Why business travellers need more control

9
3 min read

Travel remains unpredictable, with frequent flight cancellations and delays adding to the stress of work travel. Unfortunately, South African frequent flyers are feeling the strain.

According to the on-time performance reports of the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), some airlines experienced delays of up to 28% in February 2023. In March, fuel shortages due to load shedding caused flight cancellations and delays, leading to frustration at airports.

Many forward-thinking companies realise that giving their employees more say in their travel plans is smart during these times, says Bonnie Smith, GM Corporate Traveller.

“South African business travellers must deal with both locally caused flight delays and those experienced globally due to pilot shortages and airport strikes. There’s nothing that seasoned business travellers dislike more than a travel policy that doesn’t give them flexibility and support to minimise the stress that comes with travel disruptions like these,” says Smith.

More and more organisations – and their business travellers – are turning to digital corporate travel solutions to ease the issues caused by unexpected travel disruption. By its nature, disruption comes at inconvenient times, so having the ability to view, change and manage travel schedules online or through an app – rather than sitting on hold, waiting to speak to a customer services agent – is a true game changer.

Smith explains that most South African companies put self-booking tools and apps on ice during the pandemic to increase company control over travel. Now that business travel has resumed in full force, it’s time to put travellers back in the driver’s seat and give them the right tools to deal with unexpected changes.

“Offering your employees self-booking tools and apps provided by your travel management company (TMC) will enable them to navigate travel changes within a defined framework while also enjoying the freedom to make travel arrangements independently,” she says.

Personal preferences are also an essential factor to consider, Smith points out. Business travellers have unique travel preferences that may include their preferred booking method, seat selection, and accommodation type. Providing travel technology that aligns with these individual preferences enables travellers to exercise control over their travel arrangements while adhering to the company’s travel policy. This approach creates a recipe for a happy travel experience.

Smith says, “Now is the time to explore if your TMC has digital tools to customise travellers’ needs. Corporate Traveller, for example, can gather and analyse data from travellers, including insights around likes and dislikes, queries, traveller friction, traveller preferences and travel behaviour. We can design the best itinerary and book the best product to meet travellers’ needs.”

For those businesses wanting to give their travellers more control over their work travel, Smith has the following advice:

Use a pre-approved booking platform: TMC platforms not only offer preferred rates and services but also give employees control over their bookings within the guidelines of the company’s policies.

Create and communicate guidelines: Work with your TMC on your travel policy to outline what expenses are allowed, what booking channels to use, and how to manage travel expenses. This will help employees understand their boundaries and feel empowered to make the right decisions. Make sure the travel policies are communicated to all employees.

Share the cost savings: Companies can offer employees a share in the savings they generate by sticking to the travel policy. This can be done by offering bonuses or other incentives based on cost savings.

“Empowering business travellers with more control over their bookings is not just about technology; it’s also about having the right travel management partner to provide the necessary support and flexibility. Companies should ask their travel management company how they can enable their travellers to make their own choices while still ensuring compliance and safety, and what tools and resources are available to help them do so,” says Smith.

For more information about Corporate Traveller, or to interview Corporate Traveller South Africa GM Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email dorine@bigambitions.co.za.