London Travel Plans

Local Authorities now require that a Travel Plan (otherwise known as a Green Travel Plan) be submitted with a planning application for many types of development in order to ensure that the new business or facility actively looks at ways of minimising traffic impact.

This will usually aim to reduce single occupancy car journeys by staff travelling to work. In some cases a customer travel is also included within the document.

London Travel Plans required by Local Authorities within the Greater London Area must be written in accordance with Transport for London and the Mayor of London’s specific Travel Plan Guidance.

There are also a group of west London Boroughs who deal with Travel Planning together under an umbrella organisation called Westtrans and Travel Plans in those Boroughs are dealt with by Westtrans officers.

All London Boroughs are aiming for the same result’ to cut traffic and congestion within the city and reduce the need for parking by encouraging staff (and sometimes customers) to use public transport, walk or cycle. The art when writing a Travel Plan is to demonstrate you are helping to achieve these goals without committing your client to expensive measures both short and long term.

This requirement has been in place for a number of years now and the content and quality of Travel Plans, particularly in London, are now given much more scrutiny than in the past. Often within London, a developer is seeking to reduce parking on their site or in some cases provide no parking at all and in these situations a bespoke, practical and well written plan can be key to achieving planning permission.

The challenge in all cases is to balance the commercial demands of the business whilst formulating a robust and detailed plan which is frequently key to securing planning permission. For example I recently dealt with a new hotel with zero on-site parking. This meant that both staff and guest travel to the site needed to be actively addressed through a range of specific measures to discourage car travel.

In contrast I recently dealt with a hotel which had free on site parking. In this instance I had to devise a travel plan which demonstrated active steps to reduce the demand for those parking spaces over the initial period of 5 years.

Both sites were covered by the same overall London-wide policies but the individual site issues dictated that the plans were very different. In both instance I managed to reach a solution which met my client’s commercial needs and satisfied the Local Authorities’ requirements.

The different approach and requirements in each case demonstrates that a template is a misnomer. In my opinion the templates that are available are likely to result in clients being signed up to costly and impractical measures. In terms of cost, as the plans are monitored for at least 5 years, the management costs going forward can also be significant if not considered at an early stage.

In my experience travel plans prepared at the application stage are all too often a standardised document which is not fully considered, with the result that developers inadvertently agree to a range of measures in order to get planning approval. Those measures may be inappropriate, expensive to implement and difficult or costly to monitor.

The examples cited above demonstrate the importance of producing a plan which is specific to the site and to the end user, not least to prevent the added cost of having to re-writing the document. In both of these cases the original developer obtained agreement to a draft which, if implemented, would have resulted in significant costs for the end-user.

In order to meet the requirements of the client and to satisfy the Local Authorities it was necessary to re-write the documents in a way which delivered practical and value for money measures for my client but also satisfied the requirements of the Local Authorities. I like to think that my experience in this area helped to achieve a result which all were happy with.

Layaway Travel Plans – The Best Way to Enjoy Your Vacation With No Worries

Layaway travel plans are a great way to save up for that dream vacation without worrying about financial constraints. Layaway is fairly old school, but this idea is still highly effective especially in our present economic situation. This payment method is quite flexible and convenient, so you can just squeeze it into your existing budget plan. If chosen carefully, layaway travel plans could really work to your advantage.

Before hitting the net for the best layaway travel plans, make sure that you’ve already cleared up your calendar. If you’re planning to go as a group, make sure that your schedules coincide because you might end up paying extra for rescheduling the trip. Most travel agencies would generally recommend that you should plan your vacation 6 months to 1 year before your expected date of departure.

Most travel agencies dress up their layaway plans through attractive packages that address specific needs of an individual or group. You’ve probably heard them being called as a family package, honeymoon package, or group package. The inclusive items in the packages would generally differ for each travel agency. Some of these agencies would even give their customers the freedom to take off some items from the package that they think is not relevant to their vacation. The amount of this excluded item would then be subtracted from the total package amount.

But before you could start drafting any plans, you’re expected to pay a primary deposit of around $100 to $150 per person (again, this depends for each travel company). This payment would directly go to their affiliated cruise or tour package dealer that you’ve chosen. After the initial payment, you should be able to pay for the full amount within forty days to ninety days before the actual day of departure. All of these are subjected to random price increase or decrease – check with your travel company regarding their policies about pricing changes.

Great offers would look better if you know that it’s the real deal. And in order to do just that, take the time to practice a little vigilance in choosing the travel company that you’re planning to partner with. You could do this by calling their office phone number or checking their office address just to know that everything is legit. Reading online reviews about the best travel agencies could also help you in narrowing your options to save you all that time and effort.

When you’ve already chosen a travel company, make sure to secure a printed copy of their layaway policies and package deal itineraries. Don’t be afraid to ask about their terms and conditions just in case you’ll decide to stop from pursuing the vacation plan (if there are extra charges or payment reimbursement involve). Remember that layaway travel plans that don’t give you a full advantage are not worth the consideration in the first place.

Travel Planning To Save Money

If you don’t want to buy a package deal blindly, as many people do not, you have to do some of your travel planning on your own. The problem with this for many people is that they do not know what they want before they start looking for deals, and they feel that everything they find is too expensive. You have to learn to be flexible about your vacation and also know how to choose the right place when you see big discounts in front of you. You want to have a great vacation, but you can’t go on that trip if you can’t afford it. Plan carefully and have the time of your life.

Rule number one in saving money with your own travel planning is to be flexible. This means that even though you may think it best to leave on a Friday night and get home on the following Sunday night so that you can squeeze as much time out of a week as you can, this is not the way to save money. Typically, flights are far more expensive on weekends (which includes Friday) than any other day of the week. If you can work it so that you are flying out on a Wednesday and coming back in eight days on a Thursday, you can save quite a bit of money in your travel planning through just your plane tickets alone.

The same can be said about hotel rooms. They cost more on holidays, weekends, and when special events are in town. If you can keep most of your stay on the weekdays, and cut out a few weekend nights by traveling at odd times, you can knock a few hundred dollars or more off a long hotel stay. If your travel planning is about a weekend trip only, this tip won’t help much, but planning ahead can. A hotel may give you a discount for booking very early as opposed to the last minute.

If you want to drive, you have a few issues in your travel planning. If you travel on weekends, you could add hours to your trip by hitting rush hour traffic in major cities. You have a few options. One is that you could travel a day early. The other is to get really comfortable with your GPS or an online map service so that you can set a course that may seem out of the way, but that will actually save you time by taking you around heavily congested areas in most cities. These online map services can make travel planning when driving so much easier in many ways.

Travel planning on your own may be as easy as going to one of the many travel sites that you can find online and looking for great deals. You can name your own price without knowing the name of the hotel, or you can know the hotel and hope for a deal. Whatever the case, most people end up saving quite a bit when doing travel planning online through these sites. Just take your time and plan early and you can save on your vacation while still getting to do the things that you want to do the most.

Benefits of Travel Planning and How to Get Started

If you travel frequently or travel a lot then you must have realized the importance of travel planning. A well planned trip really gets you your money’s worth. You are aware of your schedule, plus you are not wasting your time in figuring out (at the last minute) what to see, what to do, where to eat, etc. But still a lot of people travel with vague plans and without a complete picture. A lot of people say to me that travel planning is hard and time consuming and that if they were to wait for a travel plan then they would not be able to travel at all.

I disagree with all of them. Yes, it takes time to plan a trip but whats the point of traveling to another country or city if you are not going to see the best sites, taste the local food, or experience the top activities. Following are some of the tips that you can use to plan a near perfect trip for yourself.

First of all, zero out on a location where you would like to travel, it may be another city, state or another country.

Second, Why you would like to go there? Maybe some friend or family member went there and were full of praise or may be you read about it on internet or magazine or saw it on TV. Realizing WHY you want to travel to a particular location will help you plan the trip properly. For example, you may want to travel to the New York city to see the skyscrapers, or/and see Statue of liberty or/and may be visits the Museums.

Third, How long i.e. How many days you want to spend in the new place.

Once you have decided WHERE you want to go, understand WHY you want to travel there and decided HOW long you want to visit for, you can then begin preparing your itinerary.

You should start by asking your friends, family & co-workers about the destination that you have selected. If they have not been there, you should ask if anybody they know have traveled to that place. If yes, then don’t be shy of talking to that other person about their experience. Realize that people love to talk about their trips. This way you would learn a lot and maybe make a new friend in the process.

You can watch YouTube videos or watch Travel Channel to get ideas about the place you would like to visit.

Further, Google is your friend, you can search for the location to get tons of information about any place. There are thousands if not millions of Travelogues written virtually about all places on this earth.

Tripadvisor.com is an excellent site to research about any destination. You can ask questions, read about other’s experience etc. But the research on internet is time consuming and you should be diligent.

Lastly, you can even read the travel books, city guides by Frommer’s, Lonely Planet and Fodor’s. These are very well written and cater to all level’s i.e. Newbies, repeat, expert etc.

Green Travel Plan Advice

A Green Travel Plan should deliver economic, practical and easy to manage measures both now and in the future. The majority of individuals that usually require a green travel plan are commercial developers and businesses. A plan should typically be:

economic to implement ‘day one’
cost effective for future management
include practical, well thought out measures that work
What’s the difference between Green and Workplace travel plans?

A Green Travel Plan (also typically known as a Workplace Travel Plan) is an obligation imposed by local authorities through the planning process typically by way of panning condition attached to a planning consent or by a S.106 agreement. It may also be introduced as a requirement during the application process.

In addition a Travel Plan is often a requirement of a BREEAM assessment process.

The Green Travel Plan sets out a suite of actions and measures intended to promote travel to the site by sustainable transport methods such as bicycle, bus or train rather than private car.

So I have a Green Travel Plan, what happens if I don’t follow it?

Most local authorities will require occupiers to monitor the effectiveness of the plan to ensure measures are being implemented and targets set in the plan are being met. The aim should be to demonstrate ongoing improvement.

Some local authorities now have sustainable travel officers whose sole duty is to promote sustainable travel and to monitor plans to ensure compliance.

Ultimately the local authority does have the power to take Enforcement action against you if you are not implementing and monitoring your plan. The council has the power to issue of a breach of condition notice to require you to comply with the requirements which could ultimately lead to prosecution and fine if you still fail to comply.

What Actions and Measures do the plans typically include?

They are sometimes produced to include high cost and complicated measures such as staff showers, public transport information and ticketing systems, subsidised public transport, cycle parking and staff loan schemes. Whilst it’s important to be mindful of the commercial necessity to obtain a consent, more simpler and cost effective measures should be considered as well, such as; free internet access to travel guides; website links to local travel information; car sharing schemes and on site maps of bus and train stations.

A plan should be produced to minimise the cost to the clients of delivering their plan whilst balancing this against the local planning policy requirements and need for a consent in a timely manner.

What will my Green Travel Plan cost?

Every plan is different based on the local policy requirements, the site constraints and the commercial pressures. Each should ideally be produced on a site specific basis. It is important to appreciate that a well considered and written plan allied to skilled consultants negotiating terms with the local authority will save you more money than you will ever spend on preparing it. Conversely, one poorly written will cost you money ‘day one’ and for many years to come as you continue to spend money and management time on costly and unwieldy measures.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.