Long flights, and even longer working days, the life of the frequent traveler is not an easy one. Add the painful routines of organizing journeys and travel expenses, and it’s easy to see why ‘traveler friction’ is an issue.
A 12-hour flight, a few hours of broken sleep and then a series of grueling 14-hour days with company teams and clients. Welcome to the world of the hyper-traveler. For many executives, such long-haul business trips are an occasional need. But for the hyper-traveler, it is a way of life., companies rely on their globally-mobile staff to generate business and to solve problems. And not surprisingly, that kind of pressure comes at a price.
A spotlight on travel policy
According to a study conducted by Airlines Reporting Corp and American Express Global Business Travel, 15% of hyper-travelers are nearly burned out by travel, while 80% said a new employer’s travel policy would be at least as important as pay and responsibilities when changing jobs. Stress and fatigue among ‘road warriors’ also affect their company loyalty and productivity. For 65% of them, having requests for improvements accepted by employers would make either a ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ positive impact on their willingness to stay. They also said their productivity would increase by an average of 44%.
The impact of ‘traveler friction’
“Business travelers provide an essential link between two different worlds – headquarters and teams in the field,” says Didier Dumont, President, Mobility & Expense at Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services. “But the task is physically and mentally demanding. The days are long, as there is always a need to make the most of your time – and the company’s investment in the trip. So, the corporate travel policy is really important.” Along with the extended hours, other aspects of ‘traveler friction’ wear people down – such as travel booking, re-booking and ticketing, let alone the crumpled piles of expense receipts.
Flexibility: a cure for travel burnout?
While there is no single solution to such challenges, there are ways of improving a hyper-traveler’s quality of life. To retain talent, companies should consider altering their travel policy and culture to prevent road warriors from burning out and switching jobs. Offering flexible working between business trips, for example, is a popular way for employers to compensate employees for hyper-travel. Nearly 70% of HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting and retention tool, according to research, with 87% of leaders believing that such programs create employee satisfaction. Company policies could also be reviewed to offer hyper-travelers a better level of service from travel suppliers. Rather than service quality, a recent study indicates that most corporate travel buyers consider “the lowest negotiable rate” as the most important factor when choosing a supplier. Other options include taking a more holistic approach, with the provision of wellness programs or concierge services to help ease the strain on executives.
Taking the pain out of hyper-travel
Whatever their seniority, a common ‘pain point’ for all frequent travelers – whether flying or driving – is in the details. How easy is it to book travel, to change an itinerary or to keep track of expenses? For drivers with nationwide territories and long distances to cover, there are upfront costs at the gas pump – as well as the paperwork to handle. “It’s a pain, for sure,” affirms Didier Dumont, a 15-year veteran of hyper travel. “You want the travel arrangements to go as smoothly as possible, and to avoid Sunday afternoons being spent with expense receipts.” To meet these needs, Sodexo Benefits and Reward Services has teamed up with two specialized providers, i-Albatros and Xpenditure to provide a 24/7 booking service and paperless expense management. Together, we offer a single travel solution that begins before the trip with the hotel and transport reservations and then continues afterward by handling the expenses – with a seamless transition between the two stages. Accessible from a smartphone, the solution is literally always to hand.
Technology to the rescue
I-Albatros offers hyper-travelers a booking platform that is as easy to use as popular internet booking sites – yet is tailored to the needs of business by integrating company travel policies. Its database of 300,000 hotels can be customized to highlight selected hotels near customer or company’s locations – and where the firm may have negotiated special rates. For flights, it could be configured so that only business class can be selected for journeys lasting more than five hours, for example, or only economy for short-haul – depending on the policy. “With i-Albatros you can book everything you need for a trip to New York in less than two minutes – and be certain that you are perfectly in line with travel policy,” says Didier Dumont. Along with a mobile app, the service is complemented by call-center staff.
Xpenditure uses a smartphone’s camera and an associated app to capture the details of an expense receipt instantly and have the claim automatically sent for reimbursement or approval. With real-time reporting and a link to corporate accounting systems, the platform offers firms a powerful tool for expense management, while eliminating all the pain of traditional expense claims for its employees. We believe that tools like these can really help to improve a hyper-traveler’s quality of life,” says Didier Dumont. “Simplifying bookings and being reimbursed for expenses potentially within 24 hours without having to type in the details – all within the scope of a single solution – this is good news for road warriors!”
 Traveler Friction: Insights from U.S. Road Warriors https://www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com/blog/easing-road-warriors-traveler-friction-offer-companies-wideranging-benefits/
 Work-Life Balance: How to Deliver What Your Employees Want http://www.huffingtonpost.com/val-matta/worklife-balance-how-to-deliver-what-your-employees-want_b_6994546.html
 The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study https://workplacetrends.com/the-2015-workplace-flexibility-study/
 Sodexo joins forces with Xpenditure and iAlbatros to offer streamlined business travel and expense experience