Women Who Travel for Work – Are They Safe?

Women Who Travel for Work – Are They Safe?

The Scope of Business Travel Threats for Women

Business travelers face a range of unique uncertainties. Female travelers face risks that are well beyond common travel threats . While the number of women who actively travel for business has risen in recent years, the latest research shows that corporations have been slow to modify their corporate travel policies for this increase.  Women account for nearly 40 percent of business travelers based in the U.S., according to new research from the Global Business Travel Association and WWStay polling travel managers and buyers.

Dangers like transportation accidents, natural disasters and terrorism are well-known threats for all travelers.  Female travelers, however, face more prevalent threats of sexual assault, theft and harassment than their male counterparts.

The gender-specific travel hazards that women face have complex cultural and societal underpinnings — many of which are difficult to unravel. This status quo doesn’t mean, however, that enterprises are off the hook when it comes to making positive changes.

Women’s Travel Safety by The Numbers

An online survey by AIG Travel and GBTA found that 83 percent of women had experienced travel safety challenges in the previous year, and the overwhelming majority noted that these issues hampered their professional productivity. Corporate travel purchasers also agreed — 70 percent said that the gender-specific dangers of travel were worse than they were just three to five years earlier.

Unfortunately, recognition doesn’t always translate to action. Less than one-fifth of corporate travel policies actually devote specific attention to women’s safety issues.  Further compounding their safety, more than one-third of travel managers said that they did not know how long it would take to locate them in the event of an emergency.

How Can Companies Improve the Outlook?

Businesses can do a lot to reshape their travel practices and keep vulnerable staff members safer wherever they happen to be. For instance, 84 percent of U.S. women reported that their companies did not provide female-oriented travel safety resources or tips.  Clearly, there’s room for improvement.  How should they address this through their travel policy and pre-trip authorization process?

Companies don’t have to overhaul their operating standards completely to make travel safer for their female travelers. Good ways to get started include

  • Briefing women on the kinds of cultural, behavioral, apparel and religious differences and restrictions they might face in certain countries
  • Providing apps and other tools for connecting with travel resources, such as the U.S. Department of State, local embassies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and telemedicine providers
  • Finding lodgings that include extra safety features, such as 24-hour security, double door locks, well-lit public spaces and limited ground-floor access
  • Providing better transportation services than standard taxis and airport transfers, which are known to present women with high-risk circumstances
  • Maintaining 24-hour traveler’s assistance hotlines
  • Employing technologies which allow travel managers to know where their travelers are in the world and how to easily reach them
  • Receive alerts on dangerous political developments/events and terror threats, extreme weather, etc.

Companies have the legal and moral responsibility to ensure that their traveling employees remain safe. Creating a travel risk management program that specifically addresses the needs of diverse employees is a critical step in fulfilling your corporate obligations.

What happens when enterprises fail to get with the program by supporting their forward-thinking work forces with better travel programs and protections? In addition to potentially finding themselves embroiled in tragedies, these businesses may earn reputations as employers who don’t care about their female workers. Such an outcome could make it extremely difficult to access talented labor pools and retain key players.

Although this situation may seem dire, there’s good news — Women aren’t letting hazards stop them from seeking high-flying careers in domains traditionally left to males, and the number who travel for business is on the rise. As this trend becomes the norm, companies that institute superior travel risk management programs are more likely to thrive.

Trondent cares about traveler safety. Contact us to find out how our pre-trip authorization solution can help facilitate the corporation’s travel initiatives.

 

How to Increase Travel Policy Compliance

How to Increase Travel Policy Compliance

If noncompliance with your travel policy is an unfortunate reality, you’re not alone. A survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives revealed that 72 percent of travel managers are dissatisfied with the level of compliance.

Unnecessarily high travel costs undermine a company’s financial health, business goals and productivity.  Here are five strategies for improving compliance.

#1 Find Out Why Compliance Is Low

A travel policy should be clear and dynamic. It should reflect the company culture, align with company objectives, and take into account employees’ needs and lifestyles. Maybe your existing policy needs a little tweaking.

Ask both longtime and new employees to read the policy and provide feedback. There will always be people who deliberately overstep the rules, but many do so unwittingly.

Complex per diems for foreign countries may be unclear. People may be unaware of cost-saving negotiations with certain vendors. Someone may book with a more expensive hotel because its location eliminates the need for cabs or a rental car.

Be willing to make changes.  There are both well-intentioned mistakes and lame excuses. In either case, if you know why people are violating your policy, you can customize it to ensure that they comply going forward.

#2  Evaluate the Policy for User-friendliness

Is the policy clear and easy to digest in one sitting?  Take a look at the document itself with fresh eyes; how it’s presented.   Is it a long, overly wordy wall of text? Does it speak the employees’ language? Is it warm and supportive in tone, or could it come across as threatening?  Maybe it could be more concise, more efficiently laid out or reader-friendly.

Next, review the content of the policy.  Both travel and technology are changing all the time. The policy may need an update to address things like mobile apps, digital receipts or ride-sharing.

Airlines offer more options than ever, so travel tiers like economy, coach and business class may need redefining. Irrelevant, outdated information needs to go.

Does the policy address secondary expenditures like room service charges, entertainment and alcohol? Does it clearly explain the expense reporting process and let employees know when they can expect reimbursement?

Add a comprehensive FAQ section to clear up confusion. The policy should specify which rules are mandatory and which are somewhat flexible.  Again, the policy should be compatible with company culture.

#3 Continually Communicate

The importance of ongoing communication cannot be overstated. It’s not enough to just circulate the policy once it’s approved.  Get the word out.

Post it on as many channels as possible. If your expense management is automated, include the travel policy on that platform.  If your pre-trip authorization process is automated, post link to the policy there too.  Employees can easily access it every time they request a trip or do an expense report.

In addition to generously promoting the policy, ask for time to explain it at company-wide meetings. Schedule brief workshops to actively engage employees. See that the policy is thoroughly covered during the onboarding process for new hires. Explain changes as they occur.

This may create more work for you, but think of it as job security. A travel policy has to stay fluid and up to date.

You’ll probably encounter resistance to some changes, but transparency and positivity go a long way.

Justify new policies by drawing the big picture. When cost savings improve the bottom line, for example, there’s more to work with at bonus time. Further, travel policy changes may limit legal liability or make travel safer for employees.

In short, employees are more likely to cooperate if they understand the rationale behind a rule.  Offer a grace period for complying with big changes that take some getting used to.

#4 Provide Incentives and Impose Consequences

People never outgrow their desire to be recognized for good behavior, so dangle a few rewards.

Consider staging a quarterly contest. The most compliant and frugal employee might receive a gift card, an occasional upgrade to first class or a share of the savings.

As for noncompliers, give them fair warning. If they continue to buck the system,
it may come down to imposing consequences for insubordination as outlined by company policy.

#5 Track Results

Intentionally tracking travel behavior and expenses — especially when employees know that you’re doing so — is a surefire way to improve compliance.

If your corporation uses automated software for its pre-trip approvals or expense management, leverage the data from these software systems to pinpoint which rules are being sidestepped. Look for both individuals and whole departments that need a firm reminder.

Patterns will start to emerge. The data will expose employees who are always making last-minute reservations or which supervisors have vague notions about what counts as a qualifying expense.   Remember, out-of-policy bookings undermine the company’s overall health and success.  This affects all employees. So, track whatever you can to identify where breakdowns are occurring.

Take Advantage of Trondent

Cutting-edge travel technology is available to support your compliance efforts.     Trondent’s Authorizer PRO automates the pre-trip authorization process and prevents both honest mistakes as well as flagrant violations.  Authorizer PRO essentially converts your corporate travel policy into rules logic.  The software determines whether a trip is compliant, or whether it must undergo manual review/approval.   Comprehensive ScoreCard reporting offers valuable insight into the booking and approval behaviors of each traveler, approver and the company as a whole.

Authorizer PRO will be customized to your corporate policy with no limits on number of rules or levels of approval. The software integrates with any GDS, TMC and OBT environment.

To schedule a demo and explore all features and functionality of Authorizer PRO including sample reports, please contact us at sales@trondent.com or complete the Contact Us form on our website.

How Does Your Company Handle Pre-Trip Approvals?

How Does Your Company Handle Pre-Trip Approvals?

Best way to save money on travel?  Don’t travel.  Obviously that’s not an option in today’s modern world.   For many companies, it is important to implement strict controls around the approval of business trips.  So, how is your corporation handling pre-trip approvals?

A request & approval process that uses spreadsheets and emails is difficult to manage at scale, and not transparent.  Corporations generally prefer to automate trip approvals based on pre-defined criteria. In this scenario, an employee would select the flights and hotels they’d like to book.  Once they complete their itinerary, the employee adds a trip purpose then submits it for manager approval.

Managers can see the exact cost of the options that the employee has chosen, and evaluate the price of the trip versus the value of its business purpose.

While this method technically does work, it creates headaches for travelers and managers.

Pre-Trip Approval Headaches

In the scenario described above, travel requests have to be approved by the ticketing deadline for the airlines, which is often 11 pm on the same day.  It takes managers time –hours, if not days, before they can review travel requests.  If the manager does not make a decision same day, the employee is forced to go through the whole submission process again because the system automatically cancels their booking at the ticketing deadline.

This increases the traveler’s frustration.  Equally, the manager is interrupted from their day to stop working, evaluate a request and approve or reject it.

It’s no secret that travel approvals cause more frustration than any other obstacle for employees.  Booking business travel is time-consuming and stressful, especially when you factor in the countless policy guidelines that must be followed in order to secure reservations.   What’s more painstaking is that most trip approval platforms are limited to how much pre-defined criteria you can even build into the workflow, and who is allowed to approve trips.

Variables in Approving Travel Requests

You can reduce traveler frustration by improving any part of the business travel process that slows them down.   One way to do that is to implement a pre-trip approval solution that automates most of the process, especially for standard business trips at volume.

Before implementing a pre-trip approval solution, you must first know exactly WHAT you want to approve?  And, WHY?

Instead of building a workflow that embodies your travel policy, you could consider setting a comprehensive, per-trip budget, say $1,000 to cover flights, hotels, etc.  Then the manager does not need to be involved as long as the traveler stays within the approved budget.   Ideal, right?  Wrong.

Market Fluctuations

Remember, you do not have much say on certain price variables in the travel industry.   Oftentimes you are forced to accept whatever price the travel industry is offering you at the time of booking.  The cost of flights is dictated by what the market says and prices change dynamically each day, each hour.

For example, an employee may ask their boss to fly to Hong Kong. The request may be reasonable, and typical from the employee – so the manager agrees.  However, perhaps there is a big trade event taking place and the cost of all flights is well above the normal expected cost.  The idea of setting a per-trip budget isn’t flexible enough to accept these market fluctuations.

Additionally, flight prices get more expensive the closer a departure gets. Lowest logical fare, which travel managers love so much, is useless as the base is on time of booking.  Let’s say pre-booking approval takes one day on average, and you have 10,000 flights per year. Booking one day later WILL cause higher prices.

Traveler Intent

Then, there’s the question of purpose.  If your VIPs and C-suite executives need to travel, the price will “always” be within policy.

Who decides if a lesser-tier employee needs to travel or not?  As long as no reliable methodology for calculating the benefit of a business trip exists, you can only approve the business need, not the cost.

It is critical to inform the approving managers what the purpose is and give them the tools they need to approve or reject a trip immediately.   Trondent’s Authorizer PRO gives managers the option to Approve or Reject a travel request directly from the emailed notification.

Travel Utopia

In an ideal world, it’d be great to trust employees to use their own common sense and follow policy rules when they need to book travel.  If your goal is to make your employees feel valued and trusted, and create less work for admins and managers, you could remove all or most of your travel approvals!

But companies have a fundamental need to track every penny spent, especially after the Sarbanes Oxley Act.

With pre-trip approval, it is best to develop a system to handle total travel volume, and accommodate the exceptions.   Most pre-trip solutions on the market today stifle the complexity of corporate travel policy by stuffing them into basic platforms that allow for only a handful of workflow rules.

Trondent’s rule-chaining technology offers an unlimited number of rules available for an unlimited number of trip approvers of all levels within the organization.   The capacity for intricate workflows sets Authorizer PRO apart from any other trip solution today.

If you are ready to flip the switch on how your company handles pre-trip approvals, check out this Sample Workflow from Authorizer PRO.  It’s a moderately complex set of rules built into an automated workflow that saves the traveler and manager time and curbs excess spending.

For more information about how Trondent can improve your company’s pre-trip approval process, contact us today.

GDPR Data Security in the Travel Industry

Protecting consumer data has always been important, but as laws change, your organization has to rethink its practices. If you’re in the business travel industry, then understanding how the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, works is imperative to your success.

What makes the GDPR so vital for travel companies and corporate travel departments alike? Here’s what to know about successfully navigating the regulatory landscape.

What Is the GDPR?

The GDPR is a landmark 2016 law that’s too lengthy for most people to read through, besides most of us are already familiar with it. In brief, GDPR covers the personal data privacy rights of citizens of the European Union and European Economic Area. It touches on a range of topics, including

  • What counts as personal data,
  • People’s right to be forgotten, or demand the deletion of their data, and
  • People’s right to request their personal data from the companies that store it.

One of the most important aspects of the GDPR is that unlike earlier privacy laws, it explicitly defines several responsibilities for data controllers, or the companies that transmit, store, process and use personal information. Among other things, companies need to ensure that they

  • Create systems that intentionally include privacy features by design — not as afterthoughts
  • Maintain GDPR compliance governance systems
  • Adhere to strict terms when requesting consent to use data.

How the GDPR Directly Impacts the Business Travel Community

Why does all of this matter for business travel booking agencies and corporate travel departments? The GDPR has direct relevance on your operations because unless you’re living in some funky time warp where nobody uses computers, everything you do depends on the transmission and storage of data. From booking to billing, your organization routinely processes the kind of information that GDPR rules govern.

GDPR Compliance and Your Firm

Compliance can be particularly troublesome for the business travel industry. For instance, you contract with an external partner that provides white-label online booking portals or digital traveler’s insurance policies. The GDPR doesn’t excuse you from responsibility just because someone else is in charge of the technical nitty-gritty — your compliance governance practices must ensure that all of your third-party providers also follow the rules.

Remember that the GDPR still applies even if you aren’t living in the EU or Great Britain. If any of your clients are EU or GB citizens, then you need to comply.

If the scope of the law doesn’t have you convinced, then the potential penalties certainly should. Failing to protect someone’s data or promptly notify them of a breach could cost you as much as $23 million or four percent of your annual net sales.

The Realities of Data Security

One smart way to strengthen your security stance is to consider how data breaches typically occur and focus on defending those areas. Here are some vulnerabilities to watch out for:

  • Employee errors are among the most common sources of attacks.
  • Unsecured mobile devices and lax bring-your-own-device policies can dramatically increase the chances that attackers might find a way around your defenses.
  • Cloud storage companies and other third-party service providers that fail to manage their security properly can expose your entire organization to threats that are hard to detect.
  • Malicious attacks account for a significant portion of breaches, and they lead to some of the costliest fallout.

Fortify Your Stance With Trondent’s ProFILER Express

Complying with GDPR is a lot easier when you have the right tools. Trondent’s ProFILER Express is a web-based management solution that helps you follow the rules to better protect your users and clients.

Trondent has always taken data security very seriously and strongly believes in the principles and goals of GDPR.   With Trondent, your traveler is always in control of their information. They choose what they want to share, and they retain access to it. The system also restricts its data collection to exclude information that isn’t strictly necessary for travel.

Trondent controls the flow of personal information to keep you compliant with changing laws. Whenever the regulations — or your privacy and security statements — change or are updated?, the next time the traveler logs into his/her profile, the software automatically asks the user for their consent and generates a timestamped record of their agreement. Once it’s in the system, their data only gets synced to known, trustworthy targets such as the third-party providers you’ve vetted. If the traveler wants to be forgotten, their information is erased from all sources simultaneously. Thanks to a comprehensive HR feed system and reporting framework, you always know exactly where you stand and how to tackle problems, such as expired documents, inaccurate employee lists

Business travel is supposed to take you places, not hold you back. Trondent ProFILER Express features secure encryption, efficient breach notification functions and a host of other tools that make it simpler to follow the rules. Explore how a fully GDPR-compliant profile management system can make business travel more secure by getting in touch with a Trondent expert.

 

Most Effective Ways to Save on Corporate Travel

Large corporations with thousands of employees understand that travel and transportation expenses can mount rapidly.  There are cheats to save money like using Uber and Lyft, or packing small carry-on bags instead of checking luggage, but corporations have to think bigger than that.   Here are our recommendations to conserve corporate travel spend.

Use Travel Management Technology

Companies who aren’t taking advantage of travel management software platforms are turning their backs on efficiency and cost savings.  Implement a pre-trip authorization solution that cuts down on the time people spend manually reviewing trip requests as well as limiting the option for out-of-policy booking scenarios.   Consolidate all your traveler profile data into a web-based management system where they can maintain their own profiles.

Not only do travel software solutions streamline trip booking and approval processes, they empower executives with insights into employee spending that can mitigate risk.  Travel programs that do not consolidate policy and process leave room for errors and make it difficult to manage data or evaluate performance.

Hire Some “People”

Consider a partnership with skilled professionals at a travel management company to handle all of a company’s travel arrangements.  TMCs know tricks to save their corporate clients money on travel and they can be your best ally when negotiating preferential rates on airfare and hotels.  Because these pro’s have been in the industry so long, they also have invaluable insight on local laws, customs, climate, travel documentation and global travel advisories that you weren’t aware of.

Enforce Corporate Travel Policy

Reconsider whether your existing policy covers every area of travel spend and if it addresses employee satisfaction.  Then, enforce it.  With a formal policy and process in place, the travel department can be thrifty and efficient.  When employees know the travel policy, they submit the right paperwork up the chain of command until the trip is either approved or not based on the guidelines delineated by policy.  Fewer snags in the process lead employees to feel greater confidence in it, which also leads to better morale.   Employees know that their travel department cares about their comfort, convenience and safety based on the clear guidelines and processes set forth in the travel policy.

Use Travel Rewards

Planned correctly, airline rewards programs can save boatloads of cash for any company. Such programs include more than just getting the miles on flights too. For example, if you choose a certain airline to be “your airline,” then not only will you accrue miles for every flight your employees take, but you can also gain miles by issuing company credit cards that are associated with that airline to eligible employees. The Delta Reserve® American Express Card and JetBlue Plus Card are but two examples of such credit cards.

Co-branded credit cards for your employees are another great option. These cards are affiliated with several companies at once, so if your “travel people” have to book a flight with someone other than “your airline,” you can still accrue miles and possibly even assign them to the account associated with “your airline.” Attaching hotel bookings and car rentals to your miles account will also help build those miles totals.

Set Reasonable Food and Transport Costs

It’s easy to minimize these costs without sacrificing much. Rather than pay for transportation to the airport, it’s usually less expensive for employees to drive their own cars with you reimbursing them for mileage and parking later. When it comes to providing food for travelling employees, give them the control over what they eat. That ties in with the, “Don’t micromanage,” mantra. If you pay each employee a per diem, then that person can determine what to eat throughout the day within that allowance. Certain restaurants also have loyalty or rewards cards, so that can be a good way to cut down on costs too.

Plan Ahead

It’s always less expensive to buy tickets months beforehand than it is at the last minute. Being the professionals that they are, your TMC people will know this already. You can, however, give them a helpful nudge by asking them to provide you with a list of their cost-saving brainstorms. When they tell you about code-shares, off-peak windows, economy flights, redeye discounts, etc., give them approval with a smile.

If Possible, Use Technology Alternatives

Using FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, or other electronic communication particularly for quick meetings and other “base-touching” activities. If the company can achieve its goals without someone getting in the plane, train, or automobile, then that is a fine way to save.

Technology is not a substitute for getting in front of your clients and prospects though.   Business travel is a necessity for most corporations to foster meaningful personal interactions.   Face-to-face meetings contribute to networking, closing deals and signing new business.

Our team at Trondent understands the painful expense of travel to corporate budgets. That’s why we’ve developed travel software solutions to trim time and save corporations money.   Let us know if you are interested in the most advanced pre-trip authorization platform on the market today or our web-based profile management system, please reach out today!