In my last article I spoke about a Skift research paper that looked into ‘5 international focus points every Travel Manager needs to know about.’ One of these and I have to say the one that really grabbed me was ‘traveller satisfaction,’ something that I do feel very strongly about.
The research found that despite the numerous and impressive technological advances in travel, the Travel Professionals interviewed collectively believe that traveller satisfaction enjoys more focus now than ever before. This is what they believe “drives compliance, productivity and overall employee engagement.”
Well, isn’t that exactly what all Travel Professionals should be striving to achieve for their clients? What that research didn’t go into was exactly what it takes to create traveller satisfaction – hence my decision to write this article.
Cost and the bottom line
Other research amongst Travel Managers on a global scale shows that the focus on traveller satisfaction has grown in the last 3 years, but ironically they say that cost savings is still a bigger priority.
As I see it, traveller satisfaction, which drives compliance, productivity and overall employee engagement is one of the best ways to generate savings and improve the company’s bottom line!
It is ironic in fact that Travel Managers see cost saving as a bigger factor than traveller satisfaction. Additional research shows that a Travel Professional’s performance, according to big business, is judged primarily on delivering traveller satisfaction – not just cost saving!
A seamless experience
Hopefully that removes any doubt that traveller satisfaction should be the travel Manager’s first priority. So what does it take to achieve real traveller satisfaction?
Using the amazing new travel industry technologies wisely and in the right proportions should help to empower business travellers throughout the entire travel experience. It is not just travel technology however that creates traveller satisfaction. From the time the company begins researching a trip, until the time they submit their expense claims, the process should be as seamless as possible.
Attention to detail
Essentially this also means attention to detail. In between planning the trip and submitting the expenses, every detail needs to be considered, included and handled professionally. From booking, to itinerary management, to airline and hotel check-ins, the traveller needs to feel connected and totally taken care of.
The personal touch
The personal touch always helps with this feeling of connection with the Travel Professional Company. Receiving a welcome text when you land in Dubai, flowers or a welcoming gift on the desk at the hotel and personal contact throughout the whole process, help to enhance this connectivity. Don’t leave everything to Chatbots and mechanised booking and handling processes.
Get the best deal – with transparency
When compiling an itinerary, with every aspect that incurs costs, the Travel Manager should spend the company’s money as if it is their own. That doesn’t always mean choosing the cheapest option either. Don’t neglect the small details like suggestions of transit times, commuting hours etc. as this is what the travellers value most – ADVICE. Choose what you believe will give the traveller the best possible traveller satisfaction, within the constraints of the company’s budget.
An important point is that corporate rates do often differ from leisure rates and this needs to be pointed out to the travel manager. Be transparent and educate them about these things and the options that they have. Let the travel manager see that you are always making the best choices for them.
Traveller satisfaction as an ethos
It is sad to me actually that we talk about the focus on traveller satisfaction as having increased in recent years, when this should have been (and always should be) the focus of any Travel Professional company.
We are too often thrown by reducing costs and meeting budgets when, as this article has shown, it is through travel satisfaction that we often can do exactly that! Excellent, personalised service, offering the best products and respecting your client’s bottom line should be every travel Professional’s ethos and commitment – that’s exactly what it takes to create traveller satisfaction!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER