Whether you’re thinking of enlisting the help of a travel management company for the first time, or are interested in switching partners, you’ll find everyone in your company is going to have an opinion on the matter. But all those people eager to be heard can cause friction, and sometimes the loudest voices are from people who don’t even travel. So why should you take the time to build consensus?
When done right, travel programs have the potential for huge rewards, both to a company’s bottom line and employee satisfaction. Which is why it’s important to give all those solicited, and unsolicited, opinions their rightful due and make consensus building an important part of the process. At Travel Leaders Group, we recognize the most successful travel management programs are built on company-wide support and have years of experience guiding clients through important transitions.
As you begin thinking about the changes you’d like to make to your travel program, we recommend including these six stakeholder groups in the discussion:
C-Suite: Whether it’s the CFO, CPO or CEO, at least one high level executive should be included in the process. Their knowledge is invaluable, and so is their support. Even if they aren’t active in the decision-making process, try to at least gain a commitment of support through executive sponsorship.
Finance Department: As travel is one of a company’s largest controllable expenses, the finance department will have plenty to say. Their analysis expertise and ideas for cost-cutting will be priceless, and a vital part of gaining upper management support.
Human Resources: These are the people that know how to keep employees productive and happy. They are also your in-house experts in morale, making them worth their weight in gold as you begin to garner company-wide support for your program.
Procurement: Their RFP expertise and negotiation skills will come in handy when it’s time to sign on the dotted line with your new travel management company. Make sure they are in the loop from the beginning so they have a clear idea of your priorities and goals.
IT Department: Mobile and online solutions are a de rigueur part of most travel management programs these days. Worried about data security? Interested in integrating booking and expense management tools? Make sure the people who support and secure your system are at the table.
Travelers: They are your on-the-road experts who will be most affected by the coming changes. Listen closely to what they have to say, their opinions and preferences matter a great deal. Remember, the success of your program depends on their compliance.
For every dollar strategically invested in travel, businesses will typically see an average increase of $20 in gross profit.One of the most interesting parts of travel management is how it touches every department within a company, from IT and HR to finance and procurement. Even the lawyers have a reason to get involved on occasion. Competing interests are often the source of friction, and that’s understandable. The finance department has a sharp eye on the bottom line, while HR prioritizes happy productive employees. Managers prize efficiency and travelers have strong preferences.
Building consensus is all about communication. Start by educating yourself about the needs of the different stakeholder groups. Listen carefully and take their concerns seriously, this show of empathy will go a long way when it comes time to make tough decisions. Just as important is educating stakeholders about benefits of the travel program you’d like to see implemented. They are more likely to be supportive of your efforts if they understand your goals and what’s at stake.
No one said it would be easy, but the benefits of consensus can be immense. According to the Global Business Travel Association, for every dollar strategically invested in travel, businesses will typically see an average increase of $20 in gross profit. That alone is worth the effort, but don’t forget about the other advantages. At Travel Leaders Group, we understand that a successful travel program will also boost travelers’ happiness, productivity and safety on the road while also increasing visibility and efficiency.