How to Take Advantage of Business Travel Insurance

Depending on your kind of business, it may be necessary for you to travel, sometimes even out of the country, particularly if you hold a high position in your company. If you are in such a position, you should make sure that you take advantage of a business travel insurance. Perhaps you may wonder why this is necessary. Let us take a look at some of the benefits you will get.

This type of insurance will be particularly helpful in case you are self-employed. In the unfortunate event that you fall victim to a robbery, you may loose nearly everything you have. If you do not have a business travel insurance, you will be forced to struggle to recover your great loss all by yourself.

There are a number of factors you need to take into consideration before you take your business travel insurance. If you are travelling to another country, you should first of all confirm that the insurance you would like to sign up for is recognized in the country you are going to. If you happen to take a business travel insurance that is not accepted in the country, it will not be of help to you there. There are different policies and it is also important that you take one that really suits you, examples of which are backpacker, specialty, and worldwide policies.

Here are some of the steps that will help you to find a convenient business travel insurance policy.

- In your bid to compare a variety of policies, you should not just focus on their respective costs. Instead, you should determine their various product features, exclusions, and cover benefits.

- Take enough time that will give you the opportunity to cancel the policy you have taken in case you find some problems with it. Your money will be refunded.

- Determine whether an annual or a single business travel insurance is right for you, depending on the frequency of your travels.

- With an annual business travel insurance, even those trips that you take over the weekends will be covered.

- Travel agencies and tour operators usually give their customers some special offers. However, you should first of all determine whether such offers will really benefit your business.

- Make it a habit of carrying a copy of your insurance, including the help line number, but do not carry it in your wallet. Ensure that it is safe.

- You should see to it that your business travel insurance has medical cover. As a whole, you should have a good grasp of the policy you are taking.

5 Reasons to Get Business Travel Insurance

Whether it is a brief visit to another part of the country or a week long trip abroad, business trips to visit critical clients and other important companies are a vital part of keeping any business running successfully; and for every trip, you’ll need some kind of business travel insurance. If you only have to travel every once in a while, single trip cover may be sufficient, but if you travel many times each year you’ll want to invest in some annual business travel insurance. Either way, there’s no excuse to scrimp: here are five situations when the small cost of insurance could save you a lot of hassle…

The other company cancels the meeting at the last minute…

An ordinary holiday can be cancelled for all kinds of reasons, but for a business trip there are even more factors that can lead to a meeting being cancelled or rescheduled, leaving you or your company to foot a significant cancellation bill. Business travel insurance will cover cancellation as standard, so even if things change at the last minute, your costs will be covered.

You fall on or before the trip…

If you fall ill on or just before a crucial business trip and there is no-one to replace you, the consequences for your company could be catastrophic. Most good business travel insurance packages will cover the cost of replacing you with a work colleague (including their flights and accommodation) so that the trip can be concluded successfully in your absence.

Some vital equipment is lost or stolen…

Whether it is a PDA filled with important information on it or an expensive laptop with a crucial presentation, most business trips can revolve around a vital piece of equipment – if it is lost or stolen, it can hurt your wallet and ruin the business trip. Annual business travel insurance will provide you with year round cover for business equipment that is lost or stolen while you are away (and in most cases, they will pay for a courier delivery of the new item.) Of course, the data may be irreplaceable, so make sure that you back up any critical information on a USB stick.

Business travel is excluded from your existing insurance…

Many people assume that they have cover for business in the annual travel insurance they already have, but this often isn’t the case. Many travel insurance policies are for holidays only and have exclusions for business travel. Read the small print carefully, and make sure you get full travel insurance for business trips if you aren’t covered.

You need to be hospitalised after an accident…

Whether it is just a cracked rib or something much more serious, medical care abroad while you are uninsured is no laughing matter. With so many business trips to America (which can have medical costs running into thousands of pounds) it really pays to have some decent business travel insurance. As outlined above, many standard travel insurance policies exclude business trips, so make sure you get the right kind of cover and avoid the threat of massive medical costs.

A Beginners Guide to Business Travel Insurance

For business trips, a corporate insurance plan is necessary for those needing something more than standard cover whilst retaining the benefits of a standard travel insurance policy – cancellation, medical, luggage etc

Business travel cover will insure your laptop, mobile phone, palm & other related business equipment & include the hiring of replacement items. This also includes the recreation of business documents lost, damaged or stolen during travel.

3 Key Advantages of Business Travel Insurance

Corporate Travel Cover should add 3 key advantages to the plethora of benefits offered by a standard holiday insurance plan:

Business Equipment Cover
Hire Business Equipment Cover
Recreate Commercial Documents
That is the insurer should pay for accidental loss, theft or damage of equipment (Computer & accessories, other commercial related equipment and business documents).
The insurer should also pay you for the hiring of alternative business equipment in the event of accidental loss, theft or damage to business equipment, including misdirection or delay in transit of said equipment.

With regards to work related documents, the insurer should pay for the re-creation of business documents, plans & presentations if they are lost stolen or damaged.

Question: What if I am going on a combined holiday & work trip? Will a business insurance policy cover me?

Answer: It should. However if you travel regularly throughout the year, you may be interested in purchasing a multi trip insurance plan.

Business Travel Insurance vs Regular Travel Insurance

Remember, with work related travel, lots of wildcard scenario’s can occur.

The other company can cancel the meeting at the last minute. This often leaves the travelling company to foot the bill, however this would be covered by standard trip cancellation.

Other incidents can befall a business traveler: general illness, business critical equipment can be stolen, lost or damaged. These factors are all things to consider when booking a business trip.

With regards to the value of your equipment, business trip insurance will provide far more cover than a regular travel insurance policy.

While a regular holiday insurance policy will provide coverage for lost, stolen or damaged luggage, this is not the same as the specific cover for business related equipment.

Business Travel Insurance Policy – Getting The Right One

If you travel regularly on business, you should always carry a business travel insurance policy. This is essentially just a insurance policy for traveling that is customized to the needs of the business traveler. Nearly all of these insurance policies for business travelers will include coverage of any travel arrangements, luggage loss, and rental car accidents.

While it is possible to purchase a policy that will cover a single trip, for regular business travels, annual business travel insurance policies are typically a better deal. Insurance plans for business travel are usually cheaper than regular insurance plans, depending on coverage needs. It is also cheaper to purchase domestic business travel insurance plans than insurance coverage for international business travels.

Typically policies for business travels will include up to $50,000 in benefits whether it is a one-time policy or an annual policy. But regular insurance plans often caps coverage at $25,000.

Luggage coverage goes beyond just checked luggage. It also covers laptops, cell phones, pagers, projectors, and any other equipment the business traveler typically carries.

If the trip gets interrupted by bad weather or mechanical problems the business policy holder can cancel the trip and be reimbursed for the cost of the trip.

This plan also includes trip cancellation insurance which is much like regular travel insurance’s trip interruption coverage. However, business policies usually include more coverage, such as allowing for changes in accommodations to complete the trip.

Funds are provided for anything lost on the trip. This can be very important if passports or tickets are lost during the trip.

You may also be able to get some legal services in case of accusations of crime by you or crime committed against you. Generally luggage or equipment that is stolen is covered. In some cases even kidnapping ransoms will be replaced by your business insurance policy.

One of the coverage benefits you’ll want to look for in your coverage is medical expenses. You’ll want to know for sure whether all medical expenses are covered or just accidents and emergencies. In particular, find out what kind of coverage is provided for illness. Many travel medical insurance policies cover emergency evacuations, but many do not cover other medical expenses. You’ll have to decide how much medical coverage you need.

Fortunately, even with all of the available coverage options, business travel insurance is generally quite affordable. Some other features that may be included with your business insurance plan include road side assistance and life insurance.

Importance of Business Travel Insurance

Traveling is section of our day-to-day life. Most of us travel because of a single reason or other allowing it to be national or overseas. Traveling always involves probability. So, whether you traveling for pleasure or enterprise, it always safe going with proper travel insurance coverage. If your are appropriately insured, there is a lot worry about the risks associated with traveling like loss regarding luggage or baggage, flight journey delay, accident, medical unexpected emergency or evacuation.

Formerly, Travel Insurance was thought to be a luxury. But now travelers are sensitive to factors that are definitely not under their control for instance trip cancellation, medical unexpected emergency, evacuation, flight delay, losing baggage etc.

There are numerous kinds of insurance insurance policies. Travel Insurances comes looking at you in different shapes like Travel Medical care insurance, Travel Medical Insurance, Holiday Insurance etc. Whether it an enterprise or leisure trip, proper insurance is essential because of many motives. It protects your go investment, belongings and health and fitness. You can hold take a trip insurance for personal and business purpose it is usually true that a right insurance makes ones trip memorable.

Apart coming from personal insurance, Business Travel Insurance also covers computers and also other business equipment of marketers or travelers who travel for your business purpose. Business Tour Insurance makes perfect sense it is always a policy or contract under that the insurance company agrees to pay a amount of cash to the insured to get a damage or loss or injury by means of some uncertain event in the course of his trip. This range from flight delay, baggage damage, medical emergency, accident or perhaps disasters. Under a Internet business tour insurance contract, the insurer pays pertaining to business loss or damage faced by insured during his visit.

Many things can make a mistake during your business journey. This can be a person’s baggage loss or a new flight cancellation, or your destination become unreachable because of bad weather, or even you are able to fall ill and ought to postpone the trip. You can not control such events, but through proper Business Travel Insurance cover, you can minimize the outcome. Whether it is usually a small enterprise or a sizable corporation, the success of your business is largely dependent on the dedication and effort of the members of their organization. But it doesn’t matter how industrious you might be, because one disaster or perhaps catastrophe can destroy your online business and wipe out each of the profits. The only way to assure that the effort and money that you just invested doesn’t fade away each time a disaster smacks is by protecting your organization with appropriate insurance.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.