Managing a global travel program comes with its own set of concerns and needs specific to the company, its locations, and its travelers. Last time you looked at your travel footprint, was it expanding? Are you managing travelers with increasingly multi-lingual and multi-cultural travel plans?
It’s best to know what you’re getting into before you’re up to your ears in global travel data. Before we dig in and discuss strategies to ease implementation and ensure that a global program is managed successfully, let’s first address the age-old question: Should my travel program be consolidated globally?
Making the decision whether to globalize your travel program is not an easy task, nor is it the same for every company. If you’re considering taking this step, are you doing so for the right reasons? Below are some of the key drivers and benefits of going global.
Top 3 Benefits of “Going Global”
1. Duty of Care Support
A comprehensive global travel management program supports corporate duty of care by tracking travelers in case something bad happens and you need to know where they are to provide appropriate assistance through your risk management provider.
2. Travel Policy Compliance
Consolidating your travel program globally can help to ensure that your travelers, no matter where they are, are adhering to your travel policy.
3. Cost Savings
From a business perspective, a global travel program allows for more transparency into your global travel spend and provides data that will help you with supplier negotiations, worldwide.
If the above goals are important to your organization, make sure that you have a clear and defined purpose for achieving them before moving to implementation. Don’t forget - you need full buy-in and support from your team to ensure success.
What You Need to Know About Your Countries / Locations
It is NOT a small world after all. There is much to consider when you have travelers or locations across the globe. Besides your company’s goals, you need to know the following about the countries/locations you hope to consolidate globally.
Please note: this is a shortlist! To learn more about a specific region, tune in to one of World Travel’s ongoing webinars with our international partners.
Cultural & Market Differences
Each country has a unique culture and market differences, and success will depend on embracing this diversity.
What you measure in one location isn’t necessarily relevant in another. For example, in the U.S. most non-refundable tickets are re-usable, but this is not the case in every country. In some countries, there’s a use it or lose it philosophy for non-refundable tickets.
There are technology barriers, such as cost of employment and fragmented distribution, which can impede high online booking adoption in various parts of the world. For example, the U.S. and Australia typically drive the highest online adoption rates due to salary and benefit expenses, plus the majority of supplier content is available through global distribution systems and aggregators. Conversely in India, online booking isn’t embraced at a similar level because of low employment costs and fragmented content. Similar challenges occur in certain parts of Latin America. Plus, a technology approach of one-size-fits-all will leave gaps even with the best technology providers in various parts of the world.
Once you understand the above needs of your countries, it’s time to consider how your travel program will be managed to ensure that these needs are met.
3 Types of Global Travel Management – Which is Best for Your Company?
There are three methodologies to consider when choosing a travel management company to service your global business travel needs.
1. Mega Agency
One option is to utilize a mega service provider that has partial or wholly-owned offices throughout the globe. Even mega agencies do not have ownership in every country, so they supplement their partial or wholly-owned locations with partner or affiliate programs. Customers that typically succeed in these programs require large scalability in each region and are less concerned with cultural differences and local market requirements. These programs limit customization by location and typically support a one-size-fits-all global approach.
2. Single Regional Agency (Affiliate Member of a Mega)
Another option is to utilize a single regional agency which is an affiliate member of a mega agency. Often, regional agencies choose to affiliate with a mega as it passes on the responsibility of global service to the larger agency. This approach simplifies globalization for the regional agency, but service delivery can be negatively impacted by the hand off to a mega contracted agency and any restrictions they have related to communication with each agency location.
A hybrid of the above options is a multi-regional approach with individually contracted offices in most countries outside of main markets. The absence of a formal network or affiliation creates many risks, as there is no common ownership or minimal central governance and oversight.
3. A Global Partner Network
For mid-market volume companies, we recommend utilizing a partner network with centralized governance over the program. This is not a loose knit group of agencies, rather agencies which collectively own the network through common ownership. Companies choose a mid-market agency to gain the buying power and technology of a mega provider with assurances they will be important.
World Travel and our global partners combine the buying power of a mega agency, provide the global consistency, data, and control of a single TMC, while providing in-country service levels. Global and local management oversight is provided with common SLAs to ensure consistency, so customers receive excellent service in their headquartered market and the same attention to detail, customization, and service throughout their global footprint.
Whether you’re partnering with World Travel, Inc. or not, we’re happy to chat with you and provide additional strategies for expanding your travel program globally.
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