7 revenue-boosting facts to take the fatigue out of business travel

The role of the business travel manager is a tough one but putting the traveller experience first is a worthy objective

So the experience those travellers have on the road is important! Because if they are frazzled, tired and grumpy on a arriving for their first meeting, chances are they may not be as effective in driving more business. That’s what business travel managers need to get across in the boardroom and to their travel suppliers!

On that note, this is what you and they need to know!

1.  Businesses send their employees on business for a reason

They do it to build new relationships, drive fresh sales, sniff out new leads and so on. Ultimately, the idea is to create value and business travellers do just. Take research by Oxford Economics; it finds that every dollar invested in business travel yields $9.50 in revenue. Okay, so there are operational costs and so on to take into account, but even after that, business travel is driving profits of around $2.50.

2.  The post-booking experience should be a priority

It’s not like the online booking experience doesn’t matter to business travellers, but getting it right shouldn’t be your only priority. This is one of the many mantras of Jeroen van Velzen, chief executive of white label business travel app, RoadMap, who believes real value can be created while the traveller is on a trip. 

“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,” writes van Velzen in his blog.

So if the traveller wants to stay in their favourite hotel (and a study by Egencia of British business travellers finds that 53% do) then why not?

3.  Costs are not everything

As Chicago-based Will Pinnell, vice president for digital and product planning at BCD Travel, points out most companies today look at managed travel purely from a procurement perspective. And the role of procurement is to cut costs and save money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And anyway, the good news is that all those years of banging on about it seems to have finally sunk in;  a new study of North American travellers by GBTA finds that 56% of business travellers today rank ‘finding the right price’ among their top three booking priorities. While a focus on costs is understandable, travel managers should also think about building their business because this is where the real value in lies.

4.  Age, nationality and the length of the queue matter

GBTA’s study finds that employees from large organisations are more likely to use a corporate online booking tool (OBT)than those working for smaller fry. How they book also depends on their age; interestingly millennials are less likely to book their own trip than older travellers, dispelling the myth that the tech-savvy generation is more likely to go off-piste. That said, while they may be more inexperienced in business travel, millennials are more likely to download all four types of travel apps - hotel, travel reservation, general travel and review – and communicate better during a trip. This presents an opportunity to influence which apps they use and since Gen Y will account for 80% of the workforce by 2017 that’s worth noting. Nationality counts too, says Egencia, citing online check-in as the way to your British and Norwegian travellers hearts. Perhaps surprisingly, Brits are the most frustrated by queues at the front desk!

5.  Security and safety should be balanced with freedom of choice

Interestingly, GBTA finds that 42% of people who used an alternative channel said they were not required to share travel information with their company. The worry here is that this hampers a travel buyers’ ability to monitor and enforce policy compliance. It also means they may not be able to locate their traveller in an emergency. This duty of care is a major headache for travel managers but there is a view that a balance needs to be struck between being too top down, giving the traveller more freedom and improving their experience.

6.  Listening and communicating are central to good relationships

As with any customer relationship, the aim is to build trust. That isn’t going to happen if you don’t listen to the needs of your business travellers. Aside from opening your ears, you also need to communicate the objectives of your business. By making them feel a part of the decision-making process, and helping them understand why this matters, they are more likely to comply.

7.  Your data and your business travellers equals gold

Today 47% of business travellers have booked travel using either a smartphone or tablet, so it is within the travel buyer’s power to ensure they have the right tools in the palm of their hand. This could be in the form of an app from a business travel management firms like CWT or BCD Travel, or it could be a company branded white label app from a firm like Road Map. Recognising that outsourcing your travel management programme to a third party may put raise an unnecessary barrier between you and your valuable data, it’s worth considering the most forward-thinking route. After all, every business traveller today hits the road with at least one mobile device generating data that will help you get closer to your most valued employees.

Will Pinnell, vice president for digital and product planning at BCD Travel, will be speaking at this month’s TDS North America

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