How to encourage business travellers to adopt your new travel policy?
31st July 2015
Congratulations! You have carried out an extensive tender process, reviewed some corporate travel management companies and made a final decision. You are confident you found the perfect travel management company to drive your business travel programme forward and achieve your cost savings goals. However, now it’s time to revise your travel policy, if you haven’t done it yet, and start to implement the new travel management company. But, one question remains how do you get widespread adoption of your new corporate travel management company and policy? Here we share 5 tips travel managers and procurement professionals can adopt to address the issue of traveller compliance to your company’s new business travel policy by motivating travellers and bookers to make responsible travel decisions instead of imposing mandate for achieving your programme goals.
Having a good travel management provider delivering the right tools is crucial, but it is also vital to know the strategies your company has in place to reduce travel cost. Plus, probably last thing most employees think of when planning business travel is saving your company money. Because, they simply can claim the expense, so why should it matter to them? So it’s no surprise many employees often may leave it to the very last minute and book their business travel right before starting their trip or they opt for the more expensive hotel at an unnecessary high rate – because it is the company’s money, not theirs. As a result, your company is confronted with exorbitant business travel costs. So be realistic about the savings you can achieve through engaging employees in compliant travel decision-making and how to maintain and build traveller loyalty to your new travel management programme.
Appoint a dedicated team of change management agents
Create a cross-functional core team of change agents within the company and train them to understand how people change behaviours and accept new approaches. Give them the right information, for example create an info-pack your change agents can share with travellers and equip them with the skills alongside the tools required to drive change in traveller behaviour and communicate the new travel management programme in a compelling and consistent way within the business.
Educate employees on the new business travel programme
A major obstacle to implementing a new travel management company and thus a travel policy is employee resistance across the company, typically due to a lack of awareness about the need for the change to the new supplier and policy, fear of the unknown or of losing control. You need to let employees, know what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it affects them – especially travellers and travel bookers if you want them to support your travel policy and accept the new supplier. If employees understand what the change is about, why it is required and how to implement the new travel policy then it becomes far less of a challenge to convince them to comply with the new business travel programme. Create a structured internal communications plan including the mechanisms required to inform employees about the travel management programme and how it will affect them. Partner with your appointed travel management company to inform your employees how you change the way in which travel is booked and managed in your company and what is in it for them. This way you can build support and minimise resistance towards the new travel policy and your new corporate travel management company. For example, apart from usual email communications consider to hold travel booker workshops, webinars and provide practical easy to understand booking tool user guides or training videos, which employees can access through the online travel portal or company intranet.
Brand the initiative to communicate the benefits of the new travel policy
Consider to creating an internally branded spend management programme to address the cultural and structural barriers that need to be overcome to achieve maximum compliance and more cost saving. For example, you are moving from a decentralised or DIY unmanaged approach to a more centralised travel management programme. You may consider liaising with your marketing communications to communicate the value and simplicity of everyone working together under one common system. Make the name or brand of your change programme aspirational to get employees excited about the new travel management programme. Keep it short, simple and articulate the goal and aim of the new travel policy.
Use Gamification to motivate and engage your travellers
By introducing game-like elements to your managed travel programme to reward employees who stick to the travel policy by making more responsible travel decisions. At its basics Gamification is a management tool used to push psychological buttons, and if you give employees something they are not expecting, such as a reward you keep them excited and engaged. For example, you could create an employee reward programme using score points to reward travellers for booking in advance and encourage them to find better deals. They earn 25 points for booking two weeks in advance, for seven days in advance 15 points, for three days in advance 5 points and they earn no points if they book on the day of travel. Although the Gamification techniques are not new in business as they are for instance often used in other areas, for example, to motivate sales and customer service employees by letting them compete against each other to drive performance. By using Gamification to incentivise compliant business travel decisions and influence traveller behaviour you may find your employees, especially younger travellers are more motivated to book their business trips in compliance with your corporate travel policy. Plus, through the improved compliance, travel buyers gain access to better data enabling them to measure more accurately total trip cost, reduce leakage and benefit from more negotiating power for higher levels of loyalty.
Get employee feedback and take it on board
Whether it is in business travel, procurement, sales, customer service or any other job function, probably one of the most vital skills of any high-performance professional is effective listening, especially when it comes to motivating employees. So why not use this skill and apply it at least throughout the programme implementation process? Because, listening to your employees’ feedback can help you to create a dynamic travel policy that responds to corporate travellers’ and travel arrangers’ needs. For example, consider carrying out annual traveller satisfaction surveys and quarterly reviews to ensure you are monitoring employee feedback on the new travel management company. Your new travel management company should support you in this and provide guidance. During the implementation phase, make sure you keep track of reported issues, valuable suggestions for improvement and see how you can best implement them into your travel policy. This way you make your travellers and travel bookers feel involved and engaged, ultimately improving the adoption of your preferred supplier’s travel policy and your company culture.
What tactics do you use to ensure adoption and improve compliance with your company’s travel policy?
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Are you looking for creative strategies to cut travel programme costs without imposing a mandate? Get in touch with our business travel agents team to find out how you can build and maintain traveller loyalty to your company’s travel programme.
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