Over the past few months, we’ve looked at different aspects of the travel programme as well as travel manager excellence. As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time to revisit some of these ideas and bring them all together to deliver something sublime. The trick is to combine all the different parts as a cohesive whole, rather than trying to work them in isolation.
Ever noticed how much easier it is to edit or tweak something that’s already in existence, and how hard it is to start something from scratch? The same applies to the travel programme; regardless of what you already have in place now, it’s easier to make changes and add to it than start with a blank sheet. Know that you have manifold information about what works and what doesn’t; you can read traveller behaviour in your booking and expense data, listen effectively to your travellers’ stories and concerns, liaise with the security and compliance team and find out what the main challenges were, and you can look at your suppliers to see how much share each had and what story that tells.
As travel manager, you’re basically the conductor: orchestrating behind the scene and ensuring a smooth, efficient and yet enjoyable performance. Yes, there are a lot of parts that have to perform together, and at times it seems it would be easier to separate them out (travel risk management, for example, or meetings). But leading the whole symphony, and understanding how it works and comes together makes it a lot more pleasing for the traveller. Mostly because they see someone who provides direction when needed, cares and thinks things through. And a little care will go a long way (we’re coming up to Christmas after all).
Having this podium view enables you to find glitches in the overall running of the programme and you can hone in on those to calibrate them. Always remember, however, to refocus on the entire score: you risk other parts transgressing or missing the tempo by focussing too long on just one area.
All attributes in the programme from analysis, benchmarking and control to operations, suppliers and travel risk are important. But just as you’re holding these together by conducting the programme, so are the travellers using and experiencing what they’re given and exposed to. Traveller experience which is driven by behaviour – or is it traveller behaviour which is drive by experience; is therefore the constancy throughout your programme attributes. And engaging with the travellers throughout the programme and throughout the year is the best present you can give them (and indeed yourself).
Unsure you can do this alone? Why not reach out to one of our Nina & Pinta elves? They’re happy to help you rehearse your programme into a worthy performance.