By Jessica Murillo, Senior Consultant, Traveler Engagement
Many travel managers are facing tough negotiations with volume still below historic levels and a significant reduction in discounts from suppliers.
So, in today’s rapidly changing travel landscape, how do you design a travel program that remains competitive while still meeting your employees’ needs? The answer: a strategic internal communications strategy.
With such a wide range of supplier preferences across travelers, it can be difficult to maintain employee buy-in and compliance with your company travel policy to promote your preferred suppliers. The more common out-of-policy bookings become, the further away you get from building a strong case during supplier negotiations. However, with a targeted communications strategy that reaches your travelers with the right message at the right time, you can successfully influence booking behavior to achieve your goals. At Advito, we firmly believe in leveraging the potential of employee engagement and behavioral economics to ensure compliance and satisfaction among employees, but also foster the growth of preferred partnerships, ensuring mutual success.
Find receptive moments
Effective communication serves as the cornerstone of engagement, and the only thing more important than the message itself is timing and context. To encourage policy compliance and to shift share to preferred suppliers, the key is identifying when and when to deliver your message. Your most advantageous opportunity lies within the online booking tool (OBT).
Maybe you’ve negotiated free breakfast and Wi-Fi with a preferred hotel chain or want to shift share to a more sustainable airline this year to decrease your carbon emissions. If you send out a single internal message to all travelers encouraging bookings with a specific airline, do you think it’s going to influence which flight they choose when they go to book their business trip two months later? Probably not… but what if you had the same message pop up directly in the air search results within the online booking tool?
By leveraging targeted merchandising in the OBT, you can sway booking behavior precisely at the time of purchase. The OBT provides a unique opportunity to strategically target your messaging and highlight the most relevant suppliers for specific routes. This customized approach injects authenticity into your messaging and leads to higher employee engagement.
Take a multi-channel approach
While leveraging the booking tool is a great place to start, an effective communications strategy takes a multi-channel approach. Assess your additional communication channels and their impact to gain a clearer picture of where supplier promotions can thrive. Explore avenues like intranet sites, employee newsletters, office signage, digital platforms, and traveler-specific emails. Embracing a holistic strategy and leveraging all your communication channels will ensure every employee, no matter their preferred communication style, gains the insights needed to shift behavior in alignment with your goals.
Evaluate success with tracking and analytics
Effective communication extends beyond message delivery; it encompasses the evaluation of its impact. Integrating tracking and analytics into your communication strategy enables the quantification of employee engagement, compliance rates, and emerging trends. This data-driven approach facilitates the presentation of campaign success to preferred partners and program stakeholders, backed by precise statistics on program growth and compliance levels. This translates into an elevated negotiating edge and a testament to the transformative potential of strategic communication campaigns.
Case study: A triumph in employee engagement
We harnessed the principles outlined above to craft a comprehensive and strategic communication campaign for a global manufacturing client. Our objective was clear: educate employees about the benefits of preferred suppliers and boost engagement with both Marriott Bonvoy and Southwest Airlines. Beginning with data analysis from prior campaigns, coupled with insights from focus groups and our industry expertise, we identified four key communication channels to amplify both partnerships. These channels encompassed the employee experience and allowed for promotion at every point of the traveler’s journey. As a result of this communications campaign, we helped the client reach:
- 750 new Marriott Bonvoy enrollments
- 641 new travelers enrolled in Southwest A-list Status
We were also able to track engagement across each communications channel to assess what was most effective:
- 851 views on the Southwest A-List promotion article
- 39% click-through rate on promotional assets including merchandising banners, intranet articles, etc.
- Increased traveler satisfaction
These statistics do more than showcase numbers; they validate the effectiveness of our strategic communication campaign and highlight its potential to drive increased traveler satisfaction and bolster negotiating power.
As you can see, leveraging employee engagement to enhance your supplier relationships cannot be achieved through a single, generic approach. It requires a strategic blend of well-timed messaging, collaboration with suppliers, diverse communication channels, and data-driven insights. By embracing these strategies, you can transform compliance into a collaborative effort that benefits both employees and the company. Contact our team today to learn more about our process and how we can support your organization’s engagement efforts.