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How to encourage compliancy amongst your travelling employees

Oct 13, 2015

After a long review process and an extensive assessment of your travel requirements, you’ve managed to implement a robust travel policy. Perhaps you’ve recruited an in-house team to manage your travel programme or you’ve reviewed multiple travel management companies to find the perfect solution. You’re confident that your hard work in designing a suitable policy covers all areas of corporate travel and expenses and clearly outlines the preferred booking processes for your travellers, alongside achieving your organisation’s business travel objectives whilst driving cost saving goals.

However there’s always the possibility that your travellers don’t necessarily always adhere to or understand the policy in its entirety. How do get your travellers to adopt your travel solution and remain compliant, allowing you to have an efficient, cost-saving solution that fulfils your duty of care requirements simultaneously? We’ve put together our top tips for travel managers and procurement staff to address the increasingly problematic issue of compliancy amongst your travelling employees. If you’d like to read our recent blog on why compliancy is so important, please click here.

1. Ask your travellers

Often the first step in understanding why your travellers aren’t following your corporate travel policy is to review the reasons why, before addressing the issues directly. Before diving headfirst into a labyrinth of reports from the last year, perhaps consider sending out an anonymous staff survey to broaden your understanding of where the problems lie. The first question you’ll need to ask is probably an obvious one – have your travellers been made aware of your corporate travel policy, and is it easy available for them to reference if needs be? It may seem like a silly question, but many travel policies are stored in the dark depths of the company intranet and rarely referenced. If the answer is ‘no’, consider sending out occasional email bulletins to your frequent travellers that highlight the main points of your travel policy.

Is there a particular area of travel that is more likely to be booked outside of your preferred channel; if so why? It could come down the fact that your online booking tool isn’t user-friendly, or your preferred accommodation suppliers do not meet the requirements of your travellers. It could be something as small as not having Wi-Fi in the hotel rooms – something easily remedied by negotiating with your supplier, or even by purchasing a few Mobile Hot Spot Devices for your travellers to take away with them. An anonymous survey will give you an opportunity to identify any grumbles, preferences, requirements or areas for improvement that can be addressed accordingly. You might not be surprised to know that open bookings (often referred to as ‘leakage’) often come to down to preference or ease of booking.

2. Review the data

After you’ve conducted a survey, you will hopefully have a better understanding of how your travellers feel about their corporate travel programme. The next step in encouraging compliancy amongst your staff is to review the data from the last 6 to 12 months and interrogate the figures to highlight behavioural trends. Whilst these trends should roughly imitate the results from your survey, it’ll also give you more information for you to understand why there is leakage in your travel programme. Depending on the size and frequency of your travelling staff, your data may differ in granularity and detail; nonetheless, you should be able to derive some key facts and figures from even the most minimal of data. Key questions to ask during this review process is; how far in advance are your travellers booking their travel?Are there specific number of individuals who repeatedly book travel via their own channels? Is there an approval process in place that shows accountability for trips with high spend? Be sure to coordinate with your finance department, as you may be able to identify key trends this way. Is there a specific area of your travel programme that is the main source of the leakage, if so, what? Using this data, you may need to send out a more detailed survey, or even hold a quick focus group for your frequent travellers to understand the impact of open travel, and discuss any travel-related grumbles that are preventing wide-spread adoption of your travel policy.

3. Incentivise your travellers

‘Gamification’ was a real buzz word in the corporate travel industry last year, and one that for some organisations, is an effective way to gain compliance amongst travellers. All gamification really means is ‘to make a game out of a non-game setting’, or to put it another way, incentivise your travellers to book within policy by offering healthy, reward-based competition. There are a number of arguments for and against this approach; with some saying that gamification is not a realistic way to gain long-term compliance and ultimately won’t significantly reduce leakage, and others saying that applying a game-like technique is a far more rewarding and interesting way for your travellers to book their travel. Ultimately it’ll come down to choice and what’s right for your organisation, but it certainly is an option to be considered. Incentivising your travellers to make smart, informed purchasing decisions doesn’t have to be a complicated process; it could be as simple as rewarding your most compliant travellers with a bottle of wine, or upgrade on their next flight, or a special mention in the company newsletter. Whatever the prize is, it may encourage a positive booking behaviour amongst your travellers and that can only be a good thing for your travel programme. For your young, millennial travellers who are widely acknowledge to be tech-savvy bargain hunters, it may be worth implementing a benchmarking programme, whereby they are incentivised to find a cheaper like-for-like rate or fare, ultimately encouraging them to actually drive down your travel costs. Gamification is essentially finding a reason for your travellers to align their purchasing behaviour with your travel objectives whilst keeping it light-hearted, appealing and self-motivating.

4. Take it all into consideration

After one or perhaps multiple staff surveys and a thorough assessment of your travel data, you’ve identified the key areas of leakage and have the support from relevant staff to start implementing the necessary processes. The key thing at this stage is to ensure you separate the general travel grumbles from the real challenges that you are able to address. Standardising your travel policy across all departments and senior management can often be a quick way to ensure you’re staff feel valued and know that your travel programme is designed to suit everyone. If you have a senior member of staff staying in a 5* hotel and another member in a 3*, your policy loses some appeal and no doubt travellers will become disenchanted and find alternative methods that allow them a little flexibility.

Ensuring that your policy has a booking method that offers variety of content is critical, as limited choices will inevitably create a level of detachment towards your programme, and the chances are, limited choices will not meet everyone’s requirements or preferences. Whether your solution is based in-house or outsourced to a travel management company, having a large database of travel options will certainly keep your travellers happy and making smart choices. After all, why would a traveller book the standard policy 3* accommodation when there’s a great deal on a 4*?

Further to this, consider looking at technology that can monitor rate reductions on a number of hotels. At Business Travel Direct, we’ve invested in TRIPBAM, a hotel rate checking tool that will continuously scan the market looking, right up to the day of arrival, for a better rate on like for like or similar hotels within a certain area, so you know you’ll be getting the best value for money. It’s these kinds of tools that will allow your travellers to book with confidence, whilst driving down costs for your travel programme.