It is somewhat ironic. In an industry known for leading innovation and high-tech solutions, manufacturing companies lag behind in one area when it comes to adopting technology: Business travel.
Yet partnering with a robust digital travel management company (TMC) can deliver significant benefits in terms of traveler safety and wellbeing, cost savings on travel expenses, and process efficiencies.
Here are 9 reasons manufacturing companies should move to a managed corporate travel program for the benefit of their expense policies, easy business trip and risk management, and to control overall expenditure:
- A managed business travel program lets you set corporate travel policy guidelines that protect your travelers, make them happier, and grow your bottom line. All at the same time.
- The right digital booking tool will make it umpteen times easier and faster to book complex travel (and change plans when plans change).
- When travelers book through a single platform, you’ll know where they are at any given moment.
- Solid TMCs will have built-in savings automations to save your company money without any extra effort.
- Consolidating travel through a single platform gives you powerful data to use in a variety of ways.
- The right TMC will also have a robust, easy to access person-to-person support network in place.
- The right booking tool will make booking and managing the travel experience easier for everyone, even old school stalwarts.
- A managed travel program will streamline your entire travel expense process, saving your employees hours each week.
- The right TMC will empower your travelers throughout their trip.
Read in detail how travel management services can help create and control a travel expense policy, upgrade the employee experience for domestic and international travel, and create more constructive business meetings that grow your business.
1. A managed travel program lets you set company travel policy guidelines that protect your travelers, make them happier, and grow your bottom line. All at the same time.
Rather than being constrictive or punitive, a good travel policy should guide travelers towards making decisions that match up with your company’s values, needs, and goals while taking care of the traveler’s wellbeing.
In today’s world – especially with the complex needs specific to manufacturing -- travelers need more guidance than they ever have before to feel at ease. To successfully compete in the global marketplace, manufacturing companies need to show genuine empathy and concern for their employees’ wellbeing, which means considering new factors beyond just basic corporate travel safety and business purposes to give their travelers peace of mind.
What destinations are off limits? How much can I spend on a hotel? Will I have to wear a mask? Having a travel policy that answers those questions – and builds them right into the booking process – makes it easier for travelers to feel confident about their allowable options.
Highlighting options that are in line with company goals and traveler wellbeing -- and visually flagging ones that are not – makes it easier for travelers to make choices they feel good about while also benefitting the company.
2. The right digital booking tool will make it umpteen times easier and faster to book complex travel (and change plans when plans change).
Manufacturing is unpredictable. Timelines shift. Plans change. And on top of the need for flexibility, there is the added complexity of needing to move not just people, but equipment and prototypes. Which means an offline travel agent just isn’t the best fit. It can take hours of back and forth to firm up trip details and by that time, the opportunity may have passed, or plans may have changed.
Contrast that experience with a corporate booking tool that uses machine learning to prioritize search results based on the intelligent weighting of air travel variables like layover time, bag costs, and even a traveler’s preferences based on previous choices. Seeing the best choices first saves significant time for your travelers and travel arrangers.
For instance, on average, Egencia customers book their airline tickets, car rentals, or train tickets in five minutes and their hotel room in four minutes.
3. When travelers book through a single platform, you’ll know where they are at any given moment.
Not all online booking experiences are equal. If employees are left to book on whatever site they want, duty of care is severely compromised. There is no central way of locating employees if something goes wrong.
With the right online booking experience, through a single platform, you can find who is where at any given time in a matter of seconds.
4. Solid TMCs will have built-in savings mechanisms to save your company money without any extra effort.
How can a TMC help you save? Let us count the ways. A large TMC will have leverage with providers that they can use to negotiate special savings and perks to pass on to their customers when they book travel.
Machine learning can increase savings too. Egencia Savings Finder, for instance, continues to search for lower rates after booking, which saves an average of 7% on air and 14% on hotel, with no additional action required by the traveler.
There’s also data to help make smart decisions and power negotiations, help finding and redeeming unused tickets, and much, much more.
5. Consolidating travel through a single platform gives you powerful data to use in a variety of ways.
Top leaders in the manufacturing industry understand the importance of data to recognize patterns that allow them to enhance processes and boost production. Travel data is just as important.
Without a consolidated travel program, you don’t have data to action. But when all travel spend flows through a single travel management software system, you can easily spot trends and savings opportunities to minimize travel costs.
You can also use data to surface ways to better serve your travelers. If you see certain travelers booking higher rate flights, for instance, use it as an opportunity to start a conversation. You may find that that group of travelers are on the road significantly more, or need more flexibility, or have projects where timelines are in flux.
Armed with answers, you can adjust travel requirements or benchmarks for that group to better accommodate their needs (and make them feel heard and appreciated).
6. The right TMC will also have a robust, easy to access person-to-person support network in place.
No matter how effective your technology, there are still times when travelers want the reassurance of speaking to a human being. This is crucial to providing peace of mind to travelers who are less technologically inclined.
A TMC like Egencia has a global network of expert travel counselors ready to respond at the tap of a button, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, no matter where in the world they are (which means no more middle of the night calls to administrative assistants or travel coordinators).
7. The right booking tool will make booking and managing travel easier for everyone, even old school stalwarts.
Some online booking tools are clunky and frustrating to use. Others are streamlined and intuitive. In order to get everyone on board, you’ll want to choose the latter.
The right TMC will have an interface that feels as comfortable and familiar as booking a vacation or other personal travel, so everyone – from millennials who are glued to their phones to boomers who prefer printed itineraries – will want to use the tool for employee travel services.
Another benefit is access to supplier-specific health and hygiene information in the travel booking process. Because informed travelers are happier employees.
While it may initially be a transition, we find that our customers end up preferring online booking for airfare and hotel rooms over traditional offline (especially with the reassurance of live phone support if they need help during a trip). Egencia customers see an average of 87% online adoption rate globally, across industries.
8. A managed travel program will streamline your entire travel and expense process, saving your employees hours each week.
Let’s face it, no one likes tracking down receipts and manually compiling expense reports (plus, it can eat up hours of productive time for your employees).
Corporate booking tools accelerate the expense process for travelers, travel arrangers, and finance teams by passing all transaction data – offline, online, and even data with custom fields – directly to an expense management system.
In fact, a powerful digital TMC can go beyond expense consolidation to become a streamlining genie for your company. From automated help implementing approval processes (which have skyrocketed these days) to fast and easy trip approval on any device to one-click expense reporting and payment, a managed travel program is a game-changer.
9. The right TMC will empower your travelers throughout their trip in real-time.
The role of a TMC doesn’t end once the trip is booked. Today’s travelers want to feel empowered throughout the journey. With a mobile app powered by a robust platform, field workers can use virtual chat to get just about any question about their trip answered – from whether the hotel has breakfast to what gate they are leaving from.
They’ll also have info on ground transportation at their fingertips when they land. So, they can decide on the best option once they arrive. Ride shares, car rentals, public transportation – with costs, schedules, travel time, and booking ability – are all right there in the mobile app.
Travel has changed. The complex travel needs of the manufacturing industry – and the intrinsic desire to do things better and more efficiently – have not.
To be successful in manufacturing today, businesses must be more flexible, inclusive, and responsible than ever before. Corporate travel management can help you achieve that through innovative technology and traveler-centric support.
Isn’t it time your company moved to a managed travel program?