Redefining Care: Changes in Expectations

Redefining Care: Changes in Expectations

In our previous blog post, Care as a Duty, we discussed the perception of care within the business travel industry, examining how the wider industry considers care, versus how we at Travel Counsellors view the term.

And there is an undoubted a divide.

For many people within the business travel industry care is linked to the moral and legal duty of a business to keep their employees from harm whilst travelling. And although it is undeniably important to ensure travellers are safe, and the business they are representing is legally protected, it often feels more like obligation than genuine concern.  

At Travel Counsellors we take a different approach. For us care is synonymous with personalisation – treating each and every traveller as an individual, acknowledging and working with the differences found from business to business, person to person.

So, if we accept that for many people within business travel care is synonymous with travel risk management, the next question we need to consider is why do we need a new definition?

Why does care need redefining now?

What are the factors driving this need?

And can we truly create an industry that puts the individual front and centre, without compromising on other elements of the travel program?

Through our research, speaking to travellers, travel buyers and suppliers, we have identified some key trends that are driving the need to redefine care within the business travel industry.

Over the next three blog posts, we’re going to break down some of the wider trends at play. We’ll examine why now really is the time to start shifting the definition of care, and the impact it could have on your business, and the wider business travel industry as a whole.

Changes in Expectations

“Until companies stop over-simplifying their customers and start accepting that they are ever-changing, multi-dimensional people deeply impacted by unpredictable external forces, they’ll find themselves stuck.” Accenture 

Firstly, let’s consider the changing expectations of travellers.

We all know that individuals are complex. Whether that individual is a traveller, a supplier, an internal stakeholder or a governing body; despite their complexity, we default to boxes and labels. We all make assumptions. We think we know drivers and trends. But the reality is that things have changed, and with that so have the people using our services.

In a recent report looking at customer centric approaches to business, Accenture discovered that the reality was entirely different to the perception. Customers can see straight through ‘personalisation’ and they don’t want it. They no longer want to be a persona, pushed into a marketing defined box. They want to be contradictory, complex and unique.

We have seen this play out all too recently within travel. Since the upheaval of 2020 there is now no single way to do things.

Some people who previously were road warriors, now opt to stay at home. Some people couldn’t wait to get back out there travelling again.

Some want to travel, but on different terms.

And the cherry on top? All of these opinions keep changing and evolving as the world around us remains unsettled and volatile.

“Things have changed dramatically since the pandemic. A lot of businesses are experiencing poor service, and the human touch is being lost everywhere – not just in travel, but many other industries too,” says Gold status BDM for Travel Counsellors, Julie Walne. “More and more of the businesses I speak to are wanting to move away from faceless corporations. It sounds cheesy, but we restore people’s faith by putting both care and the personal touch into every interaction we have with a client.”

And this is where the life-centric approach we are famous for takes centre stage.

Customer centricity still views the end user as a ‘type’, defined only by their consumption. And it just isn’t accurate. In travel we may ‘consume’ the same trips as a colleague, but feel entirely differently about them.

Life centricity, however, is being aware of the vast array of influences and forces on an individual and taking these into account.

Trying to find simple ways to define a traveller no longer works. They are not simple, and this disconnect between company perception and the individual’s reality is being felt on both sides on the fence.

One key area in travel where this disconnect is being strongly felt is the ongoing personalisation debate. Is personalisation, in regards to NDC predominantly, care led or profit led? A personalised, customer centric approach that has increased profitability as its primary purpose, doesn’t fit with our definition of care or providing a tailored, personal service.

“Never before in my career have I known that my clients will be looked after to the levels they are by Travel Counsellors. Having worked for a number of competitors, there is simply no comparison,” Julie explains.

With expectations changing rapidly, throughout all sectors, we must start to change too. What was accepted before, in terms of care, has become tired. Travellers have seen beyond the smoke and mirrors of traveller tracking apps and OBTs – they are demanding to be seen as individuals, and have services that work to meet their individual needs.

And it is working to this level, building care and true personalisation into travel strategy, policy, technology and culture that will allow businesses to fully embrace life centricity. It is by no means an easy journey, but it is one which our end users have already embarked on.

We need to let go of what we THINK we know about caring for our travellers and start to get personal.

Expectations have changed, and we all need to change alongside them.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be publishing a series of blogs looking at the concept of care in business travel – from the current definition, to what is driving this change and finally what we believe the new definition of care should be.

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Redefining Care: Changes in the Workforce

19 June 2024

Alongside changes in expectations, the second trend we believe is influencing the need to reconsider our definition of care, is the change in the make-up of the global workforce. In our latest 'Redefining Care' blog, we explore why it's more important than ever to have a travel programme that caters to the individual needs and expectations of the workforce - particularly in relation to Gen-Z travellers.

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03 June 2024

In our latest blog post, to mark Pride Month, we delve into five practical tips for businesses aiming to support their LGBTQ+ employees when they’re on the road for work. From understanding local laws and cultures to providing tailored support resources, discover how your organisation can foster an inclusive and secure environment for all team members.

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