2-Minute Survey: Travel Program Priorities

Folks, here’s a super-quick 3-question survey about travel program priorities.

Travel Program Priorities Survey 

If you are a travel buyer, please weigh in…it will take less than 2 minutes, and you’ll shed some important light on this issue. 3 questions, 2 minutes – it’s easy!

This is an anonymous survey – you couldn’t leave your name even if you wanted to. It’s also unscientific, but I think the results will still be very interesting.

If you’re not  a buyer, you probably know a bunch of these fine folks, so feel free to forward this to them. (That’s also meant to be a nice way of asking you non-travel buyers to not take the survey).

I’ll share the results here on this blog, and on stage at the Business Travel Intelligence Summit on May 22nd in New York. If you haven’t heard of this one-day deep dive into the real value of travel data, have a look at the agenda here.   It’s the first event I’ve seen designed specifically to discuss travel data, and it already has over 100 buyers registered to attend.

I hope to see many of you there!

 

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.

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

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

A Brighter Way to Measure Travel’s Impact

For the amount of money firms spend on travel, surely they’d like to know the impact. There is an incredibly practical – and pretty easy –  way to answer this question.

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:

Slide2

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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Road Warrior Burnout: A Worthy Problem

Too much travel can cause anybody a load of stress.   Exhibit A is Brad Feld, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known angel/venture capitalists.  He lives in Colorado and was traveling 50-75% of the time.   He hit a wall.  Knew he couldn’t keep it up and still lead an emotionally healthy life.

His solution?  He quit traveling for business – cold turkey.  The Harvard Business Review interviewed him here, and Brad writes about it here.   Not traveling seems to be working for him.

The question is, how many of your firm’s road warriors are in danger of hitting this kind of wall?  The consequences can’t be good.

An Alarming “What If”

Imagine if the top ten percent of your frequent travelers called a long-term strike on business travel, like Brad Feld did.  What would happen to your customer relationships,  business development, staff development, collaboration, innovation, etc, etc.? Not to mention the cost of replacing those no-more-travelers  with folks who will travel a lot (or so they say).

What Are The Signs?

Surely your frequent travelers make up some, maybe much of your firm’s top-rated talent.  So who is watching for the early warning signs of traveler burnout?  Who even knows what those signs are?

And if you see those early warning signs, what’s the right response – less travel? Better quality or less stressful travel? Travel recovery days? Dinner for two on the company’s dime?

Who Owns The Problem? Continue reading

When To Greenlight an Open Booking

Managed Travel 2.0's Booking Paths ver. A

(click for a larger view)

When does it make sense for travelers to book outside the corporate channel?  Whenever you can get through each of these three gates:

1) Will the open booking data be acquired quickly by the corporate traveler security system?  This is a show-stopper for a lot of sites.

Some solutions are to use a tool like ProcureApp, or getting travelers to forward their bookings to an itinerary management tool, like TripIt.  Soon, we’ll see data capture solutions from Concur and GDSX, among others.  If getting the data is not a problem, then onward…

2) Will the  consumer site provide cost-competitive prices? Continue reading

Key Principles of Managed Travel 2.0

Fourth in a series on Managed Travel 2.0

Freedom. That’s the big difference between managed and unmanaged travel. Under a managed travel program, travelers have some fence posts to abide by. The question is how much room to roam do you give your travelers?

In Managed Travel 2.0, travelers have a great deal of freedom, bounded by a few vital limits.    Let’s look at each of MT 2.0’s key principles:

1. Shop anywhere – period.  Why ride against the tide?  Your travelers are doing this anyway.  Let’s acknowledge it, accept it and move on.

2. Book anyone – so long as the supplier is safe.  Travelers need to know who to avoid. Classifying suppliers on safety is a core responsibility of travel managers. Not much of a restriction, practically speaking.

But that “book anyone” bit – does that include non-preferred suppliers?  Oh, yes. Continue reading

The Rise of Managed Travel 2.0

Third in a series on Managed Travel 2.0

Creativity is often born from conflict.

For two decades, modern travel management has preached the virtues of travel policy compliance, use of preferred suppliers, and booking through the proper channels.

See GE’s description of its global travel program as Exhibit A.  It’s six sigma production line thinking at its best.  It’s the pursuit of travel program optimization via the logic of travel management.

But that policy-first approach frustrates travelers who have access to plenty of good consumer travel tools, who know the value of their time and their trips, and have no problem staying within their travel budget. For them, it’s all about the art of traveling.

Michael Tangney, Google’s travel program manager, gets credit for pioneering a new approach in 2008. Give travelers a target airfare.  If they book Continue reading

The Convenient Fiction of Program Optimization

Second in a series on Managed Travel 2.0 based on my keynote speech at the Beat Live.
 

Travel program optimization.  It sounds so desirable, doesn’t it? A worthy goal. A complicated process. A successful achievement.

“Program optimization” is a phrase deeply embedded in every TMC sales pitch. It’s a phrase that travel managers put at the top of their strategic goals.

It’s a phrase that’s nothing more than a convenient fiction.  Convenient because we really want to believe it can be delivered.  Fiction because it can’t.  At least not in the way we usually think about it.

TMCs and Travel Managers Don’t Have the Full Picture

Here’s the optimization problem: Companies want to get the most value from their travel spend.  That means maximizing the gap between a trip’s expected value and it’s total cost. A trip’s total cost is the sum of the trip’s expense plus the cost of the trip’s traveler friction.

So now we see the source of the fiction.  TMCs and travel/procurement managers don’t know two key pieces of the puzzle.  They don’t know the trip’s Continue reading