One of the challenges facing corporate travel managers today is keeping up with changing demographics among your firm’s employees. As more millennials take over positions of power within corporations the end result can be a wave of out-of-date assumptions about what’s important to your travelers.
But the disconnect between a travel program and the corporate travelers it was created to serve isn’t always generational. Sometimes the misalignment is due to the structure of your travel management program itself. Having well defined silos that neatly divide your spend into airline, hotel and rental car may cause an over-reliance on traditional sourcing when what’s really called for is responsive sourcing that takes its cues from your spend itself.
For instance, if all of your travelers want to stay in only high-end hotels, having a contract with a cost-conscious chain may be a waste of your time and an annoyance for them every time you send out a nagging email reminding them to use your preferred supplier. It would be better to research the hotel companies in the high-end space, find the one who has the most properties in your top destinations, and the most reasonable price in that vertical and then make that vendor your preferred choice.
In a nutshell you want to let traveler behavior guide your choices in putting together your travel program, instead of trying to make their behavior match some pre-conceived concept of “managed” travel.
Here are some other examples of disconnects between program and traveler:
- You have a preponderance of millennial travelers but no corporate loyalty program set up for hotels they prefer. We recently put together a Guide to Lifestyle Hotel Brands for Business Travelers which took a look at many of the brands created by the hotel industry to attract millennial travelers. In covering the differences between the brands, we found quite a few that were too expensive for the comfort on display, but there were a few which offered great value. Marriott’s Aloft and Hilton’s Tru come immediately to mind, with the latter having nightly rates below $100 in many cases. Helping travelers find a “cool” brand they like that won’t break the bank is definitely a winning strategy.
- All your travelers are using Uber and Lyft and you’re still pushing that preferred car rental vendor you’ve had a contract with for a decade. Since both ride-share companies have drivers everywhere and corporate loyalty programs, either can work as a preferred supplier. Take a look at both vendor’s services for corporate travel accounts and evaluate which features would benefit your company most. But once again, traveler behavior should be a key factor. If the majority of your travelers are using Lyft then that should outweigh the fact that you like Uber’s program better. In any case you should try to consolidate bookings with just one of these two suppliers to ensure you’re getting the maximum value from your ride share spend.
- You’ve got travelers booking direct with Amtrak, but you don’t have the direct connect content activated in your online booking tool. Don’t forget to ask your corporate travel agency to set it so Amtrak fares are displayed when travelers are searching for flights in the tool. This is especially important if your travelers are based in the Northeast Corridor or anywhere else with a good Amtrak network.
- You have special needs travelers but have not made arrangements for special handling by your corporate travel agency. This can include wheelchair assistance at the airport, special rooms at their hotel and meet and greet services. All those options can be triggered by having a Special Needs designation in their traveler profile.
Often, the best way to make sure your travel program is a good match for travelers is to ask them what they want. A general survey asking for suggestions of ways to improve corporate travel service at your firm will yield improvements you might have missed. Whether it be options for booking bleisure travel, corporate dining loyalty programs, airport parking discounts or just a supplier or hotel property that’s a favorite, it never hurts to ask!
Teplis Travel provides highly customized corporate travel service platforms for its clients. We match solutions to each client’s specific needs. Your travelers can make reservations through an online booking tool, a mobile travel app or with a professional travel counselor. We can create a team of reservation center agents or place one onsite at your headquarters. We’ll fine tune your travel policy, and develop custom settings for preferred vendors, travel approval and fare search displays in our systems. To find out more about how we can improve your company’s corporate travel management program, please call us today at 888-367-9847 or email us at [email protected].