Expert insight

Making travel smarter

8 August 2019

How data, psychology and technology can be used to change traveller behaviours, improve wellbeing and cut costs.

Few industries are going to be left untouched by the emergence of powerful technologies that change both how people live their lives and how they navigate the world of work. The future of business travel management is no different and will undoubtedly see innovative technologies created which better meet the evolving demands of travellers and organisations.

Reducing travel costs, eliminating unnecessary travel and simplifying the entire travel experience remain important goals for corporate travel bookers, but there is a growing need to gain an understanding of how these factors relate to traveller wellbeing.

Unless organisations are able to unify their disparate data, for example by joining together human resources (HR) data with travel data, it will be difficult to understand the often complex reasons behind why people travel in the way they do. Yet many organisations hold their data in silos that limit their ability to extract actionable insights to help improve the experience for travellers.

“By bringing together data sets from around the business, including HR records, absenteeism and attrition information, organisations are able to identify traveller personas that provide insight into the probable impact travel is having on employees,” says Trevor Elswood, chief commercial officer at Capita Travel and Events, a leading specialist in travel, meetings and event management.

Capita Travel and Events have heavily invested in advanced data science expertise. Their work is enabling organisations to improve understanding of the underlying relationship between travel and the performance of employees, as well as the wider organisational impact of travel and meeting spend. Through their smarter working approach, backed by behavioural science, Capita Travel and Events supports employees and travel bookers to make informed decisions when booking travel.

“With thousands of these data records, we can start to see the wider view of their current travel policies. Deep analysis of data sources has consistently indicated a high concentration of travel leads to a higher probability of being absent versus their non-travelling colleagues,” says Mr Elswood.

A key strategy that many organisations are now following is making the link between travel and meetings. Capita Travel and Events are innovating in this space with their “meetings at the heart of travel” thinking. Meetings generate travel, so through understanding the total cost of a meeting, including the impact on wellbeing, travel time and lost productivity, you start to create strategic opportunity.

The use of traveller personas allows organisations to improve the level of personalisation their employees have throughout their entire travel experience. “We enable organisations to present a booking process to employees that has already been designed to offer the most relevant services to them. If they want to select or deselect items, it’s possible within company policy, but the organisation’s best outcome is always preselected, based on some of the travel components. Individuals have to then consciously deselect that choice; it’s a highly effective nudge designed to ensure travellers and travel arrangers do the right things,” says Mr Elswood.

As business leaders understand the importance of employee wellbeing and increasingly view employees as one of their most valuable assets, they will benefit from partnering with a travel management firm that can support employees in being well rested, productive and happy in their jobs.

Capita Travel and Events is uniquely positioned to meet the changing demands of customers as the travel management firm has appointed a chief data officer, a head of behavioural science and head of traveller experience to ensure organisations not just understand why people travel the way they do, but also shift traveller behaviours so they plan, book, meet and travel smarter.

“We’ve built our business through strategic acquisitions to address significant market gaps. We integrated industry-leading firms, including a hotel booking specialist, a rail specialist, and a meetings and events specialist. This has resulted in a company that is focused on creating better outcomes and value for our customers who share similar profiles of high levels of domestic travel and meetings spend, and the need for uncompromised online enablement,” Mr Elswood concludes.