According to the recent study conducted by FCM Travel Solutions and the African Business Travel Association (ABTA), only a third of travel policies among the South African corporates polled consider the individual traveller’s needs and fewer than half those companies polled said they were concerned or had started assessing the concept of traveller friction and the impact thereof.
Almost 70% of travel buyers surveyed indicated that the greatest source of traveller friction among their business travellers were flight delays and missed flights, followed by 55% indicating poor service from airlines and hotels. Interestingly, the fear of crime or terrorism, and actual occurrences of crime, theft, pick pocketing, etc. were ranked much lower.
“As procurement departments are increasingly under pressure to lower their travel costs, they change their travel policy to meet this goal. The senior sales executive who was once flying the night before in business class now flies the red-eye in the economy. Put the traveller in that position too many times and he/she may object to having to travel for business, or worse not perform to the best of their ability and jeopardise the company’s goals. The question then is: what are the hidden costs of not considering traveller friction in South African companies?” asks Euan McNeil, FCM South Africa General Manager.
Adds Monique Swart, founder of ABTA: “The survey found that three in four companies surveyed have a strict to rigid travel policy which means almost no room for flexibility to cater to different requirements of staff especially when these have an impact on the company’s business goals.”
A consideration for South African corporates in light of the real threat of traveller friction is a ‘freedom within framework’ approach which allows the individual traveller the freedom within a dictated selection of options that fit the company’s travel policy. Further measures cited by travel managers included catering to business travellers’ needs better within the travel policy through the inclusion of sharing economy options, bleisure opportunities and internal wellness programmes.
Personalising the business traveller’s experience also helps to reduce traveller friction – the negative impact that travel has on a traveller, e.g. insomnia, depression, discomfort, exhaustion – because to a large extent that traveller is travelling on their terms.
Furthermore, corporate travel has evolved to the extent where it has become a traveller-centric environment. Getting business travellers to comply with the company’s travel policy is becoming increasingly difficult as they are exposed to technological tools in their private lives that make travel easier, such as sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb, and want to use these in the workplace.
Almost 90% of business travellers in South Africa are using Uber and Airbnb for business travel purposes, according to the study; as many as 40% without the permission or endorsement of their companies.
Despite this, South African business travellers generally tend to toe the corporate policy line, according to travel managers surveyed in the study. Interestingly, the much-maligned millennial business traveller featured among the least likely to contravene corporate travel policy, bucking global trends.
Contact your FCM travel expert to check that your travel policy takes your travellers into account and review it regularly.