What’s broken with travel approvals (and how to fix it)
As companies start to return to travel again, many will be thinking about how to limit the amount of business travel or have some visibility over who is travelling where.
You’ll be thinking about your travel budget and how to keep travellers safe and in policy, in case anything goes wrong. When that thought process kicks in, it’s time to think about, or reassess, an approvals process for business travel.
As companies return to travel, duty of care is front of mind as are new ways of working and of course budgets. It is very important that budget holders and business leaders have clear visibility of what travel is being booked and ascertaining if it falls within their criteria for travel. A clear approvals process helps to support this throughout an organisation ensuring that the right people within a company have visibility and signoff as needed.
Jo Lloyd, Global Account Management & Consulting Director.
Life would be so much easier if companies had approval systems that were globally consistent. That way, it’s the same process and experience for every traveller no matter where they are. And for speed and efficiency, approvals need to be made on-the-go.
Without an approvals process, or if you let exceptions creep in, things can get messy. Impatient travellers waiting for a “yes”, deadlines pushed back, delays to move a project forward. There’s risk of the travel policy being completely abandoned.
Many businesses want approvals that kick in once a trip has been booked. While it might sound counter-intuitive, it’s an approach that provides global consistency for businesses rather than relying on differing solutions from online booking tools, and a self-service style of travel booking and approval flow for travellers, who are increasingly more used to arranging their own travel. Additionally by approving after a booking, it means the price is locked in and that any urgent trips aren’t delayed any further. The other benefit? Saving time for approvers and bookers, who aren’t facing the pressure of checking a trip while the traveller is tapping their toes waiting for that green tick.
This approach is also being driven by better travel technology. Travel policy is built more and more into the systems that travel managers and bookers use to organise and manage travel. Platforms can alert the traveller or booker when the rate for their hotel night in New York is too high. FCM Platform’s browser extension can be configured to nudge travellers into booking a particular flight that’ll be better for their wellbeing, or encourage travellers to think about the environment with their choices.
“The key to a successful approval tool is to make it a seamless process both for the traveller and the approvers. With the help of technology, travellers should be in-policy by the time they come to hitting the button to send it for approval. All preferred suppliers and agreements should be configured into the platform to help support the traveller to make the right choices for them within the programme framework. That way, by the time the trip comes through to the approver for approval, it should all be ready to go. Technology should make it easy to make the right decisions” says Jo.
One bug bear that remains with travel approvals is accessibility. Wouldn’t life be easier if you could approve a trip from your mobile phone or hit approve and reject with one click?
We’ve made it happen in FCM Platform. Approvers can now say yes or no to trips from in a single dashboard, on any device. It doesn’t matter whether travel was booked online or offline; you’ll have instant approvals and accurate information right at your fingertips.
On our omni-channel solution, managers and arrangers can:
- View notifications of approvals.
- Approve or reject with a comment.
- Request travel authorisation before booking.
- Capture key reporting data.
- Easily manage all your pending approvals in one place.
- View and approve “my travellers” dashboard with just one click.
Your travellers? They get:
- Notification pop-up and email that a trip requires approval.
- Option to submit a reason why an out-of-policy trip was chosen.
- Quicker booking process.
- Faster approvals to get further trip prep moving.
- Travel choices while sticking within policy.