Why You Should Encourage Your Corporate Travelers to Use Their RewardsBy Jeanne Hopkins
Business travel can feel like a burden but small things, like collecting loyalty points, can make a huge difference for frequent travelers
Employee-friendly corporate travel policies allow those who travel for work to retain the airline miles and other rewards they earn for personal use. Although some companies still consider this to be a perk, traveling employees absolutely expect to keep those points. We know that from a corporate travel survey we conducted here at Lola.
But where’s the value? For most employees who earn them, all those loyalty rewards are like an empty promise. Trillions of miles go unredeemed every year. Yep, you read that right -- that’s trillions with a “t.” And that’s just airline miles. Hotel stays go uncollected, too.
Staggering, isn’t it? It may be hard to imagine not using all those free miles or room nights, or whatever, but in fact this conundrum is part of a larger problem many employers struggle with: employees do not take advantage of their other benefits, either.
Everyone wants to work for a company that has a creative, up-to-date benefits program. But studies show that those same people don’t bother to sign up for the insurance, continuing education, consulting, wellness programs, and other at-work or personal perks their company offers. This is true even in companies where benefits are widely promoted and employees are exhorted repeatedly to partake.
Your people need to use their benefits – especially travel
One reason employees give for hoarding travel rewards instead of using them is fear their boss will think less of them. If they take too much time off, they’ll be seen as less productive. Replaceable, even. Worry about being viewed as replaceable is the #1 concern, but there are other reasons/excuses as well. Top examples:
- Too much work to do (and, therefore, piled up even higher upon return from vacation).
- No qualified person available to fill in while the employee is gone – something that can be a legitimate issue in very small firms.
- Nose-to-the-grindstone culture. This, too, can be especially problematic in small businesses, where entrepreneurial spirit is high and focus is solely on the company, 24/7. People who take time off may be viewed as under-committed to the company or not a team player.
However, it’s also important to note that, regardless of company size, corporate leaders who never takes vacations are implicitly telling employees they should not do so, either. Food for thought.
And what if they don’t have vacation time available to use their rewards? Well, that’s probably not the case because employees don’t take advantage of that benefit, either. More than half of workers fail to use all their paid time off. And it’s getting worse. In 2014, the number who did not take available PTO was just over 40%. That equated to 169 million PTO days for the year – or in dollars, $52.4 billion (yes, billion) in squandered benefits. It’s mind-boggling to consider what those numbers might look like today.
Encouraging travelers to use their rewards prompts them to take time off
Why do this?
- Bleisure is on the rise among business travelers, especially younger ones. Three-quarters of respondents to a just-released survey by Great Hotels of the World shows 75% of travelers have added personal time to transform a business trip into a bleisure event. Most said they have done this multiple times.
- “Workcations,” however, have far less appeal because they are nothing more than work travel in disguise. You might be sitting on the beach somewhere sipping a mojito, but if you’re still online, on email, and on the phone working away to meet deadlines, make deals, and crank out work product, that’s not time off.
- Any experienced manager knows burnout is bad for business, whereas time off is good for everyone. But a quarter of Americans say they haven’t taken a vacation in over a year.
- Taking time for yourself rests the body and refreshes the mind and spirit. We all know this. Project: Time Off says 82% of those who travel personally do so to relieve stress.
- Encouraging redemption of earned travel rewards (and earned time off) reminds employees that both of these are benefits of working for your firm
And, from a bottom line standpoint, employees who have a chance to check something off their bucket list or simply relax for a few days return to work primed to be more productive. Their job satisfaction is higher. And your workforce retention is higher.
Corporate travelers are pleased when you assure them they can keep the loyalty rewards they rack up. But if those “rewards” are just gathering dust, they benefit no one. On the other hand, when company culture promotes travel as an excellent way for people to recharge and promotes using loyalty rewards earned from business travel, everybody’s a winner.
Does your corporate travel policy need a tune-up? Schedule some time with one of Lola.com's Travel Experts to learn some easy ways to bring your corporate travel program to the next level.