One factor has more impact than any other on the success of Mondelēz International’s travel and meetings program: the behavior of employees on the road. If they stray from travel policy and preferred suppliers, the global snack-food giant spends too much on travel. And that interferes with the travel and meetings program’s zero-base budgeting goals. Zero-base budgeting—or ZBB, as it’s known inside Mondelēz—is a corporate strategy that aims to cut more than US$1 billion in costs by requiring Mondelēz managers to justify any new expenses.
Mondelēz International’s global travel expense and meetings manager took the job in March 2013, soon after the implementation of a new travel policy. “The policy did not land very well across the company because we didn’t have enough change management for people to really understand some of the changes in the policy,” he said. By the end of that year, the company had dug in deeply enough to identify which traveler behaviors needed to change the most. They wanted employees to:
- Understand and consistently follow the company’s travel policy
- Look for alternatives to travel and, if travel was essential, to plan ahead
- Use official booking channels—the company’s online booking tool or its TMC
- Make all business travel purchases on a company-issued corporate card
- Reduce unnecessary spousal travel
So, in early 2014, when Mondelēz heard about Advito’s traveler engagement practice, they were intrigued. Advito had just launched the practice—the first of its kind in the travel industry. The concept emerged from what Advito consultants had identified as a growing need among corporate clients. Business travelers were operating with more autonomy than ever—bringing their consumer travel habits to work. Travel and procurement managers told Advito that the old mandates weren’t working. They needed to find ways to engage and influence their travelers, nudging them toward smart buying decisions on the road. Ihenacho signed up Mondelēz to be one of the practice’s first clients.
“The biggest challenge is changing the mindset of people. You may have a senior leader say, ‘Thou must not do this,’ but that doesn’t always work. What works is when the employee takes ownership of doing the right thing and changes their behavior without it being a mandate from up above.”
Global Travel Expense and Meetings Manager, Mondelēz International
Mondelēz’s previous traveler communication efforts often were piecemeal and happened more as a reaction to a problem than because the company saw an opportunity for proactive education and outreach. What’s more, the travel and meetings program wasn’t coordinating its communications across the company’s various channels: intranet postings, email, internal social media and printed communications.
Advito’s first priority was assessment. Advito experts worked with Mondelēz’s travel team to identify and define travel and meetings program goals—keeping broader corporate goals in mind. Next they inventoried available technology tools. Then they mapped out an integrated communications plan designed to engage travelers and influence their purchasing behaviors using all available channels.
The plan had three main components:
- Brand identity: Advito developed a travel and meetings program brand that would create visual identity and establish the personality for all of Mondelēz’s traveler-facing communications. Employees began to recognize the brand at a glance. And when they saw it, they understood they were receiving reliable, easily digestible information about company travel.
- Refreshed travel intranet: The team set about making sure the information on the travel intranet site became simpler, shorter and easier to use as well. Eventually, that streamlined writing style for ZBB messaging became a best practice for travel-related communications across the company.
- Policy awareness campaign: The first campaign — Traveling the MDLZ Way— used clear, succinct wording and colorful graphics to help travelers understand what was expected of them and why. The campaign—in particular messaging around the “ABCs” of the global travel policy—solidified the travel and meetings program’s brand identity that set the tone for all communications.
Mondelēz gained significant ground on some of the problem areas Ihenacho had identified.
YOY reduction in the number of flights purchased less than 14 days before a trip
Overall reduction in travel and expense spending