Traveler Satisfaction and Understanding Your Company Culture

How does your company culture view travel? Do you see it as a thinly disguised employee perk that should be carefully managed for the total lowest cost? After all, if employees are having a good time, they can't be doing their jobs well, right? Or do you see travel as an extension of your company's brand, a force for positive impact among employees and those they are visiting? Do you believe comfortable, satisfied employees will perform better even when they're far from home?

For your company's road warriors, corporate travel should be seamless. Despite the surge in technology throughout the travel ecosystem, the current process feels archaic, from the booking process to the trip itself. For most corporate travelers, travel is not a perk but a necessity. If they're going to be traveling away from home, suffering the indignities of countless boarding gates and hotel check-in lines, travelers value having some level of control over their own destinies.

Employees expect the same experience on business travel as they get for leisure trips. Does your corporate travel policy support ride-share apps, fewer trip disruptions, new loyalty programs and seamless end-to-end travel to alleviate friction? Corporate policies can make or break the travelers' experience in terms of satisfaction and loyalty over the long term.

According to a global survey of business travelers from American Express Global Travel, 75% of employees said improving the business travel experience would have a positive impact on employees' willingness to travel.

Cost of bad practices

In the same survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents agree that if business travel were more enjoyable, "the potential outcomes would be improved morale, professional development, a renewed commitment to the job as well as better work-life balance, improved focus and feeling rewarded for their hard work." That means your travel dollars would earn a higher return.

Travelers prefer having some input into travel and lodging choices while following corporate policies. Travel policies that are inflexible or don't take into account the grueling realities of air travel can lead to dissatisfaction.

Corporate policies need to clear and easily followed. A typical policy calls for employees to select the lowest logical airfare. The travel policy should define what that means. An employee anxious to get home after a week on the road may see the term "logical" in a different light than the company. For top executives or employees who bill customers directly, saving a few dollars on a flight could cost the company thousands of dollars in revenues.

Accommodations are often another sore point for travelers. The company may designate approved hotel options through a travel program. But the options may be limited or less than desirable in some locations. Travelers would like to have the option to make decisions on the ground that serve the company's purpose as well as provide an inviting place to stay.

Travel policies should be easy to understand and use, but they may actually cause confusion. Travelers could be accidentally sidestepping the plan if it's unclear or not communicated to them.

Also, many corporate travelers would like to see improvements in expense reporting and payment procedures. Complicated expense reports and a lengthy wait for reimbursement can lead to dissatisfaction after an otherwise productive journey.

Best practices for corporate travel satisfaction

While your company can't do anything about airline delays and overbooked hotels, you can alleviate frustrations with traveler-friendly policies.

The most critical component of traveler satisfaction is flexibility. If travel plans must change, travelers want to be able to book with vendors that are able to accommodate the changes they need, rather than be limited by a travel policy. After all, your company trusts employees with big and small decisions every day. The culture dictates whether you will trust them to make the right travel decisions.

While it can make sense to contract with preferred vendors for air, hotel and car rental, travelers crave flexibility to make smart choices when necessary. Some companies allow employees to pay the difference to upgrade to business class air service or a higher grade of hotel, or use a non-preferred vendor. Interestingly, surveys show that the ability to select a car rental provider is just as important as picking an airline or hotel.

To find out more about turning your corporate travel program into a competitive advantage, check out the agenda for ProcureCon Travel.

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