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7 Boardroom tactics to get travelers smiling and spreadsheets singing

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Happy September!

And, yes, despite the budgetary constraints I’ve been hearing about on my recent trips, I believe it can be a happy month for travel managers and travelers.

In my first two posts, we talked strategy. Now it’s time to get down to tactics. Key question: how do you convince those boardroom naysayers that a happy traveler will boost sales? So before heading into battle on behalf of your road warriors here’s what you need to know!

1. The end game is a happy traveler

The end goal is happy travelers. Why? It’s quite simple. Happy, relaxed travelers are more productive travelers. They are better at their jobs and more engaged with the purpose of the company. Trust me, this will result in more value. Your right brain totally gets this, so how do we translate this to our left-brain. Or more practically: the spreadsheet

2. Start small but think big

It’s all about the experience and the little things do count. As I said in my last blog, your travelers are your customers, and sharing what’s on offer can significantly improve their travel experience. If they know, for example, that a program feature will reduce their journey by 45 minutes, they’ll be more likely to comply. So, yes, let them know it’s okay to Uber into city XYZ or whatever! Also share why this matters and what you are trying to achieve. By saving money on the ride to hotel, for example, there will be more money for F&B.

3. Invest in relationship therapy

As in any relationship, showing vulnerability will help to build trust. Ignore this and expect indifference. Your aim is to help your most valued employees – your travelers – feel loved while on the go. In short, to make life less miserable, and even make them smile. Be transparent too. If you can explain your unpopular decisions – like having to fly economy – they’ll still want to travel with you.

4. Communication is the name of the game

You need to listen, learn, share and then engage! The keyword here is engagement – but across all touch points of the customer journey (see point 5). So ditch the boring grey suit and prepare to develop some creative, chameleon-like communication skills. And if you in the boardroom are reading this, you need a travel manager with marketing, sales and advertising skills.

5. The booking is boring!

This I cannot stress enough – especially in the early stages of the relationship. Get them onboard first and then show (not tell!) them great travel experience. More bookings will follow and soon you be harnessing data to hone the experience and create more value. Airbnb and Uber have got this down pat! From a practical perspective this will mean blending the silos of IT, HR and Finance.

6. Dullness sucks; digital natives rule!

Many travel managers still rely on the intranet and bog-standard email to communicate with travelers. That’s so 1999! By 2017, Gen Y will account for 80% of the workforce. And while they may be the switched on generation, they are also far more likely to quickly switch off! Think of an entire generation with an attention span of 15 seconds. As someone who suffers from ADD, it couldn’t be clearer: the technology needs to be smart, thoughtful and sexy as hell.

7. Embrace mobile. Be conscious. Drink my Kool-Aid

In a word: mobile. These smart devices are already in the hands of travelers and they can be in their hearts too. Correctly done, a traveler app will generate significant amounts of user data that make it possible to build a great traveler centric user experience that harnesses the knowledge, local experiences and insights of all your frequent travelers.

Some conscious travel managers are already doing this, and I believe they are on the right track. A handful are even creating their own company branded travel app. So why not taste some of the Kool-Aid we’re serving at Roadmap? It will definitely put a smile on the faces of your travelers. My bet is it may even put a smile on yours too!

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