Why employee safety is crucial during self-booked business travel: Tips for employers

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The flexible working conditions brought on by the pandemic have paved the way for self-booking becoming the norm among business travellers. But how can companies tap into this growing trend and keep their workers happy, while fulfilling their duty of care and maintaining employee safety?

Now that the summer season has wound down, many industries are having a busy autumn.  Conferences and events are gearing up to take place, and companies are facing increased pressure to let their employees get back on the roads – or into the skies – to do business face-to-face once again. 

However, employees now expect a more flexible day-to-day work set-up, and this extends to travel. Rigid, complex travel policies could well be seen as outdated by younger employees. Self-booking can mean more freedom, more choice and more flexibility over their business trips. Travelers today want the same experiences when traveling for work as they do for leisure. 

According to Skift, more than two thirds of employees are already using self-booking tools to book their own business trips. If your company doesn’t have a self-service platform in place, that could mean that your employees are using tools that haven’t been approved. Rogue bookings can lead to a multitude of safety issues, so how can you enable your employees to book their own travel, without compromising on your duty of care?

Deploy a self-booking platform 

There are many travel management systems (TMS) available that enable employees to book company-approved travel in one place. These platforms centralise all bookings, which means that companies are aware of the details of their employees’ trips, and can therefore keep in touch with them throughout their journeys.  

Increase travel options

Once you’ve got a self-serve booking platform in place, it’s time to decide which travel options you want to make available to your teams. There’s no one-size-fits-all in business travel; some people may want a lively hotel close to city centres so they can enjoy leisure activities in the evenings after work, whereas others might prefer a quiet space out of town. The more flight options and accommodation types you can offer, the less likely employees will be to make bookings outside of the platform. Remember, employees will want to create an itinerary that works for them, so help them to do so by giving them choice and ownership over their travel.

Set boundaries on peer-to-peer sites

Peer-to-peer accommodation sites like Airbnb can often be popular among traveling employees.  However, many companies do not allow bookings through these platforms. If your company does let employees self-book such accommodation, you can help keep them safe during their trips by setting boundaries on which types of properties they can book, and by ensuring that they input the details of the trip into a centralized system.

Keep contact details up-to-date

One of the most important ways you can help keep your travellers safe is by having their up to date contact details on file. It might sound basic, but you should do regular checks on people’s phone numbers and email addresses; out of date info could mean your employees are unreachable in the event of an emergency.

Import bookings

When using self-booking tools that are not approved by the company, employees risk being without proper support if anything should go wrong on their travels, such as flight delays and cancellations. Companies can help prevent this by ensuring they have a way to integrate non-compliant bookings into their systems, so that they can communicate important travel information and offer support if needed.

Consider the importance of human interaction

Where self-service can fall down is during emergencies – like cancelled and delayed flights, or visa issues. When this happens, business travellers will likely need support from an agent. If you offer a self-booking platform, consider employing a travel management company alongside that can help and advise your employees when they need to speak to someone.

Include ground travel

Many existing self-booking platforms don’t incorporate ground travel.  However, this is a key element of a business travellers’ trip, with its own set of risks attached. Consider deploying a ground transportation management platform, through which employees can book their own taxis at the tap of a button. 

A platform like Gett has instant access to thousands of approved providers, meaning a ride is never far away. Within this platform, you can save your favourite providers, save frequent routes and send messages to your employees. There’s also a consumer-grade app, which gives business travellers the same ride hailing experience they may be used to in their personal lives.

In conclusion, self-booking can save your company time, money and resources, while keeping employees motivated and empowered. Making sure you have a robust, modern self-serve platform in place can reduce rogue bookings and help ensure employee safety is maintained throughout each trip – from start to finish.