Going Global: Major Considerations


As the largest mid-market global travel management company, World Travel, Inc. helps many of our clients go global, manage global, and achieve global goals.

NOTE: This blog was composed from information presented at the World Travel, Inc. Client Advisory Board in September 2016 and the World Travel, Inc. 2016 Fall Symposium and Travel Tradeshow.

Last time you looked at your travel footprint, was it expanding? Are you managing travelers with increasingly multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-time-zone travel plans? It’s best to know what you’re getting into before you’re up to your ears in global travel data. Here are some major considerations when expanding your program globally.

What Is Your Company's Set-Up?
What Are the Benefits of Going Global?
What Does Your Global Travel Team Look Like?
Benefit from Planning
Establish a Timeline
Establish Your Framework
Define Success
Now What?

What Is Your Company’s Set-Up?

Step one to going global? Know thyself. Be able to define what kind of company you are, so you know where to start. For example:

Configuration

Is your configuration traditional (meaning your travelers pretty much always use an agent to book), online (meaning they mostly use Concur or Deem or another OBT to book), or a blend of both? You’ll need to know in order to help travelers adapt to the new complications of international (read: more complicated) travel booking.

Culture

Does your company find it hard to say “no” to your travelers, or do you strongly mandate your program? Is there a concern for work-life balance that you need to foster?

 

What Are the Benefits of Going Global?

What’s the point? Set your goals now – it’s easier to make an argument that you achieved them later! For example:

Duty of Care Support

A comprehensive global travel management program supports corporate duty of care obligation by tracking travelers, in case something bad happens and you need to know where they are in order to provide appropriate assistance through your risk management provider.

Consolidated Spend and Volume

From a business perspective, a global travel program allows for more transparency into your global travel and provides data that will help you with supplier negotiations, worldwide.

 

What Does Your Global Travel Team Look Like?

It takes a village to build a global travel program. Who’s on your team?

Executive Sponsor

You’re gonna need top brass involved in the project to help drive compliance. And in order to get their buy-in, you’ll need to show why a consolidated global travel program matters. We suggest making sure one of your major benefits of going global (see above) is in line with your top executive’s interests.

Internal Teams

Global travel is about more than just the traveler and the agent. Make sure your Travel Management team, your Procurement department, your key stakeholders from multiple departments (ie: senior management admins), and IT are all on board.

International Agencies

When creating a global travel program with World Travel, Inc., you’ll be setting up a distributed model program, in which multiple TMCs from around the globe coordinate with us to assist all your travelers and provide you all the data you need. Those agencies likely have a local agent or representative that can help you discuss procedures and address concerns. Not sure who to contact? Ask your World Travel, Inc. Regional Sales Manager or Account Manager to get you started.

Travelers

Don’t forget your boots on the ground! You’ll need to think about how to get traveler buy-in, through education (how to book international travel appropriately), and information (what are the business decisions for your expanded travel program). Get ready to be a broken record, because travelers will need to hear your arguments a lot. As Dan Ryan, Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities at Pegasystems says, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. They might hear you once!”

 

Benefit from Planning

A little preparation goes a long way and can help you avoid major pitfalls. One of our presenters, Jillian Sarsfield from PRA Health Sciences, listed the following:

  • You never know what you don’t know
  • You don’t know who to trust, who is good, and what the experience of your team members is
  • There are different cultures, technologies, and languages to navigate
  • Getting local teams on board requires diligence and communication
  • The data is never as good as you hope. Focus on it at the start and it’ll get better.
  • Focus on getting data and feeds coordinated
  • Understand the time commitment of the project
  • Stagger your implementations across regions – a massive worldwide launch probably won’t work.

 

Establish a Timeline

Your set-up and roll-out is going to vary, but be sure to factor in all the variables when setting up your timeline. Consider the following:

  • Create a consistent and repeating program plan for each geography
  • Slightly modify the project plan for each geography
  • Change your agent on the ground for each country
  • Keep the same Global Travel Team together for each roll-out, if you can
  • Engage your local TMC (that’s us!)
  • Don’t focus on too much – remember that success and speed are often a trade-off for one another
  • Use a consultant if you’re engaging in the RFP process
  • Be flexible and communicate!

Establish Your Framework

Before you can fill in the blanks, you need to define them (here’s where you take all that company culture and major goals and create a project plan out of them). You’ll need to define your objective, plan a way to get team buy-in (ie: a kick-off meeting), and set goals for year one and year two. And, you’ll need to make sure your travelers understand the importance of your goals, whatever they are.

Define Success

How will you know the project is successful, if you don’t know what success is? Remember, you have multiple people on the team, so you may have multiple definitions of success. For example:

Success for the Traveler

  • Ease of booking and support
  • Seamless processes
  • Quick response when/if problems arise

Success for the Executive Sponsor

  • Duty of Care integration
  • Reduced risk through knowledge of where travelers are
  • Consolidated volume
  • Saving money

Success for the Travel Manager

  • Consolidated reporting
  • Consolidated travel program
  • Seamless processes

Success for the Company

  • Saving money
  • Reducing risk in an ever-changing world
  • Seamless processes make a happier, more productive traveler

Now What?

Once you’ve implemented a successful travel program, what’s next? (Assuming you’re not going to Disneyland?) Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep in constant communication with your contacts in each region. Remember, communication is a two-way street
  • Solicit feedback, through surveys, email, or social media.
  • Monitor your travelers to ensure they are booking through the travel program.
  • Schedule individual business reviews with each TMC in your distributed program to help communicate and establish new goals.
  • Analyze your expense and travel data – constantly, and in relation to your overarching business goals and corporate culture.
  • Go to key locations to build relationships and manage expectations. (Break bread with people on the ground to get to know them and their needs) Don’t forget to budget this into your initial program budget estimates!
  • Find a good website or program that can explain cultural differences between your culture and theirs if you have never worked an international project before. It will save you many head-scratching episodes in the future.
  • Be mindful of international time zones when setting up meetings. If you will not get up at 3:00 in the morning for a call why would you expect others to? If it is impossible to avoid these early calls make sure the first one is 3:00 in the morning your time to show your willingness to share the pain. It will make the other team members respect you more in the long term.

Got Questions?

Of course you do! To be a successful travel manager, you need to ask questions and explore different ideas and suggestions through discussions with subject matter experts. Ready to start talking about going global or improving your current global program? Contact your World Travel, Inc. Account Manager or Regional Sales Executive. They can begin the conversation with you, and bring in other global travel SMEs for consultation. World Travel, Inc. can even connect you with peers and colleagues who have global travel program experience and are happy to share their experiences.

Image by João Silas via Unsplash

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This post was written by Chesley Turner

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