Attracting and retaining top talent is a big deal for any company. For fast-growing companies it’s vital. These businesses face the challenges of keeping pace with their growth which makes it important to retain the most talented, committed people.
Here’s where business travel comes in. It’s about more than putting your people in front of your customers and prospects, it’s a business function that can change your entire employee experience.
The effect of traveller dissatisfaction
Imagine you’ve stepped into the office for the day. You’re picking up your coffee and you hear that Kate’s handed in her notice. It’s a shock. Kate's been the star of the sales team since she joined the company three years ago. Is she relocating? Does she want more money? Human resources will ask Kate about her decision in her exit interview. But will they ask her about business travel? They should.
Kate’s company has always managed their business travel in-house. They have strict policies and little flexibility around last-minute changes. As a high-achieving member of the sales team, Kate was one of the company’s most frequent travellers. She enjoyed meeting new people and visiting new places but was frustrated by a complicated travel programme, had little control over her own bookings and her overall experience was poor. Kate had enough.
Now, it'll cost money to fill her position – and time to find someone as accomplished.
Getting traveller satisfaction right
Supporting traveller satisfaction is crucial to the overall loyalty and productivity of your company. A travel management company (TMC) can give your employees control over their travel through a comprehensive booking platform. Travel policies are clear and easily accessible, ensuring that your travellers are given a choice of pre-approved options. What’s more, travel managers can quickly pull reports to control spend and provide duty of care.
Business travel can have a huge influence on an employee’s overall experience. Here are six focus areas that can help make sure that your travel programme is supporting your employees:
- Support: Give your travellers the right tools so they can modify their itineraries on the move. Egencia makes this makes this quick, easy and fuss-free with the booking app – and with 24/7/365 access to expert travel consultants.
- Travel supplier choice: Keep in mind the effect of policy on travellers’ choices. Some travel policies are based on the idea of per diems or rate ceilings. Travellers know how much they can spend on a room and are free to choose any property under the prescribed rate. In these cases, ensure that the approved accommodation is still practical for the traveller. For example, a weary road warrior might have their traveller satisfaction severely dented if the only approved hotel is an hour away from their meeting venue.
- Travel supplier content: If your policy gives travellers a choice among a handful of approved suppliers in the booking platform, are you selecting them for financial reasons only? Or are you also taking into account what’s appropriate for the travellers’ business objectives? Is the hotel’s location convenient? Near a motorway exit, railway station, or where they’re holding meetings? Does it have the amenities that a traveller might want such as parking or a gym? It’s not hard to turn an average experience into a positive one with the content and the right traveller booking options.
- Travel class: We know that business class flights cost more than economy while the total time spent in the air is the same. But decision-making should also take into account traveller well-being. Giving a traveller a bit of extra space to work or relax during their flight, or the opportunity to exit the plane first can offer more comfort and cut travel time. It also shows an employee that what they do is valued.
- Mode of booking: Providing travellers with a slick, user-friendly booking interface is vital. The easier it is to source the content, make or change bookings and the faster a traveller can do it, the more in control they will feel.
- Expenses: Does your travel policy allow employees to reclaim all the reasonable expenses they incur on a business trip? Some employers forget about the cost of parking at the airport or the taxi that becomes a necessity when a traveller is trudging home after a 10-hour flight. And what about extras? Some airlines charge for seat selection, while some hotels add WiFi and drinks to the bill1. It’s important to factor in these costs on top of air fare and room rate.
The traveller experience needs to feel easy during their trip and once they’ve landed. It’s also important that when they’re back in the office filing their expenses, it’s not an arduous paper-based accounting process that will add hours of stress post-trip. A travel platform that’s linked to an expense management system can help make life much simpler for travellers, arrangers and finance.
Adding value with business travel
The message is simple: If your company wants to attract and retain employees, it must show it values them – your travel programme is a great place to start.