Business travellers say face time boosts productivity; good policy is a prescription for compliance
Has FaceTime replaced genuine face time? Is business travel so last century? Not according to the business travellers Egencia surveyed in the third edition of its Business Travel and Technology Study. Globally, 86 per cent of travellers surveyed said a meeting conducted in-person is more effective and productive, a view consistent across every age group. Travellers in Australia, Canada, China, India, UK, and the US made a stronger endorsement, at 90 per cent, on average; as did travellers with a title of VP and above (91 per cent). In an age when rampant connectivity allows us to work virtually from anywhere, business travellers believe there is a lot to be said for showing up.
Travel is also closely linked to professional success in the minds of business travellers. More than two-thirds of global travellers surveyed (67 per cent) said they would be less successful in their role if they did not travel. Travellers in Australia, Canada, China, India, UK, and the US agreed most strongly at levels above 70 per cent, as did VPs and above. Far from being irrelevant, Egencia’s findings revealed widespread support for, and confidence in, business travel as a personal and professional tool.
“We support the vital need for business travel by providing solutions travellers actually want to use,” said Rob Greyber, president of Egencia. “If we can improve each traveller’s journey while helping companies manage the bottom line, then we have done our job. Our travellers’ clicks guide us every day in the decisions we make and the technology we deliver toward the user experience.”
While conducting business in-person hasn’t gone out of style, neither has the need for companies to manage the cost of business travel. As companies have moved toward cost containment, travellers have felt the pinch. More than half of travellers (54 per cent) say cost is the most important factor to their company when booking a trip. Among travellers who have experienced a more stringent travel policy in recent years, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) feel that cost savings has been the driver.
Within this environment, most travellers globally say that policy is not oriented toward their preferences. Fifty-five per cent of travellers say their company travel policy meets their needs only somewhat well, and eight per cent of travellers report it does not meet their needs very well, or not at all. Only 38 per cent of travellers say their company’s policy meets their needs very well. When confronted with a restrictive policy that prevents travellers from booking a preferred airline or hotel, roughly one out of two travellers is willing to break it. Companies have an opportunity to better reflect traveller desires and increase compliance at the same time.
Egencia’s new position paper, Policy vs. Policing: Ten Ways to Empower and Take Care of Your Travellers, addresses what companies can do to better meet the needs of travellers and improve their experience. Findings and recommendations are based on traveller views and are focused on four key areas:
- Choice (Do travellers have enough choice and flexibility with regard to content?);
- Comfort (Do travellers feel taken care of on the road?);
- Safety (Are safety guidelines prioritized and communicated effectively?); and
- Communication (Are travellers being reached through the channels they prefer?).
The company also wanted to find out how travellers perceive issues like the sharing economy, mixed leisure and business travel, and their own safety and security when travelling for work.
Personalization emerged as a major theme of traveller feedback. While 25 per cent of travellers globally feel their company travel program has become more personalized, 59 per cent have not seen greater personalization in recent years. Policy segmentation can make certain travellers, whether they are executives or those who travel a certain route or distance, feel more taken care of on the road.
In addition, Egencia recommends that companies not only have a well-thought-out travel policy, but an effective way of reaching travellers and open channels of communication.