During the entire sequence of a trip, a business traveler will confront problems that can influence their travel experience. Recently, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation published a study, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, recognizing the extremely stressful facets of business travel. Though there are numerous parallels for road warriors worldwide, there are also some variances. The study, Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience, is centered on a survey of business travelers worldwide, as well as interviews with travel managers and human resources personnel. The other goal of the study was to understand what corporations and managed travel programs can do to improve business travel experience.
According to the GBTA and Sabre study, most of these are mutual troubles – they are very time-consuming. Whether it is wasted time in transit, a layover or the time to change a reservation in the middle of a trip, these all delay business travelers from concentrating on the reason for their trip. Travel programs can mitigate the difficulties that happen by explaining or reorganizing policies, or by implementing enhanced technologies.
“A poor travel experience can have detrimental consequences, not only in achieving business goals, but also regarding employee satisfaction, morale and retention,” says Brent Blake, President of Acendas Travel. “It would behoove companies to study these points of ‘friction’ and how it can reduce or eliminate them. We are finding there can be a disconnect between those who set policies and those who must adhere to them. Our own experience reveals that certainly reducing costs are important, but removing stress through time savings, technology access, avoidance of delays, and seamless changes in itineraries is an equally vital element of a travel program. This can be accomplished through proper policies and the use of technology.”
In North America, travelers participating in the GBTA/Sabre survey identified the five most stressful aspects of travel; time spent in transit (61 percent), layovers (48 percent), changing a flight or train reservation during a trip (42 percent), and work environment while traveling (41 percent).
Why is an improved business travel experience so important?
Business travel in North America can have a substantial influence on employee retention and satisfaction. The GBTA/Sabre report indicates 79 percent say their business travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction at least somewhat. Interestingly, this figure is higher for Millennials at 88 percent. Business travel not only impacts how personnel think about their employer, but also can influence whether they accept a new job. The GBTA/Sabre report says 59 percent specify that a corporation’s travel policy is a key factor when considering a possible new employer. Furthermore, 84 percent says the quality of their business travel experience influences their business results at least somewhat.
Solutions to reduce traveler stress
How can companies address these challenges? Here are a few ideas:
• Divide travelers by frequency of travel to comprehend how the program and/or policy should change based on the needs of each group.
• Concentrate on the reason for the trip and the results that your company hopes to achieve during travel.
• Update travel policies to reinforce traveler efficiency, as well as trying to reduce road warriors’ trips to alleviate stress.
• Look for ways to include leisure options during business travel where available.
• Corporations can urge managers to observe road warriors for indications of exhaustion related to travel.
Want to learn more about the technology and communication processes your company can implement to make travelers more productive? Read our second blog in this series, Business Traveler Zen Part 2: Technology and Communication to Enhance the Program.