Travel Management

7 must-have features in a Travel Management System

Discover the 7 key features of a Travel Management System and how they can help you streamline bookings, save money, and enhance your employees' business travel experience.

When you’re researching solutions to help you manage your business travel, it’s easy to get lost in all the options. The market is flooded with different booking tools and software solutions, all offering the latest and greatest features, making it hard to block out the noise. Staying focussed on the features that will add value to your organization is key, because it means you’ll spend less time researching every single option, and focus on the ones that will elevate your employees’ travel experience, and take the strain out of managing the whole process. In this series, we’ll take you through some of the questions you should be asking yourself as a business, and the key features you should expect from a leading travel management system. 

What is a Travel Management System (TMS)? 

A Travel Management System (TMS), also referred to as a Travel Management Company (TMC) or Travel Management Software is a type of online tool or software that makes it easy and cost-effective for businesses to book and manage their business travel in one place. Travel Management Systems come in lots of shapes and sizes, so it’s important to identify what is important to your business when you’re choosing one, but also spend some time reflecting on the challenges you face as a business, and how a software solution like a Travel Management System can help. 

How do you know if you need a Travel Management System?

Before you can answer that question, it's important to evaluate how you manage your business travel now, and whether the system you have in place can sustain your business longer term. Here are 5 areas to look at:  

1. Examine how you book your business travel

Identify how you book your travel today to see what the main challenges are with that approach. Do you have a centralized approach, or is everyone booking travel themselves? It’s time to find out. To gather this information, you should consider setting up a meeting with the person (or people) responsible for booking your company’s business travel. Alternatively, you could conduct a short survey with questions about how people are booking their travel. The purpose is to understand how the system works now, and if your employees are satisfied with the way it’s working. 

2. Get an overview of your annual travel expenses

Collect your travel data and business expenses from the last 12 months - this will help reveal the full extent of your travel activity and company spending, which may be surprising! The data you collect should include everything from flights, taxis, hotels, trains and any expenses that employees claim from business trips. This will give you a better understanding of where the majority of your travel budget is being spent, but it may also underline the need for a central system to keep track of all of this information!

3. Look at your organizational set-up

Take a look at your company set up - in larger businesses, there may be a specific person responsible for booking travel, but that’s not a luxury that all businesses have. Smaller businesses with fewer employees may be responsible for booking and managing their own travel. Understanding your company set up will help determine what sort of travel management solution you need, and whether it should be fully outsourced, or whether you still want to keep some control internally, or a hybrid solution where you get a bit of both.  

4. Consider any regulatory requirements you may have 

Consider any compliance or regulatory requirements you have - no two businesses are the same in this regard. For example, if you’re a company with lots of suppliers working for you, and you want to make sure they’re all booking to specific guidance or budget restrictions you’ve set, a travel management system may be the best way to keep control of this. Equally, as a business you need to make sure that your employees are safe when they’re traveling, so adhering to a “Duty of Care” policy will be a key part of that effort.  

5. Consider what travel emissions data you need

As a business, you’re likely to be facing increased pressure to track your business travel emissions according to the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). Even if this is not yet the case, most businesses are now required to disclose their emissions if they work with larger organizations that are required to do this. Understanding the level to which you need to track and report on your travel related emissions will help determine if this is a feature you’d like in your Travel Management System. 


The 7 must-have features in a Travel Management System 

No two travel management systems are exactly the same and the types of features you need may vary based on your company size and set up, but nevertheless there are still a few main features you could expect from a good one: 

  • Online booking software
    This is the way that employees can book their travel, including flights, trains, cars and hotels, all from a central online platform. A good travel management system will have a comprehensive choice of options that are updated constantly, and that offer the best market rates. For companies that have agreed discounts with certain hotels (because they travel regularly), these should be able to be integrated into that system.

  • In built approval flows
    This is specific authorization that’s put in place to approve or deny travel requests, expenses or bookings. This is helpful because it automates how you approve travel - meaning that the travel manager, team lead or even CEO doesn’t need to review every travel booking. It’s all agreed up front and employees can only book what’s been authorized according to the type of trip or their seniority level. 

  • Expense management
    This is a way for travel managers to keep an eye on travel costs and expenses from employee travel. A lot of this expense tracking typically takes quite a fragmented approach, meaning that it’s hard to get a good sense of what a company is spending on travel specifically. A lot of travel management systems offer expense integration, meaning you can integrate your expense management system into a central piece of software.  

  • Customer support
    This is the team of professionals that can help you change, amend or cancel any of your travel bookings. If you’re not getting excellent customer support from your Travel Management System, you may as well be booking on or any other leisure platform. Travel management systems are designed to support business travelers, with the understanding that there are a lot of last minute changes that need to be made. Good customer support should be timely and come from trained travel agents available around the clock.

  • In-built, customizable travel policies
    These are used to make sure that employees stick to specific company guidelines when they travel. That’s particularly true when it comes to sustainability - businesses who’ve set reduction targets need in-built policies to ensure employees choose sustainable travel options when they travel.  The best way of ensuring this is to put a Sustainable Travel Policy in place, which can then be automated in your chosen Travel Management System. 

  • Duty of care
    This is a feature that helps keep employees safe when they’re traveling, and gives employers the oversight they need to keep track of them. As a company, no matter what the size, you have a responsibility to ensure your employees’ safety, which is why having a Duty of Care policy built into the system is essential. 

  • High quality sustainability features
    With businesses taking more responsibility for the environmental impact of their business travel, some Travel Management companies have responded by offering offsetting schemes. Aside from Goodwings, these schemes are often an afterthought, rather than something that’s core to the offering.  With Goodwings, we not only account for all of your emissions using credible data sources, we also reduce and remove your business travel emissions at no extra cost, using biofuel. 


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Which companies can benefit from a Travel Management System?

  • Large enterprises (250+ employees) 
    With hundreds, if not thousands of employees traveling regularly for work, large enterprises need a Travel Management System to help them manage their travel expenses, comply with wider company policies and keep their employees safe. Having a TMS in place can contribute to cost savings, improved productivity, and an overall better travel experience for employees.
  • Small and medium sized enterprises (30 - 250 employees) 
    While the needs of a 30 person business and a 250 person business are different, having a Travel Management System in place early can help SMEs avoid problems as they scale. Where every penny counts in a the start up or scale up world, streamlining business travel can help reduce costs, and do the job of a Travel Agent, or Travel Manager even if there is no one dedicated to this role in-house. 
  • Government organizations
    For government organizations, compliance and cost control are key as these organizations need to stay accountable for the use of tax payer funds. Having a Travel Management System in place can help collect the travel data they need to remain fully transparent and cost-aware to the public, and stay compliant.
  • NGOs 
    NGOs need to ensure the responsible and efficient use of donor funds with everything they do - and this is particularly true of travel. Having a well managed travel program will help ensure transparency with their spending, as well as helping to maintain the safety and wellbeing of their teams or volunteers when traveling to remote areas.


When you’re choosing a travel booking or software solution, it’s important to identify the right fit for your business. Doing the due diligence upfront can help you save time because you'll be able to see where the cracks are in the current system, and whether a Travel Management System can help you streamline how you book and manage your business travel. Chances are, you'll discover that having a central place to manage your travel will not only save you time, but money too!


Ready to take your travel program to the next level?  

Book a demo today and discover how we can help you save time, money and emissions. 

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