travel programme
Angry businessman with crumbled paper
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Are your travellers complaining they are feeling unproductive, don’t sleep well and can’t keep up with their workload while travelling? It could just mean your travel programme is too focussed on cost and not enough on the traveller!

Corporate travel managers today are consistently under pressure to cut costs. As a result, they tighten travel policies where possible, often opting for less-expensive hotels and less-convenient flights. But, this could come at a much higher cost than expected!

Tough, cost-focussed travel policies carry significant negative consequences, according to a recent study, The Hidden Expenses of a Cost-Focused Travel Program, conducted by Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).

It seems that road warriors in cost-focused programmes have 22% fewer effected trips than their colleagues in traveller-focussed programmes, 13% are more interested in a new job, and 74% want to travel much less in two years. Additionally, they experienced significantly higher rates of sickness and stress, and lower quality sleep.

“Tough, tight travel policies have significant business costs,” says Scott Gillespie, managing partner at tClara. “You’ll save money in the travel budget, but you’re buying less-effective trips and causing more frustrated travellers.”

So, how do you measure the cost of ‘cheaper’ travel?

It can be difficult to put an exact price on traveller friction. But, to give you an idea: replacing a highly paid employee requiring specialised training can cost up to 213% of the employee’s annual salary. Additional indirect costs can include reduced team morale, decreased productivity, and the loss of clients and institutional knowledge.

Designing a traveller-focussed travel program can help companies retain top talent. But, how can travel companies make their travel policy more attractive?

Travel programs don’t change overnight, but managers can start making small, conscious decisions that shift their policies from a cost-focussed model to a more traveller-focussed model.

Gillespie recommends starting with some of the most frequently requested trip factors. For business travellers in cost-focused programs these requests are: non-stop flights when available; the ability to fly premium economy on domestic flights; flying business class on flights longer than six hours; easier expense reporting; and reimbursement for airline lounge membership.

Travellers under traveller-friendly policies have a very different set of asks. Top requests for those in traveller-focused programs include paid time off after a long trip; the flexibility to work from home the day before or the day after a trip; and occasional two-week periods of work with no travel, spaced throughout the year.

Honouring the most frequent requests of business travellers can have a significant impact on both productivity and attrition.