Revolution Is In The Air

Democracy blooming in the Middle East.  Leaderless revolutionaries occupying Wall Street. Student athletes organizing to get paid. Presidential candidates wanting to overthrow the U.S. Tax Code.

Do you see the implications for managed travel?

It’s all about power from the bottom up. Compliance gets you nowhere.  Stop questioning the status quo and do something dramatic.  Create a cause. Organize.  Apply pressure to the weak links in the logic chain.

Revolution is in the air. And on the ground, and in the hotel room.  It’s literally at everyone’s fingertips in the form of a mobile phone.  Big change in managed travel is coming, folks. Quickly? No. Inevitably? Yes.

BTN Group’s recent survey confirmed the gaps between travelers and travel buyers on the travel policy front.  No surprise, the youngest travelers are the least aware of and least likely to comply with policy.

It’s a two-part problem.  Communication and motivation.  Young travelers aren’t getting the message. When they do, the message doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t speak to their values.  There’s no WIIFM factor (What’s In It For Me). Or more accurately, What’s In It For Us – us being the cohort of the Millennials, the socially conscious, the socially connected, the technically savvy.

If travel managers are policy czars, then travelers are the subjects – and the subjects are getting restless.  There’s a growing vacuum of understanding the rationale for managing travel.  The old ways are fair game for fresh questioning.

As it should be.  The question is, what’s the answer?

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4 thoughts on “Revolution Is In The Air

  1. Just to defend the millennials for a moment (I myself am just a little too old to be one, but younger Gen-Xers fall into this bucket also) — it’s not all about being selfish (the WIIFM mentality, as Scott mentions). It’s about asking for transparency.

    We are happy to do things for the greater good, for the benefit of the company, or for some good reason. But we require transparency — we won’t do it “just because policy dictates”.

    So even if travel policy can’t offer what’s in it for the individual, it HAS to offer, very clearly and succinctly, what’s in it for the company, so that people can rally behind it. And some broad notion of “savings” isn’t good enough. I mean details!

  2. Transparency is a component of the issue but value is at least an equal driver. Young travelers compare and contrast–what does the managed program offer? What does the TMC and online booking tool offer? When they look at what they have readily available in their everyday arsenal on the internet “for free” the value is not often apparent. If it is easier, faster, cheaper to do it themselves the dictator approach does not resonate. We continue to run analytics to defend the “why” rather than innovating to offer a compelling reason to “comply.” The shift to traveler accountability and point of sale decision making demand that there is value as well as transparency.

  3. I work for a TMC, and we assist clients in successfully driving compliance without a formal mandate, sometimes achieving higher compliance than mandated programs. If end-users see value in what you are asking them to do, and there is ‘something in it for them’ they will support your requests. That is why we developed a creative program to drive compliance we call ‘Educate, not Mandate.’ Our program includes three key components: #1 COMMUNICATE – With Value Based Messaging -Travelers and travel arrangers are all stakeholders in your company. Perhaps their year-end bonuses and/or available benefits are dependent on the company’s overall profitability. By educating travelers and travel arrangers on the value of supporting a managed travel program, including savings numbers, safety, etc., compliance will naturally increase and travelers and travel arrangers will embrace it. Try including this message on every communication: Thank You for supporting our travel program and using our preferred suppliers. Your support saves us $XXX per year!
    #2 FOCUS ON THE END USER – Through Dynamic Messaging – Highlighting and marketing preferred suppliers through dynamic messaging on the agent desktop and online booking tool drives compliance and can be targeted by city, hotel property, or airline. During the online booking process with a traveler flying to Chicago, a custom, dynamic message might read: “Please support the Hyatt in Chicago. It provide us with an exclusive discount, free Internet, and free parking. Five nights at the Hyatt = a free spa treatment! Our online booking tool contains a communication toolbox that contains messages and marketing materials to continuously educate travelers on the value of utilizing preferred suppliers and demonstrate how compliance with the travel policy will benefit the traveler as well as the company.
    #3 INFLUENCING CHOICE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY: Leveraging available technology to increase compliance and optimize preferred supplier agreements is key to a successful managed travel program and will drive optimal savings. By influencing choice at the point of sale, you can support preferred supplier agreements without mandating. Finally, frequent business travelers often personalize business travel or look at it being owned by them because they are doing it! When in reality, just like salaries and benefits, it’s a company’s manageable expense.

  4. I agree with Evan.

    I published today a long post called “The End of corporate Travel as we knew it!”. It is a long read (

    Travel policy are not well designed, not well communicated and based on “financial constraints”. Sometimes I feel that travelers are considered guilty by default (they travel: whoah this is cool!), infantilized (they can not find the best fare or the best hotel), and should accept the rules without any discussion (it’s good for the company and for them).

    99% of the time, travel policy are based on financially defined goals and/or used to meet some financial objectives (travel freeze, meeting freeze).

    Having a coach seat means: spending hours in lines waiting (plus the stress to miss your flight), not being able to move for hours in a smaller and smaller and thiner and thiner seat, having nothing to drink or eat for free, not having access to the lounge (again drink), no capability to work, etc.

    Just wanted to conclude this post by a real person explaining what she did and the consequences. Of course, this has not to be generalized, but in this period (christmas eve) I wanted to recall everybody that corporate travel is about real people and human, and not PNR, PNL and best fare.

    “My Stroke at TEDx – Kara Swisher – Media – AllThingsD”:

    Merry christmas and happy new year.

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