Getting a grip on travel

Christopher Airey gives his tips on how charities can save money when booking travel

Christopher Airey
Christopher Airey

Despite a healthy distaste for the environmental impact of travel, the voluntary sector spends hundreds of millions of pounds every year moving people around the globe.

It's an area where real efficiencies can be delivered for charities but is sometimes overlooked. If you don’t know whether your organisation has a travel management policy, don’t have an overview of your travel spend or a strong handle on the who, what and how of travel being booked in your organisation, a good starting point would be to look at the following:

Work out your current travel footprint – take time out and audit your travel in a certain period at your organisation, so you can build up a picture of the scale, frequency and type of travel being undertaken as well as the number of people who are booking that travel. Also, look at the environmental record of the companies you will use as part of the travel arranged, such as airlines and hotels, to find out their policies and what they are doing to offset the impact of the services they provide.

Rationalise travel booking activity – once you have a handle on the amount and type of travel bookings taking place in your organisation and how it is all being booked, take more control over it by designating a smaller number of people to take on the task of travel booking. This doesn’t need to be onerous or complex and you can set up some guidelines that work for you and your staff.

Help staff book better – a travel management policy should include advice and guidance on how to book travel as efficiently as possible, freeing staff to get on with their core activities. This could include a list of approved suppliers, some exemplar bookings on regular destinations and estimates of the price range they should be looking for, plus a peer enquiry system to find out if anyone else is making a booking at the same time, so you can save on fees and time spent.

Regularly report back on travel management – ensure travel management is a regular item at the appropriate senior management meetings, so it is actively discussed and acted upon if changes are needed. This might include getting senior approval for developing an approved supplier’s list that meets your organisation’s logistical, ethical and environmental needs and actively saves you money.

Provide advice to staff on destinations – many staff will be heading into the unknown, so develop a simple guide or series of signposts for common destinations, including visa requirements, currency explanations (including when and where to change money), local customs and travel options and approaches in country.

Christopher Airey is the client solutions director at Diversity Travel

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