Webinar: Building the Case for Better Travel

Wow.  This article that challenges the importance of savings is one of the most popular ones I’ve ever written.

Still, the question is can you really afford to focus on the benefits of travel, rather than on the cost?

The good folks at Prime Services and I will show how build a business case for better travel using my Travel Policy Impact model. We’ll walk through the data you need and the assumptions you have to make, and show the ROI as we go.

You’ll see how easy it is to estimate the costs, and how to make reasonable assumptions about the benefits.  Travel Policy Impact 101, here we come!

The webinar starts at 1:30 pm EDT on Thursday, March 15th.  You can register for your free seat here. I hope you’ll join us.

Prime Services is a division of Prime Numbers Technology.  Kate Saab and Robin Carter will co-host this session with me. You can download the Travel Policy Impact model and the User’s Guide from within this post.

Posted in Travel Management, Travel Policy, Trip Friction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Making the Business Case for Better Travel

The most common question I get after speaking about the benefits of reducing traveler friction is “OK, we get the idea, but how are we supposed to sell this to senior management?”

Here’s the answer:

The whole idea is to balance the costs and the benefits of better business travel, right?  So that means we need a way to quantify those things, in a way that makes sense to senior management.

The good news is that there is now enough research out there to help us frame the question with some clear logic and pretty good assumptions.

Gillespie’s Travel Policy Impact Model

I’ve developed a simple – and free – approach that any travel buyer can put to work right away. It’s an Excel model (see below) that asks you to fill in 16 things.  Do that, and you’ll see the results. Your results could look like this:

“If we spend an extra $35K per road warrior to give them better quality, lower-friction trips, we’ll get back a net gain of $90K each, for an ROI of about 260%”

Credibility Is Key

Travel managers,  you’ll be able to plug 10 of the 16 data things into the Cost section pretty much off the top of your heads.  You’ll probably need help with the 6 things in the Benefits section. Continue reading

Posted in Metrics and KPIs, Travel Management, Travel Policy, Traveler Friction, Trip Friction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A Challenge To My Travel Procurement Friends

 Is it time to think about your category goals for 2018?  Yep.

Are you hoping to somehow increase the size of your savings next year?  Of course.   Are you optimistic about meeting that goal?  Probably not.

Would you like to show senior management that you’re adding significant strategic value to the travel category? That your approach is fundamentally aligned with the needs of the business?  Therein lies my challenge.

For the last 20 years, travel procurement has measured its success by the size of its savings. Travel procurement takes the path of least resistance, happy to measure what’s easiest – ticket prices, room rates, TMC transaction fees, and the all-important discount.

This traditional cost-focused goal is no longer sufficient.  It’s not strategic, and it isn’t sustainable. Travel procurement needs a bigger, bolder goal.

Step 1: Understand The Cost of Traveler Friction

Continue reading

Posted in Metrics and KPIs, Travel Management, Traveler Friction, Trip Friction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Big Win No One Is Talking About

http://www.sweetthreadsdesign.com/blog/welcome-home-front-door-spring-decorTwo years ago I wrote that travel managers face two paths.

One path is to keep doing what you do today: jumping through endless supplier meetings, putting out fires around traveler service issues, continually hacking away towards inbox zero… In short, doing all those things that add short-term tactical value.

The other path leads to adding higher, more strategic value by focusing on travel’s broader business impact. I’ll preach about taking this path at GBTA in Boston on July 17th.

One area along this path that I think is rife with opportunity is non-employee travel. Think recruiting trips for on-site interviews, new-hire training, or guest visits such as speakers, partners, or customers.

Most all the current corporate travel tools and systems were built for current employees. If you worry that your own travelers don’t enjoy that experience, how do you think your non-employee travelers feel? Continue reading

Posted in Cool Tools, Innovation, Managed Travel 2.0, Travel Management, Traveler Friction | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Buy Less Effective Trips!

Travel Programs Insights cover pageSaid no one, ever.

Imagine giving management a choice between these two travel programs: “Nickels and Dimes” and “Goldmine”.

In the Nickels and Dimes program, they get travelers who are more burned out, more likely to quit, have less productivity, report higher rates of sickness, are less willing to travel, and for the kicker, produce 22% less effective trips.

In the Goldmine program, they get the opposite – happier, healthier, more productive travelers who are more willing to travel and – pay attention – produce more effective trips.

Of course the Goldmine program is going to be more expensive.  Just like an iPhone is more expensive than a cheap flip phone…you get what you pay for.

And yet travel managers Continue reading

Posted in Travel Management, Travel Policy, Trip Friction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Hourly Cost of Air Travel

plane-thru-glass-with-peopleRoad warriors, by definition, do a lot of traveling. All their airline tickets add up to some pretty big expenses, as do the hours they spend inside airplanes.

Why not take those two pieces of data and show what it costs business folks to fly per hour? Let’s face it, talking about price per mile might be great for aviation pros, but it’s not great for briefing management about travel expenses.

ARC’s Definitive Data, Air Clarity’s Innovative Analysis

Air Clarity, my firm’s air spend benchmarking tool, crunched a few million airline tickets from ARC’s corporate ticket database to get the answers. Since ARC stores all travel agency tickets sold in the U.S. on most every airline (excluding Southwest and a few other low cost airlines), this data is as good as it gets.

Here’s what the price per flight hour looks like, based on the average hourly prices paid by roughly 2,100 corporate travel programs:


The quick answer: About $80 an hour for short haul (domestic) flights; about $110 an hour for long haul flights

Doesn’t that make for a much easier conversation about the cost of air travel?

For context, this study by American Express GBT, ARC and my firm found that the average road warrior earned about $80 an hour, assuming 2,000 work hours per year.

Travel managers, try talking to your business stakeholders about the price per hour of air travel, and see if that doesn’t make for more engaged discussions.

Custom Industry Peer Group Benchmarks

If you’re wondering what your company’s price per hour is, and how that compares to other firms in your industry, good news…tClara is organizing industry peer groups to help provide even better value from our Air Clarity benchmark data. Here are the groups we’re starting:


If you’re a travel manager interested in one of our industry peer groups, follow the group by signing up here…no cost, no obligation.

More information about Air Clarity’s benchmark reports for corporate travel managers, TMCs and airlines is here.

Some limitations and definitions around these price per hour  numbers:

Continue reading

Posted in Airlines, Data, Metrics and KPIs | Tagged , | 4 Comments

GBT’s Non-GDS Charge Makes Sense

Shopping Cart IconBuyers have a new distribution dilemma.

American Express GBT is phasing in a $10 surcharge for handling airline tickets from carriers who don’t use common industry channels for sales and settlement. (More coverage herehere and here.)

Think of this as the opposite of the €16 surcharge that Lufthansa Group is applying to tickets purchased via the traditional GDS/TMC channel. One happens if you buy in the GDS, the other happens if your LCC airline doesn’t play there.

Both of these surcharges annoy buyers. “What – you’re going to charge me more based on where I buy a ticket, or who I buy it from – that’s outrageous!”

In fact, it makes perfect sense.  Lufthansa and GBT make the same point – their costs to Continue reading

Posted in Airlines, Distribution, Travel Management | 4 Comments

Relationship Advice for Road Warriors

Surely a ton of travel creates unique strains for road warriors and their families.

Fortunately, these problems are fairly predictable, and can be managed with a bit of planning, effort and honest communication.  If you know a road warrior or two, read on, as they may well benefit from the sage advice from Megan Bearce, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, and wife of a road warrior.

I connected with Megan on the issue of traveler friction, something she knows well, especially as it impacts couples and families.  She’s written a terrific book on this subject, and offers the following practical advice.

SuperCommuter CouplesA Guest Post From Megan Bearce:

I am happy to report that whether you are a road warrior or a “super commuter,” (employees who travels 90 miles or more to their job), physical separation doesn’t have to mean emotional distance.  Below are three strategies from my book, Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When A Job Keeps You Apart, to help your relationship thrive despite being apart.

1) Coming home:

People assume that reuniting after days on the road would be exciting, but in reality this Continue reading

Posted in Traveler Friction | Tagged , | 1 Comment

What’s The Real Goal of a Travel Program?


Nine Fall LeavesQuick – name three metrics that travel managers care most about…and no, you can’t say savings, savings and savings.

Savings, for sure, maybe followed by discounts and policy compliance, or average ticket price/room/car rate.    These are time-tested, industry-accepted, common-sense metrics that are the foundation for status-quo management of the travel category.

(Going to GBTA’s Convention? See a related meet-up note at the end of this post)

Before you reject my call to demote these traditional metrics, consider the maxim “Measure what matters”.  Note that it isn’t “Measure what’s laying around, looking like it matters”.  It’s not “Measure what we’ve always measured”.

It’s the “what matters” part that’s the key.  That, and an evolved view of travel management’s mission.

Shouldn’t the goal of managing travel be to create the most value from whatever the travel budget is?  To create the biggest business impact, net of the cost?  Sure…which means we need to think about measuring said impact. Continue reading

Posted in Data, Innovation, Travel Management, Travel Procurement, Traveler Friction | Tagged , | 52 Comments

Two Steps Closer to a 2-Channel Future

Travel managers, you’re gonna need a two-channel booking strategy.  Maybe not this year, but fairly soon in the scheme of corporate travel time.

The second shoe dropped last week, when The Company Dime broke the news (paywall, worth it) about airlines making complex trips (roughly anything not a simple one-way or round-trip) more expensive  – sometimes moderately, sometimes drastically more expensive.

Reliable sources estimate these complex trips to be anywhere from 7% to 16% of a corporate account’s transactions, depending on your definition and travel patterns.  Call it 10%  – that’s a significant chunk of bookings that are now at risk of much higher prices.

The cost-avoiding solution is to book each individual destination within the itinerary as

Continue reading

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