Business Travel iQ
It's not a coincidence that Pharrell William's 'Happy' became one of the biggest songs of the year in 2014. It's not just that he knows how to put together an incredibly catchy song, but the sentiment and emotion that comes with it too.
Millions have appeared in videos dancing to the global hit and it even resulted in six people arrested in Iran, where it is banned to be seen dancing in a broadcast. This law-breaking did not stop them from posting the video online though and is one of several recent instances that show how our world is increasingly focused on one thing: happiness.
Could you say you take happiness levels into consideration when devising and negotiating your travel programme? Companies and even governments are already increasingly looking at ways to make us happier within the workplace; it's why there are more flexible working hours and changes to policies on areas such as paternity leave.
On a wider scale, the European Commission recently agreed to include social and environmental considerations into its economic decision-making, alongside the commonly-used GDP. This Social Progress Index (SPI) will evaluate areas such as healthcare, housing and a country's eco-system to see how economic success is connected to social progress too.
Further afield, Bhutan is well-known for basing its success on Gross National Happiness instead of GDP. This was developed in the seventies based on Buddhist values, focused on how its residents felt in terms of safety, security and wellness above the way they feel financially.
It's easy to see how this Zen-filled package would appeal to the business traveller, and companies could benefit in productivity and subsequently financial performance as a result. But currently the happiness focus is probably more on the day-to-day office environment than when we step on a plane.
Continued belowIs post-trip relaxation important to traveller happiness? Photo credit: ©iStock.com/waymoreawesomer
Travel managers have the most control pre-trip. Consider that a trip could be at the wrong time in someone's personal life, or they might be worried about going to a new place. A simple booking process with the flexibility to change arrangements, alongside training around any concerns all contribute to a smoother start.
Once the traveller gets in a taxi or on a train the control is out of your hands, but travel managers shouldn't just leave it to suppliers to help travellers feel better and encounter minimal stress. Measures could be taken when the traveller gets back too.
At the Business Travel Show, nutritionist Tracey Randall shared her idea of a 'duvet day' post-trip for all travellers. In her dream world, she'd also make it policy that these travellers would also not be expected to pick up their phone on this day, so they can fully recuperate.
After all when it's been a hard day at work sometimes all we want to do is sit in front of the television with a bag of sweets and a boxset. So why should it be any different after we've travelled?