How to Be a Corporate Travel Planning Expert

Corporate travel planning

Corporate travel planning is a full-time, maybe even an over-time, job. If you have travel planning on your plate on top of an exhaustive list of other to-dos, then you could probably use some tips, tools, and checklists to make your life easier. We’ve pulled together planning resources you can apply to any corporate travel planning scenario.

Corporate Travel Planning Tips

Follow these pro-tips to make corporate travel planning smooth and efficient for each and every trip. 

1. Develop a corporate travel planning guidebook. The guidebook simply outlines resources and approaches that have worked well for you. It allows anyone to jump in and help with travel plans without “reinventing the wheel.” Plus, if you go months without making travel plans, then the guidebook will help you remember the best practices you established (but possibly forgot about) since your last planning session. Here’s what to include in your guidebook:

  • Approval processes. Can you book a hotel room without the boss’s approval, or do you need to run it by a whole committee first?
  • Preferred vendors, hotels, and travel services. You could spend hours researching flights and hotels and never detect any discernible differences, except maybe marginally different price points. (In other words, what seems like due diligence can be a waste of time in the world of travel planning.) Once you select your preferred travel resources, you can go straight to those and bypass hours of preliminary research. Returning to the same resources creates consistency, makes it easy to share travel planning responsibilities, and saves your company money by taking best advantage of loyalty programs. (See Tip #2.)

2. Select preferred travel vendors, sign up for loyalty programs, and save. Even corporate travel experts swear by this tip, according to Business Insider. To the casual traveler, loyalty programs may seem to promise empty rewards. But to repeat business travel customers, the loyalty program perks and savings add up. Join programs for as many travel vendors as possible—airlines, car services, hotel chains, restaurants, trains, gas stations, and more.

3. Establish cut-off budgets for each (generally) flexible travel expense. (For example, you may decide hotel rooms should never exceed $300 per night.)

4. Record the ideal booking window for each travel service, based on your experience. Maybe you should book a car service 1 week in advance, a hotel 1 month in advance, and a flight 2 months in advance.

5. Make note of vendors who offer deals because you know them well or because you have negotiated in the past.

6. Spring for an airport lounge membership. Like loyalty programs, lounge memberships may seem unnecessary for the thrifty, casual traveler, but for companies and frequent business travelers, an airport lounge has major benefits. Travelers can get some work done, take naps in between flights, hop on conference calls, network with other travelers, or even entertain travel companions that might also happen to be clients or prospective clients

7. Prioritize airlines that boast on-time flights. One of INC’s most-loved travel hacks, favoring transport services that arrive and depart on time can save travelers loads of time and stress. Plus, one delayed long-distance flight could jeopardize the success of an entire trip due to missed connections, time zone hopping, and more.

Corporate Travel Planning Tools

Corporate Travel Planning Tools

Time Zone Ninja

Time Zone Ninja makes scheduling meetings and events across time zones a breeze.

Why it’s awesome: The interface does the work of calculating times for you, so you never have to figure out exactly what time it will be at a different date or location.

TripIt
TripIt lets you organize information from flights, hotels, restaurants, and car rentals in one place. It even has an automated itinerary feature for sharing key information with your travelers.

Why it’s awesome: This tool essentially builds itineraries for you. You book the travel arrangements and forward confirmation emails to TripIt. The tool adds all the details to your master itinerary.

Expensify

This tool will change the way you handle travel expenses.

Why it’s awesome: Expensify automates the travel expensing process. Scan your receipts to prompt Expensify to generate and submit a report on your behalf. Expensify even has a feature for capturing travel-related transactions and creating reports to help you track the overall cost of a trip.

Hotel Check In

As You Stay
Use this app to book a room for just a few hours and accommodate a variety of arrival and departure needs.

Why it’s awesome: This app frees you from the constraints of the typical hotel check-in and check-out times. Just download the app and enter your hotel location and preferences, and the app provides options that suit your needs.

Concur

Concur features integrated technology that revolutionizes the way you track travel expenses.

Why it’s awesome: It provides deep visibility into expense tracking and even expense projecting. Planners can get a comprehensive look at travel expenses before, during, and after travel.

Award Wallet

Track all your award programs in one place with Award Wallet.

Why it’s awesome: By keeping track of your awards, Award Wallet helps you maximize (and best use) your rewards.

SkyRoam

Get a device and a data subscription to enjoy unlimited WiFi everywhere you go.

Why it’s awesome: With SkyRoam, travelers can truly rest assured that they can get work done using WiFi in any place, at any time.

GroundLink

This service makes it easy to book drivers in major cities around the world.

Why it’s awesome: The service has thought of all the details that truly make a business traveler’s life easier. GroundLink will track your flight to adjust pickup times, and it even provides 100% transparent prices before booking.

Transit App

Transit App says their service started with one question: “When will my ride get here?” The app lets you check real-time nearby transit information right from your phone.

Why it’s awesome: You can enter journey details to get real-time guidance and updates from the app. You’ll see how many stops you have left,  when you need to catch your transit, and more.

World Nomads

This travel insurance company helps make corporate travel safer and smarter.

Why it’s awesome: This company helps travelers rest assured that they will be taken care of if things go wrong during a trip.

GetThere

This online travel management resource helps you manage every aspect of corporate travel planning.

Why it’s awesome: The tool has a travel policy integration option that makes established travel planning rules easy to follow.

WikiTravel

The minds that created your favorite free encyclopedia have also created a massive crowd-sourced travel guide.

Why it’s awesome: Real travelers write the WikiTravel content, so you can be sure the information and tips you get will be relevant and useful. Each location even has Stay Safe and Stay Healthy sections to help soothe and inform anxious travelers. 

Trippy

Get answers to your most tricky travel questions—the ones even not even Google can answer.

Why it’s awesome: When you want travel information, you usually want to talk to someone who has been where you’re going; you want answers from someone with first-hand experience. Using Trippy, you can get that safe advice without abandoning the comfort of your computer.

Corporate Travel Go-To Checklists

Travel Checklist

Travel Checklist:

  • Book outgoing transportation
  • Book returning transportation
  • Book intermediary travel
  • Book lodging
  • Create shareable itineraries
  • Book meetings and events and update calendars
  • Purchase all relevant passes and tickets
  • Make copies of relevant documents, including passports, identification cards, and tickets
  • Finalize all presentations and elevator pitches
  • Create and print a sheet of critical travel contacts
  • Move home meetings and engagements overlapping with travel dates
  • Create crucial before-departure to-do list
  • Create and share packing checklist

Packing Checklist:

  • Outfits for each day
  • Pajamas
  • Workout clothes
  • Work essentials, including work computers, phones, and headsets
  • IDs and passports
  • Footwear
  • Power adapters
  • Books
  • Notebooks
  • Business cards
  • Maps and printouts 
  • Itinerary documents
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Reservation printouts
  • First aid kit, including medications 

Corporate Travel Planning Templates

Corporate Travel Planning Itinerary

Use these lists as quick go-to templates to establish, record, and share relevant trip details. As you’ll see from the list below, you can swap out just a few key details to plan for different kinds of travel.

Sales Travel

  • Overall arrival time and date:
  • Overall departure time and date:
  • Lodging check-in date and time:
  • Lodging check-out date and time:
  • Dates, times, durations, and locations for each sales meeting:
  • In-between meeting transportation details:
  • Meal times:
  • Break times:

Conference Travel

  • Overall arrival time and date:
  • Overall departure time and date:
  • Lodging check-in date and time:
  • Lodging check-out date and time:
  • Dates, times, durations, and locations for each conference session:
  • Dates, times, durations, and locations for each networking session:
  • Dates, times, durations, and locations for attendee meetings:
  • Work windows:
  • Meal times:
  • Conference break times:

Pitch-Meeting Travel

  • Overall arrival time and date:
  • Overall departure time and date:
  • Lodging check-in date and time:
  • Lodging check-out date and time:
  • Dates, times, durations, and locations for each pitch meeting:
  • Detailed itinerary for each pitch meeting:
  • Meal times:

Retreat Travel

  • Overall arrival time and date:
  • Overall departure time and date:
  • Lodging check-in date and time:
  • Lodging check-out date and time:
  • Detailed itinerary for each day:
  • Relaxation windows:
  • Meal times:

What are your favorite corporate travel planning tips? Let us know in the comments below!