Is That Business Trip Justified? A 7-question Checklist

A watering can is hovering over a small plant. The plant is held in two hands below the can's spout. The image is meant to make us wonder if the plant will be watered.

I’ve yet to see a credible and scalable approach to estimating a business trip’s return on investment (ROI). So how do we know if a business trip should be taken?

Seems it’s always been a matter of judgment, a subjective call made with (usually) the best of intentions. Some trips are clearly justified; others are cloudier.

Today, it’s more important than ever to get these travel decisions right. We’re looking at tighter travel budgets, more acceptance of the virtual meeting, and greater concerns about the climate. We’re also keen to build the trust and relationship equity that’s deteriorated over the last two and a half years.

Here are seven questions to judge the merits of taking most any business trip. Answer any question with a “No” means you should skip the trip. Give each a “Yes”, and off you go with a clear conscience and a clearly justified trip.

  1. Is it clearly better to do this trip’s mission in person than by a virtual meeting?
  2. Are this trip’s risks to the traveler’s health, safety, and well-being acceptable to them and their employer?
  3. Will this trip’s impact on the climate be sufficiently mitigated?
  4. Will this trip’s success clearly help achieve an important goal?
  5. Will the traveler have one clearly value-adding role on this trip?
  6. Have specific goals or success criteria been established for this trip?
  7. Does the traveler expect to get a reasonably good return on the trip’s cost and their time?

Sure, your list of questions may be different, but it should cover all the issues raised above – the benefits of meeting in person, health and safety considerations, climate impact, criteria for success, and the prospect of a good ROI – even if we can’t measure it.

Join the discussion about this checklist here on LinkedIn, or drop some comments below.

White paper: “How We Meet Matters”

So many questions and so many answers about virtual versus in-person meetings.

“How We Meet Matters” cover page and contents

This 38-page white paper digs into big issues. How important is meeting in person to culture, teamwork, morale, and attrition risk? What’s the best-for-your-job mix of in-office and remote work? Do business leaders want to travel more or less? What’s the sustainability priority in their view?

And plenty more. With insights from 522 business leaders on how to decide which way to meet (hint: think about “meeting friction”, and three other factors.)

You’ll find new frameworks for managing travel and meetings much more strategically. (See this quick 10-question test of any company’s travel strategy, and Trip Tester, our new tool for ensuring travel is justified.)

You can register here for your free copy. If you like the paper, please share the registration link rather than the paper. You’ll make the sponsors happy. A big thank you to CWT, Cytric by Amadeus, and Delta Air Lines for supporting this high-quality research on these very timely topics.

Air Sourcing Academy a Big Hit

The first-ever one-day workshop on airline sourcing was a big success!  About 70 delegates worked their way through the key success factors for sourcing this important spend category. NBTA‘s post-event survey measured two key factors:

The change in the level of understanding of airline sourcing (definitely improved, above), and the overall satisfaction with the event (quite high, below). Continue reading

Travel Procurement Workshop at NBTA 2010

Yesterday I led a full-day workshop on travel procurement at NBTA’s annual conference.  We had a terrific group of about fifty folks participate.  About two-thirds came from travel backgrounds, and about a third came from the procurement side.  Lots of good interaction throughout the day.

Here are the slides that I used during the workshop. Continue reading

Best Practice: Hotel Sourcing Strategy Study

We’re moving into the hotel sourcing season, so take a moment and think about your favorite little black dress or your best power suit.  What makes it your favorite? And how the heck does this relate to hotel sourcing?

Great clothes project the image you want.  They send signals.  They help define your image.  And if you’ve chosen carefully, they help achieve your goals. But they’ll only do that if your clothes fit like a glove.  See where this is going? Continue reading

Coffee, Chalkboards and Travel Policy: True Innovation

Some forms of simplicity are pure genius. Therein lies the lesson for all you travel managers who wrestle with travel policy issues. After all, it’s not changing the words in the policy that matters – it’s changing people’s behavior. Let’s learn from Starbucks how a simple chalkboard can be the centerpiece of a massive campaign to change people’s behavior. Continue reading

Free Webcast on Travel Data

** Update:  The original webcast is no longer available.  Here’s the portion of the webcast that I presented.  It gives a few examples of anlyses that have some element of added value in them:

MasterCard ProMedia Webex v2 Continue reading

Baking and Data Reporting

What the heck does baking have to do with travel data reporting, you ask?

Baking and Data ReportingIt makes for an interesting metaphor.  I used this concept in the speech I gave at the ACTE Canada conference this week in Toronto.  I’ll admit that the skit was a bit hokey, but the points about poor preparation of data, half-baked analysis and hanging Christmas lights on plain-jane data were too good to pass up.

Once I got beyond these process-related problems, we dived into Continue reading

When Travel Suppliers Look The Same – Beware!

This post continues the thread from “Deciding How to Decide”.  Here, I deal with the common case of having to choose from suppliers that seem comparable on non-price dimensions.

One of the things that makes sourcing the travel category unique is the need to factor in traveler behavior.  Therein lies the key to selecting a winning bid from suppliers who look the same.

Let’s assume that you have a set of bids from a variety of suppliers, and that you don’t see much difference among them on the relevant quality dimensions.  That leaves you free to focus on price as the deciding factor, right?  Of course not…you know it’s never as simple as that. Here’s what you should do: Continue reading

Deciding How to Decide

This post continues the thread “Why Travel Disses Procurement…And What To Do About It“. In that post I explained why procurement has a bad reputation among many (not all!) travel managers, and two steps that will help travel managers overcome this problem.  This post describes the third step.

Get Your Flu Shot

This third step is a lot like getting kids to take their flu shots.  Continue reading