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Managed vs. Unmanaged Business Travel: What Are The Key Differences?

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There are a number of distinctions between a managed travel program and an unmanaged one. At a minimum, these are some of the key differentiators to be aware of.


Pillar-Page-Mock-Up_03Quantifiable Business Travel Savings and Increased Buying Power

In an unmanaged environment, travellers book through a variety of sources to compare their options and your ability to ensure they received the best price is extremely limited. 

By comparison, a managed environment offers a number of ways to support cost savings

  • Instant access to the best-priced option, which falls within the parameters of your travel policy, eliminating comparison shopping and improving traveller productivity
  • Access to exclusive corporate travel discounts, including your own contracted rates, if applicable
  • Thorough data capture and analysis, providing a comprehensive snapshot of your travel program. This is used to identify areas for savings and support negotiations with suppliers
  • Unused ticket management

With significant buying power and long-standing supplier relationships, a TMC can also offer you support as you negotiate contract agreements with air, hotel, and car suppliers. 


Pillar-Page-Mock-Up_06Risk Management: Traveller Safety & Duty of Care

How do you support your business travellers if the unexpected occurs? One of the most problematic areas of unmanaged travel is a lack of visibility into traveller movements, compromising your organization’s ability to deliver duty of care to travelling employees. With no immediate way to identify where travellers are and a limited means of monitoring events which could be impacting your travellers–from flight cancellations to political unrest to natural disasters–effective travel risk management is challenging at best.

A TMC supports you with a series of tools to automate and improve risk management, such as travel alerts, incident monitoring, traveller tracking, and after-hours emergency service for your travellers. With these solutions in place, your travellers will have proactive support any time of day, no matter where work takes them. 


Pillar-Page-Mock-Up_08Data Capture

If your travel is unmanaged, and your travel bookings are spread across multiple sources, consolidated data is unavailable – a significant missed opportunity for your company to reduce spend. A TMC captures extensive data about your travel program, consolidates it, and proactively monitors it to identify opportunities to improve your company’s spend.

This data provides you with: 

  • Insight into your travel volume, which is used as leverage when you’re preparing for supplier negotiations
  • Strong insight into traveller behaviour. Are your travellers often booking last minute? Could you reduce spend if they booked earlier? How many bookings are out-of-policy?
  • The ability to benchmark your travel program’s performance against comparable companies


There are a vast number of apps, booking sites, and other tools available for travel. However, when you’re travelling for business, it’s important to keep in mind that consumer-grade technology cannot deliver the cost savings, data capture, policy enforcement, or risk management solutions that corporate travel booking software can.

In a managed travel program, you benefit from fully integrated technology intended for corporate travel. This improves each of those key areas while also providing your travellers with multiple booking methods and improving manual processes such as travel approval and unused ticket tracking. 


Pillar-Page-Mock-Up_12Traveller Experience

In order to gain the buy-in of your travellers, a successful travel program needs to prioritize their experience. Business travel management services offer your travellers a number of benefits they cannot secure on their own, helping them improve productivity, stay within policy, and access the best itinerary option for their trips with ease. This eliminates hours of time spent comparison shopping so they can focus on the purpose of their trip.

Plus, your travellers can access 24/7 support from corporate travel consultants for all aspects of their travel, from visa and passport requirements to ticket refunds and exchanges. If your travellers need assistance in the middle of the night when the unexpected occurs, they’re not alone. 


Pillar-Page-Mock-Up_14Travel Policy

How do you your travellers know what they can and cannot book? How is it enforced? How do you hold accountability?

When you work with a TMC, you have assistance to develop your travel policy and support it through programmable enforcement, for both online and offline bookings. Policy adoption is also a key area of focus, with the ability to flag and report on out-of-policy bookings.

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The Importance of a Travel Policy

Travel Policy (1)



Working With a Travel Management Company (TMC) to Create a Travel Program

With an understanding of your objectives, culture, – and most importantly – what makes your business travel unique, a TMC creates a program to help you achieve your travel-related goals and improve the ROI generated from your business travel.

Because no two companies have the same business travel needs, no two travel programs should be the exact same. Whether you’re a mining company facilitating crew movement in hard-to-reach places, an entertainment company who requires VIP treatment for your talent, or a fast-paced tech start-up, every organization’s travel will have nuances which make it completely unique. A TMC must understand what your company needs, and what your travellers want, to help you strike a perfect balance of both, delivering a program perfectly adapted for you to produce results.



Choosing a TMC

Choosing a TMC which will be a good fit for your organization is an important decision. The best business travel management companies will treat the opportunity as a partnership and take the time to really understand your needs and how they may assist you with them.

As a starting point, it’s important to involve each of the stakeholders in your organization who are invested in the travel program, such as finance, administration, HR, and security, to ensure everyone is on the same page. From there, identify the key objectives for your travel program and what a TMC partnership should look like to help you achieve them.

You’ll want to define questions which will help you identify: 

  • How flexible is the TMC? Should your travel needs change, how scalable would your travel program be? How long does it take to react to shifting priorities?
  • What is their roadmap for the future, including technology investments?
  • Can the TMC offer global travel management?
  • Can you secure references from both clients and industry partners?
  • What support will the travellers have? The travel arrangers? The travel manager?
  • Will you have an account manager and if so, what services do they provide? What is their response time?
  • What is the TMC’s approach to cost containment?
  • Is the TMC a good fit with your company culture? Can you meet the people who will actually service your account?
  • How long has the TMC been in business and where are they located?
  • What products and services are in their portfolio and how do they meet your needs? For example: online booking tools, travel approval, unused ticket management, 24/7 support, risk management tools, meetings and event services, etc.
  • Can they fulfill all of your reporting requirements? How often will those reports be available? In what format?
  • Are there any additional perks or benefits to you and your travellers, such as leisure travel benefits?

Change Management

As you narrow down potential partners for your business travel management services, it’s important to have a discussion about change management.  

The prospect of change can be unnerving for some people, but the best business travel management companies will put a plan into place to minimize disruption as well as gain the buy-in of your key stakeholders and your travellers. During TMC selection, inquire about what resources they will apply to ensure you have a smooth implementation which meets your organization’s objectives while overcoming any concerns your employees may have.


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Vision Travel: Who We Are and What We Do

Founded in 1953, Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company, is proudly recognized as one of the largest, most influential and fastest growing travel management companies in North America. We offer a full range of business travel solutions— in addition to corporate meetings, incentive travel, and leisure travel services—to help companies expand their business through strategic travel. In Canada, we have more than 50 offices located across the country, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and many more. 

A Strategy-by-Client Approach

We see every travel program as a partnership. We work closely with you to understand your needs and objectives as they relate to your travel, identifying your current challenges and customizing a solution just for you. Our approach ensures your program remains agile and flexible with a focus on savings and improved efficiencies, without compromising the traveller experience.


Vision Travel 2018 Corporate Video