Is travel procurement about dollars and cents or does service count?

businesstravel2Cost vs investment? The debate over business travel spend has been going on for decades.  You’ve seen the headlines:  ‘Business travel is a cost, so it should sit firmly under procurement’ and ‘Welcome to the new world of business travel, where the traveler is king’

Most would agree that the pendulum has swung to the traveler-centric side, but what happens if tomorrow we see an economic downturn and companies start cutting travel budgets? Or if procurement teams, eager to prove their value, aggressively pursue cost-reduction opportunities. Will cost savings win or will employee satisfaction prevail?

It’s not one OR the other – it’s an ‘AND’ equation

As outlined in Managing Every Mile, a London School of Economics report commissioned by Amadeus, travel return on investment (ROI) isn’t solely defined in financial terms, but also in terms of greater employee satisfaction, productivity and duty of care.

This notion was echoed at the ProcureCon Travel event held in Las Vegas last week. More than 150 professionals from startups to Fortune 500 shared ideas and experiences in transforming travel through program innovation.

Many of the sessions centered on the value of a travel management program and ways to increase its effectiveness. Speakers, panelists and attendees focused on hot topics such as security, technology, maximizing the efficiency of a travel program, and balancing the costs.

While terms like ‘savings’ and ‘cost optimization’ were commonly heard, equally important was the notion that procurement professionals are remised if they focus solely on dollars and cents. Presenters from several companies even challenged the notion that procurement professionals add the most value to their organization when they align with traveler advocacy. They touted being cost-focused and traveler-focused is one way to improve travel programs.

As BTN’s Elizabeth West eloquently stated, “the future of managed travel depends on providing the right traveler experience, not just for employee satisfaction purposes but also for the best operational efficiencies.”

So what drives satisfaction? 

We spend a lot of time studying traveler behaviors to better understand what they want their business travel experience to be like. Not surprisingly, these expectations are driven by the experiences they encounter across all aspects of their life. From their morning coffee to an evening with Netflix. It’s personalized. It’s efficient. And above all, it’s about good service.

There is no magic formula or secret sauce to providing good service. It’s as simple as understanding the needs of your customers and addressing them proactively.

Looking for ways to better service your travelers? Contact Amadeus at 1-888-AMADEUS or salesinquiries@amadeus.com. Or contact Balboa Travel at 1-800-359-8773 or sales@balboa.com

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