If you’re in charge of booking travel for your organization, you’ve likely had some extra time to fill in the past year and a half. With pandemic restrictions in place and the timely rise of Zoom, travel became a thing done from sofas and home offices worldwide. Even with the lifting of restrictions, travel managers have found themselves in unfamiliar territory. A once-reliable process has become a scavenger hunt, confirming – and reconfirming – entry requirements, travel allowances, and even finding alternate routes when layovers become impossible. Your work life has likely gone into overdrive, and you feel pressured to stay on top of things in an uncertain global travel climate. Now is the right time to improve your travel program to suit these new and ever-changing times. Optimize your travel program so you can meet your company’s needs.

Travel Isn’t What It Used to Be

As the world reenters into a sense of “normalcy,” it’s clear that things won’t simply return to their original state. The ways businesses function has shifted dramatically, as have domestic and international movements. Your travelers will likely be going to different places than they once did. Future travel is all but impossible to predict. Fares, rates, and policies are in constant flux. For many companies, budgets have tightened to rebound from the economic impact of lengthy shutdowns. These factors increase the pressure on travel managers to be agile and budget-conscious, bringing value to the company to show the importance of their role. That requires new ways of approaching your travel booking workflow to lower costs. Moving away from static rates in favor of real-time negotiations can help you achieve this flexibility. Ongoing program management is crucial, ensuring you’re staying ahead of fluctuations and capitalizing on the best rates, routes, and options available.

Automation is Key

Fortunately for all of us, we live in a technological era. Some solutions can help remove manual burdens and streamline travel booking processes. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can offer deeper insights into booking options and help deliver business travel cost savings reliably and efficiently. With continuous sourcing, you can be sure you’re receiving the best and most current fares available. Manual audits and reports are time-consuming and prone to human error. Using technology to audit expenses and deliver numbers for earrings and expenditure reports will save you time and give you a clearer picture of your company’s budget. Automating reporting and crucial audits means you always have important figures to help govern your decisions. It won’t happen overnight if you understand how to improve your travel program. These things take time to develop a strategy and approach. That includes checking and vetting services, negotiating agreements, designing a system, understanding the interoperability of workflows, reviewing technology requirements, and budgeting for implementation. And all of that is before you even embark on the overhaul and put the wheels in motion for improving your travel program.

Now is the Time

The entire process of improving a travel program can take six to twelve months. While you can choose any time to optimize your schedule, the best time to start is now, mainly while things are slowly opening up. While it may seem far-fetched at this point, the world will open up again, and travel volumes will skyrocket. The future is hard to predict. In the best of times, it’s true, which is now even more accurate than ever. While travel booking won’t remain as it is today, it will see dramatic changes even as the world returns to normalcy. Optimizing your travel program now means greater flexibility and agility to manage these shifts and unknowns. You are waiting too long to optimize means attempting to revamp a system while it’s in a mission-critical state. It will be harder to justify the expense while the burden on workflows is excellent. Don’t try to meet modern needs with an old-fashioned approach. Take a moment to evaluate and improve your travel program to meet the new challenges and opportunities of a post-pandemic world when the time comes.
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