9 tips to being
a successful business
travel booker

Charlie Hall, head of account management, shares his insight into the mindset of a travel booker and reveals his top tips to follow if you want to be successful one…

1. Work closely with your Account Manager

When you enlist the services of a travel management company (TMC) like Flight Centre Business Travel to help book your business travel, you’ll be allocated an Account Manager. It’s a good idea to develop a close working relationship with your Account Manager - allow them behind the scenes, let them assess your company’s travel habits. That way, they’ll gain a better insight into the company’s behaviour, and will be able to seek out ways to meet your requirements efficiently and cost effectively. In return, your Account Manager will ensure you’re the first to know about any new products or services that will help optimise your business travel programme.

2. Remember: cheapest doesn’t always mean best

Just because a flight is the cheapest option, it doesn’t mean it’s the best airfare for you. After all, it’s probably the cheapest for a reason. Think about it; it might be more efficient, or more productive for your traveller to fly at a more convenient time, or on a different day, even though it might cost a little more.

Another way travellers try to cut costs is to book online, or outside of your travel policy, but these one-off bookings can cause issues if your plans change and end up costing you more overall.

3. Know if travel technology works for you

There’s a wealth of travel tech out there, with new products coming onto the market every week. There are many mobile apps which allow travellers to stay connected and get more information while on the road – but consider if these are right for your business.

Sometimes travel bookers prefer to step away from technology and allow an experienced travel consultant to handle the booking process. Speak to your Account Manager to find out their view on booking tools vs a TMC.  

4. Keep everyone in the loop

A business travel programme doesn’t just involve your bookers and travellers. The system will work best when all key stakeholders are kept in the loop: we’re talking everyone from your CEO to your legal and finance teams. Keeping everyone informed will give you access to a variety of feedback and opinions, and help you to make the right decisions. It will also give staff at all levels an understanding of your travel policy and how it works, leading to increased compliance and having everyone on board with the processes and technology involved.

One sure-fire way to keep your travellers on side is to listen to their opinions. Ask them for regular feedback, find out what works particularly well, or what could be improved. If your travellers feel listened to they’ll be much more likely to comply with your travel policy, which will help fulfil your duty of care responsibility too.

5. Monitor your progress and set achievable goals

Measure the success of your business travel programme by setting achievable targets and keeping track of your progress towards them. This allows everyone using the systems to focus on your goals and work together to achieve them. Remember to keep measurements to a few relevant metrics, as you don’t want to overload yourself with data. Your Account Manager can help you to do this.

6. Keep your Account Manager up to date

Make sure you share any progress reports and feedback with your Account Manager. Whatever hurdles you encounter, it is likely your Account Manager has seen it all before and will be able to give some useful tips and impartial advice to help you on your way.

7. Work with a select group of suppliers

It’s a good idea to look at the suppliers you book with most often and use these to create a preferred suppliers list, which can be added to your travel policy. Reducing the number of suppliers you work with will improve efficiency and ease of booking while allowing you to negotiate specialist rates and deals. This might also allow you to take advantage of any freebies or value-adds offered by your suppliers, enhancing the experience for your traveller, increasing their productivity while travelling and saving you money at the same time.

8. Stay up to date with business travel trends

The best way to keep your eye on the latest travel trends is to follow industry experts on social media (you can follow FCBT on LinkedIn and Twitter) and read any important industry insights, like white papers. You can also chat to your Account Manager, who can often be one step ahead of the curve and offer insights that can help you to set your progress goals.

9. Be open with your finance team

Your finance team might work behind the scenes, but having them on side is a great way to ensure your business travel programme is successful. Talk to them, and be honest. This will help you streamline your invoicing and financial planning, and make it much easier to get hold of any financial data when you need it.