Recent years have brought about the golden age of sharing. Social media culture, Peer-to-peer transactions and the "sharing economy" are now taglines for everything from vacation plans to the Global Business Travel Association’s 2015 conference theme. Sharing isn’t a revolutionary concept —heck, it’s drilled into our heads from our first days at school—but its sudden application to the sphere of business travel opens the floor to some interesting questions about what to share.
In today’s world of constant connectivity and instant information gratification, travelers have become very accustomed to having infinitely scrolling pages of search results at their literal fingertips, helping them make booking decisions. In the years leading up to the “smartphone generation,“ however, there was a near-ubiquitous philosophy among TMCs that screen guilt (the thought that travelers, seeing both higher and lower airfares, would opt for the lower to save money) alone would push travelers to make more frugal online booking choices. Unsurprisingly, the ideology aged at a rapid pace as OTAs and airlines brought online tools to the forefront of the commercial marketplace and John Q. Traveler began making his own travel arrangements outside of the office.
Corporate online booking tools responded by strengthening their policy enforcement tools, but if you have any experience with corporate travel management, you already know that travel policies are never one-size-fits-all, even within the smallest companies. Pre-emptive education and visibility finally became the keys to successful online enforcement and that’s as far as sharing went.
More than an open door policy…
Having pricing and policy information available to travelers has always been a solid go-to, but there’s something to be said about opening the doors to new types of data and sharing that data with travelers in a fast forward format. What if travelers could see how their booking choices matched up to their company’s policies at or before the point of sale? And what if they could also see how they measured up to the travel spend of fellow employees? The old mantra of ”screen guilt” would be replaced by context.
Screen guilt may still be effective in some circles, but sharing a glimpse at the bigger picture can lead travelers to bigger questions:
- “How does my trip compare to my colleagues?”
- “Why is my trip more expensive than the average?”
- “Where can I improve what I’m spending?”
In fact, sharing benchmark data can make a much larger difference than saving a few bucks on a handful of advanced purchases – this type of data can teach travelers how to stay within travel policy.
Reinforce what you’ve taught!
Even the most well-informed travelers can use some help when it comes to making the best choices. By leveraging traveler benchmark data, travel management companies—or even individual companies—can also tap into the hidden potential of gamification to drive travel policy compliance. The concept is pretty straightforward: reinforce the context you’ve created by making it fun or rewarding to stay within policy. Make it into a game and share the benefits and savings.
Here at Atlas, (forgive my shameless plug) we keep travelers on track by using Prime Numbers Technology’s Traveler Scorecards, which rank individuals based on policy adherence goals. From there, it’s as easy as attaching a small incentive reward – the cost far outweighed by trip savings – to encourage the most favorable habits. It’s simple, it’s scalable and it’s incredibly effective.
Commit to sharing
At the end of the day, the trend in the availability of information is only going to grow. Embracing that trend, and offering your travelers new ways to digest and interact with that information is certainly a firm step toward success. Sharing can be a powerful thing, especially when it comes to travel data, and I encourage you to consider how bringing that data to the forefront of your travelers’ booking experiences can improve your T&E program.
If you’re interested in discussing the merits of sharing the power of data with your travelers, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to visit us online at http://atlastravelandtechnology.com.
About the Author
Andrew Carriere is a passionate young hospitality professional, Massachusetts-local, travel-technology enthusiast, and Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Atlas Travel & Technology Group. He works closely with each of Atlas’ divisions to oversee client communications, increase brand awareness and improve external messaging. Prior to his MarCom role, he also served as Atlas Travel’s first intern, where he explored the intricacies of managed travel. A recent Summa Cum Laude graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Carriere holds a BS in Travel Tourism & Hospitality Management, and an AS in Culinary Arts.
About Atlas Travel
Headquartered in Milford, Massachusetts, Atlas Travel is an award-winning full-service travel management company, offering corporate travel, vacation planning, and meetings and incentives services. Since 1986, Atlas has been known for providing easier travel and better management to companies across the globe. In addition to their wholly-owned UK division, Atlas is able to offer their clients global travel programs in more than 100 countries on six continents through their affiliation with BCD Travel, one of the largest travel companies in the world. Atlas Travel is also a proud Concur Preferred Partner.