Why Managed Travel is a Must for Construction Leaders

By Jessica Larkin

The demand is high for skilled construction workers that are willing to travel for projects. In fact, the GBTA highlights that in 2017, project-based business travel spending reached $45.4 billion, and the most project-travel intense sector by a wide margin is the construction industry. For this industry segment, project travel comprises 20 percent of total business travel spending.

So why the high spend on project-based travel? Well, the U.S. is facing a shortage of talented construction professionals. As of June 2019, the construction industry had approximately 300,000 vacancies, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to rise with an anticipated need for 747,000 more employees by 2026. As a result, companies are increasing travel spend to get skilled employees to competitive markets where they have a backlog of projects.

Managing Your Bottomline: Booking, Expenses, and Compliance

To support employees on the road while still managing the bottomline, construction leaders are turning to travel management companies (TMC) to provide a system for booking, expense management, and policy compliance.

“The average spend per business trip was significantly higher for trips taken for project-based purposes ($679) than for other business trips ($533) taken over the same period,” states the GBTA. “The higher spending is driven by longer average stays and higher trip budgets. Project -based business travelers spent a total of $15.9 billion on lodging, $14.6 billion on air transportation, $7.0 billion on food & beverage, $1.8 billion on entertainment, $4.2 billion on ground transportation and $1.9 billion on retail.” That’s a lot of money!

Booking

Construction work is grueling to say the least and it is important for workers to have comfortable lodgings to return to after a long day on the job site—but also stay within budget. In addition to travel revolving around a project with a start and end date, to be considered project-based travel, the trip must last at least four nights. From a business perspective, longer lodging means a considerable expense.

Construction firms that enlist the support of a managed travel company can ensure that their workers have all the comforts of home, with the bonus of negotiated savings. Employees will also like that they can manage their bookings directly from an app and have 24/7 support if they need to adjust their trip dates for any reason.

Eliminating Unexpected Expenses

A good TMC can also support expense management and provide good analytics to help construction companies see how their project budgets are tracking with unexpected expenses like a run to Home Depot when a delivery doesn’t arrive on time.

On the employee side, imagine returning home after spending weeks onsite for a project. You’re excited to kick back, relax, see loved ones, and enjoy being in a familiar place and space. But first, you need to sift through a mountain of receipts, think back to which members of the crew were present at the lunch two weeks ago, itemize purchases from the hardware store, track mileage, and more. Talk about a welcome home headache–that also leaves significant room for human error.

For scenarios like this, expense management tools like the TravelBank mobile app really come to the rescue. Our app enables employees to capture receipts on-the-go as they occur. It’s as simple as taking a photo of the receipt or forwarding it via email. The receipts can all be pulled into a single expense report and allocated to the appropriate category, whether it is a meal, project-related purchase, or fuel. Employees are overjoyed to have a simpler process and finance departments rest easier knowing that technology is managing the process.

Conquering Travel Policy Compliance

A corporate travel policy serves to provide clear guidelines for booking, expense reporting, and to outline reimbursement procedures to ensure employees receive out-of-pocket expenditures in a timely manner. As managed travel experts, we can’t stress enough the importance of consulting your road warriors, making sure your travel policy is reflective of the needs and culture of your organization, and realizing that the guardrails can be amended and updated as your business grows and changes.

Once you’ve built your policy, it is crucial to share it across teams and work to attain compliance. For industries with a distributed workforce, construction being a prime example, technology is an absolute essential to ensure compliance. With TravelBank, workers will have access to clearly defined policies and booking and expense rules are built directly into the app. Further, admins are able to set advanced rules and integrate the policy through automated booking and approval notifications.

Want to learn more? Check out our Flexible Travel Policies Guide.

Construction is Competitive, Stand-out from the Pack

To ensure a steady stream of jobs, construction leaders realize they must employ top talent. With the shortage of skilled workers, it is now more important than ever to have a competitive differentiator to offer new employees and keep existing staff. A technology-enabled managed travel program is a great way to stand-out, retain and attract top employees, and have insights into project budgets and correlating expenses. If you’re ready to get started, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a demo.

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