Answering this question might seem absurd, but start asking around your company and before long you'll find that different people have varying answers - some accurate, some hearsay. You're not alone. In the last 20 years, business travel has become more obtainable and is not now seen as something only for executives and Sales teams. The introduction of low-cost fares alongside the rise in global conferences has meant that the answer to that question is a little more difficult to find - but find it we must, as it's step one to re-building your companies travel and risk management programme.
Firstly we need to get as much data together as possible to try to take a holistic view of what travel really looks like within your organisation. You’ll need to take data from the same period (a month, quarter or year – depending on your volume – we recommend start small, there can be a lot) from your TMC, expense system / reporting and potentially credit cards. You can request this from your suppliers in its raw data format, preferably in an Excel or CSV file.
Our Tip – If you are not sure how much data there is, start small – it’s easier to start your formulas and assumptions on a smaller set and scale up.
Once you have your data sets it’s your chance to merge and cleanse them. You’re aiming to achieve a view of “cost of trip”, by merging these 3 data sources you should be able to understand the cost to the business of the entire trip which in turn will help you measure the return of investment (ROI) of the trip to the business.
Our Tip – It might seem like you have duplications, make a note of these more than likely they are different view of the same thing.
Once you have a more holistic view of your data and start reviewing it you are likely to have A LOT of questions. That’s OK! Write everything down as you go, you are about to embark on a voyage of discovery, some of it won’t make sense now – but it should later. You’re aiming to break this down into bite-size chunks, spend is good indicator to start with, so perhaps look at the top 10 travellers or cost centres by spend, however also consider peak dates – i.e. are there certain times that many people are travelling – perhaps for an event, look at the number of trips a person is doing, you might also consider looking for any trips that are over a certain amount of money in total.
Travel is an extremely sensitive subject and you’ll soon find out that nearly everyone has an opinion on it, sometimes well-informed, sometimes not. Taking your 4-5 areas that you are going to start your review with and have a think about what they might have been for, perhaps the peak dates everyone was travelling for an internal date, this of course needs to be looked at, but you may take a different approach. Equally if you discover that for some reason your IT department have traveller more than normal, it’s better to do some background – was it because there was a major system issue that needs to be handled with some delicacy.
Our Tip – The more informed you are the better, nobody likes to be questioned the aim is information gathering so it’s important to be as open as possible.
Once you feel that you’re as informed as you can be contact the heads of department, explain what you are doing – that you are preparing for an ISO for Travel Risk and would like to understand more about how travelling had affected and could so again in the future, for that department. It depends on your company culture but more people are more open if they feel like you are trying to help them, rather than tell them off. Once you are there it’s time to start chatting about why they have travelled and what they might like to do in the future, understand their concerns post lock-down.
Our Tip – It really is important to get executive sponsorship from the beginning, that way when you start requesting meetings you have buy-in where it’s needed.