Recently a colleague introduced me to the term, ‘scaleup’. “You worked in the startup world,” she told me, “how do you not know this term? It’s wherever I look right now.” So, I turned to Twitter and she’s right – from lists in publications like the Financial Times UK, to Inc’s ‘fastest-growing companies’ — it’s everywhere. And more startups than ever are crossing the line into ‘scaleups’. They found success with their offering and now they need to build a scalable business that can truly support them long-term.
If your business has ambitions to increase in size or revenue or both, you need to start picking the places in your business — outside your core competencies — to bring in some help to manage growth. It doesn’t mean slowing down your fast pace, you just need the right partner, with the right culture and the right tech, to help you stay agile. And one of the first places you should address? Your travel programme.
The power in process
If you’re afraid of adding ‘procedure’ to a complicated situation you’re not alone.
Execs at fast-growing businesses can be put off by what they perceive as the ultimate party-pooper — ‘process.’ But for businesses on a fast-track to growth, standardising process is critical. Take business travel; you can cope with a few people running around booking travel ad-hoc when you’re a team of five, but what about when you’re 50, or a 500? Without standardising the process (including the appropriate tech and management tools,) you’re on a fast-track to paying more than you should, slowing your people down and risking situations that don’t keep them safe.
Here’s where the importance of partnership comes in: start managing your travel programme, versus simply managing your travellers. The benefits of partnering with a travel management company (or TMC) are going to see you both improve traveller satisfaction and policy compliance, and find and deliver cost-savings and efficiency. And if you work with a TMC with a real omnichannel platform, everything you need is one place for your travellers and your management team — booking, reporting, tracking — all vital information that has an impact on the efficiency of the company. Teams that were once wasting time trying to find the best travel options, without a good understanding of policy, cost or safety, have a much more efficient way to get on the road.
A smart travel management platform, like Egencia’s, has policy woven in and uses predictive analytics to offer business travellers’ the best options for their trip, saving the user time and effort when making their choice.
Keep it simple
It may sound counter-intuitive to growth but ‘scaling down’ is another big deal. It means ‘to make something smaller’. Which is exactly what small, mid-size and fast-growing businesses need to do with the way they organise across business functions. Fast-growing software company Outreach, wanted to streamline and simplify, “we switched to Egencia because they just got rid of all the friction that was in the process,” Max Altschuler, vice president of marketing said.
A TMC can save businesses time and money in a number of ways, it can:
- Increase efficiency by standardising the booking experience. Everyone uses the same platform, in the same way — no matter who or where they are.
- Improve compliance by building your travel policy into the booking platform, this simplifies the booking experience and ultimately saves money if it includes per diems and rate caps, for example.
- Save money through the provision of important insights, the Egencia platform for example, gathers and displays all the relevant traveller data in one place which equips travel managers with the knowledge they need to make cost-conscious changes and improvements (e.g., are the biggest spends coming from the same events year after year? If so, could a little extra planning save money on accommodation and transport?)
- Find more choice and lower prices through an extensive supply of transport and accommodation options. With thousands of hotels in the platform, 96% of Egencia reservations beat published hotel rates.
A perfect partner
In Inc 5000’s 2018 fastest-growing business list, the companies featured had amassed $206.2 billion in revenue in one year (2017). That’s pretty mind-blowing. These organisations are smart and they understand how to use business functions like travel, to growth hack their business. “We send our salespeople on the road, to do events, to go to dinners, to get face time – it allows us to actually act like we have a presence on the ground in a lot of the cities in the US,” Altschuler explained.
Small, mid-sized and fast-growing businesses need to scale their business functions to keep pace with growth. And that means being savvy about who they bring on board to support. Growing businesses need to partner with experts who are both technologically advanced, with a culture of innovation — and trusted, with an existing client base of happy customers. Fast-growing software company Outreach went from 0-350 employees rapidly and they understood the value of scaling up with a travel management company that valued streamlined processes as much as them. “My account executives… want to make sure that they can open up an app, and everything’s going to be centralised and they can get the information they need when they need it,” Altschuler said.
A TMC with longevity needs to be more than a shiny interface. It needs to sport great tech, a great global footprint and the headroom you need to grow. Fast-growing software company, @Splunk, put it better than me when they explained the importance of a perfect partnership when it comes to planning for today — and tomorrow. “A lot of great new players may fit our culture but [are] not scalable for us. We’re picking technology for where we will be in five years…” Joy Anzinger, senior global travel manager said.
It takes more than a brilliant idea to really make it as the next big thing and I’m always excited to see which startup or SME is going to break into the fast-growing business category.
Check out the white paper ‘What growth hackers know about business travel’ to find out how smart, streamlined business travel can make all the difference to a small, growing business.