5 Ways to Improve Work Performance with Better Travel Management

From avoiding flight delays to tracking expenses to maintaining connectivity, travel coordinators--and travelers--have a lot to consider. That's why it's essential for leadership to empower everyone on the team with the right tools.

Utilizing the right technologies and smart strategies can make business travel more efficient and ensure your employees can focus on what matters while on the road: Moving your business forward.

Now, consider how you can improve your team's work performance through these techniques for better travel management:

1. Streamline expense reporting

The duty of tracking and reporting expenses often falls on the employee who's doing the traveling or on the travel coordinator having the right software in place. Unfortunately, you may not have any guarantees of accuracy here.

After all, your team members probably don't get excited about tracking expenses. And that's why the task often gets put off. Procrastination can increase the likelihood of making mistakes.

Moreover, according to a survey done by the Global Business Travel Association, only 47% of travel managers have integrated expense tools into their travel portals. This inability to consolidate data into a central system leads to inefficiencies and issues when your team needs that information.

So, what's the solution?

First, think about establishing guidelines with suitable price ranges for various expenses. Make the team budget clear so you don't have any disagreements.

Second, automate the expense tracking process as much as possible. This will eliminate confusion, as many expense tools, such as Expensify and Zoho, easily integrate into various business travel platforms. They also speed up the expense approval process, making everyone's jobs easier.

2. Prepare for the unexpected

There's no saying what could come up during a trip. And travel data shows a range of situations could impact your company's travel.

Travel delays probably come to mind first. There's an 11-15% chance of a flight getting delayed, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports. Any delay costs your company time and money, plus stresses your employees.

Worried about your traveling team getting sick? Studies show travelers have a 20-113% higher chance of getting a cold while in transit. Obviously, coming down with anything serious could ruin the trip altogether.

Additionally, external political and economic factors, such as government shutdowns and fluctuating exchange rates, can alter business travel.

So, don't just expect the unexpected. Prepare for anything and everything to happen.

This involves more than you and your team having the right mindset and being flexible. It's about having the ability to adapt on the go. In order to address any issues while on the road, your team deserves advanced tools that promote quality solutions.

At Upside Business Travel, we provide personalized support so that you can quickly and effectively handle anything that comes your team's way. We offer clients 24/7 support through our expert travel support team, called Navigators. Available by phone, email, and chat messaging, our Navigators fix problems before your travelers run into any issues.

As an on-demand solution with real human support, Upside Navigators can get your employees out of any bind. For example, Navigators can extend hotel stays at a moment's notice. That comes in handy if a business trip will take longer than anticipated. Navigators can also help book alternative flights or transportation right away. Delays happen and schedules change, and you want your travelers to be able to make arrangements quickly.

With an innovative platform like ours, traveling employees can adjust to unexpected circumstances quickly and effectively. This allows your team members to get back to what's important: Having a successful business trip.

3. Ensure consistent connectivity

A 2017 survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) found that on-trip connectivity remains a primary concern for business travelers. That's because most want high productivity when they're prepping for the meeting they're on their way to. Obviously, you don't want your team to encounter any unnecessary obstacles, like poor connections, when they could be completing work.

Business travelers also desire a better work-life balance. They want the ability to easily contact loved ones back home. This is especially important if you have employees traveling internationally.

So, how do you ensure consistent connectivity?

If traveling domestically, your strategy shouldn't get complicated. Get an unlimited or large data plan so that you and your team members can always connect to your mobile network. Use WiFi at hotels, airports, train stations, and elsewhere. And of course, make phone calls as needed.

If traveling internationally, a multi-faceted approach will ensure no disruptions. Let the following serve as your team's strategy--and allow them to expense what they need:

- Connect to WiFi where possible

Send messages and make calls using Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Facebook. Utilize email and work collaboration platforms such as Slack, Trello, and Asana for sharing documents and other information.

- Buy a local SIM card

As a CNET article advises, using a local SIM card saves money in comparison to using data through your cellular provider. You can buy a SIM card at your destination (typically in the airport or at a cell phone store).

Note that your phone has to be unlocked or you must unlock it beforehand. As an article in PC Magazine details, if you want to unlock your current phone, call your mobile carrier to see if that's possible.

- Check roaming plans with your provider and others

T-Mobile has some good rates for unlimited text and data across 210+ countries. Be aware mobile speeds may not be as good as T-Mobile's speeds within the US.

KnowRoaming, a global SIM card provider, has a universal SIM card that works in more than 200 countries; unlimited data packages start at $7.99 per day and you can maybe get 4G LTE speeds.

- Utilize VPNs

VPNs like ExpressVPN guarantee no internet restrictions hinder connectivity to certain sites and apps. Some countries have bans on certain apps and sites due to legal, social, and/or political reasons.

Speedify, a mobile VPN provider, acts as a channel bonding service. It links multiple internet connections to ensure faster service and no disruptions.

4. Customize the business travel experience

You and your team work best when feeling comfortable and at ease. Travel can cause stress, and that can damage productivity.

So, make sure your travel coordinator strives to make trips go smoothly for everyone. For instance, the CFO could have preferences for airlines and hotels, while the entry-level associate may need more live assistance. Other employees may want to make certain they're getting points and miles on their travel.

The point is this: Your travel coordinator should communicate with your employees and ask what would make travel go well for them. And then design their trip with that in mind.

In the end, business travel satisfaction matters. It matters not only to the success of the trip itself, but also to the future of the organization. As a 2017 survey by the Global Business Travel Association highlights, higher traveler satisfaction increases employee retention.

As you can see, one of the keys to building a strong, productive organization is making business travel enjoyable and easy for everyone involved.

5. Spend wisely

For many businesses, travel prices can overwhelm. The average cost of a domestic business trip in the United States is around $1,075, according to Statista. In some cities, like San Francisco, average spending per day exceeds $500!

Before you start to panic, take a breath. There are ways for your travelers to save money.

For example, ask your team to consider trying mid-scale hotels instead of high-end accommodation. They often offer more than enough comfort and could save hundreds of dollars on a short trip.

Also, leverage the power of a business travel service like Upside. We negotiate private deals with airlines and hotels, so that we can set your team up with great deals even when it seems like nothing reasonable is out there.

Furthermore, did you know that we give companies rewards on what their travelers spend? Earn cash back through Upside's free platform, an online travel service designed exclusively for small to medium-sized businesses. We give clients 3% cash back each and every time they reach $100,000 in travel spend.

Now, think about that. Your team can score a check worth $3,000 every time $100,000 in travel is spent with us. You can then put that money to work. With more efficient spending, you truly can improve workplace performance and achieve business goals.

Business travel takes your business forward

If managed properly, business travel can improve work performance at your company, increase employee satisfaction, and bring your team closer. It can also boost revenue and help you build a sustainable business.

Successful business travel begins with having the right strategies, technologies, and partners. All the apps, tools, and companies discussed here are a good place to start. Plan wisely --- and you'll reap the rewards of better travel management sooner than you'd expect.

Ready to take your business forward with the right business travel solution? Visit Upside.com to discover how your growing business can save time, money, and effort on travel.