Business travel holds the same significance for small businesses as it does for larger corporations. Being able to participate in events and exhibitions, as well as personally engage with clients, partners, suppliers, investors, and stakeholders, plays a crucial role in cultivating strong connections and facilitating the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Such endeavours are particularly essential for SMEs (small-to-medium-sized enterprises), particularly in the aftermath of extended periods of lockdown and economic upheaval.
Small businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. While video conferencing and collaboration tools have been effective to some extent, the significance of face-to-face interactions cannot be underestimated. Therefore, business travel plays a vital role in the operations and recovery plans of SMEs.
Defining the concept of ‘Small Business Travel’
SMEs may have the necessity to embark on journeys for various purposes. Here are several instances illustrating small business travel:
- Participating in gatherings and symposiums
- To conduct press conferences or job interviews.
- Participating in conferences and gatherings
- Showcasing products and services at industry expos
- To deliver presentations or speeches in person.
- Acquire merchandise and establish connections with vendors
- To participate in training sessions and various educational endeavours.
- To engage in corporate retreats or off-site team-building events.
Distinguishing small business travel from corporate travel for larger organisations
In situations where international corporations may dispatch multiple employees on a business journey concurrently, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) typically send only one or two representatives. Large enterprises, being endowed with more substantial financial resources, tend to prioritise risk management and enlist the services of a dedicated travel manager or corporate travel agency for arranging their business excursions.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) typically have limited financial resources allocated for business travel. However, they often incur higher relative expenses compared to larger corporations. Hence, it is crucial for SMEs to effectively manage their small business travel arrangements by implementing a comprehensive travel expense policy, ensuring duty of care, and utilising a dedicated business travel management tool. This way, SMEs can optimise their spending, minimise costs, and maximise their profitability.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face multiple challenges when it comes to managing their budget and handling business travel. One of the key issues they encounter is maintaining a comprehensive understanding of their employees’ whereabouts and the corresponding safety and health considerations for each location. Regardless of whether employees are in the office or travelling, organisations bear the responsibility of ensuring their safety and well-being. This duty of care applies equally to small businesses as it does to large corporations.
In the event of an unforeseen circumstance or travel disruption while employees are away on business, it is crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to respond promptly and offer assistance to their staff. However, this can be challenging if SMEs lack precise information regarding their employees’ whereabouts and itineraries. Without a centralised platform for accessing comprehensive business travel data, small businesses may struggle to keep track of their employees, inadvertently jeopardising their safety and well-being.
What other risks do SMEs face by not using a dedicated travel management solution for small business travel?
Booking a corporate journey can be both costly and time-consuming. The task of arranging flights and accommodations that align with the allocated budget typically takes an employee around 45 minutes.
SMEs, in addition to potentially failing to fulfil their responsibility of ensuring employee well-being during business travels, face the possibility of employees exceeding their budget on accommodation, car rentals, and flights, As well as encountering confusion regarding what expenses are considered valid for reimbursement. Employees have the freedom to book their business trips as they see fit and submit their receipts at a later time, occasionally with higher costs than anticipated.
Investing in effective business travel solutions is crucial for companies, regardless of their size. Such solutions not only save time and money, but also optimise the utilisation of administrative resources. To efficiently manage company trips, businesses can explore different options, including paid ones like travel management companies or business travel agencies, as well as free alternatives such as business travel platforms.
Advantages of adopting a digital platform for managing business travel
With the utilisation of a specialised travel management system, the booking process for travel is significantly expedited since the agent or platform functions as a comprehensive solution that encompasses all travel service providers (airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc.). The implementation of well-defined guidelines, such as a corporate travel policy, guarantees a professional and responsible approach towards company travel.
While it is possible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to utilise the services of a travel agency or travel management company (TMC), the costs associated with these options can sometimes be too high. To mitigate this, SMEs have the alternative of utilising a free digital travel management platform. This platform allows businesses to save money by monitoring expenditures and keeping a centralised online record of expenses related to company trips, including accommodations, flights, and car rentals. With this tool, SMEs can easily track and maintain accurate data, ensuring transparency throughout the travel process.
Modern travel management software offers user-friendly dashboards that can be easily navigated without the need for assistance from a travel agency. Users can quickly get started within minutes and benefit from a centralised platform that records all the company’s travel information. This eliminates the need for extensive administrative work and reduces the likelihood of disputes over claims. Additionally, the software is compatible with multiple devices such as smartphones, laptops, desktops, and tablets, allowing seamless synchronisation across various platforms.
Customised authorizations can be established to enable the platform’s access by various individuals within the organisation, including the finance manager, travel manager, office manager, CEO, personal assistant, and other staff members.
Business travel platforms offer the advantage of eliminating the requirement for companies to personally negotiate prices. By utilising the collective volume, these platforms can access discounts and loyalty programs on behalf of the company. All that is necessary is for the company to register with the appropriate business travel platform to secure the most favourable prices and top deals for accommodations, flights, and rental cars.
By utilising a business travel reservation system, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can effortlessly reserve a comprehensive trip consisting of flights, accommodations, and car rentals with just a few simple clicks. They no longer have to manually search for the most favourable deals and make individual bookings. The platform takes care of this for them by utilising its extensive search capabilities to access all the travel discounts that are on offer. This not only saves valuable time and money but also enhances the productivity of employees.
Online solutions for business travel also provide comprehensive data on the locations of employees, readily accessible with a simple click. Having knowledge of employees’ whereabouts enables companies to promptly locate and assist their staff, as well as make any required adjustments to their travel arrangements in case of unexpected events or changing circumstances.
Small businesses can derive numerous advantages from utilising a digital travel platform to streamline their corporate travel arrangements. These benefits encompass a variety of aspects, such as:
- With the capability to reserve and oversee an entire corporate journey in a single location, including accommodations, flights, train services, car rentals, office spaces, and more, while simultaneously accessing the most advantageous offers.
- Enhancing security measures and promoting adherence to an organisation’s travel guidelines
- Digital travel platforms often offer lower rates compared to traditional travel agencies or managers, making them a cost-effective option for saving money. In fact, many of these platforms are even available free of charge.
- The ability to communicate a staff member’s schedule and collaborate with other team members during the same travel arrangement.
- Lowering the expenses related to the compilation of financial reports.
- The possibility of integrating work and personal travel, as seen in digital nomading or leisure trips.