Every business has a culture, whether it’s been intentionally built or organically grown. Culture appears in a company’s product evolution, brand identity, and customer service as well as its work environment, company policies, and business travel. In fact, your travel programme — since it touches every area of your business — is likely a small-scale replica of your overall culture.
Your travel programme is a big deal and building a successful programme is crucial for small and medium-sized businesses. Webinars, email, and video conferencing tools are undeniably useful. But you can’t beat in-person meetings when it comes to making connections and closing deals. In 2017, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reported that requests made in person are 34 times more effective than those made over email.
It’s essential that your company culture is designed to help your organisation reach its goals. Moreover, it’s vital that your travel programme — and subsequent travel culture — aligns with and complements your overall company culture.
A consistent travel culture
If your corporate travel programme is unmanaged, with everyone booking and expensing from various on and offline places, or if your programme is managed in-house with one person managing across the company, then there’s the potential for it to get confusing and time-consuming very quickly. Not only that, unmanaged travel could be unduly costing your company money. Consider the work time lost in unpacking each travellers’ expenses and itinerary. Also, think about money spent from bookings that were made out of policy or that cost more than they should have because of how or where the bookings were made.
Managed travel drives consistency. By partnering with a travel management company (TMC) like Egencia, business travel can be consolidated and improved through a platform approach. Travellers are empowered to book with a user-friendly interface and the travel manager can amend policy on the go, check where travellers are, and pull reports on things like expensing — all on the same platform. This simplifies the process for everyone involved and delivers back valuable time.
Using travel culture to align your workforce
One of the first problems to solve in a small or mid-sized business, and usually the catalyst to create an overall travel policy, is the management of costs when there’s an increasing number of people on the road.
Nobody will argue with the need to set parameters around costs for hotel rooms, rental car rates, or airfares. But, is the way you roll those changes out as an organisation going to help or hinder your business health?
You could simply set the limits and leave it at that. It’s then up to every employee to ensure they’re aware of the most up-to-date policy information, cross-reference their bookings, and submit the entire trip for approval. But this kind of booking process doesn’t make for happy travellers.
Partner with a TMC that has a platform to empower travellers to make their own decisions while also keeping them in compliance. They can still take a familiar, personalised approach to booking: Search, check reviews, build an itinerary. However, now they can do it in a way that automatically applies your internal policies around rates and restrictions so that there’s no need for referencing between a policy document and the booking. With the Egencia platform, travel managers can even change travel policy at any time, from wherever they are.
Our platform also highlights the best, in-policy choices available for your travellers by using machine learning to save even more time and offer additional opportunities to manage costs.
Travel for recruitment and retention
With all of your employees booking their travel through one TMC’s centralised platform, you’re creating a wealth of up-to-date data that allows you, as a travel manager, to view your travel programme in its entirety and find savings opportunities and efficiencies for the business. For example, data can help you pinpoint recurring issues like late bookings and noncompliant behavior so that you can address them with your travellers and improve your organisation’s approach to travel.
A synergised company culture and travel policy that’s embraced by employees can also help your business compete when it comes to talent recruitment and retention.
A well-defined travel policy with functionality that makes it easy to follow, will encourage your workforce to stay compliant, feel supported, and generally advocate for your business’ travel culture. Accenture reported that leading companies are recognising that the employee experience is the new battleground to gain a competitive advantage. A good employee experience includes the way that people are expected to book and travel for work, so you need to make sure that prospective talent knows your approach to business travel is positive and straightforward.
Want to learn more about the role of travel in a cost-conscious company culture? Read the white paper.
 Alexander Osterwalder, et al. “Don’t Let Your Company Culture Just Happen,” Harvard Business Review, 2016.
 Accenture Strategy. “Employee Experience Reimagined,” Accenture, 2017.