Well done for avoiding travel, here’s a holiday to Bermuda

6 February 2013
‘Gamification’ is quite the in-thing these days. Apps such as FourSquare have, for millions of users, turned mundane everyday tasks, such as grabbing a coffee, into a literal game of life. Go to the same coffee shop, bar or gym more times than anyone else and you can become ‘mayor’ of that establishment and receive rewards. I’ve never actually tried FourSquare as the spoils just don’t provide me with sufficient incentive, but do see the appeal of the concept. That concept popped into my head once again on Monday as I was attending this week’s Business Travel Show.

During the first talk I attended, Torbjorn Erling, global meetings and travel manager at Ikea, discussed the changing role of the travel buyer, where they take on responsibility for managing travel avoidance by pushing solutions such as video-conferencing. In the second presentation, Jennifer Steinke, director of corporate travel and meetings at US Foods, explained she compares departmental travel spend and uses the disparity (and the fact that the CEO sees the results) to motivate an underperforming team to improve.

A point raised by an audience member on the day was that by cutting out travel or reducing the class of seat, you might reduce an employee’s motivation. A £20 Hemmingway at the end of an all-day meeting in Shanghai might seem to go beyond a reasonable expense, but if it helps that employee relax before a second day of meetings, is it not worthwhile?

If you take away too many perks certain people are bound to respond in a negative manner, so motivation is key. It made me consider gamification. Why not marry the ideas of Erling and Steinke and ‘gamify’ travel avoidance? Develop a robust definition of travel avoidance, measure how much each employee avoids and reward those that excel. If staff increase video conferencing, cut out cocktails, and bring down overall spend by 35 per cent, offer them a holiday to Bermuda.
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