Business Travel Definitions – What is pre-trip Approval?

3 min read

As the name suggests, pre-trip approval it is the process which gives businesses the opportunity to gain maximum control of their corporate travel policy by requiring approval to be given for a business trip before it takes place. The approach selected must match each organisation’s culture and strategic objectives in addition to adhering to any business travel policy set by the company.

Pre-trip approvals can be managed internally within businesses but can also be built in at booking level within Online Booking Tools, when using an offline travel solution, a good Travel Management Company will incorporate an approval procedure to meet client’ requirements as part of their travel services.  

Approval processes aren’t always about cost; some businesses like to individually approve all trips, so they know where their employees are going to manage risk, and rightly so. However, there are other less time-intensive ways of recording this information.

Speak to your corporate travel company about how you can be alerted by email when someone books a trip to a high-risk destination or how you can view a real-time dashboard of all current and upcoming trips. You could be emailed a report each day with any new bookings, so you know exactly what has been booked without your employees taking valuable time out of their day to let you know where they’re heading. Your corporate travel agent will be able to advise you on how technology can be leveraged to save time within your business and also improve the processes you currently have in place.

The fundamentals of pre trip approval:

#1 Why?

Why does travel need to be approved? Building the strategy and process around the reason why approval is required is key to ensuring understanding by all stakeholders. Once understanding is met at a high level it can be transpired down to all relevant parties.

#2 What?

What is being approved? The ‘go / no-go’ principle needs to be clarified beforehand alongside any costs of the trip itself. It’s also critical that your pre-trip approval system works consistently whether a booking is made online or offline through a live agent.

#3 Who?

Establish who will be approving the trips, as well as who can approve in their absence, with automated methods used wherever possible.

#4 When?

Determine a specific date when business trip approvals need to be actioned. Stick to the set date and try not to bend the rules as it creates a solid approval strategy.  

#5 How?

How will the process work, and what automation can be applied? Always ask your Travel Management Company for advice on this as they are well practiced on aligning business travel goals to a company’s objectives through travel policy and pre-trip approval.

To avoid too many approvals, why not only request approval for bookings that are out of policy? A solid approval process, aligned with a savings programme and analysis, can lead to significant cost savings and travel policy compliance essential to the management of a company’s business travel activity.

TOP TIP- Most good corporate travel companies can implement automated approval processes that follow a hierarchy to make sure the trip gets approved quickly. So if approver A is on holiday, the approval request will automatically go to approver B and so on. Replacing a manual approval process with an automated one, will ensure only approved trips are booked, but also remove some of the tension old fashioned approval processes can cause.