By Stan Berteloot, VP of global growth, VisaHQ as our August DeepDive into traveller centricity continues.
Applying for visas can be a long, confusing and frustrating process, particularly when multiplied 100 times…or 1,000 times. That's the struggle faced by corporate travel managers every year.
Corporate travel nightmares
The Robbins Company, a US-based company with 600 employees, has frequent international travellers. Nearly a third of its employees travel internationally and it frequently needs Indian, Chinese, and Turkish visas.
Robbins' travel manager, Dawn Ketner, stated they wanted to provide simplicity in very complex situations. For example, when applying for a Chinese visa while residing in the United States, a non-American employee's appearance in New York was required for both visa application submission and visa retrieval.
Similar stories show that cutting through the governmental "red tape" is difficult. For example, India usually asks a lot of personal questions on its visa form, including information such as parents' names, nationality, occupation, etc. A visa applicant sadly had to list his father's profession as "deceased". This is a common response as there is no other place to indicate this. However, when the follow-up application asked for his father's employer, he answered "God". His visa was surprisingly approved.
Another story: a visa applicant experienced a bureaucratic nightmare at the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles, CA. The Japanese visa rules are very strict. The consulate claimed the signature on the application was forged and requested the applicant appear in person.
Choosing the right visa processing company will pay off. Allowing employees to travel safely and without frustration is invaluable and will mean you to spend less time sorting through forms and navigating red tape.
Things you must consider
- Cost transparency; is the cost of each application clearly stated?
- Dedicated corporate portals; does the supplier provide organisations with a branded portal for easy employee visa application?
- Online booking tool integration; does the visa solution provider integrate with your SBT?
- Online automation; is the process online or is it manual with paper and pen?
- Profile retention; is profile data retained for future access or must you resubmit them with each application?
- Customer-centered; do you have a dedicated account manager or do you work with anyone that is available?
- Global reach; is there only one office or are there offices in multiple countries and on multiple continents?
- Is the visa provider partnering with a leading TMC? This comes in handy when you would rather outsource the entire process
- Find the right fit for your company
- Enlist all stakeholders in the selection process.
Making the right choice will take international travel from a nightmare to a non-event.