By Steve Banks, Chief Commercial Officer, Agiito.
As travel volumes dial back up, business travel programmes have renewed focus on wellbeing and duty of care. Two years of pandemic challenges, added to the enduring wellbeing triggers, have changed how companies perceive and manage travel risk.
TMCs have a big part to play in minimising organisational and personal risks to travellers and making the most of what a TMC has to offer can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels when on the move. Here are a few tips, tricks and solutions to improve traveller wellbeing for your organisation.
Know your travellers.
How mature is your traveller and booker community? How well do you know them? Employees have great expectations of their employer when it comes to wellbeing. Understanding the kind of support that your people need can improve individual wellbeing and your employee retention too. It’s important to keep an eye on the mental and physical health of employees that travel often and take steps to manage their workload to mitigate potential downsides of travel.
Let’s take transport method as an example. Understanding how different methods of transport can impact anxiety levels can help you make informed choices. A recent poll found 48% preferred to travel by rail when considering their wellbeing, followed by travelling by car (35%) and air (14%). But, we can’t ignore that travel is hugely personal. One traveller’s speedy and convenient train journey is another’s logistical nightmare.
Know your suppliers.
How you travel, where you stay and the venues that you choose can transform a trip. The quality of content available to planners as they buy the book has seen amazing growth in recent years. Pre-trip risks during Covid encouraged travellers to think more carefully about how they needed to prepare. The risks were much more personal than ever before and improved content, like specific Covid hotel and venue policies enabled travellers to make informed choices that met their personal wellbeing needs.
There’s no end to the level of detail that improved content could facilitate. Venue sustainability policies are being made available within our booking tools as we speak and with rises in ethical food choices, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that vegetarians, vegans or coeliacs could be informed of a hotel’s food services and stances from the point of booking.
The key here is to know your booking tool and use it effectively or ask your TMC for their expertise.
Consider if your policy is fit –for-purpose to meet the demands and challenges of post-Covid travel. We found that while organisations weren’t travelling, it presented an opportunity to rebuild travel policies that worked for their employee’s wellbeing – so, don’t be afraid to make informed adjustments.
You can start by setting out clear safety and security aspects of the policy, but then look to inject some flexibility to empower travellers and let them know you’re looking out for them. For instance, giving your employees a selection of hotels or airlines, while maintaining control of the costs through rate caps or approval processes.
Then you’ll need a TMC that can help apply it through a mix of desktop/mobile tech and expert travel consultants.
Ensuring information reaches bookers and travellers is key!
Information is invaluable when improving traveller wellbeing. There’s a phenomenal amount of supporting content created by TMCs. The challenge is invariably how to reach travellers, without overstepping a traveller’s privacy or overloading them with information. Email notifications, mobile apps, booking confirmations, website support hubs, blogs, social media and toolkits of essential advice are just a few devices and channels. The key is to provide the information at the right time – usually during the booking process.
For travellers, having access to quality content can nudge them in the right direction. Something as simple as advice on collecting train tickets ahead of time - or making use of eTicketing can reduce stress and the alleviate pressures of making a train.
Communication within your organisation is important too. Travel managers can distribute information to travellers as they’re planning their trip to reinforce TMC communications. Post-trip, create user groups or cross-functional teams to share best practices and ensure your objectives represent your business. These groups will mean your travellers feel heard and that knowledge is passed within your business.
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Without forward planning, if something goes wrong it’s likely to impact how smoothly the meeting runs. Having an accurate and reliable travel itinerary is a great place to start. From here, travellers can access tickets and confirmations that they need on the road. Travellers also have a single source of information to plan routes and prepare for any banana peels.
Then there’s preparing for potential schedule changes. You should seek out a TMC that can offer 24/7 support and mobile booking tech too. If the plan changes, they offer travellers the ability to make changes to bookings or if things ever go wrong, there’s someone at the end of the phone to put things right – whenever and wherever you are. Finding a travel management company that offers support around the clock provides an important safety net whenever needed, but also offers travellers peace of mind.
For advice and guidance on how to support traveller wellbeing, get in touch.