As business travel returns, companies are re-assessing their travel programmes, placing even greater emphasis on cost control, change and risk management.
Any re-engineering required will need to be completed before travellers take to the air, rails and roads again. So, it’s never been more important to provide the traveller with the support necessary to instil confidence in travel and to guide them through schedules that could be subject to sudden and late change.
The challenge to travel managers lies in delivering the right message, at the right time, in ways that produce the best results. This means providing travellers with the content and information they need, the knowledge of where to find it and what to do before they travel.
Travellers needs have changed since lockdown. Their biggest concerns now surround social distancing, transport/hotel cleanliness and being under-informed. Instead of convenience and amenities, safety and wellbeing are now the most important criteria for travellers when choosing a hotel or venue.
Understanding traveller needs
At Capita Travel and Events, we are helping travel managers understand their traveller’s new needs by talking to them. By asking the right questions and understanding their concerns, travel managers can turn insight into action, thereafter creating messaging that encourages travellers to trust their travel programmes.
We monitor a number of industry initiatives guiding travel managers on traveller safety protocols and how they can be implemented. Recent arrivals include TAMS (Travel and Meetings Standards), a coalition of corporate travel professionals that recommends a staged approach to traveller engagement. This is their advice, together with some of our own.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make each goal ‘SMART’ - specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time bound. Focus on the core aspects of the travel programme and what travellers need to know about air, hotels, ground transport, meetings and events, technology and the role of your travel management company.
Do your travellers understand and trust the travel programme? Is it aligned to your corporate brand? A review of your policy will identify enhancements that will ensure your policies remain relevant and effective in the post-Covid world.
Review your channels
Most organisations have a vast array of channels they utilise to communicate with its workforce. From closed social communities to townhalls, online book tools, e-mail and Instagram, consider every tool at your disposal. Make your travel policy visual by using video, imagery and audio. A simple infographic can highlight key points and even give travellers all they need to get started.
If your organisation uses a mobile app, make sure your re-tooled travel programme is mobile-friendly. If the company doesn’t use an app, consider introducing one to put policy information at travellers’ fingertips. Apps enable messaging to be customised, ensuring that the right message reaches the appropriate person.
Get your messaging right
Avoiding messaging overload; making messages relevant, timely and tonally appropriate to organisation culture. Messaging is critical. Anyone can issue an instruction, but for that instruction to be acted upon demands behavioural insight. Linking that with service design expertise makes Smarter Working a winning formula.
Know your audience
Is your message reaching the right person to produce the required responses? Different divisions or departments, even the people within those teams, may have different travel patterns and needs. Do existing communication channels work for everyone? You may need to tailor your messaging, using multiple channels for maximum impact.
It isn’t a simple job though, or one to be tackled alone. Stakeholders need to be brought together and closely involved. Senior level executives are particularly important here because they will be providing the support to get the workforce back to the office and onto the road. They need to be kept informed at every stage. And don’t forget external stakeholders; your travel management company will have valuable insight.
Refine your strategy
Encourage travellers to use the tools available to them. Promote the benefits of using your online booking tool and mobile app by focussing on how they help the employee. Once you have completed your review, understood travellers’ needs and begun communicating with travellers again, monitor their effectiveness. Seeking out and acting upon traveller feedback should be a constant feature of your travel programme.
Restoring traveller and delegate confidence in travelling on business are the primary objective of any traveller engagement programme. Reviews should, of course, take place on a regular basis in any organisation. What makes this one so different is the fundamental changes in travellers’ needs that have accentuated safety and wellbeing at the top of the priority list.
Capita Travel and Events can help you design and implement the effective traveller engagement strategy by drawing on our insight of corporate travel programmes, behavioural science and analytics. Traveller engagement in a post-Covid world is critical – and so it is getting the engagement right.