All aboard for savings

27 October 2010
In the opening column to the autumn issue of the Supply Management business travel supplement, Rebecca Ellinor says a “do as I do” approach needs to be adopted. If bosses lead by example, it’s much easier to motivate staff to make changes to their own travel habits. So says a study of the cost-conscious traveller conducted by American Express. The research, published this month, finds 46 per cent of the executives had been inspired to cut their travel costs as a result of the example set by their boss taking trains, downgrading flights, and publishing their travel expenses. But, says the study, more than half of managers are still taking a “do as I say” not a “do as I do” approach. Business travel has long been an emotive subject. Sometimes it is important to make the journey and not unreasonable to expect a degree of comfort. Despite the need to be environmentally aware and cost-conscious, business travel is not going to go away – and nor is absolute standardisation an appropriate response. But what does still seem to be needed is a change in the mindset of many senior executives. If reducing business travel spend is not an issue, no problem. If carbon emissions aren’t a concern, then fine. But if both are on the agenda at your organisation, then those at the top will probably have to accept some changes if they want others to follow. According to the research, the top five business travel cost cutting measures firms have implemented include: offering more videoconferencing, requesting employees take public transport rather than taxis, downgrading hotel choices, and flying one way in economy but the other in business so staff are refreshed and ready for meetings. Costs are on the rise again and accordingly, so too is spend – by as much as 15 per cent next year according to the Association of Corporate Travel Executives – making the implementation of such changes increasingly pressing for both the private and public sector.
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