Travel Management Programme: How to Satisfy Key Stakeholder Needs

Travel Management Programme: How to Satisfy Key Stakeholder Needs

by Patrick Post March 29, 2017

Senior Leadership, Finance, HR and Business Travellers will all have opinions, views and ideas on your travel management programme. But, while input from colleagues can be helpful, it’s not always easy to keep everyone happy about the way travel is managed.

After all, for any travel management programme to be a success, it needs to align all the key stakeholder needs – no small feat!

So how do you keep your key internal stakeholders on board, without creating a travel management mess? To start, it helps to know what drives each stakeholder. Let’s take a look at the typical internal stakeholders travel managers have to engage, examining their needs and unpicking what they want to from a travel management programme.

The Senior Leadership Team

Regardless of their professional background, you can expect some definite opinions on travel management coming from the Senior Leadership Team.

  • What They’re Likely to Say: Our travel policy and management needs aligning with company strategy and objectives.
  • What They Want: The senior leadership team typically won’t want to get caught in the intricacies of travel management and travel policies. They want business travel to work and to be as convenient as possible, while supporting company aims and ambitions.
  • How to Influence Them: Ask for specific guidance on the metrics they want to see and how frequently they want this information. Dashboards are an effective way to share reports, as they give the Senior Leadership team the snapshot view they want.

The Finance Department

Unsurprising, Finance will want to know the figures. According to research by Business Travel News, two-thirds of travel managers currently report to finance on a monthly or quarterly basis.

  • What They’re Likely to Say: We need to manage budgets, provide value for money and show a return on investment to the business.   
  • What They Want: Finance wants to make sure there are no nasty surprises or unexpected costs.
  • How to Influence Them: Like the Senior Leadership team, Finance is unlikely to want all the details of the travel management programme – they’re looking for budget certainty. Work with them to understand what information they want to see, as it will vary depending on priorities in the organisation. Then, get their support by showing the measures you have in place for budgetary controls and policy compliance. This could include figures like:
    • Total of monthly flight spend         
    • Monthly top 10 travellers by region
    • Monthly top 10 flight routes/destinations by region
    • Monthly top 10 airlines used by region
    • Average advance purchase of flight tickets by region
    • Average transaction costs
    • Unused non-refundable tickets
    • Lowest fares accepted

The HR Department

For HR, duty of care is always a priority – and they’ll want to balance this with employee engagement and wellbeing. Only 12% of travel managers report to HR on a monthly basis, so there’s definitely room to improve communication with this key stakeholder group.

  • What They’re Likely to Say: We need an approach to travel that inspires employees, but also keeps them safe when they’re out of the office.
  • What They Want: Duty of care is high on the agenda for many HR departments, so they won’t want to compromise on employee protections. They’ll also be very aware of how travel can help or hinder employee motivation and productivity.
  • How to Influence Them: Work with HR to understand what they want business travel to achieve for employees. Implement an approach to travel management that is both traveller-friendly and also robust enough to provide the employee protections HR want in place. Start sharing reports, in a systematic way, to track improvements over time. Also, consider conducting traveller satisfaction research, so you can share valuable insight with the HR team.

The Business Traveller

The business traveller is the primary internal stakeholder who will impact the day-to-day approach to travel management. They need an approach to travel that helps them succeed in their role.

  • What They’re Likely to Say: I want to be in charge of my travel options and have a great experience.
  • What They Want: They want the choice and options to make business travel convenient. They need to be able to make plans quickly and easily – so they can get on with the day job. There should be no barriers between your traveller and getting to where they need to go.
  • How to Influence Them: In short, make it easy for them to get travel sorted. Regardless of your process or your systems, business travellers need this to work for them. They’re used to using online tools – it’s where they turn when booking for leisure – and they’ll often find cheaper alternatives to the ones available through official channels. Explain to them why this is the case and provide them with options to access these rates. This way they’re more inclined to book within policy.

Bringing together the different priorities of key stakeholders isn’t easy. But, by understanding their requirements, it’s possible to set KPIs that take into account all their needs. The next step is communicating and sharing these commitments with all the stakeholders, so they have clear expectations from the travel management programme.

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