Travel Management

Applying the four D's to reduce your business trip volume

Line Itani
Growth Analyst

Covid-19 has vastly impacted businesses over the past few months, halting a lot of their activity. As things are slowly going back to normal, while the risk of a second wave still lures above our heads, companies are trying to find ways to go back to their pre-pandemic growth. And while corporate travel is essential to growth in many industries, we believe there is a way to control business travel by reducing its volume and optimising maintained trips.

To tackle this issue in a more organised fashion, this article will think of corporate travel with the four productivity D’s framework as a lens.


Review travel policy and define what is essential and what is non-essential travel.

Covid’s sanitary and economic effects have indeed forced companies to rethink their travel budgets and policies. To make sure no resource is spent on corporate travel that could otherwise be avoided, review your travel policy and guidelines. To begin, take the basic combination of reason for travel and type of travel into consideration. A typical example you might get is long haul same-day travel for an internal meeting. Such flights should no longer take place in the times of Covid. Consider setting up a ban or strict approval process for such use cases.

For one thing Covid’s unusual situation sure taught us is that even the least tech-literate will learn how to use video communication platforms and attend their meetings when push comes to shove (with the risk of just a few mishaps). Setting up a video conference instead of a physical meeting demanding travel will surely do it. Make sure your employees ‘treat’ a video meeting with as much seriousness as they would a business trip.

Do not forget to communicate this change in your travel policy, making employees responsible to self-regulate.


Specify who can travel.

On many occasions, business trips are conducted by a group of people going to meet prospective clients, or presenting their offers to a new market. While in number there is indeed strength, it might be time to evaluate who your strongest players are before planning your next move. If one or two employees can effectively do the job of a group, send only these. Here again, it might be relevant to review your policy to include which employees or role holders are allowed to travel in these times.

Otherwise, if two meetings are set in the same country by two different employees or groups, consider delegating the tasks at hand to one of the groups, optimising a trip to hit two or more birds with a single stone.


Organisation and scheduling can go a long way.

If some internal or external meetings must absolutely take place, do not delete or delegate them. However, plan them with precision knowing when the best time to do them is. For this, it’ll be important that you keep an eye on all of your employees’ travel schedules as visibility on their current and future whereabouts will allow you to schedule meetings according to locations.

Let’s assume an employee has an internal meeting. You’d usually just pick a date and book a flight. Make sure you check in with the person they’re meeting beforehand to see if they are not travelling to your location soon. If so, delay or pool those meetings together.

To make things simpler for external meetings, it’ll be important to communicate with other firms’ travel managers, or ideally have this information centralised on a travel platform allowing you access it anytime anywhere.


Some tasks, some trips, some meetings are simply too important to miss. But which?

When all else fails, one must think of prioritising and diminishing. For sales teams, structure motives by looking at sales’ advancement stage. If it’s near closing, prefer in-person meetings to online ones. If the sale is in qualification stage, make do with videoconferencing. If otherwise, you have regular meetings with clients and/or suppliers, you can negotiate reducing the frequency of meetings, or replacing some meetings with video-conferencing.

Make sure your teams are clear on which are the most important trips to have. Here too, you might want to discuss with stakeholders what makes a trip “worth the investment” (e.g. meeting with big clients, pitching to land an important deal, etc.) and communicate the information with your teams.

For trips that must be carried out, check out this article, which will help you reduce your travel spend by 30%. You can also make use of our Travel Savings Calculator which will help you get a full view on where you could make significant savings on travel.

To sum up, corporate travel does not necessarily have to stop altogether. Companies must, however, find ways to optimise their travel program. Whether it be by canceling some trips, delegating others, re-scheduling, or simply diminishing to make the best of an investment, all options are viable as long as they are clearly communicated to your teams.

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