By Sheri Gaster, VP of Technology at Equus.
We live in an era of increased focus and scrutiny on business travelers. As the connection between immigration and the taxing authorities become more sophisticated and automated in more and more countries, the need to meet the requirements and ensure compliance becomes increasingly more important. Additionally, as a result of terrorist activities and the occurrence of natural disasters around the world, there is also a strong emphasis on duty of care - the corporation’s responsibility to its employees - and their ability to quickly assess where their employees are and how to contact them. And as if those challenges aren’t enough, many organizations are tasking management to look for ways to enhance their employee’s experience in response to goals around talent retention and acquisition.
In the last couple of years, we have seen organizations putting policies/processes in place to better track employees’ business travel for both security and compliance concerns. A common example is requiring employees to book travel through the organization’s travel provider. While this approach certainly helps with tracking an employee’s business travel, pulling reports at a moment’s notice in the event of an emergency can still be a daunting task. And, with many business travelers preferring to make their own travel arrangements, forcing them to use the company’s travel provider has become a bit of a satisfaction issue. Many employees today, and certainly the millennial generation, are technologically savvy and survey results show they prefer access to technology tools that allow them to be self-sufficient when it comes to managing their business travel.
Let’s face it, effectively tracking business travelers is hard – and ensuring tax and immigration compliance is even harder!
Here are the top 3 things companies should consider to run an effective program while minimizing the burden on their business traveler population.
- Business travelers want options. Offering a variety of vendors to choose from, including those in the shared economy like Uber and Airbnb, facilitate more employee engagement, which often leads to higher satisfaction. While managing multiple vendors may translate into more work from a vendor management perspective, companies like Equus are providing ways to make that simpler through initiatives like the Equus Ecosystem.
- Utilize technology. Technology tools like PinPoint Travel Calendar are designed to help companies manage their business traveler population and mitigate immigration and tax compliance risks. In addition, the ability of the tool to leverage the data in the system to allow for data analytics helps companies understand much more about their business travelers and improve performance, compliance, supplier management and benefits and policies. Offering a mobile app and a variety of different ways for travelers to easily get their travel data into the application minimizes the burden on the employee and leads to increased adoption rates.
- Refresh travel policies. With so many players in the travel industry introducing innovative approaches and tools to the marketplace, employees are likely to want to take advantage of the new tools and services for business travel as they do for personal travel. In response, it is imperative that organizations stay abreast of changes in the travel industry, compliance requirements and review and update policies to ensure they remain relevant.
At Equus, we understand that a successful business traveler program means effective collaboration between the business, their employees and partner network, as well as their internal systems. Not only is technology key to connecting these various interdependencies, it also allows companies the opportunity to provide an enhanced employee experience – ensuring your business travelers, and your program, are successful.