The charity sector and its unique travel requirements

The charity sector and its unique travel requirements
Phone:+45 4363 2266

When it comes to business travel, organisations all have very different priorities and their needs can vary widely from one sector to another. That's why managed travel services are often employed, as they help companies streamline their travel programmes and access expert support and assistance.  

For the voluntary sector, travel management services can be particularly beneficial, since charities and not-for-profit organisations have complex travel requirements that can be both irregular and unpredictable, making budgeting and planning a difficult task.

Cost management

Cost management is essential for any organisation running a business travel programme, as high levels of expenditure on air fares, hotels and car hire can have a big impact on the company's bottom line and can lead to reduced profitability.

But for the voluntary sector generating profits is not the goal; it's about raising funds for projects that further a charity's philanthropic aims. Any spending on staff travel, though essential in many cases, will eat into the funds that the organisation has available to dedicate to its causes.

That's one of the many reasons why managed travel services can make such a big difference to not-for-profit organisations, particularly those working on projects overseas where travel to and from far-flung destinations becomes an unavoidable cost.

Travel management companies (TMCs) that specialise in charity travel, or that run charity travel divisions, are able to access sector specific fares for their clients. These are discounted fares that are negotiated exclusively for charity travellers, and they provide significant savings on standard fares.

In an environment where economic difficulties have led to a reduction in charitable donations, and therefore lower incomes for charities, every penny really does count, which means that taking advantage of these kinds of discounts is essential.  

And they are not just available on air travel. TMCs can also access specially negotiated hotel deals for their clients to bring down the cost of accommodation, and find the most competitive fares on rail travel as well as the best deals on car hire and other related travel cost.

What's more, working with a TMC means charities have a variety of options when it comes to meeting travel costs. They can pay up front, pay on departure or they can be billed for their travel expenses and pay retrospectively. This gives them the flexibility they need to manage their budgets in an uncertain environment, where sudden emergencies may require a quick financial response.

Complex travel requirements

Within some businesses, travel patterns can be very predictable. Employees may travel back and forth between one office and another, making frequent, regular trips with the same airline and staying in the same hotel for a similar length of time.

Charity travel can be the complete opposite. A not-for-profit organisation that responds to natural and humanitarian disasters, for example, will have no set travel patterns and will need to react quickly to events happening around the world.

The sector specific fares that TMCs can access for their charity clients are offered under flexible terms. For example, they can be held provisionally without commitment, giving charities time to confirm their travel plans, and they often allow for changes or cancellations with no or minimal fees.

This helps not-for-profit organisations to avoid the indirect costs that are often associated with making uncertain, complex or last-minute travel arrangements. Special deals on one-way tickets can also be of huge benefit, particularly if staff are sent to one destination and are required to reroute and respond to another event instead of coming home.

Another advantage of managed travel for the charity sector is the support and assistance that is provided by a specialist TMC. Charity staff are often travelling to obscure corners of the world in poverty stricken regions where accommodation of a decent standard can be difficult to find, where transport links are severely lacking and where visa and entry requirements can vary widely.

What's more, the nature of the disasters, emergencies and crises happening in these areas means that delays and cancellations to travel arrangements due to conflicts, adverse weather conditions and industrial action are common. Negotiating these would be a complex and difficult task without a TMC dedicated to the job.

And finally, the kind of reporting offered by TMCs can be invaluable to a charity client, since compliance is extremely important within the third sector. Reports can give charities maximum visibility into the movement of their employees and allow them to identify instances of non-compliance as well as areas for future potential savings.

How can charity TMCs go further for their clients?

Charity TMCs work hard to deliver the best value and customer service possible to their clients, but their efforts can be hampered if they are bogged down by paperwork and administrative tasks. That's why a mid-back office solution like ProTAS from ProCon Solution can help them go even further for their clients.

By automating manual processes with ProTAS, TMCs can streamline their own workflow - from collecting bookings to invoicing and generating reports - boost staff productivity and free up valuable time that can be spent on front office tasks, customer service and that all important 24-7 support.

The system also allows TMCs to provide their clients with as wide a choice as possible when it comes to airlines and air fares, because it is GDS-independent. This means suppliers can be chosen regardless of their GDS-affiliation - an attractive prospect for charity clients who may be travelling to remote locations where travel options are already limited.

When it comes to reporting solutions, TMCs can use ProTAS to produce tailored, data-rich reports for their clients that provide a transparent overview of where staff are travelling to and how much they are spending, so that trends can be identified and charities can adjust their travel policies to make further savings and efficiencies.

Get in touch with ProCon Solution today to find out how ProTAS can help your charity travel management organisation deliver a better service to your clients and gain a competitive advantage over others in the marketplace.

ProCon Solution A/S
Herstedøstervej 27-29
DK-2620 Albertslund
Phone: +45 4363 2266