In 2019, 25% of businesses engaged in corporate traveling. That percentage dropped dramatically during 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. However, now that things are returning to normal, companies are once again deploying their teams into the field via business trips.

It may have been a long time since you planned a business trip, or perhaps it’s your first time planning one. Either way, you’re in the right place if you want to plan a successful trip without the headache. 

In this article, we break down five simple steps for corporate travel planning and some tips to help make the process easier than planning your family vacation. 

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5 Steps for Corporate Travel Planning

Since the pandemic is now in the waning stages and businesses are once again engaging in corporate travel, you might find yourself responsible for planning the next office trip. A successful business trip will accomplish organizational objectives, provide a refreshing travel experience, and stay under budget. Here’s how to make it happen!

1. Outline an Itinerary

The first step in any corporate travel management plan needs to be an itinerary. This itinerary is the roadmap for your business trip and should be detailed enough for anyone on the team to follow. 

Sometimes, it might be wise to use a travel management tool, such as a mobile app or even your company’s CRM. A tool can help track everyone’s details and provide real-time updates. 

Working with your team members, leaders, or other stakeholders, flesh out a rough outline, then fill in details as they become available. Be open to making adjustments, as in this early stage, a lot will likely change.

2. Review Your Budget and Reimbursement Options

Before you make any firm plans or purchase accommodations, you will need to confirm the company travel policy. Your corporate travel policy should outline travel budgets, rules for appropriate activities, working hours while traveling, and other critical company policies.

Your company may have strict rules on reimbursements and spending limits. These corporate travel policies may also dictate the use of company credit cards, reimbursement approval processes, definitions of travel expenses, and employee eligibility. It’s crucial to be crystal clear on these expectations. 

After verifying company policies, you can set the budget for the trip. This budget should include airfare, ground transportation, shuttle costs, rental cars, fuel, parking, lodging, per diem, food, activities, and meeting area fees. It’s also smart to allocate some funds for unexpected travel expenses. 

Business travel is different from personal travel, and you’ll want to let the travel team know about spending limits, company expectations, and policies that extend to your travel destination. Keeping your team updated prevents potential HR issues, travel hiccups, or other issues.

3. Book Flights, Hotels, and More

With company policies understood, budgets set, and spending limits in place, it’s time to book travel arrangements. The travel booking process involves finding airfare, hotels or Airbnbs, car rentals, catering or meal service, meeting rooms, and any activities approved.

Take into consideration the travel distances between events, hotels, and the airport. Booking the lowest-priced hotel might look like solid travel cost savings, but if it means an hour of travel to get to the required locations, you won’t save anything. 

Also, take time to book other travel needs, such as insurance or other travel services your team might need once on location, and brush up on cancellation policies. Don’t forget to book early. The earlier you book accommodations, the more you save, which looks good for expense management. 

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4. Create Checklists

Being responsible for business travel management means creating checklists to streamline the travel process. Some of the first checklists you should make are your company travel policies, the travel program expectations, and how to file for reimbursement. 

Once you book accommodations, the subsequent checklists should include suggested packing lists, required work materials, and essential documents. Include activity or approved events checklists to give your team a little freedom while staying within guidelines. 

Finally, you want to have after-trip checklists of must-do tasks once the team returns to the office. These checklists could include client follow-ups, how to file expense reports, and reports, presentations, or summaries for senior leadership.

5. Review and Finalize Your Itinerary

Your job as a corporate travel planner is almost complete. The last step is to pull everything together. That means finalizing the purchase of last-minute accommodations, producing a final copy of the itinerary, and distributing everything to your team. 

Make sure everyone on the team has a final copy of the itinerary to stay up-to-date with what to expect. Here’s when you will nail down any final approvals, flight lists, required corporate materials, and last-minute business objectives. 

Finally, have fun! Take a moment to absorb the project you made happen. Corporate travel is an engaging experience that allows team members to step away from mundane office life, meet people vital to the organization, and build meaningful connections.

Top Tips for Efficient Corporate Travel Planning

Whether it’s your first business trip you plan or your 100th, there are some valuable tips to ensure a successful trip. Here are a few ways to nail your next corporate travel planning assignment. 

Book Flights Through an Agent

In-house travel planning is an excellent way to save money, but it’s not always the best way to find the best deals. A travel management company (TMC) or travel agent can access group rates, insider pricing, and business relationship deals you won’t find elsewhere.

Booking tools, like TravelPerk or TravelSpend, have decent functionality, but only Business Class Experts can find airfare in business class at up to half-off direct airline pricing. Call us today and let our expert agents help you book airfare for your next corporate trip. 

Account for Changes

Murphy’s law strikes those who are least prepared. You can avoid stress and complications by adding a little extra wiggle room to your itinerary. This spare time can help with any unexpected travel delays. 

Prepare for Your Destination 

Making a good impression is crucial for business success, and especially for international travel; healthy relationships can make or break multi-million dollar deals. Before you depart, prepare for your destination by learning about local customs and a few words of the language, and familiarize yourself with some local dishes. 

You will also want to prepare company-specific information, such as details on a corporate branch, facts about a client, or audit details. In addition, make sure to pack according to your destination. Nothing is worse than packing for the sun and getting snow.

Enjoy Your Corporate Trip in Comfort with Business Class Experts

The travel industry is rebounding thanks to companies engaging in corporate travel. Because of this rebound, you might find yourself needing to plan a business trip with no idea what steps you need to take to ensure success. 

Following the five easy steps in this guide, you can plan a business trip that meets business objectives, stays under budget, and provides a thrilling corporate travel experience. Plus, with a few handy tips, you can avoid any potential problems before they even happen. 

Don’t settle for economy class when flying for your next corporate trip. Instead, indulge in a bit of comfort at a price that won’t exceed expense limits. Call business class experts to uncover the best deals on business class tickets with airlines you love!