How to overcome the eight second attention span

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By Lesley O’Bryan, Senior Director, Emerging Practices

Welcome to our blog post, do we have your attention? If so, what can we do to keep it? How long do we have to get our message across to you?

In today’s distracted world, companies have about eight seconds to keep you interested. This is because there are more things fighting for our attention than ever before. We are bombarded by emails, texts, ads, images, videos, tweets, invites, and other new content that might be more interesting than what’s in front of us.

Now think about when you travel for business. You are emailing while attending meetings, Skyping across time zones, using multiple screens, conferencing while texting and taking care of office business while on the road. Your attention span is even lower. So if travelers have the attention span of a goldfish why do we communicate with our travelers as if we have their full and undivided attention?

Something has to change. Compliance and program savings have plateaued. Companies need help in reducing travel expenditures by making sure their travelers follow all aspects of the travel policy.

Now that we know the problem, what is the solution? The solution is developing an approach for communicating with travelers, including what we say, when and how we say it, and where it is said. Your travel program and the company’s bottom line depend on it.

Traveler engagement is a means to an end. The end is the bottom line.

Effective communications must engage, influence and ignite a response. When it does, the impact on the company’s bottom line is significant. Consider the following for companies with higher levels of engagement:

  • 27% higher profits,
  • 50% higher sales,
  • 50% higher customer loyalty levels,
  • 38% above-average productivity.[1]

Furthermore, a study of more than 600,000 employees from 71 global companies revealed that high engagement companies improved operating income by 19.2% while low engagement firms declined 32.7%[2]

The challenge is that only 13% of global workers feel engaged. Yet, 87% believe it is important.[3]

Procurement can do its part to move the company’s engagement needle and improve the bottom line by engaging traveling employees. Traveler engagement uses the principles of marketing and the power of social media to connect, communicate and influence travelers at critical moments in the trip lifecycle. When done effectively and as part of a broader communications or employee marketing effort, a traveler engagement marketing campaign can increase productivity, drive compliance, boost savings and communicate key travel policy messages that support the company’s goals.

Make your eight seconds count

So, if it takes more effort to grab travelers’ attention in less time than ever before, how can you parlay this knowledge to boost your program’s performance? Make your eight seconds count. Design your traveler communications for a short attention span using some of these Advito traveler engagement strategies:

Brand it

Give your travel program a name and presence that is in line with the company, but unique enough to stand out (so it isn’t lost in the shuffle of other communications). Create and use the same font, color, tagline or logo for all travel messaging to project a consistent and immediately recognizable image for your program.

Keep it visual

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in the digital world. Use compelling images, icons and smart graphics that will have an impact on your audience, will break through the clutter and create an instant connection with your travelers. Remember, 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read will get retained,[4] so improvement in policy compliance may be only a few pictures away.

Shorter is better…

Assume most travelers will not bother to read or refer to an entire travel policy. Break down your policy into short, repetitive snippets (blogs, infographics, etc.) that reinforce the pertinent information. Repetition is key to getting your message across and reinforces what desired behaviors look like.

…but spread the wealth

Now that you have a shorter message, use as many channels and screens as possible to communicate that message to travelers. This ensures that the messages are available in the channels travelers prefer and enables travel managers to tailor concise messages to different groups or non-compliant travelers.

Resonate traveler value

Time your messaging so that travelers feel catered to and not just handed an encyclopedia of instructions. Just-in-time reminders to waive rental car insurance and confirm changes to preferred suppliers are the sound bites of intelligence that travelers can act on immediately. Take pain points within your own program and make it easy for travelers to do the right thing.

Be in the conversation

Seek out opportunities to poll your community of travelers in real-time. Use online chat groups or virtual chat rooms to encourage opinions and debate, correct misinformation, relay traveler-inspired program changes and share the impact of their efforts on the company.

Leverage the wisdom of crowds

The power of peer influence is nothing new. Social communities provide the optimal location for it to occur. By monitoring traveler commentary, you can gain a wealth of insight from what travelers reveal about their own experiences, as well as the reactions and comments made by colleagues. Trends can become visible through updates and online banter. Discovering and monitoring trends can mean the difference between staying in the know or out of touch with your travelers.

Make it personal

Today, travel requires a more personal approach. A simple, single-page policy without jargon will be easily retained or created for mobile devices. And when you deliver policy information when it is most useful, you connect travelers to the key points in your policy most relevant to them. This process will help to highlight the most necessary information and can be localized for travel to a specific country, adapted for different levels of program maturity, used to test regional policy features or customized to drive specific behavior (e.g., book more than 14 days in advance of travel).

Gauge the bandwidth of travelers

Don’t be surprised if your results aren’t immediate. While digital has been proven to be a trusted communication method, it will likely take trial and error to find the right mix for your audience. However, the more diligent you are about tracking and monitoring your efforts, the quicker the trial and error period will be. Take regular inventory of the channels travelers use to learn and share, and don’t be afraid to fail if it means gaining a better understanding of how information is conveyed.

Your community of travelers wields a lot of power in your company and your program. Engaging them could mean the difference between a profit and loss and a growing fan base of program advocates or a group of disenfranchised traveling employees. The difference is that you are now well versed in what you need to connect with them and make your eight seconds count.


[1] “Best 100 Companies to Work For,”

[2] The Society of Human Resource Management,

[3] The Altimeter Group

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