Product News & Updates

Is your travel program ready for the evolving workforce?

As the business travel landscape changes by the day, it’s important to ensure your travel program stays current with new trends, advances in technology, and emerging workplace demographics.

A recent Business Travel News webinar, “Optimizing your program for today’s traveler,” features commentary from Scott Gillespie, CEO of tClara, the travel benchmarking and analytics company, and David Holyoke, Global Head of Airbnb for Work, regarding ways to help companies adapt their travel program to an evolving workforce.

It’s about more than just money
When discussing the true impact business travel has on a company, a travel manager needs to consider more than just the cost of a trip.

For the last 20 years, travel procurement has been focused on cost control. We’ve got to go beyond that and build a bigger, broader view of the mission of travel management.

Scott Gillespie

There are a host of “side effects,” Scott explained, that accompany each work trip. Among them: health and safety, recruiting, retention, willingness to travel, and engagement at the workplace—all of which should be taken into account when considering travel’s true impact.

“That’s the entirety of a travel program’s focus: getting the balance between these pieces so the budget owner can be the most satisfied spending money,” he said.

In addition, when designing a travel program to have a better impact on business as a whole, travel managers should consider a traveler’s work-life balance and hierarchy of needs:

  • Safety and health
  • Productivity
  • Engagement
  • Impact

So if the goal is a positive business impact, how do you measure a travel program’s success?

To get your travel program ready for the evolving workforce, Scott suggested a metric for each tier – the most important being “trip quality”, because it’s the only one a travel manager can greatly influence.

“Higher trip quality is going to lead to lower traveler risk,” Scott noted, “as well as lower road warrior attrition – and it’s going to reduce the trip scrap rate [the number of trips that are viewed in hindsight as not worthwhile].”

The Millennial effect
The business travel ecosystem is also changing due to the emergence of a new demographic.

“Millennials are going to shape the world of work for years to come,” said Airbnb’s David Holyoke. “Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge about technology are defining the culture of the 21st century workplace.”

Business travel is at an all-time high and, by 2020, Millennials will comprise 50% of the global future workforce. They are prioritizing cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to meaningful experiences, whether traveling for work or for personal reasons.

A recent research study by Airbnb revealed another preference of today’s skilled workforce: the local connection that comes from staying in homes and neighborhoods. Respondents consistently said that staying in Airbnb homes made travelers feel more like themselves—who they are at home, not the workplace version of themselves.

The bottom line
Optimizing your travel program for an evolving workforce doesn’t have to be costly. There are quite a few things you can do to improve the traveler’s experience, including giving them more accommodation options that fit the budget.

Watch the entire webinar here, or learn about the following key insights at these timestamps:

  • The business traveler’s hierarchy of needs (2:51)
  • Today’s business traveler (7:30)
  • Optimizing for a benefits-first program (14:45)
  • Q&A with Scott and David (21:14)