As a corporate travel manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure your employees’ travels go off without a hitch. This means taking care of everything from the moment they leave the country up until they get back.
While that might sound simple enough, it also goes beyond booking flights and hotels in advance. A number of things could go wrong during a business trip—their flight could get delayed by a storm, or their baggage might be lost en route to Bandung City, Indonesia.
Remember, it’s hard to do damage control when they’re all the way at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and you’re at your office desk.
The key to dealing with these unforeseen speed bumps is proper corporate travel planning. Have a checklist of things you need to sort out for their trip so you don’t miss any details, and your travellers can have the smoothest, most stress-free, and productive journey possible.
If you don’t already have one, you can use this checklist for upcoming business trips! We’ve also included our tech recommendations for a seamless planning experience.
📝 Travellers’ details
- Full name
- Job title
- Employee ID
- Passport and visa details
- Photocopies of passport ID pages, driver’s licenses, and company credit cards
- Work contact details
- Emergency contact details
- Airline preferences
- Frequent-flyer numbers and status
- Seat preferences
- Diet and meal requests
- Special preferences (e.g. smoking lounges)
Having all these details will help you book their preferred travel arrangements for every business trip. Keep them in one place so that you always know where to retrieve the information you need.
Comprehensive business travel solutions can easily do this for you. For example, Travelstop stores all travellers’ profiles on the platform so corporate travel managers can access them anytime, anywhere. No more re-entering or remembering the same information for multiple people on many websites!
🗺 The itinerary
Before you make any bookings, you need to know the basic details surrounding the trip. Ask yourself these questions:
- Where is the trip going to be?
- What language(s) do they speak in that country?
- What’s the local time zone?
- What local laws or cultural etiquette does your traveller need to keep in mind (for instance, in China or Japan)?
- Are there any security issues to take note of?
- Is a visa required to travel there?
- How long will your traveller be staying there?
- Will he or she be visiting multiple cities?
- What are the trip’s objectives?
- What currency will he or she be using?
With all these basics covered, it’s time to come up with the skeleton of the itinerary. You need to think of things chronologically so you can plan out all the details and transitions. When and what time does your traveller need to be at his or her destination? How will your traveller head from the airport to the hotel? What time does he or she need to check-in?
By thinking in chronological order, you can iron out all of the little details throughout their trip. From there, make all the necessary arrangements and choices, like choosing an Airbnb over a hotel, or car rental over taxis.
Here are some basic arrangements you need to tick off the list:
- Airline tickets
- Passport and visa requirements
- Transportation from airport to lodging, and vice versa
- Transportation around the city
- Communication (phone and internet connectivity)
- Budget for corporate expenses (pocket money and credit card limits)
- Copy of itinerary
- Baggage allowance / seat selection for the flight
- Local currency
- Travel insurance
Giving them a copy of their itinerary is integral for them to keep to their scheduled appointments, and remain as efficient and informed as possible. It also helps to integrate all necessary information in the itinerary, such as flight numbers, hotel addresses and contact details.
And don’t just give them a printed copy of their itinerary, either! Give them a digital copy so they have guaranteed access to it.
Remember how we said a while ago that all travel data must be kept in one place? Solutions like Travelstop will come to the rescue here, too. Corporate travel managers (and the actual business travellers) can simply get and review their itinerary through the platform via web, email and app access.
⏰ Last reminders
Before you send them off, make sure to give them some last few reminders, important documents, and pertinent information. These include:
- Flight tickets/boarding passes
- Hotel booking reservation number
- Weather reports
- Advice on dress codes for events and meetings
- Advice on proper etiquette and cultural norms
- Meeting papers and relevant documents
- Business cards
- Area map
- Emergency contact details for sudden health and safety issues
- Insurance documents
- Details of local currency
- What to do in case of a flight delay
📱 The right tools
Now that you know all of the basic things you need to cover, the next step is to learn how you should go about doing it.
You could do all your planning using word processors and spreadsheets. But let’s face it, that’s extremely tedious. Imagine manually logging in and extracting each traveller’s contact details, hotel and flight information, and other important data, then plugging them in one at a time into a spreadsheet. It would take you hours to get just one itinerary done!
Technology is the modern travel manager’s best friend. Not only will it save you a lot of time, but it’ll also ensure accuracy and efficiency. Here are our recommendations for travel managers (and travellers) when it comes to the tech tools and resources they can use:
Google Trips. Google Trips can extract dates and locations from confirmation emails. But the neat thing about Google Trips is that it can also make suggestions for the best restaurants and activities in the destination country.
Travelstop. Manage all hotel and flight bookings and business expenses in one place with this handy travel management tool. Simplify the overall booking process, report and track travel expenses as you go, and boost your efficiency when planning corporate travels.
Multi-currency wallets like TransferWise, Revolut, and YouTrip. Because the worst thing that can ever happen on any trip is your employees not having access to money — that, or them dealing with bad conversion rates at a random counter after long or red-eye flights.
AirHelp. AirHelp is a handy tool in case of a flight delay. It’ll tell you whether your traveller is eligible for some compensation and what you can do next.
Uber. This ride-sharing service remains the first name to pop up on most travellers and commuters’ minds, even if it has already broken up with Southeast Asia. But Uber may still be operational where your people are going, so check this list of countries and cities before they board their flight. (And if it’s not, we’ve got eight taxi alternatives.)
LoungeBuddy. “Waiting for hours and hours at the airport is fun!” said no one ever. (Well… maybe if you’re at Changi.) Use this app to learn where travellers can wait out their extra-long layovers in comfort, and without the excessive membership or entrance fees.
And they’re off! Corporate travel planning is certainly meticulous, but it can be extremely rewarding when your travellers report a smooth and comfortable experience.