Travel managers gathered to share the fundamentals of selling a travel programme to employees at the Business Travel Show at Olympia London on 20-21 February 2019.
Here are some of the tips travel managers shared for gaining stakeholder buy-in on global travel policies.
Getting employees to buy into your policy can be a challenge but according to Michael McSperrin, global head of facilities at recruitment firm Alexander Mann Solutions, the key is to keep your policy simple, especially if you’re trying to manage employee travel globally.
He said having a global policy that works across the board is important but being flexible on that policy drives into the culture of your business.
He continued: “If people feel like they're going to be punished or chased up, because they went £5 over your hotel rate cap, then it automatically creates a negative impression and negative feeling towards towards your policy and you want people to buy into it. Try to use your policy as a guide for them to help them know what is good value for money and drive better behaviours.”
While many travel managers may have several agencies working for them at a regional or local level, consolidating the amount of agencies you work with has its benefits.
Irina Kostyukova, head of business travel at Kaspersky Lab, said: “You get more consolidated data, you get better deals and savings and you can reduce paperwork and cash flow for the company.”
She explained while the ideal situation is to have one agency to oversee global travel, most companies should be able to use several regional agencies to ensure your firm receives the same level of service across the board and giving travel managers more control should any situations arise.
According to Lena Bjorkman, travel manager at Basware, while they have several agencies operating around the globe, having one account manager to manage all communications has given her time to take care of travellers and processes.
She said: “For me to thoroughly plan our process, I need to know and understand how our people travel and that's why I think reporting is very important. If I don't have the numbers then I don't understand who goes where, and how. I need to know what's happening, so the reporting process and account manager are so important.”
As well as communicating and educating your travellers through newsletters, travel managers should also be thinking of ways they can incorporate technology to better communicate with travellers, such as chatbots.
McSperrin said that by implementing the machine-learning tech to deal with basic employee queries such as resetting passwords and giving out phone numbers for TMCs, it has enabled the travel management team to focus on other areas.
He said: “We communicate through email, through newsletters, through internal social media platforms. I think if you keep that communication panel and mediums as varied as possible, then I think you'll find that you'll get a lot more buy-in from your travellers as well.”
According to Bjorkman, transitioning to a global travel programme made sense for efficiency, especially when it comes to finances.
She said: “Our accountant was always confused, because there were random payments from here and there, and lots of invoices. Now we have one invoice, and that's it, instead of having hundreds.”
Buying your travel with a global perspective ultimately gives travel managers more buying power, so always consider this when looking at new suppliers.
McSperrin said: “You may have travellers in Asia Pac coming to travel to Europe, but if you're only talking to suppliers in Europe about your European travel, you're missing a bit of your buying power there. So while you have to be flexible, I do think that taking a holistic global perspective helps drive better deals.”
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