Most travel managers wouldn’t have needed 2018’s survey by ACTE to tell them that mid travelers want more control of their travel experiences, with greater emphasis placed on work/life balance and empowerment to make their own decisions.
The reality is that travel policies and tools should put the traveler first. That means prioritizing savings alongside employee satisfaction. The new generation of business traveler is no less likely to deviate from travel policy than their predecessors, but is less likely to put up with policies and programs that do not meet their needs or expectations.
90% of employees view business travel as a perk of the job but when travel policy’s primary objective is cost reduction instead of employee satisfaction, the perk can become a problem. 2018 research found that a lack of flexibility to prioritize personal travel preferences is business travelers second most-frequent complaint about company travel policy.
Then there’s the issue of traveler health and well-being. A 2018 study by Columbia University’s School of Public Health found that travelers spending 14 or more nights away from home every month were more over-weight, didn’t do enough (or any) exercise, and showed symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence. Presenteeism is the term given to employees showing up for work when they are not well enough to do their jobs. This is estimated to cost the U.S. more than $150 billion a year.
All of which adds up to a pretty strong business case to ensure your travel policy meets your travelers’ needs as well as the firm’s.
Satisfied business travelers tend to be more productive and policy compliant. Ease of travel, effective digital tools, amenities such as free Wi-Fi and preferred airline boarding will all make travelers more satisfied and needn’t compromise budget or policy.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to measuring traveler satisfaction.
- Make sure you have the necessary insight into travelers’ opinions by deciding what to measure. Are you assessing the suitability or quality of your preferred hotels? The standard of service you get from your TMC? Each of these elements could impact travel compliance.
- Make sure you have enough resources to collect travelers’ views. If you don’t, you risk making dissatisfied travelers even more dissatisfied.
- Your TMC can play a big part in surveying travelers because they have access to the data that provides the necessary insight into traveler behaviors and can identify any disconnects within your policy.
- Survey your travelers regularly, ideally after each trip or – for regular travelers – monthly. This should help you spot trends more easily.
- Encourage travelers to engage with your TMC, not only as part of your regular satisfaction surveys, but to raise any issues with their travel. Your TMC should be able to track and record any concerns and maintain a log so they can be addressed.
- Put the findings from your satisfaction surveys into the context of industry trends by reading reports and other survey findings. Understanding identify trends can help you to pro-actively identify traveler concerns and to take corrective action..
When all is said and done, asking for feedback (and acting upon it) is only the first stage to ensuring traveler satisfaction. Business travel suppliers are up-grading their products all the time, so travel managers need to stay abreast of new products, amenities and services.
In a fiercely-competitive global talent market, the level of benefits or perks available to your travelers should, as a minimum, be comparable with those available to travelers in rival firms. Benchmarking is as much of a tool to assess traveler satisfaction as any survey.