From the Road: What Travelers Want in a Company Travel PolicyBy Jenn Roberts, published on Mar 30, 2018
My first job out of college was in sales for a significant Wall Street player. My first business trip was the inevitable – back to my alma mater to identify the next round of recruits. My departure city was Manhattan, New York – with a destination of Ithaca, also New York. Our corporate travel management solution was big, prestigious and … ridiculously inefficient.
One Pittsburgh stop combined with a 3-hour snowstorm delay later, and I arrived 5 hours after the direct flight landed, irritable and late.
Fast forward many years and leisure travel has made significant advancements: bookings are now predominantly mobile; meta-search engines provide much-needed transparency and ease of use; yet people still dream of boarding a plane to visit somewhere that they’ve spent many precious personal hours researching and personal dollars saving up for.
Add the word “Business” to this trip and the illusion crumbles. Why is this?
To begin putting a great travel program in place, travel managers have to first understand the customer: The internal employee (me!). I juggle frequent business travel with my business duties, add in my personal life, the frustrations of planes, trains and automobiles, and you’ve got your work cut out for you to keep me (us!) happy. What’s important to one, differs from others, in various but important ways.
Time, Specifically Our Time
The most valuable aspect to those of us on the road is time. We dread flights with stops unless absolutely necessary. They make us grumpy, add stress of potentially missing a connection and subsequently, a meeting. These feelings do not go away as soon as we land. Saving fifty dollars by routing us through Boston in a snowstorm will not pay off, please don’t do it! Promote the value of our time by allowing us to pick our own flights on our schedule. We will not only mentally thank you, but we will actually use the travel tool you put in place.
Normalcy on the Road
The next thing we pavement-pounding folks crave, but rarely get, is consistency. Leaving family and the comforts of home behind on a frequent basis, we’re trying to patch together as much normalcy as possible while on the road. Gyms, healthy food options, guidelines that allow the same hotel or hotel brand each trip, are things that make all the difference. The unknown may be exciting on a leisure trip, but this is most definitely not the case for business travel. Set guidelines that allow us to re-create our normal schedules on the road and we remain part-human.
Our least favorite part: expenses. I know, I know. We must stay within policy, or face the wrath of accounting! It’s just the receipts that we despise, those crinkled up minuscule papers at the bottom of our bags, folded 30 times in our wallets, with digital receipts spread across 5 different apps (flights/Uber/Square). Ugh! Give us the easiest possible way to document our spend on the road and not only will you have timely transparency into exactly what’s going on, but you also avoid the inevitable chasing us down at the end of every month. I admit it: submitting expenses is not exactly a priority for us, until of course, we realize our credit card bill is due within the next 5 days. We'd like to be more on top of all this stuff, but … Please, I beg of you … make it easy for us to submit travel receipts. Repay us quickly. Then, it's game on!
Hopefully, this helps you begin to understand the very folks you really care about, really want to make happy and most importantly, really want to use the company’s travel policy. Remember, we’re all in this together.
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