< PrevNext > Corporate Travel Must Personalize By GoldSpring Consulting partner Will Tate / 27 January 2017 Share Personalization seems to be everywhere these days, from item suggestions when you log on to Amazon to the promoted photos and ads in your social media feeds. This level of personalization tends to be a mixed bag, however. Order one baby shower gift for a family friend or a duck call for your Uncle Bob, and suddenly your suggestion list is thrown through a loop. There have been inroads in correcting this phenomenon, and lessons learned in a retail application are being utilized within the travel industry with increasing rapidity.Given this dynamic and swift industry development, many of the tried-and-true key performance indicators are becoming obsolete. One example: the view of the traveler experience. While today's focus may be on social media commentary, text and email comments, another level of thinking is required for innovation. But before we discuss the how, we need to understand the why.Why the Emphasis on Traveler Experience?Studies consistently note that more of today's business travelers prioritize life experiences over money. They prefer travel that permits a better work/life balance, rather than longer hours with bigger financial gains. This trend has caught on so much in recent years that HR groups report that interview candidates are asking for the company travel policy before accepting a position. Competition for top talent never becomes easier.The personalization available through leisure sites also creates a gap from the corporate travel experience. Picking your specific hotel room or hotel pillow type or adding an excursion have become the new standard. It's easy to see why travelers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the corporate experience. We seem to be approaching the breaking point quickly: Either improve the corporate travel experience, or watch leakage grow exponentially.What Does the Future Hold?Measuring and justifying the somewhat squishy ROI of traveler experience initiatives is a challenge. We need a traveler experience metric that adapts to the changing market, bridges the gaps and a sets the path to the future. Consider a travel measure with two components: traveler preferences that are aligned with corporate preferences and a personalized traveler-level travel policy—all measured with purpose of travel and business outcomes in mind.Traveler preferences could be weighted for:Travel durations (such as shortest, avoiding certain airports)Preferred suppliers (aligning corporate and traveler)Integration with supplier loyalty programs (for upgrades, amenities, priority boarding)Other specific travel preferences (rail over air, rental cars versus taxis/ridesharing)A personalized travel policy could encapsulate:Where the traveler is in his or her lifecycle (e.g., single, married, kids or elderly parent dependents)Frequency of travelType of travel (new sales, customer retention, building of company knowledge base, warranty issues, conferences)Need for productivity on tripThink of the goodwill earned for the company from travelers when they know a personalized, customized travel experience has been built expressly for them and combined with duty of care and 24/7 support to achieve a level of service they will not find elsewhere. Combining traveler preferences with a personalized travel policy will provide a customized life experience for business travel, allow companies to compete for talent and close the gap on the personalized experience so often noted on leisure sites.Look for 2017 to be the year that the push to quantify the traveler experience ROI gets the limelight and attention from senior management. Will an industry standard traveler experience metric be introduced? Perhaps not, but astute traveler managers with the backing of forward-thinking organizational leadership will do much this year to quantify the value of the traveler experience and move the discussion forward industrywide. Yes, ordering baby shower gifts and duck calls may spin personalization a bit, but it's a required step torward the travel program of the future.