Business traveller experiences can impact corporate retention and turnover, according to latest research from business travel and meetings trade organisation Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), but because relatively few buyers are tracking and analysing the travel experience, companies are not getting a complete picture about the impact of their travel policies and approaches.
The new study, ‘Leveraging Data to Improve Traveller Experience’, conducted in partnership with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) suggests that policies may help a company to save money on its travel programme, but this is ultimately at the cost of traveller dissatisfaction and potential employee turnover. “By expanding their data collection, buyers will be better able to assess the ultimate costs and benefits of their managed travel programmes, it says.
The research, an online survey of 114 US and Canadian travel buyers conducted in May-2019, highlights that most travel buyers agree that companies can improve employee retention or reduce turnover through various traveller-centric efforts.
Topping the list, four in five (80%) believe flexibility to book business class seats on flights or incorporating better quality technology can improve the traveller experience. More traveller-centric policies (77%), additional time off for frequent travel (73%), better customer service from their TMC or travel programme (68%), better quality vendors and suppliers (63%), and less strict rules (53%) were also favoured by a majority of the travel buyers.
The findings highlight that travel buyers currently rarely track indicators relating to the traveller experience with most of the data they track and disseminate focussed on cost and compliance-related issues, including online booking rates, cost savings, and advance purchases.
These are the metrics they use to assess the success of a programme – and demonstrate their value to senior management and stakeholders – rather than on traveller welfare. In fact, the research shows that fewer than one quarter (24%) say they share traveller-focused metrics or trip success metrics (14%) with other stakeholders at their company.
“Buyers today have limited metrics and data sources to measure the travel experience,” says Scott Solombrino, GBTA COO and executive director. “But trip quality matters to buyers and travellers alike. Travel programmes are searching for innovative ways to gather insights about the travel experience, and take action based on these insights.”
The research clearly highlights there are some gaps in what is important to road warriors, and what their companies measure and use to lessen their trip friction. GBTA says there is “considerable untapped opportunity” to use existing data.
Considering the usage of traveller-specific data, the report shows almost three quarters of travel managers (71%) receive data from their company’s human resources department and currently most (95%) use the data to update traveller profiles. But only 9% use the information to analyse or benchmark their programme, and only 6% use the data to inform their understanding of frequent traveller retention/turnover rates. A clear untapped opportunity.