July 17, 2024

How to… set up a travel programme from scratch

Find out how a company with no travel policy, formal processes or tools in place went about setting up a travel programme.


A property management company with an annual travel spend of around £800,000 needed a one-stop-shop for all of its online and offline travel bookings. The client had no travel policy and staff had previously arranged their own trips on an ad-hoc basis. The key objectives were to drive compliance with a new set of guidelines, offer booking functionality for all travel types, and have complete visibility of bookings and spend.


The business turned to CTM for its first foray into managed travel. With no formal processes or tools in place, the priority was to engage employees and explain how a new way of working would deliver tangible benefits.


CTM had a blank sheet of paper to work with, which can present opportunities and challenges to TMCs.

As well as devising a new travel policy, of equal importance was the need for a structured company-wide training programme for more than 1,000 employees.
Given the client’s need for advanced booking functionality, CTM rolled out an online booking tool, Lightning, that allowed all trip components to be booked in a single process, saving time previously spent trawling through comparison sites.

Travel polices were embedded within Lightning, which trigger ‘guilt’ screens when the cheapest option isn’t selected for rail and air bookings. Hotel rate caps were set for London and several other major cities, and Business and First-class options were turned off for flights.

CTM’s management reporting means the client has a greater insight into the number and type of bookings being made. This made for easier invoicing, and helped further savings by encouraging smarter buying behaviours, such as switching to off-peak rail tickets.

The final step was CTM’s Traveller Education Programme. Face-to-face booker engagement workshops were held on site at the client’s head office over a four-day period, with web-based follow-up sessions for anyone that wasn’t able to attend or for those that had any further questions.


The entire implementation process took six weeks and saw 1,025 travel bookers loaded into the new system along with all existing negotiated hotel rates.

First year savings reached almost £45,000, with 81% of this coming from rail spend. In year two, the figure was £66,400. By August 2019, online adoption hit 98.8%.

“The training sessions were great,” said one staff member. “They focused on encouraging the right behaviour and aided smarter buying. The system was simple to put in place and is really propelling us forward as a business.”