcing consolidation or the creation policy governing contract-signing authority. But beginning an SMM program can be a complicated and arduous, with many stakeholders, disparate data streams and potentially countless employees involved in planning meetings. The following can help break down that process and help launch a successful SMM program. Download Now

Setting Up a Corporate Lodging Program

With its near-perpetual contract-negotiation cycles, supplier, consolidation, intricate ownership structures, new technologies and a persistent seller's market, hotel program management is among the most grueling and time-consuming aspects of travel management. But since lodging typically represents the second-highest category of organizational travel spending—trailing only air travel—creating and maintaining an effective lodging program is a must. When well-crafted, such a program can result in significant cost savings through better deals and higher compliance. The following steps can assist in the development of such a program. Download Now

Working with Airlines

After a wave of major U.S. airline consolidation and the continual growth of airline alliances and joint ventures, business travel buyers today have fewer avenues to negotiate airline deals than existed a decade ago. Certainly, that doesn't help buyers negotiating position, nor does a market where demand and load factors continue to increase worldwide. But business travel remains a lucrative and desirable segment for carriers the world over, given the possibility of premium-class and other high-yield travel, and airlines still will heavily compete for that business, despite the leverage that consolidation has delivered to them. Organizations with established airline programs that can prove compliance and an ability to deliver share will be in the best position to receive those deals, and the following is a guide to help buyers develop one. Download Now

Working with Car Rental Firms

For years, the three largest U.S. car rental companies have strained persistently to raise corporate rates, with only intermittent success. Some suppliers have even gone so far as to vow to limit the number of their corporate deals in an effort to increase pricing. But the relentless competition between Avis Budget, Hertz and Enterprise generally has squashed any broad-based price hike, and deals remain available—not only on rate but also on the long list of amenities rental car suppliers offer—particularly for organizations with significant volume and well-established car rental programs. Rental cars don't comprise a major share of a typical organization's travel budget, but they can play an important role in traveler comfort and productivity. The following is a guide to gaining the most from negotiations with car rental suppliers. Download Now

Working with Chauffeured Car Providers

While chauffeured cars may not represent more than a few percentage points of a typical organization's total travel expenditure, the lower costs and higher traveler comfort and security that a well-structured ground transportation program can provide make developing one a worthwhile effort. The market continues to develop rapidly, with consolidation among established chauffeured providers alongside the further growth of on-demand chauffeured car service providers like Uber and Lyft and on-demand apps like Blacklane and GroundLink. Business travelers' general acceptance of these nascent on-demand options can add complexity to established chauffeured transportation programs. The following are steps and considerations to keep in mind when negotiating with chauffeured transportation companies. Download Now

Selecting a Corporate Payment System

The payment industry of late has evolved rapidly, launching a spate of mobile and virtual products like virtual payment platforms, mobile wallets and chip cards, as well as cards that use biometric data. These advancements are due in part to technological innovation but are primarily driven by a continual effort to enhance data security, protect transaction data and combat identity theft, all key concerns of business travelers and their companies. While it's critical for T&E managers to remain abreast of the wave of payment system progress, mastering the basics of a corporate card program remains paramount so that organizations can ensure visibility into traveler spending and collect data on travel expenditures, which travel managers can use to negotiate deals and monitor compliance. The following guide can help assess payment providers' offerings. Download Now

Core Technology & Data Reporting

Choosing the right partners to deliver online booking solutions, expense management systems and data reporting platforms is a critical decision, given the importance to a managed travel program that each tool plays. Online booking tools help lower transaction fees and drive users to book preferred suppliers or choose cost-effective options. Expense management systems can capture and detail all traveler expenditures, helping to deter excessive or fraudulent spending. Data reporting platforms, meanwhile, can offer detailed information or snapshots of an organization's travel patterns and spending. Ensuring these systems will fit within the organization and, if necessary, integrate with other systems is very important to the maintenance of a successful travel program. The data reporting landscape in particular is evolving quickly, with tech companies and travel management companies in recent years introducing a string of increasingly sophisticated products. The following can help buyers navigate the tech selection process. Download Now

Taking On Travel Risk Management

From relatively mundane incidents like illness and auto accidents to catastrophic events like earthquakes and terror attacks, the list of potential crises a business traveler may face is long and varied. However unlikely such an incident may be on any individual business trip, they do happen, and it's the responsibility of the traveler's organization to ensure the traveler's safety and security. Doing so in the midst of an emergency can be a chaotic and nerve-wracking experience, and developing a sturdy and well-communicated travel risk management program with clear roles and responsibilities will ensure traveler duty of care at all times. TRM programs also can ensure that organizational data and information is kept secure while travelers are on the road. While organizations can consider several potential avenues for developing a TRMprogram, doing so is paramount, as traveler safety is the most important responsibility a travel manager has. Download Now

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