Travel Management

Best Travel Software for Small Businesses

Learn how to choose the right travel management software for your small business, the essential features you should expect and the key questions you should be asking.

Choosing the right travel management software for your small business is a vital step in ensuring efficient, cost-effective, and stress-free business travel. In today's fast-paced business environment, where time is as precious as budget, the convenience and efficiency of comprehensive travel management platform can't be overstated. In this article, we'll dive into how you can select the best travel booking solution, keeping in mind the unique needs of your small business.


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What is travel management software, and why do you need it?

It's really just a fancy way of saying travel booking tool or software, but it's got a few more features that can make booking and managing travel in a corporate setting that much easier. A travel management system or software system is a central platform where employees or admin professionals such as Executive Assistants or Office Managers can book and manage their travel, but also monitor travel related expenses, implement the company's travel policies and collect all their data in one place, for more accurate reporting on the company's travel behavior, and even carbon emissions.   

Travel management software - what's right for a small business?

Before deciding on the best travel management software, you should first assess your small company's specific travel requirements. Consider the volume of travel, the destinations you visit most frequently, and any specific travel preferences or needs your team might have. This initial step will help you understand the features you should look for in your travel management software, such as flexibility, user-friendliness, and the ability to handle complex travel itineraries. Here's a list of the most common ones you should be looking out for. 

Key features to look out for:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Choose a platform that's intuitive and easy for both the admin team (such as the Executive Assistants, Travel or Office Managers), as well as for the corporatetravel  travelers themselves. If it's not easy to use, you'll find that everyone reverts back to old booking habits, which makes keeping track of bookings and travel expenses very hard.

  • Comprehensive Search and Booking: The travel software you choose should offer a large inventory of flights, hotel accommodation, trains and car rentals, allowing you to compare prices and itineraries easily. Should it be the world's largest travel inventory? Yes if possible! That way, you'll feel confident that you're getting the best deals, and you don't have to shop around (which takes a lot of time after all!).

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With Goodwings you can book all your cars, trains, hotels and flights in one place

  • Centralized Management: Look for software that centralizes how you manage your bookings, and makes expense reporting a breeze. It should also take into account personal preferences - business travelers should be able to login to their own dashboard and see their booking history, travel documents and preferences in one place, so they don't have to register them every time they book a trip.

  • Travel Policy Integration: By integrating your corporate travel policy into the travel management system, you can make sure that spending limits and emissions targets are met, and that approval workflows remain straightforward. This will reduce the amount of time that's spent checking what is in policy and what is not, keep you within your travel and emissions budget, and increase employee compliance.

    Logomark Goodwings makes it easy to integrate travel policies into your travel management software, helping you stay on top of your travel budgets and emissions targets. Speak to one of the team to learn how!
  • Expense Management: Filing receipts and getting them reimbursed can be time consuming, without the promise of accuracy. Your travel management system should therefore be able to integrate with the major expense management software providers that are available on the market. This will significantly reduce time spent on the reimbursement process, and help you monitor spending.

  • Customer Support: Small businesses may not have the luxury of having a dedicated travel manager, or office manager to resolve travel issues. That's why it's especially important for small businesses to get professional, 24/7 customer support as part of their travel management software. This can help you resolve travel issues promptly, and minimize disruptions.

  • Sustainability features: No business is too small to start tracking and reducing their travel emissions. Many of the best travel management software solutions are now offering convenient ways to keep track the emissions from all your business trips, and organize them in one central place. This includes everything from flights to hotels, trains and cars. Having these features in place will mean that no emissions falls through the cracks and you stay on top of your targets.

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    Download all your travel emissions reports in one central system

    GW-stop-icon  Are your travel emissions falling through the cracks? Discover the 5 simple ways that you can improve your reporting accuracy and compliance with Goodwings. Read our blog here.

What are the main considerations for small businesses?

  • Scalability: Choose a system that can grow with your business. It should be as effective for managing a few trips a month as it is for handling a sudden increase in travel frequency.

  • Cost Effectiveness: Small businesses need to keep an eye on expenses. Evaluate the pricing structure of the travel management software to ensure it aligns with your budget and travel volume.

  • Integration Capabilities: The ability to integrate with other tools your business uses (like expense management software or calendar apps) can streamline operations and save time.

Questions to ask (internally) before you scan the market for options:

  • How are your employees booking their business travel now: Can you estimate how much time is being spent on this activity per month, per employee, and therefore, roughly how much this is costing you? If this is being done by the office manager, what proportion of their time is spent on this?

  • What are your employees using to booking their business travel now? - Do some quick research to compare prices across platforms, to see what the average cost variability is. If you applied this to the number of trips you do per month, what's the price difference and what are the savings?

  • Where is the bulk of the budget being spent on business travel? - Do you have a travel budget in place, and if so, are you maxing it out every month. Where is the bulk of that money being spent - for example on expensive, last minute flights, of five star hotels? If you're exceeding your monthly budget, this could be because there are no travel policies or approval processes in place to cut travel costs, leaving employees to guess what is a reasonable amount to spend.

How to prepare a "RFP" (Request for Proposal)


An RFP, or "Request for Proposal" is a document that businesses use to summarize what they need out of a travel management solution. In it, they detail the main reasons for why they need a travel management system, what they expect from the solution, typical travel behaviors, and how they will evaluate the options. While this may feel like overkill for a small business, the process will help you articulate and outline what success looks like in a potential travel management software solution. Here's an overview of what should go into this document. 


  • Introduction to your company: Details about your company, reasons for travel, and why you need travel management software.

  • Scope of Work: Details of what you need the travel management software to do, such as book complex, multi-city trips, coordinate regular group off-sites, including remote location logistics. the more details the better.  

  • Proposal Requirements: This is what you expect to be in the proposal that the provider comes back with, such as pricing, inventory of travel options and references from existing clients. 

  • Submission Guidelines: Provide details for who the travel management provider should submit their proposal to.

  • Evaluation Guidelines: How will their proposal be evaluated? Will it just be on cost, or will you look at their history, reputation and/or client testimonials?

  • Timing: When are you likely to make a decision on which travel management software you'll proceed with?

How to evaluate travel management software options:

When evaluating potential travel management systems, consider both the upfront costs and the potential savings. It's important to not only focus on the travel savings themselves, such as more competitive options on flights, accommodation, but how a corporate travel management system will save you time in other areas. This is hard to measure unless you have an understanding of how much time employees or admin professionals are spending booking travel, which is why it's a good idea to do some calculations before you start. Here's a checklist of things to take into consideration when you're evaluating which system to go for.

Key questions to ask about cost:

GW-checkbox-4 Is there a fixed monthly subscription fee? (this may be a key consideration if you're a small business)

GW-checkbox-4 Is there a set up fee? (this is a fee some travel management companies charge customers to get started on the platform)

GW-checkbox-4 What is the cost to change travel bookings? (is there a difference between online vs offline fees?)

GW-checkbox-4  What is the cost (if any) to speak to an agent during or out of working hours

Key questions to ask about the inventory of travel options:

GW-checkbox-4 How big is their inventory of flights, hotels, trains and cars? 

GW-checkbox-4 Where do the search results come from?  

GW-checkbox-4 Can they guarantee to be competitive on price? 

GW-checkbox-4 Do they offer access to low cost carriers?  

Key questions to ask about customer service:

GW-checkbox-4 How many customer support hubs does the travel management company have worldwide?

GW-checkbox-4 What languages are covered? 

GW-checkbox-4 Is there an out of hours service? 

GW-checkbox-4 Is customer support outsourced to call centers?

Making the final decision

After narrowing down your options, consider reaching out to each vendor for a detailed discussion or demo. There's sometimes the option to also watch an "on demand" demo if you're short on time. This step can provide deeper insights into how well the software meets your needs and the level of support you can expect. Software reviews and client studies from a number of small businesses similar to yours can also offer valuable perspectives.

Implementation and beyond

Once you've selected a travel management system, focus on a smooth implementation. Train your team on how to use the system effectively and make the most of the support offered by the vendor for a seamless transition. Continuous evaluation of the system’s performance against your travel needs will ensure that you always have the best tool for your business travel management.

Selecting the right travel management software for your small business isn't just about making travel arrangements easier; it's about enhancing the overall efficiency of your small business operations and ensuring your team can focus on what they do best. With the right system in place, you can look forward to stress-free, cost-effective business travel that supports your company’s growth and success.



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