5 Things Every Travel Manager Should Be Doing During the Pandemic

By Alexandra Emerson

The travel manager role has been pushed into the spotlight as a result of COVID-19 halting business travel. In some companies, with previously high travel volumes, it’s a role that has become more important than ever before. But the reality is, that’s not the case for managers everywhere.

Mass layoffs have swept the travel industry, making it important for managers to continue to demonstrate their value. The current downtime in travel presents an opportunity to assess and adopt new tools that will provide valuable data insights for future business decisions.

Shop Travel Solutions for a Better Experience & Better Pricing

According to a 2019 ACTE report, 39% of survey respondents believe their travelers prefer to look for a better price on their own rather than booking through the company’s online booking tool and nearly 20% acknowledge a poor user experience contributes to noncompliance.

Now is the perfect time to reevaluate travel solutions and if needed, replace them primarily because 1) employees aren’t traveling as frequently and 2) it’s easier to introduce a new solution before business travel fully returns.

In evaluating current solutions, travel managers should ask themselves:

If the answer was ‘No’ to any of the above, then it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

Consider An All-in-One Solution That Includes Expense Management

In the search process for a new travel solution there are several things to keep in mind, including pricing, but among the top two is experience.

Travel managers work closely with the accounting department because of how much spend is flowing through a travel program. This means uniting both travel and expenses in one platform should be key in searching for a new tool, as should accounting software integrations and overall ease of use.

Additionally, the new solution should help manage current problems. For example, one immediate need travel managers have is getting a grasp on the unused ticket credits their companies have racked up. Back in April, Business Travel News shared that some travel buyers have at least $1 million in unused tickets.

Explore Corporate Cards That Support Contactless Payments

Introducing new technologies, like virtual corporate cards, to a distributed workforce will undoubtedly include difficulties along the way, that’s why it’s important to have an understanding of potential future needs and consider solutions that are building for that future.

Virtual card use, for example, is rising in the B2B space. Virtual cards are easy to manage as mobile wallet adoption has significantly accelerated due to COVID-19, with contactless payments being key to bringing travel back and keeping travelers safe. It also provides the opportunity to access spending data in real-time and across departments more quickly, making it critical that it’s integrated with your expense solution.

TravelBank, for example, has U.S. Bank’s Instant Card integrated into its expense management platform. Travel managers can seamlessly provision virtual cards to employees and contractors and then access that data to inform future business decisions.

Put Data to Work

Spend and expense data isn’t only helpful to the travel manager and accounting department – it’s key for company success. In a post COVID-19 world, financial health is at the top of every decision-makers mind.

Right now, providing data insights is one of the best time investments a travel manager can make. Start by analyzing historical travel spend data, and then use that information to make better decisions moving forward like proposed travel budgets—which can be easily implemented through spending limits and restricted merchant categories codes applied to the virtual corporate cards issued to travelers.

Don’t Forget to Update Your Travel Policy

Lastly, with all the historical travel spend data analyzed, update the company travel policy to curb trends in wasteful spend or noncompliance and address the future business travel landscape.

Duty of Care has always been a top priority for managers but it’s now taken on a whole new meaning with more considerations to keep in mind. Travel policies should clearly communicate guidelines regarding approved travel, what to do if COVID is on the rise in the city one is traveling to, and the type of support the company can offer.

Have more questions about your travel program at this time? The TravelBank team is here to help.

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