Unmanaged Travel Isn’t Always the Answer
Technology has changed corporate culture as we know it. Thanks to companies such as Google and HubSpot, a “no dress code” policy has replaced suits and pressed shirts. Employees are encouraged to build relationships with colleagues instead of separating work and personal life. HubSpot Software in Boston famously has a beer fridge on the premises and many policies that simply advise, “Use common sense.” Larry Page of Google made headlines last year when he fired his assistant. Why did he do this? He wanted to encourage a culture where employees could feel free to come and talk to him. With all these changes, will unmanaged travel programs, where employees manage their own bookings, also follow?
We’re firm believers that managed travel programs aren’t the remains of old-school corporate culture, they’re just good sense. There’s no risk to employee health or safety if a traveler works with an assistant. And it’s useful to have someone advise them when they visit high-risk places, such as cities abroad.
Leaving travelers vulnerable is just one of the pitfalls of unmanaged travel, however. Here are a few more.
1. Costs Can Rise
Executive travel can be expensive, and controlling spend is one of the primary duties of many corporate travel managers. If a department needs to cut costs by 30 percent, it’s up to the travel managers to run figures and ensure travelers receive the quality they expect at the lower cost. Individual travelers can’t see the bigger picture. It may seem like no big deal to exceed budget slightly for a single trip. If their actions become a pattern, however, they can cost the organization hundreds of dollars.
2. Value Can Drop
Executives want the best value when they travel for business. But value isn’t just about the cost of services, it’s about the quality of vendors, services, and perks. Travel managers are professionals at screening vendors for quality. While travelers can look at third-party reviews for reference, they may accidentally finding themselves stuck with a bad hotel or chauffeured transportation company, causing their overall job satisfaction to plummet.
3. It’s Difficult to Achieve Incentives
Travel vendors often offer incentives to companies in exchange for repeat business. The perks can range from guaranteed upgrades to significant discounts, but when travelers book with a variety of different companies, they’re less likely to receive these benefits.
4. Safety Can Be at Risk
Travel managers are experts at evaluating risk for both domestic and international destinations. And they can provide training and guidance accordingly. Unmanaged travel makes tracking travelers difficult, and not all companies have someone who can compile itineraries so that the traveler’s location is known at all times. Without the proper briefing before their trips, travelers may unknowingly place themselves at risk.
5. Is Booking Worth an Executive’s Time?
Your CEO’s and other executives’ time is costly. Is it really worth their time to spend their day browsing booking engines and developing an itinerary? Planning a business trip from start to finish, including contingencies, requires a great deal of time. While we can’t do the math for you, you’ll likely find that the benefits of unmanaged travel are far outweighed by the costs.
Though games of ping-pong on the clock are becoming far more common at organizations nationwide, this laid-back culture won’t completely take over business travel, too. It’s unlikely that tech-savvy employees will ever replace an IT department, and it also seems that unmanaged travel won’t be a wise option for many organizations. The company’s budget and employee safety are just too important.
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