It’s all about the experience

It’s all about the experience

Business travel activity has picked up faster than most people in the industry expected.

But Covid-19 has changed the way people think about business travel.

Whether it’s health and safety, risk management or just sheer reluctance to return to old ways of travelling (and getting up super early in the morning) after spending the past 2.5 years of working from home - there’s a bunch of employees that are still a little reluctant to travel.

The hesitation to get back into the swing of regular business travel has some organisations turning to their account managers for suggestions on how to improve the business travel experience.

Managing Director of FCTG’s Australian and NZ corporate division Melissa Elf said a frequent topic of conversation for clients was about traveller experience, which she said was a direct result of the corporate sector’s huge focus on people right now.

“One of the key themes we’re really noticing from conversations with clients is the focus on the traveller experience. Traveller experience has always been an important part of travel programs and for procurement, but it’s always been coupled with cost and compliance,” Melissa said.

“But now we’re finding the traveller experience is the major area of focus for our clients and also the broader industry.”

Melissa said the focus on the traveller experience was obvious in different types of interactions with clients including RFPs and client meetings where FCM was being asked to talk to what the ‘customer experience’ was like for their different technology and tools.

“We’ve had scenarios recently where customers weren’t so worried about the technical capabilities of tools but wanted us to explain in detail what the traveller experience was like,” Melissa said. “We have always focused on both the customer experience and the technical capabilities of our platforms but now as a result of Covid there is an ongoing focus on making travel technology, processes and the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

“Across the industry there continues to be a lot of work being done to enhance every aspect of the customer journey. For a TMC there are aspects that are out of our control during a trip but there are ways we can help to support someone when things go awry.”

During the pandemic FCM used the downtime to -:

  • Invest in new and innovative technology such as the FCM Platform
  • Enhance existing technology such as FCM’s online booking tool with updated capabilities for a faster booking process, CO2 emission tracking and offsetting and richer content to help users make more informed decisions at the point of booking
  • Create a COVID Travel Hub featuring up-to-the-minute border and Covid-restriction search tools
  • Form a dedicated internal COVID travel support team to help Travel Managers with complex enquiries
  • Start a major global recruitment drive to increase headcount and support for customers
  • Provide comprehensive Covid travel advice and support in pre-trip customer communication and itineraries.

Using travel for recruitment and connection

Organisational travel programs and travel policy is also more important than ever for recruitment strategies. The ‘great resignation’ has swung the pendulum of power and choice towards the employee. Companies looking to attract and retain the best talent now need to look at their travel programs as assets that can be used to draw interest for certain roles.

“Prospective employees are asking what are your travel policies like and what are the travel entitlements … because they can pick and choose between companies,” Melissa said.

The other trend driving conversation with FCM’s customers is ‘connection’.

“We’ve been frequently hearing from customers who are asking ‘how do we connect again’? Our meetings and events teams are so busy at the moment, which is amazing … we didn’t think business events would come back so quickly. But it has.

“And it’s because organisations are looking to unite their people again, to reignite their culture and also to connect with their own customer or supplier networks.”

Feel like your business could do with some advice on improving the traveller experience? Or do you have plans for a knock-out conference to inspire and engage your employees again, we have you covered.

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