Travel providers are all pursuing the “fastest possible outcome” solution to support business travellers, because these travellers apparently don’t have time or patience to do something in 4 steps, preferring to do it 1 step only. Travel managers are constantly saying “but my business travellers won’t do that…it takes too long”. These kind of statements and claims are made over and over by providers and managers of travel, all around the world. But has anyone stopped to consider just how stupid or lazy this makes business travellers seem, or is it a fact?
Business travel is a competitive advantage! At least it is to those that leverage the ability to go anywhere in the world, develop new relationships, expand market share and increase the profitability of their business. Therefore, business travel, like all the other factors needed for the expansion to succeed is a managed process, not a cost centre whereby the cheapest supply will do. Just ask a senior executive travelling to consolidate a $10 million deal, who discovers they are in a bad seat, travelling at a bad time, with no hotel wifi or breakfast and bouncing around on public transport all so someone has the bragging rights in declaring it was the “cheapest” option for the business. Pennywise and pound foolish is the most apt expression in this situation. But this is exactly what happens when business travel decision are made in isolation, not inclusive of the opportune cost and business rewards associate with a specific journey.
Business travel is a decision making process. The more informed the decision, the better the outcome. This applies to all aspects of the journey, from flights all the way up to the day and time selected to meet with the key stakeholder and any preparations required before the face-to-face encounter. Therefore, consultation, interaction, choice and optimisation all require intelligence and applied experience. Lazy and stupid certainly isn’t a label one would apply to this process, considering what is at stake and the potential outcomes.
The simple pretext of effective safety management is both context and consultation. That is, understanding the issues and engaging those involved in the processes, in order to effectively manage the safety concerns. You can’t cut the key stakeholder, that being the business traveller, out of the equation. They MUST be involved. If there is no context nor engagement with the business traveller, then there is no travel safety management, regardless of how well developed or comprehensive a business (or manager for that matter) believes their policy and procedures are when it comes to business and travel safety management. Remembering that policy is the lowest form of effective safety management in the heirachy of controls approach.
Business travellers therefore MUST be involved, and 100% automation is not possible as there will always be the need for interaction and safety management, which will require participation by the business traveller. Stupid and lazy doesn’t feature in this process. Businesses and it’s management would also face liability, not to mention the practicality, of explaining why they have sent a “stupid and/lazy” employee on business travel in the first place!
You can’t manage risk without context, consultation, engagement and continuous improvement of the process. This therefore requires interaction and the necessity for documentation and decision making, no matter how efficient or streamlined it may be, it still requires some degree of engagement. This includes business travel, with all the associated travel health, safety, security and risk management requirements. If not, it is not hard to identify that you have likely provided “an unsafe workplace”, placing the business traveller and your business at risk. Incidents and litigation are likely at some point if that is the case.
The identification of hazards/threats, along with appropriate control measures or treatment solutions are part of the risk management process. Stupid or lazy individuals would likely not be permitted to place themselves nor the business at risk by partaking in business travel. Yes, that is sarcasm.
It should be apparent at this point that neither stupid nor lazy are permitted nor common practices associated with business travel, so why then are so many providers and managers assuming or implying that this is case?
I often comment that my children will spend 30 minute searching for the television remote in order to change the channel or volume, because in their lifetime they have not had to walk over to the television to change the channel or volume. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s not that it is inefficient, they just identify it as an option in their decision making process because it is not intuitive or common in the current context. Many businesses, travel providers and managers have helped create this type of scenario for business travellers, removing many of the working parts or over servicing the individual, so when something basic stops, so too does the business travel process, often requiring additional cost or support to correct the disruption, when the individual was quite capable and competent to do it themselves in the first place, but no one informed, educated nor resourced them in the first instance. And so the cycle continues.
The evolution of business travel management
Despite the ‘one touch’ utopia pursued by many, business travellers will increasingly be engaged and shape the business travel and management process. Evidence of this is seen in the increase in DIY, online booking, self-managed travel options and practices currently used by business travellers, in much the same way as leisure travel. Not to mention the self-selection process involved when it comes to flights, accommodation and other personalised preferences selected when travelling for business.
While technology will make some processes more efficient and/or easier for the user, business travellers, in the same way they manage their business or respective departments, still actively manage business travel as a integral part of their business operations. It is after all “business” travel in the first place.
For those that pursue an end state whereby their business traveller doesn’t have a say, doesn’t think, doesn’t have to “do” anything; they might just find their ‘dumbing down’ will result in decreased business efficiency, a questioning of why a business traveller is using their system/s in the first place or a significant increase in business travellers taking self control of the business travel management themselves, because it is just “that easy” to get done when compared to all the other elements one must manage when travelling for business. It is after all “business travel” not “travel business”.
CEO & Founder
Intelligent Travel – Personal Travel Health, Safety, Security & Risk Management