2020 brings a new decade focused on the changing dynamics and expectations of business travelers across the world. This years’ trends are about balance. This means balancing your corporate culture with company cost recovery initiatives, encouraging a healthy work-life balance, and balancing an efficient yet sustainable environment. TI digs into each of these trends as we kick off the new year with thoughts and recommendations for your consideration as you evolve your corporate travel program.

Balancing Corporate Culture with Cost Recovery Initiatives

2020 marks the decade where Millennials make up over 50% of the workforce. While the remainder of the 50% are likely comfortable with the way they have always managed their travel planning, this new generation has only known a digital world and with that has their own fundamental expectations of how business travel should take place.

The good news  

As a younger workforce emerges, it’s likely that they are accustomed to traveling on a budget. Thus, booking the lowest fare will come naturally. Today’s technology is geared towards the self-service traveler, fostering the company’s desire for an online booking and itinerary management workflow. Millennials look at travel as a business perk and are excited about the opportunity to see new places, and interact directly with their business partners. But is that where the good news ends?

The not-so good news  

Today’s traveler wants to be in control and have the authority to make their own purchasing decisions. They do not want to be dictated to, and when they are, their natural reaction is to outline why their view is better… or less expensive. They also tend to change employment more frequently than prior decades – so the cost of associate acquisition is surmounted by the higher turnover, resulting in more frequent onboarding, training, and overall investment in your team members.

So where’s the balance? 

Everyone wants to feel that they are heard and their opinion matters.  The balance of culture and cost recovery starts with listening to understand, considering new ways to respond to their requests, and then effectively communicating back to your travelers the changes you made as a direct result of their recommendations. This will require logical points and clear communication as to why certain guidelines are in place and how they directly benefit travelers, by way of your travel policy. Having the flexibility of choice, ability to reduce costs as your company grows, and maintaining an effective duty of care program is within reach!

Encouraging a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Continuing with the theme of the changing demographic of business traveler, today’s travelers appreciate the opportunity to travel to new cities and destinations on behalf of the company and then have the benefit of extending their trip for leisure purposes at a significantly reduced cost. The benefits of offering a ‘bleisure’ component to your travel policy results in reduced air cost to the company (given most will include a Saturday stay), more spend to leverage with preferred suppliers, and a traveler who feels their company understands them and cares about their satisfaction.

Expense reconciliation made easy

Concur, along with other technology providers, are making it easy to split the cost of travel between business and leisure expenses. Split forms of payment can be added to your configuration to divide the costs based upon the purposes of the travel – allowing you to reconcile your corporate expenses, and add the leisure hotel nights and rental car days to your overall travel spend.

Encouraging Bleisure travel to your associates

It is likely your HR team has concepts or formal programs in place to encourage a manageable work-life balance. From a travel management perspective, your Millennial travelers have the highly coveted benefit of accruing loyalty points as a result of their business travel, allowing them to expand the opportunities for leisure travel and exploring.

Offering communication tips for leisure enjoyment can demonstrate a cultural shift by putting enthusiasm back into travel. An example of this can be a communication feature tip for ‘second city’ travel experiences. Although a two-day business trip in San Francisco may sound ideal it can be very expensive for the traveler to extend their stay, so a neighboring city such as San Jose may be a consideration. Your associates will appreciate the knowledge sharing and creative approach!

Sustainable Business Travel

‘Sustainability’ is vital to a variety of areas for today’s business travelers. This could be anywhere from sustaining employee satisfaction by managing stress while on the road, to caring about the environment of tomorrow. Our clients have varying degrees of focus on each of these approaches, but one aspect that everyone agrees to is that we all must take action now to find meaningful benefit in the future. We have outlined a few best practices that we believe will help boost your sustainability initiatives:

Personal Sustainability

Whether traveling 50% of your time or once a quarter, finding the right routine while on the road can dramatically reduce stress while making your time more productive. Best practices begin with your schedule.

  • Give yourself extra time to accommodate any unforeseen disruption or delays whenever possible. This can take the form of traffic patterns or inclement weather.
  • Take the time to research your hotel amenities and local surroundings. 10 minutes of research for healthy restaurant choices especially within walking distance, as well as work-out facilities (beyond onsite gyms) have an immediate impact on how you feel.
  • Getting out of the hotel is always a strong recommendation. Experience the neighborhood and take in a new sense of community.  The walk also allows for time to think, plan and prepare for your upcoming meeting.

Environmental Sustainability

In a recent study, over 80% of business travelers are concerned about the impact of their travel on the environment. Whether your company has a formal plan to measure sustainability within your travel program, or simply be environmentally conscious, every small action can have a long-term impact. TI has been supporting travel sustainability through our carbon footprint reporting for many years and the industry is following suit.

Most airlines are investing in alternative fuel options and reducing (if not eliminating) their carbon emissions within a specific timeline. Hotels are shifting to reduce their water consumption by offering increased loyalty points for travelers not requiring new towels on a daily basis. Restaurants and airports are moving toward alternatives to single-use plastic and non-biodegradable products.

Summary

2020 is a decade of forward thinking, and forward planning. It provides a fresh look at how we listen to our travelers, and how we support them to bring about a healthy balance of comfort and cost recovery. Ensuring your travelers know their voice matters and that you care will ensure a longer tenure and increased satisfaction. Our world of tomorrow will not look like the one of yesterday. This will require partnering with like-minded suppliers, and having the technology partners that can deliver to the ideas and opportunities that will forge our industry forward.

TI appreciates our partnership today and looks forward to continuing to be your trusted partner of choice tomorrow.

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