It’s only relatively recently that CFOs are recognising corporate travel’s significant return on investment. However, they also see this threatened by employee overspending, inefficient itineraries, unproductive meetings and unmotivated road warriors.
Positive change to corporate travel policy can start at the top.
CFOs will fail if they sit in the comfort of their first class seat and demand their employees fly economy.
So how can CFOs make positive changes to the way their business travels, and how can they make these changes stick?Below we explore simple strategies CFOs can use to keep travelling employees positive and productive, collaborate with travel managers and make a real difference to the success of their travel policy.
CFOs Must Lead By Example
Before implementing any changes to travel policy, CFOs must be prepared to lead by example. According to an article in McKinsey & Company, assigning accountability at a senior level is critical to effectively reducing costs.
“The support of top executives is necessary for cost-management efforts to succeed. Involved CEOs and CFOs, in particular, can help mediate the inherently political nature of such exercises and provide critical energy and motivation,” it reads.
“If a company announces a new travel policy, senior managers need to set the tone with their own actions.”
The article also stresses the importance of strong collaboration between CFOs and management. CFOs who request a broad cost reduction, leaving the implementation for management to work out, can directly damage revenue generation, it argues.
The Business Travel News Buyer’s Handbook Report 2016 also notes the importance of consistency in implementing policy changes. Corporate travel policies that apply equally to all employees, it says, send the message that management takes cost control seriously.In short, CFOs who adhere to the policies they promote will encourage compliance.
CFOs and Travel Manager Collaboration
Travel managers are critically important in implementing changes to corporate travel policy. As such, a strong relationship between CFOs and travel managers is key. Most CFOs recognise this, yet just 27% believe their relationship with travel managers is effective.
Regular collaboration between CFOs and travel managers is the best way to improve the way their company travels. However, CFOs should be prepared to take a back seat in recommending policy improvements.
Corporate travel management has become a highly specialised field, and managers who use an effective management platform can gain detailed insights into all elements of their travel program. Locomotive’s powerful insights tool allows travel managers to easily identify areas of improvement, and CFOs should seek to discuss these regularly.
Where Can CFOs Find Cost Savings?
CFOs may be tempted to action immediate savings by reducing the size of a travel team, reducing the duration of the business trip, and removing apparent luxuries like business class flights.
However, these slash and dash measures can damage the productivity and motivation of travelling employees.
A travel manager using an effective travel management platform can locate cost savings across all areas of an itinerary, so changes can be made without risking the success of the trip at large. For example, a powerful booking tool may save enough money to accommodate business class seats. For employees with an already demanding schedule, luxuries like these can make all the difference.CFOs should therefore consult their travel managers before making any changes to travel policy.
Positive Road Warriors are Productive Road Warriors
Morale can make or break a business trip. Being removed from friends and family, grappling with language barriers, unfamiliar cities and stressful meetings - international travel is a mentally and physically demanding exercise.
Travelling employees who are burdened with an overly demanding itinerary won’t deliver the best value to their business. So CFOs who invest in the comfort of their travelling employees also invest in their productivity.Furthermore, they invest in their employees’ compliance with travel policy. Employee overspending makes up as much as a third of a business’ travel and expense budget, and employees who are frustrated and unmotivated are more likely to overspend.
Should CFOs Encourage ‘Bleisure Travel’?
One of the ways CFOs can move to alleviate the many stresses of corporate travel is to encourage what is known as ‘bleisure travel’.
Bleisure trips, or those that mix both business and leisure, can improve employee motivation, productivity and ultimately ROI. 78% of travellers who incorporated leisure time into their business trip report that their work assignments were more effective.
However, in 2014, only 14% of businesses reported they had formal bleisure policies in place. CFOs may wish to modernise their travel program by encouraging employees to take leisure days, however it’s critical that they define these privileges to avoid noncompliance.A travel management program with full audit trails will provide transparency and remove room for overspending.
CFOs and Travel Management Technology
It can be argued that a CFO’s role in improving corporate travel policy should be one of facilitation. They should facilitate their travelling employees to be productive overseas, and facilitate travel managers to craft the best end-to-end travel experience possible.
So any CFO serious about making effective changes to the way their company travels will use the right technology for the job. A streamlined travel management platform like Locomote empowers businesses to save money on bookings, communicate itinerary changes to travelling employees, manage risk and identify areas of weakness with comprehensive policy analysis.
Is your business spending too much on corporate travel? Calculate your potential savings using our Travel Savings Calculator below: