Can companies reduce their travel and expenses budgets by empowering and rewarding staff for making smarter and more cost-conscious decisions?

“If the business travel community is empowered and motivated to make different decisions, they will.” It is a bold statement from Tripkicks, an enterprise technology company that rewards business travellers for making cost saving travel decisions, but represents the whole ethos of what it is attempting to achieve as it grows its relationship with travel management companies, online booking tools, and expense management systems, to enhance the traveller experience and make business travel more rewarding.


Summary:

  • New ‘Employee Experience as a Driver for Future Travel Management Practices’ study suggests companies should adopt an Employee Experience (EX) attitude to deliver staff motivation and financial benefits;
  • The report is from Tripkicks, an enterprise technology company that rewards business travellers for making cost saving travel decisions;
  • A published paper suggests an EX-focused organisations could generate up to four times the profit and two times the revenue of comparable companies;
  • It is clear that business travel is an area that could be ripe for EX optimisation as employees seek to enjoy their time on the road.

The company, which analyses the return on investment for companies operating an employee-centric travel programme in which employees share in travel expense savings, has released a study, ‘Employee Experience as a Driver for Future Travel Management Practices’. It suggests that companies should adopt an Employee Experience (EX) attitude to deliver staff motivation and financial benefits.

EX is all the rage across companies today, and Tripkicks says this is “for good reason”. A study published recently in The Harvard Business Review acknowledged that EX-focused organisations could generate up to four times the profit and two times the revenue of comparable companies. While EX can be defined in many different ways it is effectively about an organisation putting the employee at the centre of the business, supporting their needs alongside meeting business goals.

But this can obviously be a challenge at a time that companies are taking an even closer look at costs to keep a lean and efficient business. As the Tripkicks study highlights, in business travel the primary goal has consistently been cost savings. Automated expense management systems, data-driven supplier negotiations and more restrictive travel policies have brought down costs and can only offer marginal future savings. So there is a need to look elsewhere, and a joint study by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel found 84% of travel managers believe future savings will come from managing traveller behaviour.

It is clear that business travel is an area that could be ripe for EX optimisation. As the study highlights, “employees want to enjoy their time on the road, or at the very least, reduce the friction caused by being out of their normal routine”. But, to making business travel more comfortable can add huge cost – perhaps travelling business class rather than premium economy, adding additional accommodation nights to reduce the impact of travel, etc. “While most organisations do sincerely care about their employees, cost has unequivocally reigned supreme,” says the report.

But if travellers are empowered and rewarded to make smarter and more cost-conscious decisions – what will actually happen? Well, the report suggests that when companies unlock cost savings in a method that directly benefits the traveller, they will see a direct increase in employee engagement and satisfaction. This strategy would also promote trust between the employee and employer, it adds. This, it explains, will make the decision to stay in the 4-star versus 5-star hotel easier to make at little to no trade-off; will see a traveller content with a premium economy flight in lieu of business class or to use an apartment rental or Airbnb instead of a traditional hotel.

That takes us nicely back to our opening statement… ‘if the business travel community is empowered and motivated to make different decisions, they will’. The power of an option of choice is certainly strong to any consumer, but the report argues that “the motivation will come from sharing in the savings their decisions create,” and for employers this “not only represents a substantial cost reduction, but a competitive shift towards an EX future”.

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