Traveller satisfaction – where it’s at and where it’s going

Earlier this year, I spoke about a pet subject and a passion of mine – Traveller Satisfaction. My article was around ‘What it takes to create traveller satisfaction’, and I spoke at the time about cost and the bottom line, a seamless experience, attention to detail, the personal touch, transparency and getting the best deal. These are all critical factors to creating Traveller Satisfaction.

It was with great interest therefore that I read in the excellent Skift online publication about new research on Traveller Satisfaction – where it’s at and where it’s going in the travel industry. As we are going through this season of ‘new beginnings’ I’m interested to know where we should be focused going into 2020.

The research, conducted by Dinova and Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) was carried out to explore the link between the traveller experience and Traveller Satisfaction. The company surveyed 215 travel buyers based in the U.S. to find out how companies are thinking about the wants and needs of their business travellers.

They made a few interesting points, and so I thought they were worth relating because apparently, some companies are embracing Traveller Satisfaction, but some are not and some are not even considering it!

I have also made my comments regarding each aspect – hopefully to give some guidance or insight to our own South African TMCs.

Traveller Satisfaction is growing – rapidly

Although only 20% of companies currently have Traveller Satisfaction programs in place, another 29% are busy with implementing them, and the majority of companies worldwide will have such plans in place in the next two years.

What’s interesting to note is that it is the largest companies that are implementing it – those with significant influence over smaller entities and so I would say one must consider “can you afford to not get with the program?”

It encompasses many aspects

It’s also interesting to note that the research unequivocally states that the traditional focus only on Air, Hotel and ground transport as the critical factors of Traveller Satisfaction is shifting. Traveller Satisfaction also encompasses elements like Wi-Fi in the air and dining related aspects like refreshment, room service and food delivery.

These all play a part in Traveller Satisfaction, so my word on this is that we need to take a ‘bigger picture’ approach!

Expense mandates lead to more clarity and greater buy-in

Apparently, travellers prefer to have a specific mandate on precisely what they can spend and where. Travel providers are creating more parameters around expenditure, and this avoids confusion about allowances.

It seems that in the corporate world, where budgets are carefully calculated, that clarity for the business traveller is a blessing rather than a bind.

Traveller Satisfaction programs work across the company

Companies with Traveller Satisfaction programs in place not only reported better cost and compliance control but also reported working across teams, looping in others from finance, operations, human resources etc.to define shared KPIs and develop additional ways of measuring travel ROI.

It seems that with this buy-in from multiple stakeholders, Companies will better be able to calculate the actual costs of business travel – another benefit of Traveller Satisfaction programs.

Traveller Satisfaction is here to stay and will evolve

Thanks to considerable research, we can see that Traveller Satisfaction is going to continue to evolve, and more companies will buy into extensive programs. My final word on it is that going into 2020, any TMC or corporate entity chooses to ignore it at their peril.

Even if a company is not ready to fully embark on a Traveller Satisfaction overhaul, there are still small changes they can make to start moving in that direction. As the research so clearly points out, half the workforce by 2020 will be millennials, so there is no doubt that more technology will be integrated into the travel experience, but an all-encompassing Traveller Satisfaction program will involve so much more than that.

Hopefully, this will have shed some light on Traveller Satisfaction – where it’s at and where it’s going, but one thing’s for sure …the conversation has just begun!

LIDIA FOLLI

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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