Bridging the gap between policy and preference

The world is changing at a breakneck pace. A new generation has joined the workforce and brought with them challenges to the system and a new way of doing things. One of the most impactful changes is the focus on individual happiness. There is a new era of the discerning employee searching for the ever elusive nirvana of work/life balance.

Where does travel fit in to this? 

“Employee wellbeing has always been a focus for businesses and travel managers in particular, but with an equal focus on cost. At times policies are implemented that may not fit with the employees’ ideas for a comfortable, pleasant trip” explains Darren Williams, Head of MI for Clarity. 

However, by placing our primary focus on cost rather than the traveller, it can often work out to be more costly in the long term. 

“The motivations of travellers have changed. They’re interested in security, comfort, convenience and more than ever want the guess work taking out. As with most other facets of their lives, they crave speed and simplicity, meaning a rise in automation and personalisation that wasn’t available 5 years ago.” 

At Clarity, the importance of traveller satisfaction is clear. The development of several new features within Go2Insight, Clarity’s state of the art management information tool, demonstrates both the sector’s desire to gain further insight into this issue and the commercial benefits this insight can bring. 

One particular area of focus is safety. Williams explains, “Using data and insight we can start to combine reactive and proactive duty of care elements to enhance feelings of traveller security. By overlaying crime data onto hotel locations we can advise travellers of potential hot spots or alternatively, safer options. This will not only enhance the traveller experience, but make them feel happier with the trip overall, as they are aware that efforts have been made by their employer to consider their safety.” 

So how can we track the impact using insights like this have on traveller happiness or are we limited to anecdotal evidence? 

“There are a number of mechanisms available to track sentiment and we’ve chosen two which give a good balanced opinion that can be used together or independently,” says Williams. “One is the feedback direct from the traveller. Using our mobile tools, a traveller will be able to rate elements of the trip on a scale of ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Excellent’. 

We don’t need chapter and verse, we don’t even need the traveller to type in the booking reference as it’s all linked to the original booking. From this we can track the travellers opinion on multiple elements of the trip” from the quality of the Wi-Fi, dining options, to the quality of sleep, and then with this data, we can track individual product quality, and sentiment on those elements.”

He continues, “The second mechanism is using global sentiment from social media. This utilises blog posts, reddit feeds, review sites, and more, from which we can garner an anonymous opinion on brands, products and experiences across a wide range of demographics. This enables us to work with our customers to build a travel programme focused around traveller experience, evidence based sentiment and cost.”

The ability to achieve a balance between cost and convenience, policy and preference is no longer an out of reach, unobtainable goal, but a realistic option for measuring your travellers’ satisfaction against your policy. And in this age of employee centric travel, we could soon see this becoming the norm.