A 12-hour flight, a few hours of interrupted sleep, and then a series of grueling 14-hour days with the company’s teams and customers: welcome to the world of the horse traveller.
For many executives, these long trips are an occasional necessity. For the traveler, however, it’s a lifestyle, as companies rely on the staff who travel the world to generate business and solve problems. And it’s no surprise that such pressures come at a price.
A look at travel policy
According to a study conducted by Airlines Reporting Corp and American Express Global Business Travel, 15 % of hyper-business travelers are virtually exhausted by travel and 80 % of them stated that at the time of changing jobs, a prospective new employer’s travel policy would be at least as important as pay and responsibilities. The stress and fatigue of these “road warriors” also affects their loyalty to the company and their productivity. For 65% of them, the fact that employers accept their requests for improvements would have a “very” or “extremely” positive impact on their willingness to stay in the company. Their productivity, they say, could improve by an average of 44%.
The impact of “traveler friction
“Business travelers provide an essential link between two different worlds: corporate and field teams,” says Didier Dumont, president of Mobility and Expense Management at Sodexo Benefits and Incentive Services. “But his task is physically and mentally exhausting. The days are long, as it is always necessary to make the most of the time, as well as the company’s investment in the field. That’s why corporate travel policy is really important,” he adds. In addition to long working hours, there are other aspects of traveler friction that exhaust people, such as booking trips, issuing tickets, not to mention the wrinkled pile of expense receipts that accumulate.
Flexibility: the cure for trip exhaustion?
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to so many challenges, there are always ways to improve the Quality of Life of the traveler. To retain talent, companies should consider modifying their travel policy and culture to prevent “road warriors” from running out and wanting to change jobs. For example, proposing flexible working between business trips is a popular way for employers to compensate employees for becoming hyperbole. According to one study, almost 70% of HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruitment and retention tool, and 87% of them believe these programs generate employee satisfaction. Reviewing the company’s policies for travel service providers to offer higher quality services to hypervisors is another option. A recent study indicates that, when selecting a supplier, the majority of corporate travel buyers are more inclined towards “the lowest negotiable price” than quality of service. Some alternatives include a more holistic approach and provide wellness programs or concierge services to help relieve pressure on executives.
What if we take the suffering away from the hyperbole?
Regardless of how long you’ve been traveling, whether by plane or driving, all frequent travelers have one “point of suffering in common”: the details. For example, how easy is it to make reservations, change an itinerary, or keep track of expenses? For those who drive all over the country, covering huge distances, there are costs of gasoline and paperwork to manage. “It’s a nuisance. Of course it is,” says Didier Dumont, a 15-year hyper-traveller. “We would like the organization of the trip to cause as few problems as possible and not have to spend Sunday afternoons controlling our expense receipts,” he adds. To meet these needs, Sodexo Benefits and Incentive Services has partnered with two specialized providers, i-Albatros and Xpenditure, to provide a 24/7 booking service and paperless expense management. Together, they offer a single travel solution that begins before departure, with hotel and transportation reservations, and then continues with expense management, seamlessly transitioning between the two stages. Accessible from a smartphone, this solution is always at hand.
Technology to the rescue
I-Albatros offers horse riders a booking platform that is as easy to use as the most popular internet booking sites, but which adapts to business needs by integrating the company’s travel policies. Its database of 300,000 hotels can be customized to highlight selected hotels near the client’s or company’s location with which the firm may have negotiated special rates. For flights, the platform can be configured so that only business class can be selected for trips of more than five hours, for example, or only for short trips, depending on what the policy establishes. “With i-Albatros we can book everything necessary for a trip to New York in less than two minutes and be perfectly aligned with the travel policy,” says Didier Dumont. The service of the mobile application is complemented by the attention of the call center staff.
Xpenditure uses the smartphone camera and an associated application to instantly capture the details of an expense receipt and have the request for reimbursement or approval sent automatically. With real-time reporting and a link to corporate accounting systems, the platform offers businesses a powerful expense management tool, eliminating all the hassles of traditional expense reimbursement claims for employees. “We believe that tools like these can really help improve the quality of life for a hyper-traveller,” says Didier Dumont, and concludes: “Simplifying bookings and reimbursement of expenses within 24 hours, without having to write down the details and with a single solution, is good news for the warriors of the road!
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The fastest growth of these trips will occur in emerging markets, with an advance of 6.2% each year until 2027.
More and more workers spend a large part of their time travelling for work reasons and of course these business trips also carry their risks. Corporate travel needs competitive products that protect employees in the real risks of their travels. The different professional categories require completely different protection, and the destinations where they are going to move, adaptability and flexibility of solutions.