Graham Kingsmill, managing director at Egencia UK, discusses how businesses can make corporate travel an enjoyable experience for employees and why using a Travel Management Company can provide great service
In the UK, business travel isn’t always regarded as a pleasant experience.
In fact, the results of a recent survey conducted by Egencia show that almost half of Brits feel exhausted and stressed when travelling for business, contrary to their friends in France and Germany, the majority of whom reportedly feel elated and motivated.
Moreover, only 10% of the UK travellers surveyed felt obliged to extend their business trips for leisure.
Are British travellers naturally gloomier than their European counterparts, or are companies to blame for not putting enough consideration into organising travel for their employees?
With the myriad options available for travellers, you might feel inclined to choose the airline that will award you with loyalty points or check-in at your favourite, trusted hotel chain.
But these days companies are under continual pressure to cut back on costs and, when looking to save money at every opportunity, booking travel often seems like an obvious place to start.
Cost-cutting in business-related travel isn’t necessarily the right approach – not only from an employee’s perspective but also from a business point of view. Businesses should acknowledge that their employees are also consumers.
A successful business trip shouldn’t be viewed as the cheapest option, but rather one that allows the traveller to maximise his or her productivity on the road.
For instance, is a budget airline flight at 5am for an important meeting actually saving your business money if your salesperson cannot close the deal because of fatigue and low performance?
Unlikely. In fact, almost half of Brits surveyed (41%) estimated that time spent away on business trips was unproductive.
In order to be at your most productive on the go, you will want to travel in comfort at a sensible, convenient time and with uninterrupted access to Wi-Fi, whether on the train, at the airport or in the hotel.
In fact, twice as many Brits would prioritise Wi-Fi over breakfast while away on business. It may seem like an obvious necessity but those responsible for travel booking need to bear these priorities in mind.
This requires putting themselves in the travellers’ shoes before they book what maybe an awkward journey for the traveller just to save a few pounds.
An effective way for companies to do this is by employing the services of a Travel Management Company.
In line with the above approach, a modern TMCs should always be focused on delivering a service which is consumer orientated where the traveller wants choice, flexibility and strong sense of value.
Modern TMC’s utilise technology to create innovations that support a combination of both on- and off- line booking experience tailored to the business traveller’s needs.
Though it may not be true across the industry, the TMCs that hold the business traveller at the heart of their business are the ones that understand the importance of striking the right balance between technology, expertise and customer service.
Those who use sophisticated technology can support their offline services better in terms of speed and effectiveness, and are well equipped to react at the point of urgency whenever travel plans change.
Business travellers should be able to experience a journey no different from one they might have booked for pleasure: no matter the context, travellers are looking for efficiency, convenience and minimal disruption.
They shouldn’t have to sacrifice all the amenities that enable them to perform their role effectively in a comfortable and work-conducive environment, cost is always a key driver of choice, but traveller safety, productivity and convenience are also key to running a successful company travel program.
Companies that draw on the TMC industry for its expertise and technological advancements are the ones that recognise their employees as consumers and treat the booking process to reflect this. Ultimately, happier employees account for more productive employees, and this can only be beneficial for business.
Graham Kingsmill is managing director at Egencia UK, the corporate travel division of Expedia.
All data comes from the Egencia Business and Travel Technology survey of 1000 business travellers in France, Germany and the UK conducted in February 2015 by the independent polling company OnePoll.