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Improved behavioural insights can ensure quality business travel

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Leigh Bochicchio

Executive Director, The Association of Corporate Travel Executives

A long flight, a lost rental car reservation or an overbooked hotel can spell disaster for business travellers. Travel buyers know the real cost of an ineffective travel programme and work diligently to optimise their systems.

The lack of standardised, holistic measurement tools can make demonstrating success a challenge, and even negate progress.

Shortcomings in financial metrics

Traditional financial metrics are relatively easy to track, making them some of the most popular forms of measurement, based on a recent study by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and BCD Travel.

The study found that of the surveyed travel buyers, 91% use spend and savings to inform their travel programmes, and 84% track booking statistics.

While financial metrics are certainly important to the organisation and its business goals, they cannot provide a full picture of a travel programme’s strengths or shortcomings.

The pure expense of transportation and lodging fees may not accurately represent the cost of a trip, ignoring factors like traveller productivity and trip efficiency. Anyone who has suffered a maddening day of travel knows it can have a real impact on the quality and speed of their work.

Obstacles to better measurement  

When considering experience-based factors like trip success and traveller friction, the lack of an industry-wide definition can hamper effective measurement.

Travel managers agree that considering these aspects of their programmes can help their organisations better understand traveller needs, as well as improve services (47%) and policy compliance (37%).

Another key obstacle to better quality measurement in business travel is a lack of reliable data – low traveller feedback rates and the subjective nature of many metrics can lead to fragmented and unreliable data.

91% of travel buyers use spend and savings to inform their travel programmes, and 84% track booking statistics.

Working from incomplete data sets may mislead travel buyers as they assess their programmes, undermining their efforts to improve.

Engaging with stakeholders and gaining their buy-in presents a third obstacle to quality measurement. In fact, 25% of travel managers find it difficult to get senior leadership buy-in – which can be a major impediment to change.

Building stronger data sets for successful future travel programmes

Creating a well-framed rubric for gathering objective and subjective data will help the industry gain a more balanced view of the value and success of a corporate travel programme.

ACTE and BCD Travel are working to bring the industry together, building consensus in how to measure programme success. As a first step, we’ve defined four terms (traveller engagement; traveller friction; traveller satisfaction and trip success rate), as well as provided recommendations for how to begin measuring each of these metrics – and this is just the beginning.

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