How can changing traveller behaviour reduce business travel spend?
Enforcing compliance with travel policies can be difficult – but it is also an activity that can secure significant savings.
When travellers book outside stated travel policies, they often cost the organisation more because they aren’t taking advantage of carefully negotiated agreements with key suppliers.
What’s more, they are wasting time looking for alternate deals and, in a crisis, might not have access to the flexibility in rebooking and other vital support they need.
The travel management team get frustrated because their hard work isn’t delivering the promised savings.
And the organisation fails to meet its environmental targets, profitability targets, or fulfil its duty of care effectively.
What’s a Travel Manager to Do?
There are plenty of reasons to encourage staff to comply with stated travel policies.
But the degree to which travellers don’t comply seems to suggest that it is harder to achieve than reason alone. A recent report by software company Concur and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that only 57% of travellers believe they have to follow a travel policy.
However, with clear policies and a consistent approach to policy communication and enforcement, it is possible to improve compliance and reduce travel costs.
Firstly, by clearly stating travel policies and ensuring that all staff are aware of them and understand them.
As well as educating staff about travel policies, you need to give staff incentives to abide by your them. This requires a multi-faceted approach:
- Clearly explaining why the policies are as they are and why it is important to abide by them,
- Reporting to travellers (either privately or publicly) how well they are complying with your stated travel policies,
- Offering incentives and rewards for those staff who do comply, and
- Penalising travellers who consistently fail to comply – whether through instigating more onerous travel approval processes for these individuals, or them simply missing out on the incentives given to those who do comply.
Organisations need to create visibility of traveller non-compliant spend and show its impact to both the traveller and other key stakeholders. When employees can see the financial consequences of their actions, they’re more likely to change their behaviour.
Creating a culture of compliance where employees feel encouraged and empowered to make the right decisions for themselves and the business can come in many guises:
- Create ownership - get employee feedback about how they would like any incentive scheme would work before implementing it; this will foster a sense of ownership in the incentive scheme from day one.
- Build trust – explain how abiding by the policies can improve profitability and help to achieve business goals.
- Make compliance easy – choose suppliers with whom your business travellers want to work.
- Demonstrate value – tell real-life stories about the extra support and benefits of booking via approved suppliers.
- Reward good behaviour – with incentives for those who adhere to travel policy.
- Make it public – by sharing performance data in league tables on employee portals and intranet.
- Give control – offer an app where each employee can track their own progress and see the value of their own policy adherence.
Travel managers can’t ensure travel policies are strictly adhered to on their own; it must be a collaborative effort between travel management staff, internal communications teams, HR, suppliers and the business travellers themselves.
Travel Counsellors can help you develop travel policies that work for your organisation and ensure that travellers abide with them.
Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.