In tough economic times, companies are always seeking new strategies to reduce costs, and travel budgets are usually one of the primary areas in the future under scrutiny. A good way to reduce costs without sacrificing necessary travel or maybe the traveler’s quality of life on the highway is through the deployment of any corporate travel management program. Some large corporations have such programs in position, many small enterprises don’t and could benefit greatly by implementing one.
“A business travel program allows corporations to accomplish transparency and accountability of one of the significant expenses,” says Ellina Arakelova, the travel operations manager for Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign, clear aligners for straightening teeth. “A nicely-managed corporate travel program ensures better corporate and financial discipline and raises the traveler experience,” adds Arakelova, who has been hired to implement a corporate travel management program for Align.
Operating out of Santa Clara, Calif., Align Technology, Inc. has 1,400 employees worldwide and earned just over $300 million in revenues a year ago. When Arakelova joined the company in October 2007, there was clearly no formal travel management program in position and no one dedicated to handling the company’s travel. Align experienced a relationship using a travel management company (TMC) plus a corporate charge card, but usage of these had not been mandatory and employees routinely booked travel on public websites, rendering it impossible to monitor expenditures. “There was clearly no pre-trip visibility and incredibly limited ability to correctly reconcile travel spend,” says Arakelova.
Today Align’s corporate travel management program covers all trips originating in North America and may soon extend to its offices worldwide. Arakelova currently has 500 travelers in her own database. Here are several of her steps for implementing an excellent corporate travel policy.
•Make an agenda while keeping it comprehensible. As being a certified travel manager, Arakelova built and managed corporate travel service at her previous job, so she knew just what you can do when she joined Align. The present travel policy was extremely broad rather than enforced, according to Arakelova.
Arakelova worked with her finance department to create the brand new travel policy. She wanted a terse, clear to understand policy, putting procedures along with other frequently changing information in appendices for updating without altering the actual travel policy.
Arakelova desired to consolidate all travel operations though an individual TMC and online booking tool. The brand new travel policy would mandate the use of these entities along with the corporate charge card, and preferred travel vendors.
•Get buy-in from all of the departments. To give the other company on board, Arakelova developed your own business plan and financial proposal detailing the projected saving money by way of a managed corporate travel program. “We did quite a lot of internal marketing and presentations, and got support from your upper management and the employees at the same time,” she says.
•Find a travel management company. Next Arakelova developed a request proposal (RFP) to judge or benchmark each travel management company. Arakelova sent the RFP to a number of contestants and selected Carlson Wagonlit Travel simply because they offered the ideal package of services, costs, travel reporting and supported technologies. “Going with Carlson I could possibly implement any online booking tool,” says Arakelova. Carlson also provided web space for any customized Align travel portal and using their corporate hotel directory. Which had been a tremendous asset for Align because their customers are scattered country wide. Arakelova saw the reporting tools provided by her RFP respondents as being an integral component of the business travel program. “Financial visibility and travel data analysis are step to program success”, says Arakelova.
•Implement an internet based booking tool. From her previous experience Arakelova believed it absolutely was crucial for travelers to work with a web-based booking tool to take costs down and manage data. Arakelova chose Concur Cliqbook Travel as her online booking tool because it possesses a user-friendly interface. Moreover, Arakelova managed to build the travel policy, approval process and preferred vendors into Cliqbook. She says Cliqbook also provides excellent policy compliance enforcement which is easy to administer.
•Ensure effective communication. The travel portal is really a critical part of Arakelova’s travel management program. The portal consolidates all travel-related information and it is available to all Align employees. “Effective travel communication channels are one of the most significant areas of the travel program,” says Arakelova. The portal has got the policy and operations, entry to Cliqbook or perhaps an agent-assisted booking process, training materials, insurance information, the favorite vendor list, travel alerts, and destination news. Arakelova also uses internal company publications for flash news and important announcements.
•Train your travelers. Training and education may also be critical components in obtaining employees to comprehend the need for travel policy compliance and learn how to book from the new system. “We can easily implement the best technology, however, if the traveler is not really educated in how to use it, the travel program is useless,” says Arakelova. To dexkpky62 employees Arakelova conducts live Web-based training sessions and possesses made travel training element of new-hire orientation. Arakelova also offers to video record the education session, so employees can access it whenever from the travel portal.
•Keep improving. It took Arakelova lower than six months to implement her new corporate travel management program. She subsequently added the Concur expense reporting module along with a new product called Ride Charge that allows employees to book ground transportation online. “Cliqbook constantly develops additional features,” says Arakelova. “It will be the responsibility in the travel manager to be well educated on technology innovations and communicate additional features to users,” she adds. Arakelova also intends to add group and meetings booking capabilities and definately will extend the program internationally to Align’s global locations.
•Show results. A remarkable 78% of Align travelers now initiate bookings through Cliqbook with more than 98% corporate travel policy compliance. Moreover, Align’s overall travel operations realized a 56% decline in management costs, a 25% decline in average airfare, and a 35% decline in average car rental costs.