The myth has long argued that small plans do not mean more complex travel plans, but as small and medium-sized enterprises start traveling again in the coming months, they will face a number of difficulties that can make it more difficult to operate without a managed plan. than when!

For some, these challenges still include solving the challenges that arose at the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic. Cheryl Benjamin, a former travel buyer at Dart Container Corp. who now works as an independent consultant, said she recently spoke with a company that was part of the fast-growing sector during the epidemic. It did not have a really manageable travel or card plan; now it was trying to combine everything for its own and its latest achievements.

“I can not imagine some of these smaller programs that did not have a managed program at the time of the Covid strike, they just even tried to identify the unused tickets, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars lost,” he said. “Companies that do not have a corporate card program may not have the resources to extract this data, or even know what the costs are.”

Staying on top of the restrictions

Sorting unused tickets, however, is no longer the “most frequent call” by SME customers. According to him, one of the main challenges now is to reverse the ever-changing restrictions on Covid-19 in real time around the world. Rapid changes in restrictions or quarantine requirements have already occurred և a burst of travel “bubbles”, which means that business travelers will need to adapt quickly in the coming months.

As such, having access to the right technology will be crucial to the return of travel, ”said Benjamin.

“That’s the time we are in, e-mail is never an effective way to get things done,” he said. “If there is another channel or another option, what are those hotspots?” How do you handle that? ”

Peter Ian Anusson, who recently joined Flight Center Travel Group as Chief Technology Officer, said this is the biggest demand from FCM’s SME clients at the moment. The FCM has partnered with travel document provider Sherpa, which collects data from more than 2,000 sources, to create a website to inform corporate teams around the world about rules and restrictions.

“From a technological point of view, it’s really difficult to adapt,” said Ian Anusso. “We pass that information on to our consultants, along with travel managers.”

Not having this information can be costly for SME travel plans whose budgets have probably already been extended, Benjamin said. If the employee leaves the country without understanding the quarantine requirements, for example, the company may end up staying in a hotel for a long time. Or, the traveler may travel to a country where travel is permitted but find out that the tests required to re-enter the United States or another country are not available upon return.

We see low tolerance for unmanaged program among SME clients. “They are looking for simplification և extreme technology backed by people who can help in any crisis.”

Amex GBT Terri Buscemi:

Suzanna Boyan, ZS Meetings & Travel Manager, a global professional services company, said her company started its travels in early June. As the epidemic was the perfect time to “make changes, push a huge reset button,” the team launched the eno anon fix և cost tool over the past year, focusing primarily on training senior administrative assistants. will be the first travelers.

While ZS said that domestic travel is “completely open” given the challenge of reversing the changing global situation, international travel still requires a “high-impact” approach by the travel team.

“We have a team of two travel agents who help these international organizations [requests]”We are still closed to travel in Europe և Asia / the Pacific because things are so volatile there. We are waiting for a little more consistency. ”

However, this did not translate into a pre-approval approval process. “I stand by the fact that it is a waste of time, it encourages people to make books outside of their plans,” he said.

Having the right technology tool can allow SMEs to move away from campaigning even in the face of this instability, the TripActions Dealer said. It can, for example, track Covid-19 infection rates, allow the company to automatically shut down travel to the area when the infection rate there exceeds what the company determines an acceptable interest rate.

“It’s more control because policies are dynamic, you can base it on variables in real time,” Delator said. “No one should do anything or change anything. “Politics is just being updated.”

Data needs development

Of course, SMEs will need stronger control with the Covid-19 world outside of bookings. Boyan said that without technology, the part he would not want to work with is the data consolidation panel.

If you do not have a mechanism to enter all your data, you will spend a lot of time trying to find out who has fixed or unsubscribed from your plan, but most importantly, try to get safe people back. ” he said.

The largest travel management companies also recognize these needs. For example, American Express Global Business Travel played a bigger role in the SME market this year by acquiring Egencia, the Expedia Group corporate tourism company that has done heavy business with SME accounts. The deal, in which Egencia will continue to operate as a separate brand under the auspices of GBT, is expected to close this year.

At the same time, Amex GBT announced last month that it was expanding its SME-based Neo Purchasing Management platform, which launched last year in the United Kingdom. The platform includes budgeting, procurement և cost management functions և links to GBT booking tool և travel support services.

Terri Buscemi, Amex GBT Vice President of Business Development, agreed with Boyan that the control panel will be important for SME travel plans, not only to find travelers, but also to make decisions and access the necessary data. He said such a tool, for example, could help companies determine the right booking windows, such as travel returns, or provide travel impact data, as sustainability is a top priority for many companies.

Service overcoming the age-old struggle

Service availability on the road, especially during travel breakdowns, will also be important when returning from a trip. For example, airlines report customer service calls during hours of waiting. While they are making some changes to reduce the volume of calls, for example, Delta Air Lines has temporarily made it possible to change the tickets of the main economy, to add self-service opportunities in its application for the same waiting փոփոխ flight changes. are maintained as airlines deal with growing demand և work to rebuild Covid-19’s staff levels.

While TMCs will have ongoing staff reclamation when demand returns, the TripActions Dealer said his company has largely been able to maintain response levels. “His ability to hold his response for a minute or less typically fluctuated in the 90 percent range, while it dropped to the lowest level of 80 percent and then recovered to above 90 percent,” he said.

“Hotels can also be shorter, and renting a car remains a big challenge,” Benjamin said. At the same time, many SMEs will have less centralized workforce, more employees, or will work full-time or in a hybrid workplace arrangement.

“We see low tolerance for unmanaged program among SME clients,” Bushemi said. “They are looking for simplification և extreme technology backed by people who can help in any crisis.”

Many of these difficulties will be encountered by larger travel plans, but most SME travel buyers will face additional staffing challenges, tightening budgets in an organization where they are likely to already have a role outside of travel management. For these buyers, this may be an advantage for them to expand their partnerships in their organizations, such as the role of ‘chief health officer’, which many organizations have added in response to the epidemic. Ultimately, this could lead to more support for managed travel, according to Benjamin.

“Small companies will fight it, this is a place where the travel manager can use it to their advantage, to raise their position within the company,” he said. “There are so many hours in the day, so how do you work smarter?” It goes back to technology և tools աշխատել working with a more multifunctional team than before. ”