It's one thing planning
your family vacation - but business travel is an entirely different bag of
Coordinating trips to align
for more than one colleague, with various departments and budget approval
processes in the mix - it can all be so very taxing.
Many believe you can shop
around for the best deal, but fail to consider it about so more than just the
best deal. A cheap hotel might put your employee at risk. Or the amount you're
saving on a per night rate, could be eaten up in transport costs since the
hotel is so cheap, because it's far from any convention centre or business
district. You're also paying in valuable time when trying to secure these
Whatever the economic
climate, saving on expenses and efficient systems are always essential.
A white paper on Travel Management Companies (TMC)
by Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT)shows "when one
takes into account that employee overspending can constitute one third of a
business’ entire travel and expense budget, corporate travel can become a very
It suggests that partnering
with a (TMC) is not a luxury for Small to Medium Enterprises or large established
“There is a misconception
among many SMEs that if they book their business travel themselves, it will be
quicker and cheaper. In most instances, this simply isn’t true,” says FCBT
South Africa Brand Leader Andrew Grunewald.
Although there are costs
associated with hiring a TMC partner, the fees are negligible when one considers
the compound time and cost-savings a TMC can achieve for your business in the
Fazlin Lakay of Travel with Lia explains
the benefits of having "online assistance with your travel from start to
"This gives you total
control of your processes from booking, approvals, receiving relevant
documentation and managing your spend in real time."
"Travel costs are also
reduced, as you have access to all flights and fares in one view. Whether you
are on the go or in a meeting , you have access to book, change or cancel your
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So how can companies, large
and small, appoint the best travel management solution for their business?
Find out how to
leverage their supplier relationships for savings and service?
Size matters and the volume
of travel book certainly means better rates. But what about the small
Grunewald says, "Ask
your TMC what buying power and partnerships they have in place with suppliers
from which you can benefit. FCBT with global buying power will be able to
leverage its relationships with suppliers to get special benefits, such as
avoiding having to pay up-front deposits when renting a car.”
Sure Travel Group, in
existence since 1979, is a members of WIN (Worldwide Independent Travel
Network) and ABTA (African Business Travel Association). As an independent
travel agency their reach extends across South Africa, Botswana and
Lakay says Lia uses
its GDS partnership allowing access to all flights with negotiated rates.
They also have hotel suppliers and other travel related suppliers.
"The great thing about
Lia is that we’ve proved it works for companies of all sizes, from a huge
corporation such as Naspers to a smaller business like SnapScan. There are no
setup or monthly costs, so you pay only for what you use."
Ensure you're being offered
the support you need
Employees are unlikely to
be travel experts and that makes finding the best deal unlikely, and mistakes
can end up costing the company, says Grunewald.
Lakay adds that "being
an online system that provides you with real time availability and inventory
from suppliers, Lia triggers approval workflow that creates auto
Support systems should also
be here for you when things go awry, like flights are delayed or you miss a
Proper travel management is
not only about saving the day when something unexpected happens, Grunewald
maintains. “It is putting in place a travel policy and programme to try to
prevent it from happening in the first place. Having a clear corporate travel
policy, and applying it consistently, are important steps SMEs can take to help
to reduce travel costs, streamline their travel management and achieve the
greatest ROI for their travel spend.”
READ: Hanekom: A third
of those who visit SA for the first time at a conference, come back for a
It's about saving the business, staff time and effort
Travel management is not
just about getting the best deal. It’s about spending the least possible time
and effort in finding it too. And there are many factors at play.
If you company is still
relying on Excel worksheets or – dare we say it - using pen and paper to
calculate travel expenses, they are not alone. According Certify, a US-based
travel and expense company, 49% of companies today are still using manual
systems for their expense reporting. Added to this business travel is expected
to reach $1.7 trillion (R25 trillion) by 2022 alone.
“Reporting is an important
tool to help your company identify areas where efficiencies can be made and
costs can be cut,” explains Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller.
“If you work with a travel management company (TMC) or other travel partner to
book your travel, the easiest way to gain a clear overview of your spending is
to ask for a few key reports per month. That way, you can summarise the most
useful data and won’t be overwhelmed by figures.”
Lakay says Lia offers a
platform whereby a corporate can book their entire trip from a single landing
page. Flights, hotel, and cars in a few minutes in comparison to the back and
forth with a traditional travel agency.
Also, she states, TMCs with
"transparent accounting systems that allows you access to your travel
spend and account statements at any given time" are vital, as are
"open purchase reports to manager bookings approved but not yet
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unnecessarily paying double for your travel insurance
Ask questions about the
contracts and payment options, and make sure you like the answers
“Cashflow concerns and
getting tied into contracts is one thing that will make most business owners
run a mile,” says Grunewald. “If your TMC is asking you to sign a fixed
contract and insisting on one payment solution that suits it, start lacing up
your tackies,” he warns.
It is vital that any TMC
partner offers a range of flexible payment options to suit your business,
including an interest-free credit account.
While the Lia product is the same across all companies, it
provides custom accounting integrations for systems such as SAP, Oracle and
Sage Pastel. Lakay says flexibility is key, with a 30-Day account upon credit
approval and clients are able to use their lodge cards as payment for flight
SEE: 8 Sure ways to
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