Whether it’s a new office layout, a new stationery supplier or the news that the local supermarket has made some serious changes to the items that are available in their meal deal, nothing has the power to increase office noise like change.
No one enjoys the short, sharp shock of discovering that one of their comforting, well-known daily routines has been, at best mildly disrupted or, at worst, stopped dead, and very few people jump on board with change right at the beginning of its implementation, which is why travel managers and procurement departments often find it so challenging to reconcile travellers with the idea of a new travel supplier.
Implementing a new travel management company (TMC) can mean making significant changes to processes and systems that, as far as your travellers knew, seemed to work perfectly. However, as a travel manager or procurement professional, you’ll be fully aware of what wasn’t working and how your new TMC can improve business travel for travellers and also for your organisation as a whole – which means it’s up to you to rally and get travellers on board, despite any initial grumbles.
So, how do you do that?
As a TMC, Click has guided many an organisation through the early stages of implementation and as a result has developed more than a few strategies for dealing with travellers that are resistant to a new travel supplier. Here’s our advice for getting all of your travellers on side:
#1 Provide incentives to encourage employees to adapt to change
Often, the first question that a traveller will consider when dealing with change is simply, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Before you inform staff of the change, be sure to consider all of the ways in which taking on a new TMC will benefit them; for example, the time travellers spend booking and organising travel will be reduced, or that the new online booking tool will be much easier and simpler to use.
Another, simpler example of offering incentives to change is, if possible, pledging 10% of the money initially saved in moving TMC towards to the next work party or event…
#2 Form a change A-Team
Choose and invite key employees from all parts of the company to help get the rest on board. Ideally, these individuals should have a good internal reputation, and great relationships with numerous colleagues. Don’t leave out any relevant departments, as this can lead to resentment, and make sure that you cover different levels of staff, from managers to juniors.
Involve this team early on and provide them with all of the details about the change up front, as a way to check that they’re happy with the new systems. This will make the transition much smoother, as you’ll get early feedback from them, meaning you can address any issues before the bulk of the organisation comes across them. Equally, the rest of the workforce are likely to listen to their views and take on board their positive approach to your new TMC.
#3 Measure how effective the implementation is and let everyone know of successes
It’s unwise just to implement change blindly and so it’s crucial to have in place an agreed plan on how to monitor and measure how successful the whole process has been. Setting out measurable objectives, such as, ‘Achieving an online adoption rate of 85% by month 2’, is essential as it allows you to analyse how your people are finding the new systems and what your new TMC is doing to make the change a success, as well as providing information as to how you could improve similar processes in the future.
When the process has been completed successfully, show your employees how much you appreciate their efforts during the transition. Not only is it great to share success with everyone who’s helped make it happen, it will also help with any further adjustments in the future.
#4 Remember that communication is king
Communication is key; if you roll out a major change out of the blue, you simply cannot expect your users to react positively. It will be beneficial to involve key stakeholders in the earliest stages of your transition to a new TMC, as people are naturally happier to accept a decision they feel they have played a part in, rather than one that has merely been imposed upon them. Make sure that everybody knows exactly what is being changed, why the change is happening and what benefits the change will bring in advance.
Keeping key stakeholders abreast of any unexpected changes during the transition process is also vital. The best bet is to meet regularly with both your new TMC and your internal A-Team, making sure everybody is happy and singing from the same hymn-sheet.
It’s often impossible to please everybody when change is involved but by following these key points and having an engaged workforce you’re giving yourself the best opportunity of ensuring that all bases are covered and making the transition a major success.