Corporate Travel survey finds Senior Management the main culprits in flouting companies’ travel policy.
The much-maligned millennial generation gets a bad rap for a lot of things in the workplace. In the world of travel, it’s their alleged maverick disregard for company travel policies and their propensity to extend business trips for a day or two of leisure.
A recent study conducted by FCM and the African Business Travel Association (ABTA) has however found that in South Africa, it is in fact senior management that flouts corporate travel policies, not millennials.
The survey among corporate travel and procurement managers indicated that the reasons for ignoring travel policy when booking travel included lack of training about the policy, annoyance over the amount of time it takes to approve travel requests through the company’s channels, and the perception that they can do better and find it cheaper online.
In today’s traveller-centric environment, travel policies need to be flexible enough to consider the specific requirements of different levels of staff and their functions. There’s no reason why different rules should not apply for your senior management, or for staff where it makes business sense for travel policy to be flexible.
What is the point of saving a few thousand rand when your sales director wasn’t persuasive enough to seal a multi-million rand deal after spending the night in a crowded economy class seat. With a specific focus on how your travel policy can be more traveller-centric, companies will improve their travellers’ productivity and enjoy greater returns on their investment in corporate travel.
The idea of traveller centricity has become increasingly popular after years of corporate travel policy having the almost-exclusive goal of delivering cost savings.
This requires companies to recognise that the business traveller is the driver of the company’s revenue through their activity and as such their goal to achieve the company’s objectives should be facilitated through travel, whether this contributes to cost-cutting initiatives, or not.
As travel management policies mature internationally, traveller centricity has become a key focus to increase productivity and compliance. In the past companies have been under pressure to cut their travel costs and choose less-expensive travel options that can be less convenient for travellers. This strategy could in fact be counter-productive as it fails to consider the hidden costs of traveller friction and the failure of that business trip to achieve certain goals as a result.
It’s not just about the softer side of traveller satisfaction and productivity. It’s also about hard business benefits. If a company is successful in giving its travellers the policies, tools and experiences they want, programme compliance also benefits” and this in turn helps to bring down the total costs of business travel.
Companies are also better able to meet their duty of care obligations because everyone’s travel plans are known and individual travellers have no reason to flout approved policies and book with other suppliers.
It is important to provide travellers with information about why these policies exist and why certain rules apply.
Travellers who do not understand the rules of their travel policy and why these are put in place, may think they can find a better travel option on their own and thus ignore the travel policy.
What they do not understand is that although the price could be lower, it may not consider ancillaries like free WiFi, breakfast, etc. And that by not booking through the correct channels, they put themselves at risk if there’s an emergency because their company has no idea where they are.
Also useful in implementing a traveller-centric policy is to get feedback from your business travellers about their needs and reasons for not complying with travel policy based on their age, travel requirements and role within the company.
This is an ongoing requirement, but the more the programme meets the needs of the traveller, the more likely that traveller will comply with the corporate travel policy and, of course, those needs change continuously.