Client-centric or traveler-centric? Finding the right balance in business travel

Finding-balance-for-business-travelers

What fast-growth companies know – and you can learn – about using business travel to boost employee recruitment and retention, foster diversity, and promote a positive company culture.

Walk into any restaurant in the world and you’ll be handed a menu, a list of what’s available and how much it costs. That’s what diners need. But a well-crafted menu goes further. Rather than just listing choices, it conveys the restaurant’s identity, brand, and values. It shows diners the restaurant’s ethos in word choice, imagery and even the type of paper.

These choices differentiate the restaurant from peers. They also help attract and retain staff who feel the brand, food, and atmosphere reflects their style. For example, an experimental look that breaks new ground will help the restaurant attract ambitious, talented young chefs.

Inside companies today, a travel program can have the same result. At Egencia, we see this with many clients, but perhaps most clearly with clients who have put growth at the core of their business strategy.

Talent is a big deal for a fast-growing business. Many recruits in sales and growth-oriented roles travel extensively. A simple travel management program can help companies recruit and retain talent. Integrate that focus on traveler satisfaction with easy, integrated booking experiences, user-friendly and mobile-native itinerary tools and you have a competitive edge in attracting and keeping the best people.

Beyond talent, choices in travel signify what’s important inside companies. Can colleagues book non-stop flights when circumstances require it, or do cost-focused priorities always rule? Are there choices for accommodation, or are options limited to the company’s preferences? Do travel tools empower the traveller and arranger, or were they chosen first to solve the CFO’s needs?

Flexibility, the balance of responsibility and empowerment, ease of use — these are all statements about a company’s internal culture.

Travel can also be a statement about values. Saying you value diversity is one thing. But enabling diversity is another.

Many start-ups and fast-growing companies recognize this and put a special focus on enabling diversity in simple ways. Why is this important?

A study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that “‘increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance. Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. This finding is huge for tech companies, start-ups, and industry where innovation is the key to growth. It shows that diversity is not just a metric to be strived for, it is actually an integral part of a successful revenue generating business.”[1]

A modern workforce will have differing tastes, goals and requirements. Some travelers will need to dash home for family commitments, while some will be keen to maximize on bleisure.

Providing for accessibility, personal comfort and simplicity are crucial to a travel policy that supports to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

Finally, travel policies show a company’s customers that not all businesses are equal. A travel policy that puts its travelers in eco-friendly hotels suggests to customers that the company has a social conscience. Meeting in the hippest new hotel bar cultivates the image of a company that has its finger on the pulse of what’s cool.

Today, Egencia sees companies looking at travel, and travel management, in new and creative ways. Many of these companies are fast-growth businesses who keenly understand their culture, colleagues and the opportunity cost of missing a step on the road.

To them, travel policy is like a restaurant menu – a guide to what’s available but more, a signal to what they stand for.

To learn more about what growth-hackers know about business travel, download our white paper now.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

[1]How diverse leadership teams boost innovation, Boston Consulting Group, https://www.bcg.com/en-us/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation.aspx