Saturday 17 February 2018

GUEST BLOG: Four steps for managing business travel effectively

According to the Global Business Travel Association, spend on business travel is expected to grow 6%  in 2018, ending an ‘era of uncertainty’ for corporates with regards to budgets. This is hardly surprising when you consider that for every $1 spent on business travel, a company can realise $12.50 in incremental revenue. Firms are keen to use business travel to grow and expand.

However, with this increase, comes more pressure for those booking and managing trips. Research from Collinson Group, owner of Priority Pass, found that 65% of HR professionals at large companies anticipate the process of sending employees abroad will become more complicated from a Duty of Care perspective.

Employers have an obligation to provide a safe, secure and positive environment for staff to work in, both in and out of the office. Here are our key tips to manage business travel effectively:

Creating and communicating business travel guidelines 

While rough guidelines for business travel do exist, many companies have no standard approach when it comes to Duty of Care requirements. In fact, less than half of HR professionals (47% at large corporates / 40% at SMEs) issue staff with clear cut business travel guidelines. Unfortunately, even when these are issued to employees, they sometimes fall below the required mark. A third (36%) of business travellers described the information their company issued them with as “standardised” and not related to specific business travel needs. Firms should have a coherent risk management strategy in place and ensure these are relevant to the travel needs of individual members of staff.

Conducting effective risk assessments 

Risk assessments should be a fundamental part of Duty of Care, yet 53% of large corporates and 25% of SMEs only conduct risk assessments associated with employee travel if the employee is going to an area deemed “high risk”. Some of the reasons for this will relate to experience and/or budget considerations. But not having a proper risk assessment and contingency plan in place could mean that businesses are leaving staff – and themselves – exposed to unnecessary travel risks. Companies should consider using the services of third party risk partners, such as online portals providing real-time health and security information, to help support these processes.

Managing employees’ whereabouts 

When an employee requires assistance, you want to ensure a rapid response whilst also ensuring costs don’t spiral. There are different approaches to keep an eye on employees’ whereabouts when they’re travelling; companies need to find what works for them. For example, while travel tracking tools are often used by large corporates, they can be expensive and for many smaller companies, this will not be a sensible option. Instead, they should opt to micro-manage the tracking of their employees’ travel directly and on an individual basis. 

Providing a seamless travel experience

As well as keeping staff safe and fulfilling their Duty of Care responsibilities, employers need to ensure they focus on giving employees the best ‘customer experience’ possible – and not neglecting the importance of their social and emotional needs. Half (51%) of business travellers cite being away from home and family as the most challenging aspect of travelling abroad. Amongst other top concerns was access to consistent Wi-Fi (49%), being away from the office (38%) and the impact of travel on productivity (36%). What may feel like modest benefits to some, can make a real difference to staff effectiveness and their morale, while making them feel more valued and open to spending time away from home. For business travellers, the lounge in an airport or transportation hub is something of a sanctuary; a place for downtime and to relax, to stay connected with friends, colleagues and family members, as they prepare for travel.

Businesses need to ensure they are consolidating their approach to Duty of Care and ensure they are working with the right third party providers to achieve this. The reality is that if approached correctly, business travel can be highly rewarding, motivating for employees and drive extensive business gains.

This blog has been written by Jon White, Marketing Director, Travel Experiences, Collinson Group. The full findings from Collinson Group’s ‘Taking Care of Business Travel’ research can be found here.  If you want to find out more, please visit the Priority Pass team at the Business Travel Show, Stand B322.

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