Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
We return this week to the issue of mis-connecting - the large number of travellers who are going outside company policy to book their flights on airline websites.
Some companies are experiencing between 10%-20% of its travellers doing this and one is faced with losing its airline deal and with it £100,000 in savings.
Mike Platt, managing director described it as the “biggest problem facing business travel management,” adding “either we bring these travellers under control or it is goodbye to travel management.”
BBT had a good response to last week's article suggesting this matter is exercising more than a few people.
The general feeling was that more communication is needed and more support for the policy from the senior executives. There was also the view that travel managers and agents should be prepared to take more notice of the traveller.
One interesting point was that people in the industry but outside the buyers or the agents blamed travel managers for the lack of communication with their travellers. One said: “This sounds like the travel manager is just not going out and getting his message across.” But only one thought that mandating the policy was the answer.
A travel manager who asked, understandably, to remain anonymous, said the biggest problem he faced was getting the full support of his ceo. This was a theme that rumbled at the Management Solutions (UK) conference where mis-connecting was recently aired. The best intentioned travel manager who set out to tell his colleagues of the travel policy found the ceo and other senior executive conspicuous by their absence during the communications process.
“It is not a large travel budget compared with the firm's turnover but air spend does run into the low millions with one city pair which warrants a corporate deal,” he said. “But the ceo has not shown much interest so we do get travellers who search the net for what they think is the best deal and book knowing there are not likely to be any serious consequences. It does undermine the point of having a travel policy.”
But the most detailed response came from Robert Daykin, senior partner with The Corporate Travel Partnership, who took up the point made by Tim Snow, senior manager in the strategic sourcing department at Prudential, that good procurement departments to listen to their travellers.
“I get the impression from the article that the so called TMCs are more worried about the business/income they are losing rather than helping the traveller save money and making it easier for them to get on with the important thing in their life - their work and business objectives.
“Quite rightly the travellers are challenging the value of the â€˜middle man.' Anything that sits between the traveller and the trip and which adds no value from their perspective needs to be questioned,” Mr Daykin said.
Travellers could find it cheaper or more convenient their way but was there anyone listening?, he said. “The challenge today is for organisations to construct a T&E programme, which is much more than just a travel agent and policy, that delivers significant benefit for the user, as well as for the company.
“There must be good, valid reasons and some 'real' benefit for the user to follow a particular process. So many times we see the user and their needs are not accommodated and there seems to be more focus on making it easier for â€˜purchasing' or â€˜finance'or the â€˜travel agent.'
“But to deliver real success means making it easy for the traveller to do the right thing.
“This is about more than just travel, it's about achieving business objectives, it's about minimising cost and eliminating waste, it's about business interaction management and it's about supporting the traveller as they strive to achieve the goals of the trip.”
This puts a different emphasis on the purposes of a travel policy, a tool to help achieve business objectives rather than a means to minimise the spend of anyone sent by the company on a business trip.
Both are in their way valid but are they compatible and how, in the process can you please both the corporate and the traveller?