Q3 and Q4 are the perfect time for your company to make changes that drive greater return on investment from your business travel program.
Fall is here, and doesn’t it feel nice? Just one year ago, companies that rely heavily on a thriving business travel program were grounded for the most part. There was no COVID-19 vaccine available, and the future felt relatively uncertain.
Fast forward 12 months, and late 2021 is showing signs of promise. The percentage of vaccinated Americans and the percentage of those vaccinated around the world continues to tick up, and the world is growing more and more open for travel.
That’s why now is the best time to update your business travel program. The past 18 months have brought unprecedented changes to society and the global economy. Pre-COVID-19 travel programs don’t adequately address the realities faced today.
Here are 5 reasons why updating your business travel program is a great idea for fall 2021 and into 2022.
1. Embrace the Uncertainty
Travel has changed, and we can’t be certain that it will ever go back to the way it was again. For example, companies once focused on locking in fixed rates and guaranteed minimum volumes. In exchange for this guarantee, airlines and other travel vendors would offer much lower rates than typical passengers enjoy access to.
But it’s hard to fix rates right now. After all, who’s to say travel prices won’t crash again like they did during the pandemic? And it’s hard to guarantee minimum volumes right now, too. After all, in a recovering global economy, who’s to say business travel needs will continue unabated into the future?
We all hope that prices remain stable, which would indicate stability around the globe. We all hope that business travel demand continues to grow, which would be a sign of a diminished pandemic and a thriving economy. But look for dynamic rates that respond to the environment and real-time negotiations that take into account what’s going on at any given moment.
If nothing else, we’ve learned in recent months that the future is uncertain. Negotiate and work with your travel vendors in a way that reflects that uncertainty.
2. Tap Into Technology
There are more and better quality travel technologies available today than at any other time in history. These technologies can be used to maximize your travel-related return on investment and to help your Travelers be comfortable and productive while away from the office.
But you need to create the appropriate travel stack. Advanced technologies like Sherpa, Tripkicks and others can be used to streamline the travel experience and to help your business optimize its travel spend.
3. Motivate Your Travelers
We’ve already mentioned that travel technologies can help create more comfortable and more productive itineraries for your team members. But there’s much more you can do to motivate your Travelers in the modern age, including:
- Update your travel policy: Your travel policy needs overhauling as you rethink your travel program. Put an emphasis on risk management and duty of care. Your traveling team members are still dealing with a pandemic, as well as other potential threats to their health, safety and wellness. Create a travel policy that focuses on the Traveler and that helps your company live up to its duty of care responsibility.
- Create channels for feedback: What do your Travelers think about your travel program? They are the ones hitting the road for work each week. By creating channels for feedback, and by acting on that feedback, you demonstrate that your company understands the travel experience and cares for its Travelers.
- Implement mobile-first technologies: As you add new travel technologies, make sure they can be used by your Travelers through as many channels and on as many technologies as possible — especially mobile devices. This omnichannel approach is highly popular right now, and Travelers are coming to expect it. By putting high-quality technology in the hands of your team members, you give them greater power to create the comfortable and productive trips that are beneficial to everyone involved.
Team members who are motivated to travel and accomplish the objectives of any given trip are the ones that drive significant ROI for your travel program.
4. Discover Savings
A more dynamic approach to vendor negotiations can create long-term savings. And with new technologies come opportunities to automate processes and generally save on your travel spend. But, if you leave your travel program the same as it was in 2019, you’ll miss out on these opportunities.
Getting a strong return on investment for your travel spend is a 2-part process. First and foremost, you need to limit costs. A new approach to negotiations and implementation of new travel technologies can help you limit costs. Second, you need to get more out of each business trip. (More on this second part below.)
5. Drive More Revenue
We’ve learned during the pandemic that some meetings can be conducted virtually. This isn’t a detriment to business travel. Rather, it helps you and your team focus on the business trips that can deliver the biggest return.
Meetings with prospective clients. Meetings with current clients that want to expand your relationship. Tradeshows and other events rich with qualified prospects. These are the types of business trips that deliver a demonstrable return on your initial investment. As you reconsider your travel program by embracing uncertainty, finding new technologies, and motivating your Travelers, you’ll find that limiting costs and driving more revenue become natural outflows.
Get the Travel Support Your Program Deserves
At JTB Business Travel, we are a travel management company that provides comprehensive services to clients large and small. We can help recraft travel policies, select travel technologies and care for Travelers while they’re away from the office. Our products and services help companies limit their travel spend while maximizing ROI.
Get in touch to learn more about our common-sense approach to business travel.