How working with your
employees can improve your
travel programme

When implementing a business travel management programme, the most important aspect is your travellers. After all, they are the key to its success. Besides, once you’ve maximised the savings you can make through supplier negotiations, your only option to reduce costs further is to look internally.

Therefore, you’ll need to get your travellers onside, streamlining their business travel and making it as easy and as cost-effective as possible for them to book, all the while monitoring their behaviour to ensure they are on the right lines. You’ll also need to proactively communicate with your travellers, keeping them informed of any changes to your travel programme, listening to their feedback and addressing any concerns they may have.  

Once your travellers are on the same page as you, they’ll be far more likely to follow procedure. Happy travellers will stick to travel policies, be more productive during their trip, and perform better too.

Understanding traveller psychology

In order to gently nudge your employees towards making the right travel choices, you need to understand their psychology. What motivates your travellers? Why do they book one hotel over another? How do they choose which flight to take? Once you understand their mindset, it will be far easier to encourage them to make smarter travel choices.

Take a different perspective

Look at your travel programme from the point of view of your travellers. Are you giving them the right tools to make the best booking choices? Do they have access to better prices than they could find online?

Take a look at your travel policy too; is it all relevant? Once you can answer these questions from your travellers’ point of view, then rather than forcing them to book in a certain way, you can make them actually want to.  

Incentivise your employees to book smarter travel

In order to encourage your employees to act in the way you want them to, you’ll need to convince them of the merits of doing so. One way to do this is to offer incentives as encouragement. Gamification is the way forward here. For example, you could reward travellers for buying tickets further in advance to take advantage of advanced booking deals.

If your company would see a prize as gimmicky, perhaps just offer recognition instead. However you do it though, the best idea is to reward good behaviour, but not punish bad behaviour, otherwise staff will lose interest.

Give plenty of advice and guidance

Make sure that your employees know exactly where to turn if they have any questions, and make life easier for them by offering plenty of advice and guidance along the way. For example, if you use a Travel Consultant, they might make price comparisons easy to see at a glance or you can put together suggested trip costs for the most popular destinations.

Think about booking psychology – travellers often plump for the second cheapest hotel offered, rather than the cheapest, so you might want to show an average per night rate to help guide your travellers in the right direction, and to avoid them using the very first price they see as a benchmark.

Communicate well and concisely

Tell your travellers why your travel policy exists. Once they understand the reasons behind the rules, they are more likely to comply with them.

Engage with your travellers, communicate, and make it easy for them to make the right choices to support your policies. If you’ve negotiated great deals with your suppliers, tell your staff. Make sure any communications are clear and easy to follow, making use of colour or graphics where appropriate. Think of yourself as not a travel manager but a travel consultant, selling the travel to your travellers.

Embrace trends

You’ll engage better with your travellers if you embrace the latest technology and business travel trends. For example, you might choose to post updates on social media, or perhaps you have a traveller mobile app, which makes working away easier for your travellers.

Remember that your internet-savvy staff will be used to using price comparison websites, social media, hotel rating sites and booking apps for their own holidays, so you need to make sure they understand your offering, otherwise they just won’t use them.

Change traveller perceptions

Sometimes, employees will book unnecessary travel in order to take advantage of the supposed “free holiday” or to look or feel important. These are not reasons to travel.

To filter out non-essential trips, why not make a flow chart to aid decision making? Your traveller will need to think about the ROI of the trip – what will they, and the company get out of it? What are their objectives? While it’s hard to change the culture of travel being seen as glamourous, you can influence behaviour by emphasising the need to reduce unnecessary travel in order to save money, reduce carbon emissions and improve your employees’ work-life balance.

Don’t take it too far

There’s no point being harsh on your travellers. If you are so focussed on cutting costs that you force them to take early morning or connecting flights, then you’ll end up with tired, demoralised and unmotivated staff.

Your employees will not respond well to being checked up on constantly either. Instead, show them that you trust them by giving them some autonomy and responsibility over their bookings.

Keep reviewing

Remember to regularly review the progress of your travel programme and make improvements to your travel policy where necessary. Get feedback from your travellers, perhaps via a survey or through social media. Listen to their answers and make adjustments.

You could also choose some key KPIs, such as how many trips are being booked per month, or how far in advance bookings are made, and monitor these to see how they improve. And of course, once you have a picture of your progress, communicate it to your travellers to keep them motivated.