A lot of lip service and even more column inches have been devoted to the effect that the growing millennial workforce is having on business travel, but what about everyone else? How do you implement a business travel programme that looks after the needs of your Generation Y employees whilst also catering for your Gen X-ers?
In the last year or so there has been an increasing amount of buzz about how millennials will change the way that business travel operates and as a result there’s been a slew of content advising organisations on how they can gear up for the millennial workforce by providing more efficient and more accessible booking options – for which they will be rewarded with an increase in the number of bookings that are compliant with the organisation’s travel policy.
All useful advice, as it’s estimated that by 2020 millennials will make up half of the workforce, but what about the rest? What about the employees who were born before 1985?
Of course, there’s no need to patronize the non-millennials and treat them as if they’ve never seen a computer before; some may be completely comfortable instantly switching to an online method of booking their business travel, but it’s important that those who, for whatever reason, still favour more traditional, offline booking methods don’t get left behind. After all, everyone being on the same page, using the same tools and sharing similar experiences makes for a better work environment in general doesn’t it?
Not to forget that booking business travel online is also quicker and takes less time out of an employee’s diary, can be accessed anywhere (WIFI permitting) allowing for a more flexible schedule, and it can give organisations greater control and insight into what their employees are booking and how much it’s costing.
Here’s a collection of straightforward, practical advice that Click has gathered in our time working with a wealth of different clients to improve their online adoption rates:
Talk to your employees
Sounds simple but talking to your staff to develop a better understanding of why they’re choosing to book offline, rather than online, is a fundamental first step to improving online adoption within your organisation. Are they frustrated with the lack of choice available using online methods? Or is it something more easily resolvable, like lack of login details?
This is also a good time to remind employees of the benefits of booking online, not only for the organisation as a whole but also for them as individuals; for example, booking online would free up some time for them and also allows them to see exactly what they’re booking.
A juicy incentive never hurt anyone, did it? Offering employees incentives in order to boost the amount of travel bookings that are made online within your organisation is a really tangible way of encouraging employees to connect their behaviour with the overall goals of the organisation.
Incentives to book travel online could include gamification, or even a split in money saved with employees if, for example, they actively offer to travel economy class in long haul rather than business.
Review the tools available to employees
One of the biggest roadblocks to achieving a better rate of online adoption is that staff often feel dissatisfied with the online booking methods that are currently available to them. This can be down to a variety of reasons and is something that is worth discussing with the users themselves; common gripes include a lack of choice when it comes to hotels or transport, limited access to the types of hotels or transport that best suit them, the amount of time it takes to shop around jumping from online booking site to online booking site, or something as simple as an interface or design that is off-putting and difficult to navigate for first time users.
It’s worthwhile spending some time researching the different options that are available to your organisation, and prioritise online booking tools that incorporate all aspects of business travel into their system – that includes rail, low-cost carriers, hotels not listed on the GDS and deals pulled in from other online sources.
Provide staff with adequate support
Often it just takes a bit of practice and patience for staff to get used to using a new way of booking, but it’s important to let them know that should they experience a problem or find themselves faced with the prospect of booking a more complicated trip then help and support is at hand.
That support can take a variety of forms. If your organisation is not currently using a travel management company (TMC) then that support might take the form of a clued up IT department or a member of staff who nominates themselves as a superuser, making it their business to know all there is to know about your online booking methods. However, if you do use the services of a TMC then you might find that they provide online and over the phone troubleshooting services or comprehensive guides to booking travel online.
No matter how you encourage employees to book their business travel online, nothing can begin or progress without an open discussion with your employees – and your TMC if you’re using one. Once that’s taken place, you can begin to work towards achieving a better rate of online adoption in a way that not only works for your employees but also works for your organisation.
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