We all know the enthusiasm of making ambitious New Year’s resolutions each January – get fit! Save money! Spend less screen time! But while our personal goals often fall by the wayside, setting professional resolutions can be genuinely transformative. And that’s why Bonnie Smith, GM Corporate Traveller, recommends starting the year by relooking your corporate travel game.
While it can also boost your personal and professional growth, it can help you outpace your competitors. What are they doing? “We see businesses of all sizes prioritising agility, digital transformation, and employee experience. Travellers today expect a superior duty of care with seamless booking and mobile tools. And finance aims to curb costs while enabling strategic growth travel,” says Smith.
“Just as the world evolves, so should our strategies and approaches to travel management. By setting aside time to relook your travel programme, you ensure its alignment with your organisation’s goals, cost-effectiveness, and the wellbeing of your travellers,” she adds.
So, if 2023 felt like a blur of reacted tasks rather than proactive wins, here’s your chance to grab the reins. Here are five bold yet attainable New Year’s resolutions for those who work in business travel, according to Smith.
New Year Resolution: My People First
Budgets? Important. Traveller wellbeing? Essential. It’s not just about being responsible; it’s a smart professional move.
Firstly, it keeps your team content and committed. “When employees feel safe and supported during their business travels, they tend to stay longer and perform better. Plus, it helps you build a solid reputation, attracting talent and clients who value safety,” says Smith.
On a practical note, it’s your safety net in unpredictable times. Recent years have taught us that life can be pretty uncertain. Having a reliable duty of care programme in place helps your company handle unexpected challenges effectively.
Embrace New Tech
Did you know that according to the GBTA, 59% of travel managers think technology is a big deal when choosing a travel management company (TMC)? But here’s the thing, even with all this tech available, not everyone’s on board yet.
It’s time to take a closer look at the tech options. You can use self-booking tools, get automated insights, and use traveller messaging apps – all designed to make travel management smoother and more convenient. But remember, tech isn’t everything, says Smith. “Striking a balance between tech and human support is the key. To make it work, you must find and integrate solutions that address your team’s specific needs.”
Talk Travel with People in other Departments
As you book work trips in 2024, make it a goal to loop in finance, HR, and leadership more often. These teams care about how travel affects risk, spending, and whether employees are happy on the road. By scheduling regular check-ins, you can get on the same page about broader company priorities for the year. Instead of operating in a travel bubble, tailor your policies and any new tools or tech to help meet their big-picture objectives.
“If budget is worrying the finance team, address concerns up front and brainstorm ideas – maybe vendor consolidation or policy tweaks could save cash. Or work with HR to connect travel perks to attracting and retaining talent,” suggests Smith.
Make the Travel Numbers Work
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Solid reporting is key to getting the full picture of what’s happening in your travel programme. Whether you need data on specific projects, carbon emissions, top travellers, or anything else, leverage reporting tools from your TMC and others.
Crunching these numbers allows you to set goals and see how you stack up against other companies or your own targets. Smith recommends leaning on reporting to light the way. “See what’s working and what’s not so you can double down on high-impact areas. With the right analytics, you’ve got the information you need to grow smarter, fast,” she says.
Update Travel Policy
You may already have a travel policy in place, which is fantastic. Have you taken a moment to consider when it was last updated? Think about how your team has evolved since then. Have there been retirements and new hires bringing fresh perspectives to the table? Millennials and Gen Z employees often have distinct priorities and preferences regarding business travel.
It’s time to tailor your travel policy to cater to these evolving needs and preferences, says Smith. “Start by chatting with your team to hear their thoughts, customise the policy to cater to everyone’s needs, and make sure it aligns with the company’s rules. And remember, keep the conversation going for continuous support and improvements,” advises Smith.