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Break out of your silo travel manager!

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At the recent GBTA convention in Orlando, I met some early adopters who are smashing the procurement silo in order to create value for their travelers. They have every reason to do so!

Let’s talk about the C-word. Yes, those dreaded costs that seem to be the obsessive focus of any travel management program today. Little wonder that virtually every piece of travel management company PR touches on how they can help to contain them.

Not wanting to leave money on the table, travel managers who live and breathe procurement will do their best to negotiate a good deal with airlines, increase hotel attachment rates, finalize the necessary online booking tools and ensure that duty of care arrangements stack up.

With all those boxes ticked, they can sleep at night. Good news for them, but not such good news for the frequent traveler who has been wrapped up in a nice little-commoditized box with little or no choice.

We touched on this top down approach in my first blog – Why traveler happiness should be your bottom line – but now let’s go a step further.

Know this travel manager: the traveler is your customer!

Okay, so I understand that rising costs are a headache for any travel manager. But let’s dare to think about this differently.

Let’s pretend for a minute that travel management is separate business unit and its customers your business travelers. If you’re only focused on cost – as is currently happening – you can be sure of thing: your business is dead. Period.

Your business travelers are your business! They bring in the bacon.

Here are the numbers to back this up. Project Time Off cites research conducted by Oxford Economics, which finds that every dollar invested in business travel yields $9.50 in revenue. Taking into account higher operational costs and real wage growth that translates to $2.90 profit per dollar spent, nearly a triple return on investment.

So quite simply, the job of the travel manager is to find ways to allow travelers to create more value for the business.

Time to don your strategic cap

Your costs are pretty simple, right? Right! So let’s think about revenues instead. The problem here is that the industry has become too focused on understanding cost-per-trip when it really should be looking at revenue or value-per-trip. After all, business travel is about making money and it’s about building better relationships. So, if we want to help our biggest assets – our most valued employees – to be more productive while on the road, then a torturous experience is the wrong approach.

As I discovered in Orlando, there are a handful of ‘conscious’ organizations emerging that want to improve their travelers’ experience.

Because they know the wide-reaching impact this has on:

· Talent management · Employee health management · Employee engagement

In short, the better the travel experience, the more focused the employee is on the company’s goals. Providing a dull, or worse still hellish, business travel experience for today’s digital natives will not cut it. Smooth and simplify the journey and make it fun and your revenues will rise. Keep it bumpy and your business will be on the road to nowhere.

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