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What Is Corporate Travel Management and Why Do You Need It

Randi Gollin

By Randi Gollin | American Express® Freelance Contributor
4 Min Read | September 17, 2021

What Is Corporate Travel Management and Why Do You Need It

Whether your organization has mushroomed from a mom-and-pop shop to a larger business with a traveling workforce, or arranging business trips has become too much for your human resources or finance department to handle, there comes a time when it makes sense to implement a corporate travel management program.

Here’s an overview of how corporate and small business travel management programs work, including how they can benefit companies that prioritize both domestic and global travel.

What Is Corporate Travel Management?

 

Corporate travel management (CTM) is the framework that companies administer to successfully handle business trips and travel and entertainment (T&E) expenditures. CTM programs oversee, organize, and manage business travel end to end, including activities such as approving and booking flights and hotels, managing business credit card spending, ensuring employees comply with company travel policies, and recordkeeping.

 

Though these programs are commonly referred to as corporate travel management, even small organizations can benefit from a dedicated business travel management program.

How Does Corporate Travel Management Work?

 

As travel becomes more expensive, safety concerns heighten, employees become more mobile, and companies more global, the job of arranging everything from travel visas to restaurant reservations becomes more challenging. To effectively manage travel tasks, it’s often necessary to develop a CTM program. Depending on the company’s needs, this could mean one or more of:

 

  • Hiring a corporate travel manager.
  • Establishing an in-house corporate travel management team.
  • Hiring an external corporate travel agency.

 

Smaller companies may be better off developing and hiring in-house business travel management teams to ensure that the workforce complies with company travel policies like spending caps and using approved vendors. Depending on the organization, a CTM program may grant employees the autonomy to self-book travel and accommodations that comply with company travel policies. Companies may even integrate automated travel management software systems that can be customized with budget restrictions and approved suppliers to better manage travel spending.

 

For larger corporations with major travel requirements, it can make sense to hire an external corporate travel agency that takes over all tasks related to business travel. As specialists in their field, they may be better able to negotiate the best rates while keeping employees’ comfort top of mind, handle global business travel management tasks, and take the time-consuming job of booking trips away from busy HR or finance departments. These professionals might implement corporate travel software that includes a booking tool, expense management tools, and reporting and analytics capabilities. These software tools may even use Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to pull up real-time data about hotel room availability, flight data, car rentals, and other pertinent travel information.

What Is Corporate Travel Management and Why Do You Need It

Benefits of Corporate Travel Management

 

The benefits of CTM programs are important to some companies because, for many employees and executives, company travel is so vital a part of doing business. Though video-conferencing calls have become routine, when it comes to building and nurturing relationships with clients and colleagues, converting prospects into customers, and networking with industry professionals, there’s no substitute for personal interaction. In fact, it’s reported that U.S. travelers took 462 million domestic business trips in 2019, and that number is expected to climb to 499.4 million by 2022.1

 

Given the importance of business travel, companies may wish to consider the benefits of CTM programs, such as:

  • Cost reduction: CTM agents, teams, and specialists should have greater travel expertise than the typical employee. They’re usually better fit to negotiate or find the best deals for flights, hotels, insurance, and other travel-related expenses.
  • Time savings: Organizing a business trip takes a lot of time and effort, especially if your workforce travels often. CTM teams relieve your employees or finance department of that burden, allowing them to focus on their jobs.
  • Policy enforcement: CTM professionals can help enforce corporate travel policies, enabling companies to monitor and reinforce compliance around hotel, car, and airfare spending caps, vendor stipulations, and more.

How Business Credit Cards Can Help Streamline Corporate Travel Management

 

Some companies manage business travel expenses by asking their team to report expenses with the promise of reimbursement. But expense reporting can become difficult to manage as an organization grows, and the paperwork can become onerous.

 

For many companies, a more workable approach is to integrate corporate credit cards into their CTM programs. This can make it easier to monitor expenses and reconcile transactions. For example, business and corporate credit card programs often come equipped with expense tracking tools that can ensure spending visibility for employees and management. Stakeholders can monitor compliance with travel policies, validate expenses without paper receipts, and see what employees are spending. Automatic reconciliation can save time, while expenses can be integrated into a company’s accounting system, simplifying the often-tedious approval process. What’s more, card activity may be fed into the travel management software to further streamline the process.

 

Other benefits to integrating CTM programs with business credit cards for employees include:

  • Closing loopholes for fake receipts or receipt manipulation.
  • Increased security protection against theft, loss, and unforeseen incidents like accidents and mishandling, thanks to common business credit card benefits like travel insurance.
  • Access to credit card perks, such as earning rewards, saving money on air travel and hotels, and gaining access to airport lounges.

 

The Takeaway

Corporate travel allows employees and executives to forge bonds with colleagues, turn business prospects into clients, and gain inspiration from new horizons. Corporate travel management (CTM) programs help to minimize the time-consuming aspects of business travel, like bookings and reporting paperwork, along with some of the other pain points of business travel. An effective CTM program can help organizations implement company travel policies, booking, track T&E expenditures, and successfully integrate business credit cards.

Randi Gollin

Randi Gollin is a freelance writer and editor who’s covered topics including shopping, travel, dining, and food for tech and media brands and digital publications.

 

This content was written by a freelance author and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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