Traveler Friction

Traveler Friction Red KnotThe concept of traveler friction is not new.  Any frequent traveler will have a “trip from hell” story at hand, but it goes beyond travel plans gone awry.

Traveler friction is about the wear and tear that road warriors accumulate over time.

It includes the stress of coordinating calendars at home and at work before a trip, the loss of sleep and poor health habits on the road, and the stress of returning to work with too much jet lag and too many unanswered emails.

Traveler friction has very real costs, as shown in the studies listed below. The question is how much should a company spend on better travel to offset those costs.

Gillespie’s Travel Policy Impact Model

This simple Excel model lets you estimate the costs and benefits of buying better quality, lower friction travel. To download the Excel file, right-click, then choose “Save link as…” Get off to a running start by downloading the User’s Guide and the Travel Impact Project Resources (both are PDFs):

Gillespie’s Travel Policy Impact Model   User’s Guide   Travel Impact Project Resources

Studies and Articles

Interested in learning more about traveler friction, and why it matters to every corporate travel program? Here’s a list of resources that will get you started:

2018 Achieving Better Business Travel Results: Insights from U.S. Road Warriors  Shows what road warriors want in order to increase their trip success rate and to reduce their attrition risk.  Based on new survey data from 742 U.S. road warriors.

2017 Travel Programs: Insights from U.S. Road Warriors  Highlights the different business outcomes of cost-focused travel programs compared to traveler-focused programs.  Data is drawn from our 2016 study.

2016 Traveler Friction: Insights From U.S. Road Warriors   Our first study of traveler friction’s impact on road warriors, and what they say makes their trips better. Has big insights for recruiting, retention, productivity, willingness to travel and trip outcomes. Based on survey results from 757 U.S. road warriors.

How To Procure Travel More Strategically by Measuring Outcomes, Not Savings  Podcast #108 on Art of Procurement with Philip Ideson

Gillespie’s Views on Travel KPIs  Goals drive strategies, so it makes sense to choose strategies that will deliver meaningful and measurable results.  These KPIs look nothing like today’s old-school travel KPIs.

Why Traveler Friction Matters   An introduction to the concept, and the part it plays in a truly optimized travel program.

The Convenient Fiction of Program Optimization  Calls out TMCs for promising “optimized” programs.  It’s marketing hooey unless you’ve factored in the costs of traveler friction.

Carlson Wagonlit’s study “The Hidden Cost of Business Travel”  A thorough analysis of the factors and costs of business travel-related stress.

ACTE and American Express GBT highlight a 2017 study showing the need for more traveler-friendly policies in this article.

“Business Travel and Behavioral and Mental Health” (paywall), an academic study of the mental and behavioral differences between frequent and infrequent travelers.

SuperCommuter Couples Relationship Advice for Road Warriors, aka Super Commuters  These travelers face predictable problems in their personal relationships.  Megan Bearce penned a guest post, above, and authored this well-written book. It has great insights and practical advice.

Sabre and GBTA confirm the importance of “Frictionless Travel” and highlight what’s important to frequent travelers.

Business Travel Executive ran a series of articles on traveler friction.  My favorite is “A List of Lists”.

Road Warrior Burnout: A Worthy Problem  Focuses on the retention risks facing road warriors.

Travel: How Much is Too Much?  Includes an online self-diagnostic.

Traveler Burnout: Spotting It and Stopping It Summarizes the main costs of traveler burnout and lays out practical steps for engaging senior management on this issue.

A Brighter Way to Measure Travel’s Impact  Forget trying to calculate travel ROI.  Here’s a much more practical way to measure the impact of your travel policies.

Travel Managers, Choose Your Career Path  Explains how to add strategic value by focusing on a business’s larger goals, such as road warrior retention and productivity.

AstraZeneca’s Efforts to Understand Traveler Friction  How a global life sciences company is incorporating traveler friction into efforts to improve the traveler experience.

Traveler Friction vs. Trip Friction®  Traveler friction is the generic term for road warrior wear and tear; Trip Friction is tClara’s registered trademark for evaluating traveler wear and tear.