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Does your corporate travel policy go far enough to support your business travelers?

The digital business traveler uses a variety of apps to make each trip better. However, without a policy in place to recommend travel technology and apps, travel managers lose the opportunity to improve their program. This improvement can lead to a happier, safer and more productive traveler. All of those things deliver bottom line savings at any organization. Lower costs and higher productivity is a powerful combination for revenue results.

Yet, few business travelers work for organizations with recommended travel apps. Our research has found that a similar number of travelers – 1 in 5 – are allowed to use their own preferred travel app. And nearly half of all respondents globally work for organizations that do not recommend any travel apps.

 Only 1 out of 5 business travelers work for companies that require specific apps for business travel.

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Without this support, business travelers are left to their own devices – quite literally. This creates a patchwork of apps that may or may not comply to travel and duty-of-care policies.Travelers also might expect support to come from their employer rather than the 3rd party vendor. Or the traveler might even inadvertently reveal important details – such as the whereabouts of a senior executive traveling in a less-than-secure location.

This is why travel managers should pilot and recommend a set of travel apps to all travelers. This menu of apps should support the organization’s travel objectives, such as boosting traveler productivity, ensuring traveler safety and securing company data. An approved list will expand traveler clarity and encourage adoption of useful digital tools.

Travel hacks for the happy traveler

The road warrior works 240 hours more per year than the average American worker. Imagine being that worker! There’s nothing romantic about spending several extra weeks working than everyone else. The physicality of it becomes a question for managing corporate travel burnout.

All that time on the road not only takes its toll physically but also professionally. There’s the expectation to stay on top of the workload in spite of travel. Travel can, of course, be beneficial to one’s career – in fact, it is often a requirement of advancing to senior levels of management. But there’s still work to be done, regardless of time zone or flight delay.

This means that every little travel hack has outsized impact. Each improvement in the travel experience boosts productivity and reduces the strain of travel. Self-service is clearly one of the most favored “travel hacks,” in the sense that it empowers the traveler to skip over a step that otherwise took time to complete.

percentage-who-prefer-managing-their-own-travel-using-self-service-technology

Self-managing is important to today’s global business traveler.

Here’s where travel managers and TMCs can truly deliver. Consider what integrations and approved apps would best serve the weary traveler. How about a lounge pass through Loungebuddy? A quick pick-up of a healthy meal via AirGrub? What about a massage or a room upgrade as a benefit for booking through the approved channels? Each incentive both makes the traveler happy and reinforces the benefit of compliant bookings.

By offering the ability to manage these add-ons individually, compliance is further supported. Each of these integrations can work together on one platform, where travelers can self-service. This allows travel managers to better serve travelers while also giving travelers the control they want.

Duty-of-care

Technology facilitates near-perfect success when it comes to duty-of-care. The primary challenge to the ubiquity of tech is that travelers are now often booking out of policy. When they book outside of the approved process, there is less visibility into the trip.

percentage-who-areinterested-sharing-services-on-ridesharing-lodging

Ridesharing and community lodging are a reality for a majority of most 19-34 business travelers globally.

The growth in the sharing economy also proves problematic to duty-of-care. It’s difficult to mitigate risk when travelers take personal vehicles and sleep in homes. Often, this travel history never makes its way into the traveler’s official file. Beyond safety, it also becomes hard to track spending. And when travel is the third biggest expense in a business, that’s a serious issue. Providing recommended apps ensures that managers have a path to understanding any out-of-program bookings.

Vendor negotiations

By carefully piloting potential apps, travel managers maintain some control by taking the time to negotiate with vendors. The process creates a more comprehensive view into various apps, both from the traveler and company sides. A comprehensive pilot phase surfaces areas of potential concern as far as data and traveler security. Each vendor relationship is an opportunity to build a more-complete data stream for deeper traveler engagement.

Travel management companies also benefit from bringing in outside apps as part of a travel tech policy. Integrating with a selection of itinerary management and expense apps creates a one-stop experience.

Building a better travel policy

There are 3 steps to building a better travel policy. While it may take time for some, others might already be on their way.

  1. Listen to your travelers.Talking to those in the experience reveals everything. While it may not be readily apparent how travelers are using technology, road warriors are rarely shy to voice opinions. Take a survey, formally or informally, and build out a deep understanding of current state. Then work towards formulating an ideal state that matches the traveler’s needs to the organization’s objectives.
  2. Propose a tech policy.The next step is to take those learnings and propose a cohesive travel policy that includes recommended travel apps. This should then be discussed thoroughly with both key stakeholders (such as a representative panel of travelers) and the decision makers. This allows any potential issues to be raised and addressed quickly as a group.
  3. Communicate and educate. Take time to build a solid communications plan. Use an educative approach that’s less prescriptive and more collaborative. Explain the process and outcomes. Demonstrate how the new policy will be supported. Share any process updates related to the new policy. Then listen, rinse and repeat!

By following these three steps, any travel program can reap rewards from a cohesive menu of travel tech.

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