Forget about ROI – it’s too theoretical. Skip Big Data – it’s irrelevant. Instead, focus on what matters and what’s measurable.
Think about the issue this way: At what point is too much travel counter-productive?
Spend too much time on planes and you’re not selling. Cross too many time zones and you’re not giving clients such good advice, or making such good decisions on that oil rig. Take too many redeyes in coach and you’re seeing a doctor for a cranky neck or worse, deep vein thrombosis.
It’s about cause and effect; travel and impact. So the approach is simple.
First, identify the road warriors in your firm, and their business unit leaders. Ask those business unit leaders which business metrics matter, and might be affected by too much travel, and are measurable. Think sales, hours billed, customer satisfaction, safety, etc.
Go to HR, and ask which HR metrics matter, and might be affected by too much travel, and are measurable. Think absenteeism, engagement, disability costs, retention, etc.
Now use your travel data to find a comparable group of employees that has done much less travel than your road warrior group. So now you have a cohort of low-travel employees and a cohort of high-travel employees.
We’re almost there. With a bit of analytical muscle, measure each cohort’s average result on each metric. Then compare the two groups, testing for statistical differences. Something like this, perhaps:
Voila! You now have a fact-driven analysis of travel’s impact. The impact on your business, and the impact on your people. The implications will be clear.
Too much turnover, absenteeism and disability costs among your high-travel group? Cut back their travel workload and/or loosen your travel policies for the road warriors.
No meaningful differences between the two groups? Your travel policies are probably fine, but then what is all that extra, possibly excessive, travel really doing for your firm?
Either way, having these facts gives travel managers, HR executives and business leaders a clear-eyed view of travel’s impact. Making solid business cases for changing travel workloads, travel budgets and travel policies is now ever so much easier.
The best part? Travel category managers get to lead on this issue. For you folks that are frustrated by delivering diminishing returns from mature sourcing and policy compliance, you should be first in line to drive this type of study in your organization.
For those interested in jump-starting a travel impact study, tClara and I can help. We can quickly score your travelers’ Trip Friction™ levels, create the cohorts, and benchmark your firm’s travel intensity to those in our database.
I’ll be at the ACTE Global Conference in Miami at the end of this month, and hope to connect with many of you there.
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