Is it time to shift your paradigm for travel policy compliance?

By Brent Blake, President, Acendas Travel

Are you one of those travel managers who has all too frequently beat your head against the wall because employees are not complying with policy?

If insanity is defined by doing the same thing repeatedly, but expecting different results, perhaps it is time for a change. Since the constant preaching has not worked, the next step might be to create an incentive to drive adherence to the policy – even if it goes against traditional norms.

This concept of “behavioral economics” has recently become easier to implement thanks to new technologies that integrate with existing marketplace tools to foster travel policy compliance. Essentially, travelers are rewarded with gift cards or other items of value for coming in under budget for travel. I believe more and more companies will be implementing aspects of this in their travel programs. It is an option that we are discussing with our clients.

If a company rewards its employees for complying with the travel policy, there are many other benefits other than savings including traveler satisfaction and employee retention. The incentives should not be created to promote compliance; however, they must encourage exceptional behavior. One method to enhance the concept of policy compliance is to inspire employees to decide what is more important given an option – would they switch to coach from business class to receive a reward that can be exchanged for a gift card or a donation to a charity in one’s name? While this trend in travel programs sounds exciting, it might not be appropriate for all companies, cultures or travel programs.

My key takeaways for companies in considering whether to implement such practices include:

  1. New technologies are changing the traditional thinking in corporate travel. Our approach is that we are open to evaluating all newcomers and will support those that help our clients.
  2. Though it’s not for all companies, we believe these new “disruptors” have merit, and do offer a fit with travel programs for some companies.
  3. The best application for “behavior economics technology” is with companies that have discretionary travel; i.e. internal meetings, scheduled or routine visits for travel.
  4. The worst application is for companies that must travel at the last minute (i.e. 2-3 days out), for client immediate needs or service technicians.
  5. All new technologies must be properly vetted, have a well-designed roll out, and be endorsed with executive buy-in.  All of these are components of a well-managed travel program.

If your company displays the characteristics for using behavioral tactics, then education and engagement should also be part of the implementation. Education provides the traveler the budget to beat, including steps to take if a trip changes. This could be accomplished simply by creating a frequently asked questions document. Traveler engagement can be accomplished with screens displayed in office or other communications recognizing the highest point earners.

Think this might be a successful program for your company? Call Acendas Travel and we can evaluate your travel program and recommend suitable solutions.