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Service Reigns For Tomorrow’s Corporate Travel Managers

Posted December 8, 2015


Saying it in “dollars-and-cents” is the traditional way to demonstrate a corporate travel program’s value. Using year-over-year savings, industry benchmarks, and any number of key performance indicators, travel managers could show higher-ups that they’ve effectively stretched their dollars and yielded a satisfactory ROI to support next year’s program.

Redefining Value

In a survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel for their whitepaper Balancing Service and Costs in a Procurement-Driven Travel Program, respondents ranked savings first in importance to the value of their travel program. They will continue to look for savings in their supplier relationships and administrative processes. But compared with last year, a larger number of respondents rated travel management service delivery as more/somewhat more important than costs, especially relative to:

  • Travel management companies (64%)
  • Duty of care/traveler tracking (62%)
  • Online booking tools (57%)
  • Hotels (56%)
  • Airlines (55%)
  • Car rental (49%)
  • Payment (49%)

New Ways to Measure Success

Today, it takes more than pinching pennies to get a travel program to the next level. Aside from the fact that price negotiations with vendors can go only go so far, the corporate travel industry has become more complex. It’s largely global and new suppliers continually to enter the market. Innovative technology offerings are changing the way people work and interact. Higher-quality data is available (and is more easily accessible) to guide a travel management program’s strategy and evaluation.

Uncover more insights in 3 Tips for Tackling Big Data in the Travel Industry and Exploring the Strategic Role of Today’s Corporate Travel Manager.

The ACTE/American Express study points out that companies are exploring non-cost ways of demonstrating the value of managed travel, including traveler satisfaction, which ties directly to service delivery. In order to achieve goals—even cost-related goals—corporate travelers themselves need to become a larger part of program development. They’re the individuals that need to adhere to the T&E policy and interact with service suppliers.

Measuring traveler satisfaction is key for several reasons: to assure their program buy-in, to meet their needs while they’re on the road, and to keep them happy. Here are some ways corporate travel managers can engage their corporate travelers:

  • Regularly solicit employee feedback about suppliers (e.g. hotels and ground transportation companies) and internal processes (e.g. booking and payments)
  • Use data to uncover traveler patterns/ preferences and work them into policies
  • Address travelers’ needs in every stage from program creation through deployment.
  • Focus on employee’s internal service experience, from booking through expense reporting.
  • Employ communications best practices to keep corporate travelers informed and responsive to feedback requests

Maximizing the T&E budget is of perennial importance, and reducing underlying costs is a straightforward way to tip the scales. Yet companies are looking beyond the bottom-line while vetting travel program suppliers and partners—and service is becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle.


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