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The role of HR in business travel management

Who handles business travel at your company? Is it the finance department, a travel planner, or an admin?

If you’re an HR professional, booking business trips might not be one of your daily workplace tasks. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved.

As a human resources manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure employee safety and performance, and to make your company attractive to new talent. Business travel is directly connected with these areas.

When it comes to onboarding a new tool to automate some aspects of business travel management, HR teams are often an important part of the process—especially if they work for a small or medium-sized business. TravelPerk data show that in nearly 10% of cases, an HR professional is the point of contact between us and the companies we serve. 

Read on to learn more about business travel for HR departments. 

Why should HR professionals be involved in business travel?

Keeping traveling employees safe

Companies have a duty of care to their employees. When an employee is traveling on business, their safety becomes their employer’s responsibility.

Employee travel programs involve some level of risk. While hopefully, everything will run smoothly, there’s always a chance that travelers may lose their documents, fall ill, or have an accident during their journey. It’s up to employers to take precautions to lower the likelihood of these incidents and to ensure they’re properly dealt with if they do happen.

Just as most HR departments have a plan in place to deal with emergencies (like a fire in the office), they must also create a plan to deal with emergencies on the road. This will protect traveler safety and well-being, while ensuring legal compliance.

Developing employer branding and increasing employee engagement

Business travel directly influences how employees feel about their jobs. A study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) revealed that nearly 80% of North American business travelers say their business travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction.

The same study also showed that nearly 60% of North American travelers say a company’s travel policy is an important factor when considering a potential new employer—so business travel initiatives are also key for hiring and employer branding.

HR departments should be aware of their company’s business travel policies so they can share information about those policies with job candidates.

They should also consider how business travel can impact employee engagement, retention, and company culture, either positively or negatively (depending on how employees feel about their travel and booking experiences). 

Maintaining compliance and performance

Human resources departments are also responsible for monitoring employee performance and compliance. Unfortunately, there may be situations where business travelers don’t follow company policy when it comes to business expenses or reimbursements. If this happens, HR needs to be made aware of the issue (and if there is a way to prevent it from happening in the first place, all the better.)

On the flip side, business travel can also have a positive impact on employee performance. 84% of North American business travelers say the quality of their business travel experience impacts their results at work, according to the GBTA. In many cases, travel may boost morale and wellness, improve relationships, or offer unique learning opportunities that aren’t available at the office. 

What should HR professionals look for when onboarding a new travel management tool?

Clearly, business travel is connected to several HR-related issues. So it’s no surprise that many HR professionals are directly involved with procuring business travel management tools.

If you’ve been tasked with choosing a business travel software provider for your company, you may not know where to begin. Here are some of the most important features for you to look out for:

Traveler tracking and risk management

To keep your travelers safe, you need to know where they are. Some travel management platforms offer real-time tracking, so you can pinpoint the traveler’s location in case of an emergency. TravelPerk offers a travel and risk management solution, along with instant updates and alerts to help travelers stay safe.

Your travel management and booking tool should also allow you to easily communicate with travelers in real-time, so they can keep you informed of any changes (and vice-versa).

Before travel, you may want to perform a travel risk assessment to ensure you understand the potential risks of the trip. This is especially important in the case of international travel, or on trips where vaccinations or visas are required.

Rapid customer support

Your travelers need to be able to reach someone if they need help. Choose a platform that offers 24/7 customer support, so you can fulfill your duty of care and optimize the employee experience. If people need to make an urgent trip change or get help in an emergency, they should be able to count on your travel management company. 

Corporate travel policy management

By allowing your business travelers to make their own travel bookings, you can offer them more freedom and comfort. But how can you make sure they follow company policy?

With a software tool like TravelPerk, you can integrate your travel policies and approval process directly into the platform. This way, you’ll gain full control over compliance without micromanagement. Travelers can ask for approval directly within the app, and you can add restrictions to help them book within policy. 

Flexibility

Sometimes, travelers may need to rebook last minute because of an emergency. With flexible travel solutions, this doesn’t have to mean forfeiting the airfare price or other costs of the trip. 

TravelPerk’s FlexiPerk program lets you make all your trips fully refundable for a small surcharge. This way, travelers can cancel any time up to two hours before travel, and get a minimum of 80% of the trip refunded. In the long term, this can lead to significant cost savings and will give your company greater control over travel expenses and the bottom line.

To learn more about how TravelPerk can help you meet your HR objectives for business travel, book a free demo to see the software in action today.

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