Managing The Maverick Traveler

Business Travelers

INFORMATION: An Important Key to Program Compliance

A recent survey conducted by Rockbridge Associates showed that out-of-policy travelers spent an average of $2,881 more per year than “in-policy” travelers. Multiply that across your enterprise, and those maverick buys can increase your travel costs by as much as 15% annually.

Travel professionals have a host of answers for this problem, from mandating policy to making compliance a game. Many organizations have taken a close look at out of policy behavior to understand why it happens, and see if it can be managed and influenced rather than controlled.

The results of these studies suggest practical steps to reducing the problem in many organizations.

STEP ONE: Teach It

Inexperienced travelers are most likely to purchase non-compliant travel. It’s not the sign of a bad employee – just an uneducated one. Sometimes, travel policies were part of an information-intensive training program and the employee has forgotten. In others, the company culture towards in-compliance travel just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Time invested in training now will make these employees the travel superstars of the future. Offer small group orientations with the travel team, and a robust online training and booking system like the TS24 vortal to bring your newbies up to speed and offer ongoing support. Finally, make sure that all travelers have the TS24 customer service number in their smartphone as a 24/7 travel resource that will help them stay in program and on budget.

STEP 2: Expand It               

A certain group of “mavericks” buy outside of program because they like the current vendors and don’t want to change. The reasons for this reluctance can be as simple as knowing the hotel staff or as bottom line-oriented as wanting to maximize travel rewards through a particular vendor.

A solution that shows respect for the employee and the program is to include those out-of-program vendors in your program understanding that savings are a primary priority. TS24’s experienced industry consultants can you build a program that allows for this flexibility.

STEP 3: Preach It

When the President introduces a new policy, you can’t miss it. The policy is floated, then discussed, then announced, then promoted in all of his speeches for the next few weeks.

Effective evangelization requires both mass communication (policy updates, published FAQs, surveys) and personal communication. If a particular traveler, for instance, constantly buys out of program because she believes that her Groupon is cheaper than in program, show her where the in-program buy offers benefits that hers doesn’t, like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, or late checkout.  Peer testimonials are one of the strongest tools for gaining compliance – so use them often.

STEP 4: Enforce it

As a travel program manager, it’s your responsibility is to control costs – NOT to control traveler behavior. Almost every corporate traveler reports to someone, and you need to enlist those management team members to keep travelers in compliance.

Give your senior level managers the information they need to enforce travel policy – it’s easy with TS24’s detailed reporting systems.

Do you see a common theme here? INFORMATION is vital to all these steps. As the keeper of information regarding travel costs and potential savings, you have the most powerful tool to drive compliance.  We’ve given you some powerful ways to put it to work!