Travelers aren’t created alike. There are those who never cause any trouble. They always book in advance, always use preferred suppliers and never misplace itineraries or receipts. Their expense reports are flawless, and they never, ever, complain. Then there are the other kind…And that’s not to say travel isn’t frustrating for everyone right now, with all the cancelled flights and delays. But a small minority of travelers seem to have the most issues.
A travel manager’s job is easier when things run smoothly. Keeping your travelers in the Happy Campers column requires a certain dedication to your well-thought-out program by all of your firm’s employees. While it’s up to you to have done your homework by opening communications and surveying everyone to make sure you know what’s working and what isn’t and translating that knowledge into a clear cut travel policy, it’s up to travelers to follow that policy.
Herewith are a few things you can do to help them with that process…
- Make sure they have the right tools. The assortment of helpful apps available to travelers today is better than ever. A well-equipped traveler, with the right apps can sail through their itinerary and return happier, calmer and ready to go out again. We suggest TripIt for travelers who can’t seem to stop booking off-program, OpenRice for travelers headed to Southeast Asia, and TripLingo for anyone going to countries where English is scarce. Other good suggestions include XE Currency Converter, TheFork, HappyCow, WhatsApp, PriorityPass, PackPoint, Timeshifter and LugLess.
- Make sure they have help. Not every traveler has the trusty assistance of an executive admin. These invaluable assistants can smooth over the edges of the testiest VIPs but often a frequent traveler isn’t high enough on the corporate food chain to have one. If this is the case, quietly inquiring about finding the right admin who might take them on, at HR or with an admin who’s handling travel for others might yield positive results. Superior people skills are required to pull this off, but if you can do it, it might fix numerous problems all at once.
- Make sure they have the pertinent information. If the traveler doesn’t know your firm can get a Debit Memo from an airline for booking multiple tickets for the same trip, how would they know not to do it? Ditto for using preferred suppliers. It’s not enough to have preferred suppliers highlighted in your online booking tool, it’s important for travelers to understand fulfilling a discount contract is more important than saving a few dollars on the daily rate of a car rental. Consider a travel newsletter as a way to increase understanding about your firm’s travel program (and as a way to introduce employees to new initiatives and useful apps).
- Make sure they know your number. Reaching out to a problem traveler is often enough attention paid to them to reduce acting out. Let them know you’re there to help them if they need it and their gratitude often manifests itself as more conscientious decision-making.
Influencing the behavior of travelers is central to having a responsive, effective program. You can succeed when you apply good will, communication and the latest technology in your approach.