Chapter Blog

The Business Travel Manager's Dilemma: Keeping Finance and Your Travelers Happy


Jay Ellenby - President, Safe Harbors Business Travel. Corporate Travel Management. Humanitarian Travel.


As a business travel manager, you have two key goals. First and foremost, you want to keep your bottom line under control; but you also want to be sure that your travelers are as happy as possible when they have to be out on the road. Travel is inevitable for many businesses, but not every employee enjoys travel—and many of them quickly become frustrated with the process. Balancing the seemingly conflicting demands of happy employees and happy finances may seem to be an insurmountable challenge, but with some effort, you can transform your travel policies to create happier travelers without negatively impacting your bottom line. 

Step One: Evaluate Employee Needs and Desires

What is it that your employees really want when they have to travel? Take the time to evaluate the specific needs of your employees. Keep in mind that your employees are unique: each one has their own desires when it comes to travel. Some of them want to be back in the office as soon as possible. Others prefer to have time to explore new destinations when they're out on the road. Conduct a survey to understand the genuine needs and desires of your employees, then reshape your travel policy to allow employees to experience as many of those benefits as possible. Keep in mind several key things.

  • Benefits matter. Employees readily admit that the benefits offered are, other than salary, the greatest incentive for taking or keeping a job—and their appreciation for those benefits extends to travel, as well. Offering incentives like an extra day at a great location, bonus pay for travel, and other key benefits can help entice employees to enjoy travel more, often without significantly impacting your bottom line. 
  • Employees want—and need—work/life balance. Overworked employees can impact your bottom line in ways that you didn't expect: increased turnover, decreased productivity, and a range of other ways. Check your employees' travel schedules and make sure they have plenty of time at home between trips—and that they have time to enjoy the locations where they're traveling. 
  • Safety is a key element of travel for many employees. They want to know that the company is looking out for them no matter where in the world they've been sent—and an effective travel policy that helps protect them and ensure their comfort is critical to keeping employees happy when they travel. 

Step Two: Check the Benefits of Travel

Travel isn't just something that employees have to do. In many offices, it can even be viewed as a benefit! Travel can reduce stress, boost morale, and even give employees the opportunity to expand their horizons and view part of the world that they've never seen before. By creating a company culture that speaks to the benefits of travel—and gives employees the opportunity to experience them—you can make travel a more exciting and beneficial process for the entire company. Consider offering some of these changes to your policy to help make employees happier without creating a significant impact on your budget.

  • Permit employees to take vacation days at their destination. This will increase overall satisfaction since it reduces employees' personal travel costs and allows them to enjoy their trips more when the work is done. 
  • Allow employees to take their families along—and share in corporate discounts and advantages! Create a policy that allows employees to pay the extra cost of taking along loved ones so that the company doesn't bear the burden of that cost. 
  • Design a plan that allows employees to work from home for a few days following a trip for added flexibility. This will improve work/life balance and lead to happier employees overall. 

Step Three: Work with a Travel Management Company

If you're looking for a way to improve employee satisfaction with the entire travel experience without negatively impacting your business's finances, why not turn to the experts? A great travel management company can offer a number of benefits that your company might not be taking advantage of. Consider:

Take advantage of all the discounts a travel management company can offer. Many travel management companies already have arrangements with airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, and more. By working with them, you'll be able to take advantage of those great discounts for your company—and in some cases, those discounts will pay for themselves!

Know that your employees are safer and better protected no matter where they're traveling. You want a travel management company that can be an immediate point of contact for employees when they're traveling—no matter what goes wrong. From following natural disasters in the area to help provide employees with a safe route out to providing support when a connection is missed at the airport, a travel management company can significantly reduce the stress involved in travel. 

Provide better accommodations for your employees. Traveling business class is one surefire way to increase your employees' comfort level, but do you know which airlines offer the most comfortable flights at a reasonable price? Which hotels live up to their hype, and which ones in the area fall far short of the mark? By working with a travel management company, you'll get better, more comfortable accommodations for your employees—and avoid the places that simply don't meet their expectations. 

Work with your existing travel policy. You want a travel management company that will work with your company and your employees to ensure a more satisfactory experience for everyone involved. By choosing a great travel management company, you'll get a company that is willing to work with your existing travel policy—not around it. 

Balancing financial demands with the needs of employees doesn't have to be the most stressful part of your job. As you deepen your understanding of the specific needs of your employees and shape a company culture that promotes the benefits of travel, you'll find that employees are, overall, much happier with the travel arrangements—especially when you work with a travel management company that takes their needs into consideration and provides the great travel experience your employees are hoping for. 

Want to learn more about balancing finances and employee satisfaction or managing your company's travel expenses? Let me know, and I'll be happy to help.

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What Do Good Travel Managers Know?

Great Advice!

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KC Business Magazine Ingram's - KCI Update

This is from the magazine...

As the city presses toward actual construction on a single-terminal concept at KC officials from Edgemoor Infrstructure and Real Estate have announced that four gates will be added to the 35 originally planned, and the company is ready to move foward on conceptual design of key building elements, including systems for baggage handling, airport transportations, security, check-in, retail and other amenities.  Already, city officials say, the project team has begun soil borings and geo-mapping to help identify potential subsurface issues.


Momentum - Moving Foward!  

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Check out the 2018 BTN Travel Index

For BTN's 34th annual Corporate Travel Index, BCD Travel's Advito consultancy provided the average U.S. hotel and car rental costs its corporate clients paid for bookings that occurred between January and November 2017. BTN collected hotel taxes and surcharges. 

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A Day in the Life: The Role of Travel Managers

The GBTA Foundation in partnership with Sabre conducted a two-phase research study about the role of the Travel Manager and the value they bring to their organizations. The main goals of the research include, but were not limited to: the day-to-day tasks performed by Travel Managers, the financial and non-financial savings they bring to their organizations, and the metrics/KPIs they use to measure the success of their corporate travel programs. 

The current report reflects the online survey results from the second phase. Participants were included in the second phase if they are North America or Europe-based Travel Managers and have some level of responsibility with one or more travel categories:  airlines, hotels, ground transportation, meetings and events, TMCs/Agencies, payment solutions, and travel technology.


Click here for Free Report!

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GBTA Convention 2017 Thoughts!

I can't believe that it has been almost a week since #GBTA2017 in Boston concluded, yet here it is Tuesday afternoon and I am still on a post-Convention high and slowing getting caught up.  I wanted to share my thoughts and views of our recent Convention, and over the past few days I gave it a lot of thought.

First, there is a lot of work and effort goes into these things from Sponsors, GBTA Staff, Chapter President’s, Committees, etc. Planning is usually a year or so before each Convention. It is a lot of hard work!  I was able to make my way onto the Convention floor as it was being constructed and saw hundreds working hard on Saturday and Sunday getting things ready. Additionally, I was one of the many volunteers that volunteered their time during Convention. Volunteering is a great way to get involved with GBTA, plus your registration is free!  Lastly, I thought of the hundreds of professionals volunteering to give presentations on a host of topics, and the countless hours of preparation they put in.

During my week in Boston, I connected with amazing thought leaders, disruptors, and visionaries in the corporate travel industry *and* I was also lucky enough to make new connections and catch up with old friends. Even though there are thousands of us all around the world, we in the travel industry are a close knit family.  Please click here to see the collection of photos from GBTA Convention 2017.

No matter if you're a supplier or travel manager, we all share passion for travel and for what matters most -- improving the experience for the travelers that we serve. Thanks again to the GBTA for an amazing Convention and I look forward to #GBTA2018 in beautiful San Diego.

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GBTA KC attends the 2017 CPC Leadership Summit in Orlando

I was very fortunate to attend (with Jennifer Commuso, Chris Galle and Megan Howard) the Chapters President’s Council (CPC) Leadership Summit in Orlando. CPC provides the Leadership Summit as a venue for board members of chapters across the country to gather and share best practices and new ideas.

We attended workshops to strengthen our knowledge on sponsorships, scholarships, volunteerism, membership, driving attendance, engagement and succession planning.  As a result of the knowledge sharing among our peers, we are bringing home new ideas to help grow and strengthen our chapter and increasing your membership ROI.  

Our time spend in Orlando was productive and we have begun discussing new processes to implement, made new connections with other chapter members, networked across the industry and returned to Kansas City with an excitement for our members. 

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President Blog - March 2017

We had an amazing chapter event on March 8. The event was held at the historical Courtyard Country Club Plaza. We had a great presenter from Cornerstone Government Affairs from DC, Todd Webster. Great topic about the impact of the Trump Admin to business travel, Real ID, infrastructure (directly impacts travel on roads, airports, etc.) And numerous other very interesting topics.


We are having a Charity Bingo social event at Hamburger Mary’s on April 19 from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM. This is strictly for fun and isn’t your grandmother’s bingo!

Our next chapter event will be on May 10. We will have an update on the Kansas City Airport and our guest speaker is Ryan Pierce. He will be speaking on how to transform your travel program using social media and mobile to create a unique experience for your travelers.

I hope to see you at an upcoming event. Thank you for all our members, new members, guests, BOD and sponsors. LET'S KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING!


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