Minimalism is kind of a big deal right now.
Ever since the world discovered the magic of tidying last year, the focus has very much been on clean lines, bare surfaces and a streamlined existence, which is fine for your sock draw, but other areas of your life might prove trickier to strip back to the bare essentials.
Business travel is definitely one of them, as it’s an area of most businesses that remains notoriously messy; everyone booking in a different way, constant email notifications and booking confirmations and a never ending stream of receipts being submitted to finance.
However, there is a way of adopting a minimalist approach to business travel and making the whole process run as smoothly as possible. Here’s our expert advice:
1. Book all types of travel on one site
Fragmented methods of booking business travel, i.e one employee always using booking.com, another always using laterooms.com and another just typing their destination into Google and hoping for the best, means that no one is really working towards discovering an efficient way of travelling; everyone is paying different prices, for different sized rooms or standard of flight due to the different deals available on their chosen booking method.
Mandating the use of one particular type of booking tool, preferably something that is geared towards the needs of business travellers (a tool that requires little effort to sign up to and is easy to use), means that you will quickly develop your own best practices; for example, you might discover that the Hilton that’s situated 5 minutes from one of your VIP clients has a weekday rate of £75 and suggest that this is your employee’s first port of call should they need to visit.
No one enjoys the cold sweat that comes when you’re standing at the ticket machine and are unable to find your booking confirmation number; maybe you imagined booking your train ticket? Did you delete the email by accident?
Spending time sifting back through your inbox is a symptom of a slightly messy approach to business travel, but most booking sites don’t do much to help and think nothing of firing out booking confirmations left, right and centre.
So, with this in mind, look for booking sites that are intuitive with their notifications and emails; for example, timed emails that ping up 30 minutes before your due to travel, ensuring that your booking confirmation number is pushed right to the top of your inbox, or automated calendar synchronisation to ensure that you’ll never forget about a trip again.
3.Fully integrated travel policies
Travel policies are tricky because not every business has one, but those that do really feel the benefit. In short, a travel policy communicates to your team what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to booking business travel and means that as a business you’re better able to control what is being spent on travel. It’s this enhanced level of control that is the biggest benefit of implementing a travel policy and is the key reason why travel policies remain the best way to consistently reduce your travel spend long term.
The really challenging part of implementing a travel policy is getting your travellers to take notice of it, rather than read it on their first day before quickly shoving it in a drawer. The best way to do this is to look for a booking site which will allow you to integrate the terms of your policy within the system; for example, prices that are outside of what’s stated in your policy appear in red, or booking options that are out of policy request approval. This will bring your policy to life and ensure that it’s being acted upon, without the need for constant monitoring.
4. A team effort
Business travel can fragment and disjoint a business very quickly – it’s one of the few areas of a business in which people are often let loose to do whatever they like. Employees develop their own rules, practices and routines and as a result there’s often a lack of communication, a lack of synchronisation and a lack of concord; no way of keeping track of travel spend, no way of knowing where travellers are at any given point during their trip and no easy way of communicating travel arrangements to multiple travellers.
So, with this in mind, once you’ve found a booking site that you think can offer your business a way of simplifying your business travel, whilst also saving you time and money, then don’t be afraid to mandate its use across your team or entire business. Everyone booking their business in the same way, using the same site or tool, will mean that all information relating to how your business travels can be found in the same place, whether that’s spend or itineraries – a sure-fire way of streamlining your travel-booking processes.