2016 Business Travel Buyer's Handbook

BTN’s Business Travel Buyers’ Handbook is the industry’s definitive guide to building a managed travel program. Unbiased, comprehensive information gives newcomers insights into program considerations, service configurations, technology options, supplier management and more. Seasoned travel managers looking to broaden the scope of their programs start with Handbook to gain their footing when taking on expense management, payment programs or meetings management.

Download by chapter below.

Chapter 1: Structuring a Managed Travel Program

Mobile and social strategies are now integral to managed travel programs as travelers demand a personalized, consumer experience. The fundamentals of any program, however, must work for the company to control spend, manage supplier service levels and ensure traveler safety and security. Mobile and social strategies can contribute to these goals, but solid structure, clear policy, communication and the right operating configurations with suppliers still lay the groundwork. Download Now

Chapter 2: Establishing a Travel & Expense Policy

A travel and expense policy is the framework for any well-managed program. A single-page policy may be an option for those companies that simply want to offer guidance, but a well-defined policy will clearly convey the company’s expectations for its travelers and expense approvers and ensure risk, policy and anti-bribery/corruption guidelines. The T&E policy should be available electronically, be easy to navigate via a simple index and offer short and targeted direction. It should cover how travelers should arrange air, lodging and car rental, and provide guidelines for meals, incidentals and entertainment. The T&E policy also should specify how travelers pay for travel and get reimbursed for expenses. Below are guidelines on how to make the most out of your policy and gain traveler buy-in. A strong T&E policy not only offers guidance but also enables companies to track traveler whereabouts, promote preferred supplier usage and garner data for supplier negotiations. Download Now

Chapter 3: Selecting a Travel Management Company

There are few closer allies in the success of a managed travel program than a travel management company. Not only does a good TMC provide fundamental operational and tactical support for planning trips, making reservations, reporting data and tracking travelers, but your agency partner also lends strategic reinforcement and guidance. They can consult, negotiate and drive compliance. They can give clarity to benchmarking, traveler engagement, supplier relationships, technology deployment and policy. Corporate clients can outsource as little or as much as they like to a TMC, leaving a lot to consider when enacting a relationship. The aim is not simply about finding the right partner at the right price with the right terms but also about striking the appropriate configuration and service levels. Download Now

Chapter 4: Getting Started with Meetings Management

Strategic Meetings Management, while related to Travel Management, has become its own discipline. Though meetings can represent one-quarter to one-third of a business’ travel spend, the costs fragment across units and get buried in multiple centers. Drawing this information into the light can be daunting, but more companies are trying. That’s because meetings management is about more than cost savings, it also prepares organizations to manage crises and reduces exposure to lop-sided contractual terms, expensive litigation and tarnished brand reputation. Pharmaceutical, healthcare and financial companies additionally are motivated to manage meetings to comply with increasing regulatory scrutiny. Download Now

Chapter 5: Setting Up a Corporate Lodging Program

While this year is expected to be the plateau of a business cycle in which hoteliers' have gained more and more power at the negotiating table, hotels will still have near-record occupancy levels on their side. Lodging typically comprises the second-highest area of spend for a corporate managed program, so it’s vital that buyers take advantage of the shifting power dynamic to try to negotiate better rates. The following guide outlines industry best practices to aid buyers in offsetting costs and navigating the challenges of the current lodging landscape. Download Now

Chapter 6: Working with Airlines

With the final major step in the American Airlines-US Airways consolidation completed last year, U.S. travel buyers find themselves with only three legacy carriers left, and airlines globally continue to tighten up with alliances. Consolidation has continued this year, as Alaska Airlines agreed to acquire Virgin America. Even so, plenty of negotiating opportunities remain for corporate air programs, which usually represent the biggest portion of overall travel spending. Airlines continue to want high-yielding, corporate business and are battling to improve reliability and onboard experience in order to win it. Volume, of course, remains king in airline negotiations, but a smaller program that can demonstrate compliance and business on key routes will have an advantage against larger programs with little grasp of data and traveler behavior. Download Now

Chapter 7: Working With Car Rental Firms

Car rental companies have struggled to raise rates in recent months, but that does not diminish the importance of a well-managed corporate car rental program. Although car rental usually represents a small percentage of overall travel spending at a company, small savings per rental gained by careful management can multiply into significant benefits across thousands or tens of thousands of car rental transactions. Car rental firms also increasingly realize that revenue growth can come more from ancillary services rather than rates, so companies that do not negotiate or set policy around these stand to take a significant financial hit. Download Now

Chapter 8: Working with Chauffeured Car Providers

The rise of ridesharing platforms like Uber and Lyft is causing travel buyers to look harder at their chauffeured transportation programs and policies, a segment that was often overlooked in the past. Ridesharing suppliers have brought new technology and on-demand options to the market, but security, efficiency and strong data remain travel buyers’ foundational concerns, regardless of supplier type. Though chauffeured car spending is miniscule compared with air and hotel, it’s also often the territory of company VIPs, who are most demanding that things go smoothly. So buyers overlook this segment of their programs at their own peril. Download Now

Chapter 9: Selecting a Corporate Payment System

Innovation in payment products is on the upswing. Largely driven by security concerns, chip technolgoy, biometrics and virtual cards have entered the corporate travel space. Mobile wallets are enabled for corporate use, but widespread adoption has yet to take hold. Merchants have become more accustomed to accepting these products, but market penetration seems a long way off. A corporate card program, at this point, remains the fundamental payment mechanism for any well-managed travel program, centralizing payment, providing visibility into spending and enhancing the intelligence with which travel buyers can approach supplier negotiations. A good card program also improves the expense reporting process when card data feeds directly into an automated system. Configuration of card programs and card products can vary widely, and many companies use BTAs and lodge cards for larger transactions. Download Now

Chapter 10: Core Technology & Data Reporting

Online booking tools, expense reporting systems and data reporting platforms have long been core to the travel management tech stack. And for good reason: Booking tools drive down full-service transaction costs, support policy compliance and drive preferred vendor usage; automated expense systems capture and report essential program data, while keeping employee spending in check; and data reporting systems provide travel program administrators, senior executives and budget holders both high-level and close-in views of a company’s travel program. Considering the importance of each, organizations must carefully choose the right technology and partners. It’s not always easy, especially as technology evolves quickly. In recent years, travel agencies, startups and established players have come to market with a dizzying array of next-generation reporting, business intelligence and visualization platforms. Corporate booking tools may have reached maturity years ago, but providers continue to evolve user interfaces, content availability and mobile experiences. Some established players, including Amadeus, Deem and Sabre, have made moves in the past year to reinvigorate booking offerings. Meanwhile, though the expense field may be dominated by Concur, there are plenty of challengers—new and old—that bring new ideas, features and interfaces worthy of consideration. Download Now

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