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Employees and business travel: 5 articles to learn more about it (2nd episode)

Travel management, as well as any other company process, consists of a group of activities that we have classified as planning, editing, check and results analysis activities.

1)Travel planning

Travel planning can require few minutes or many working days and there are many reasons for this difference. The most relevant are the following ones:

Travel duration-In most cases a daily travel without overnight stay requires a very different planning time than a 15 days travel. But if I should travel by plane from Parma to Rome same-day, I should anyway book far in advance in order to have availability guarantee. Company travel policy, then, could establish that travels over the country, regardless of duration, should be authorised 5 days in advance. Travel duration is therefore a place to start.

Distance-A few km travel usually doesn’t need the same preparation of an intercontinental one.

Traveler-Different situations can happen. For example: a manager who has many delegations can decide in a few minuts to leave for a travel; in the same way a reporter can be sent with a prompt decision to a place where exceptional facts happened. Another reporter who instead should write about a sports known event (Italy tour) will plan his travel much time in advance.

Destination place-Even a few days travel can require long times for vaccinations and/or necessary visas for certain countries.

If you want to plan a business trave,l you usually need personal tools (memo) in order to communicate to other people that your activity will be performed out of the working place. The most used tools are: a manual or electronic agenda, paper documents to be sent to the head of department or to HR Office, ad hoc planning tools and project management tools.

2)Authorisations and travel documents

Travel authorisation can be required by internal or less strict rules but also by rules regulating working relationship and that can be different from one country to another. In Italy until the beginning of the year 2000, a letter of engagement was asked by the employer. Nowadays, whoever works in working places other than their own, must have an identification card certifying the belonging working place and its seat. Rules are based on the following principles:

-Certifying the belonging company and working relationship regularity in respect of third parties and of supervisory body.

-Fight against illegal work

-Ensure insurance coverage to workers in case of injury (insurance contributions can be different among those who carry out an internal activity and those who carry out the same activity outside the working place).

-Travel allowances approval

-Authorisation aim for internal rules, instead, usually seeks the best to manage human resources and to consider costs-travel benefits coming from competent managers. In addition to the authorisations required from national regulations and from internal rules, for travels abroad you are asked specific documents changing from one country to another according to:

-Individual subject recognition (identity card valid for expatriation, passport, entry visa)

-Permissions and licences validity (driving licence)

-Health protection (different kinds of vaccinations)

-documents certifying professional competence of specific jobs

Some of these documents are valid for a limited period and for their receipt and/or renewal they may need also long times.

Companies regularly working abroad are usually equipped to check availability and validity of these documents from their staff.

3)Travel and stay services booking

First of all, we need to clarify that travelling doesn’t necessarily imply a travel services management but it can simply involve the usage of a public or private transport as for example your own car, bus, subway or taxi which are means of transport that almost never require a planning.

Planes, ships and ferries, trains and car rental, instead, must be treated differently. If they are not booked in time and often they are even paid in advance, those activities necessary for your travel may not be carried out.

These examples are always linked to time and place, for example: in the USA flights of some routes are so frequent that booking is not necessary. In other cases ticket purchase doesn’t grant the flight because airline accepts overbooking. Similar situations also apply in other countries and for boats, trains and car rental.

We are interested, instead, in analysing situations where travel management has a great importance; those situations often happen during business travels.

Travels management needs time but most of all suppliers knowledge and the quality offered by services. Skilled operators have mantained their position on the market and they are able to propose profitable solutions by applying policies submitted and decided by the company. We are talking about travel agencies that everyone of us has contacted at least once for our pleasure cruises: some of these societies are specialised in business travel management. The most known are CWT, BCD, Cisalpina. But there are many other travel agencies, even small and medium-sized.

Among our company clients you can find owners of real travel agencies according to travels importance and to their dimensions (who offer their services also to other companies), while some other companies have set up travel offices  dedicated only to their own staff travels.

Software for bookings and services purchase deserve a specific mention. This kind of sw got established thanks to the Internet, supporting the user in the choice and payment of services. Nowadays there are different modes present on the market via computer taking into account that they are constantly changing.:

Direct on the Internet-the user chooses the service from traditional sites and pays according to the modes established by the supplier (usually credit card) (without any cost for the company)

Aggregators make the research easy and offer services to companies which have joined the project: Travel fusion; Hotel.DE; Booking; Trivago etc. Buyer doesn’t pay anything for the service because prices include fees for the aggregator.

-GDS (global distribution system) and computer reservation system are engines for travel and stay services booking and research: they introduce into the system parameters relating to the required services. These are tools for specialists because they use a very technical language and therefore travel agencies usually take advantage of it. You can book everything, from flights to hotels, from car rental to ferries. Suppliers, as well as aggregators, must be signed up to engines. Sw producers are usually worldwide companies as Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre or Worldspam.

Self booking tool-They are tools that companies use in SAS mode, prior to a signed contract with software owners. The most widespread names are AETM (Amadeus electronic travel support) of Amadeus; Clickbook of Concur; KDS of Galileo etc. They can take advantage of GDS (easily for the user) and of aggregators. They can also directly work on operators website (except for flights because for these ones they must compulsorily contact an agency). An SBT can be mono or multi GDS; AETM of Amadeus, for example, uses different GDS on the basis of the region in which they spread the Self Booking Tool.