LinkedIn Found the Best Way to Quantify the Satisfaction of Travelers - Ask Them
Traveler satisfaction is at the forefront of thinking for nearly all companies operating in travel procurement today. Companies are looking to not only quantify traveler satisfaction but also use travel policy as a carrot on a stick to sway the best and brightest applicants to join.
Enterprise networking platform LinkedIn believes it has found a way to assess and boost satisfaction among its own business travelers--and it has the numbers to back it up.
The Numbers Don't Lie
Many businesses spend between 50 and 70 percent of their budget on business travel. For some companies, that proportion will equate to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. When a business is spending that amount of money on something, it wants to be sure the investment is worth it.
That's where traveler satisfaction comes in. If the business traveler is satisfied with their journey, they are more likely to arrive at their destination relaxed, refreshed, and ready to do business to the best of their ability. If the traveling experience is poor, they are not going to arrive in a condition conducive to performing at their best.
Of all LinkedIn's employees, around 8,000 take regular business trips, covering over 18 different countries, the bill for which exceeds $40 million. However, with LinkedIn's travel policy being rather young - four years old - it still has a few kinks to be ironed out.
"LinkedIn has a 'non-mandate culture' where employees take ownership of their actions," said LinkedIn's Global Travel and Event Operations Manager, Leslie Hadden. "So, while there is a travel policy, it's basically just a guide. Many travelers and travel arrangers didn't fully understand the policy or the travel program. It wasn't always clear which suppliers travelers should use. When travelers used their own alternatives, that cost the company more."
Aside from an inconsistent and often misunderstood policy, LinkedIn has issues with communication of travel-related messaging. This led to staff being unsure about how best to plan their travel and what additional benefits they might be entitled to claim. Making sure travelers have the right information at the right time is key to an effective travel policy.
More critically, however, all these issues led to a situation where only 64% of LinkedIn's traveling community were satisfied with their experiences, and 13% openly expressed dissatisfaction or extreme dissatisfaction with the same.
The first step towards solving a problem is to make sure you fully understand it. LinkedIn needed to know who its travelers were, why they travel, and what information, services, and amenities they needed to best achieve their travel goals. To this end, the company launched a survey and asked all their traveling employees to complete it.
Once it had the data, LinkedIn could break down the issues their people were having and begin devising solutions.
"Segregating the groups and really listening gave us a very good understanding of our travelers," said Hadden. "We learned that 44% of LinkedIn travelers are in sales, products and services who travel often and care about their budget. But in addition to the road warriors, there are travel arrangers, new travelers, executives, and people in the finance department who have an interest in travel. And we learned that travelers were interested in exploring new accommodation and travel options, like Airbnb and Uber, when they were on the road."
LinkedIn then set about addressing each issue. A new platform, TravelIn, allowed the company to deliver travel messaging more effectively than before. The inSider platform also allowed messages to be shared socially between travelers. The in-house booking tool was streamlined and upgraded with new guidelines and advice, with satisfaction in booking trips rising 13% as a result.
Within 18 months, overall traveler satisfaction in the LinkedIn travel experience had risen to 84% percent, with reports of dissatisfaction or extreme dissatisfaction down to just 4%.
Traveler satisfaction is going to continue to be a hot topic as we move through 2019. LinkedIn has shown that by simply listening, things can be set back on course.
"People are starting to really love our program. They're noticing that we're communicating with them and connecting with them," said Hadden. "My goal is to make travelers happier and more productive on the road and traveler engagement is at the heart of that."
LinkedIn's Global Travel Manager, Leslie Hadden, will be hosting a special session on "Traveler Satisfaction: Finding The Balance Between Experience, Productivity, and Cost," at ProcureCon Travel 2019, taking place in May at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.