It’s not you…it’s the traveler.

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by: Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

Over the past two years, the corporate travel industry has gone to great lengths to seek out new and innovative ways to drive compliance with a more diverse range of carrots than you can possibly imagine. After years of sticks of various sizes and weights being employed to try and drive business travelers to “do the right thing” we’re realizing that all it’s resulted in is lots of knots on heads and many irritated travelers.

These travelers have become so annoyed with the stick technique that they’ve forced travel buyers to face a whole new challenge – how to justify a mandated, tightly managed program in the midst of tools, technologies and peer-to-peer services that have turned the travel purchasing opportunity completely on it’s head. And whether travel managers like it or not, the power that the traveler has is as strong as it’s ever been and is likely to get stronger.

To counter this, the aforementioned “carrots” of techniques such as gamification, traveler rewards, point or value accrual to be used for personal travel, public adoration of “compliant travelers” and even companies focused solely on traveler engagement have sprung up. All of these carrots have various elements which are admirable, useful and in some cases successful methods of driving compliance in a now traveler-centric world. Which is where we now stand: an industry where it’s literally no longer about you, it’s about “me” where “me” is the business traveler.

ACTE recognized this trend last year when we built out our four pillars of education, with a pillar focused squarely on what we call Traveler Centricity. Regardless of whether any of these new carrots will work in any given company depends on a lot of factors, some within, some without of the travel managers’ control. Making clear decisions about which carrots will work for your company requires a great deal of engagement with travelers, but also a clear understanding about exactly how these various methods can and should be employed.

We will continue to prominently feature Traveler Centricity in all our upcoming conferences, education sessions and online events, as we wan to make sure that the “me” in the equation is equally balanced between you and the traveler. Because let’s face it, while it’s not all about you anymore, we don’t want it to be all about them either!

Thanks for chattering.

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

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