What does your travel program say about your company? Have your travelers bragged about your policy to their peers? If not, when’s the last time you asked travelers what they want? Being in control and having options is what will rebuild employee trust when they return to travel. And I wish more companies understood how simple it can be to offer employees informed choice versus strict policies.
A positive example of this surfaced on a recent call I had with an EVP of Finance in the manufacturing space; she sees their travel program as an important part of employee retention and recruitment — and that’s why her company prioritizes choice above all else for their travel policy.
In a pre-Covid world, this manifested as the way her employees would brag about their travel program at conferences or networking events — while other companies’ employees would complain about having no choice and how needing to wait on approvals would make them feel distrusted and devalued. She found that word of mouth about her travel program even became an organic recruiting tool for the company.
In the post-Covid world, it’ll be more important than ever to build a culture of trust in your travel program. If your employees don’t feel valued, will they feel comfortable back on the road once it’s clear to travel again? Will they feel in control or deflated (if they're not given a choice)? And, above all else, will they have all the information they need to stay safe when traveling?
How to rebuild traveler trust
We already knew that business travel (even pre-pandemic) can lead to burnout and eventual turnover. (In fact, our latest on-demand video with a mental health expert discusses just this). By creating a flexible business travel program that listens to your travelers, it is possible to simultaneously reduce costs and create a high level of employee engagement. Here are a few ideas to think about when revamping your policy to create a cohesive culture between the organization and your employees:
First, give your employees choice. If you have employees searching outside your online booking tool (OBT), it’s usually because they feel like they have more choice and flexibility for their travel plans on the open market. If you had low OBT compliance pre-Covid, you’ll want to prioritize a way to motivate employees to get back into the habit of booking there. In addition to Rocketrip points as an incentive to book within the OBT, we’ve added additional information like supplier cleaning protocols at-a-glance so travelers can be more confident in their choices when they return to travel.
And speaking of rewards, my next recommendation is to let travelers earn points! Using your own credit card and racking up points through work is a huge perk for frequent travelers because they can use those points for personal trips/experiences for their families and friends. If you do decide to roll out a corporate card program, consider letting your employees keep the points. It’s another way to show that your organization cares about your employees and wants to reward them for the time they spend on the road.
And finally, make sure you’re giving travelers a voice. Have you thought of creating an internal travel counsel with some of your road warriors? Having your frequent fliers involved with some of your strategic goals and initiatives can be mutually beneficial. Road warriors can share some of the tech and policies they liked from past company programs, feel like their opinion matters, and give valuable insight into how your travel policy is impacting their job.
To sum it up nicely, a Rocketrip user recently responded to a travel manager survey with "I love Rocketrip. Honestly, it even increased my personal job satisfaction; it was a "win-win" where I was saving my company money, while also being rewarded for taking extra time to find that better deal.”
When business travel does return, do you think your travelers will boast about your program like this? If you are unsure, I hope some of these suggestions give you food for thought.
Fran Brzyski is a senior account executive at Rocketrip.