Tag Archives: travel

Want to be Number One? Put Employee Wellbeing First

A happy workforce is a productive one. That’s why more and more organisations are taking account of employee wellbeing in their business travel activities.

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Recently, a term that has been trending among procurement professionals is ‘employee wellbeing’. It refers not only to the physical and mental health of your workforce but also to the idea that a happy workforce will be a more productive one and this is nowhere more evident than in the business travel industry.

When it comes to sending your team on the road, there are so many factors to consider, from speed and efficiency to cost effectiveness and reliability. Now we can add employee wellbeing to the list, and arguably it should be up there at the top. Evidence is emerging that the welfare of your team can impact performance and the growth of your entire operation.

Business travel, especially international, can offer exciting opportunities for personal career growth, as well as a chance to experience new cultures, foods, people and environments. On the flip side, frequent international travel can also be highly stressful and physically demanding with the need to adjust to changing climates and time zones. Putting work needs before personal needs is a common habit of many frequent work fliers. Yet, everyone knows that a well-rested employee is better able to give their all and achieve great results.

There are a number of steps that travel managers can take to ensure the health and happiness of the team. Here are some effective strategies for improving the wellbeing of your team and, in turn, benefitting your business.

Integrating Employee Wellbeing

If you’re new to this, here are some tips on how to integrate wellbeing strategies into your business travel policy:

1. Ensure a stress-free ride:

Reliance on multiple transfers and public transportation in an unfamiliar location can lead to lost time through the confusion, lost connections and complex directions. This means that your employee is likely to arrive flustered, delayed and not in the best shape for work.  

You need to simplify the logistics, minimize stress and cut down on wait times. Find a provider that can offer both pre-book and on-demand options at home and abroad with a reliable service that can ensure rapid arrival times.

To achieve this you’ll be looking for a provider with a large fleet size, as this will enable it to guarantee availability, so long journeys aren’t made even longer.

2. Go with a service you know

Use brands you trust and have a relationship with. This way you and your employees know you are getting a reliable, secure service, which helps to create a relaxing travel experience.

Choose a provider that prioritizes fleet security, using vetted cars both locally and internationally, so that you can be absolutely certain that your employees are travelling in safety and your ‘duty of care’ obligations are being met.

3. Keep track of your team

Tracking tools can keep you informed of where your employees are, especially when they travel abroad. This allows you to guarantee their safety and make it possible to locate and assist them in case of travel disruptions, caused by political upheaval, extreme weather, or any other kind of emergency.

4. Take your foot off the gas

Add breathing room into the schedule. Just because, hypothetically, your employee could fit all six meetings into one day, spreading the work over two days will allow your team member to arrive to each meeting well, properly recharged, rested and prepared.

In addition, build in flexibility in the schedule gives employees time to see the sights, and decompress, enjoying a new city so they can get back on the job refreshed and reinvigorated.

5. Spread the word

Set travel policies in advance and then make sure they are well advertised.  Employees are frequently unaware of their options, particularly with foreign travel.

For example, in an unfamiliar environment, employees may use an unvetted cab service, if they are not aware of partnerships with local providers. Or if they become unwell while abroad, they may be unaware of insurance coverage. This could result in them trying to hold out until they get home with regard to a medical issue that would be better dealt with immediately.

The performance and the personal wellbeing of your employees are tightly interwoven. Being at their best is what allows your team to give their best. To achieve this goal, companies need to ensure a friction-free travel experience for their employees.

To perform at their peak, they need to be able to relax between meetings and at the end of the workday. By partnering with a reliable, pre-approved service your company can meet its duty of care anywhere in the world.

Learn more on how to make your employees’ travel experience healthier, happier and more productive here.

Rush Hour: High Risk, Hidden Costs and Unexpected Travel Spend

Travel is complex, costly, affects the vast majority of your organisation’s employees, and everyone has an opinion on best practice. It is also one of the most “mature” categories managed by procurement professionals. So why so many challenges?

Travel was one of the very first categories ever formally managed by procurement.  It is what I like to call a “mature category”, which means we should have it well and truly under control…. however…

An eye watering $1 trillion is spent on corporate travel every year. 

It is a category in which the scope has mushroomed to cover not just air travel, transport and accommodation, but also expense management technology, teleconferencing, events – the full end to end complexity of corporate travel. 

Nestled within that, is the specific category of ground transportation. 

The transport industry has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years. The number of daily, corporate rides being booked has increased by 10 per cent since 2010, while personal bookings have increased by 58 per cent.

It is a category notorious for its administrative burden! And therefore, for procurement professionals, it is a category ripe for disruption. As it stands currently, travel costs are 10 per cent of total spend but 90 per cent of the headache. In some cases, it takes approximately 10 minutes to process a single travel expense claim and with an average of 7 receipts per person submitted per month – that’s a lot of wasted time!

By 2020, half of all these business trips will be done by employees expecting a B2C style user experience – online, on-demand, seamless and consistent.  

Blanketed over the broad scope this corporate travel category are some very serious concerns – sustainability, employee safety and cybersecurity.

And so today, as a corporate travel manager, you need to concern yourself with a whole new set of factors including:

  • employee safety
  • technology implementation
  • quality of service
  • sustainability
  • total cost optimisation
  • maverick spend

All this to manage, and we haven’t even mentioned pacifying your CEO’s when they’re bumped out of first class, or their chauffeur doesn’t turn up on time!

In our latest webinar Rush Hour: High Risk, Hidden Costs and Unexpected Travel Spend we explored the different aspects of how to manage the total cost of ownership within this complex, emotional category.

Sign up to listen now as we discuss:

  • Managing the total cost of ownership within this complex category 
  • How AI, IoT, Blockchain and other innovative technologies are transforming the way procurement pros work – improving transparency and mitigating risk in business travel
  • How to ensure corporations deliver a high quality and personalised serviceon a global scale
  • Why sustainability is coming to the forefront of global travel

FAQs

Is the Rush Hour webinar available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can register for the webinar and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here.

How do I listen to the Rush Hour webinar?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be able to listen to the on-demand. 

Why wait when you can have it now?

No one wants to wait more than five mins for anything these days – least of all for a taxi – or an on-demand webinar recording!

Luckily, Rush Hour: High Risk, Hidden Costs and Unexpected Travel Spend is now available on demand.

Click here to listen as we discuss:

Going Abroad? Tips For Staying Cyber-Safe

Keeping thieves at bay when travelling used to involve money pouches and hidden pockets. These days, the threat has moved into the cyber sphere. Keeper Security’s Co-founder Darren Guccione explains. 

The holiday/vacation period is looming, and many people are making plans for international travel. If you are among them, be sure you have done all you can to take responsibility for cybersecurity when travelling. After all, it’s a dangerous world out there when it comes to the cyber threat environment. Some common sense and preparation will go a long way toward ensuring your international travel memories are of the good kind.

Let’s break down the tips and tricks of cyber safe travel into two categories. The first is basic “blocking and tackling,” which for the most part is done prior to your travel. The second category deals with security tips once you are on the road.

First, a note about U.S. Border Patrol agents

It is important to know in advance that the travel environment itself has changed. While travelling within the U.S., TSA agents at the gates are not allowed to confiscate your digital devices, nor are they allowed to demand passwords to get into them. If such attempts are made, demand to speak to a supervisor.

The rules, however, are different for U.S. Border Patrol agents and for agents in other nations too. Recently there have been multiple news reports of U.S. citizens having to turn over digital devices and their passwords as a condition for entering or re-entering their own country. What can the border agents do with your passwords or data on your devices? How long can they keep that information? How long can you be detained? These and other questions are not easy to answer. But as you will see from the tips and tricks below, there is much that can be done to minimise what might be compromised or inspected while you ensure your trip overall is as cyber safe as it can be.

Before you head out: basic blocking and tackling

  1. Back up your e-files. Just presume you are going to lose everything on your devices. If all data is backed up before you leave, then if you lose your device you won’t lose what really matters most to you.
  2. Don’t carry sensitive data. This is easier said than done if you are mixing business and pleasure, but it is not unreasonable to just leave behind all the sensitive files you are not likely to use. Store them on cloud backup or on removable media. But get them off your devices.
  3. Change all passwords for all devices. When doing this, use two-factor authentication if possible, which most devices have today. Make the passwords eight characters or longer with a combination of nonsensical letters, numbers, and symbols.  Download a free password manager that will do all the work of creating complex passwords and remembering them for you.
  4. If you haven’t checked recently, this is an excellent time to be sure your antivirus software is current. There is plenty of danger lurking in foreign hotels, coffee houses, and even airports, as we’ll see. This software is your first line of defence.
  5. If your smartphone allows, and most do, enable the feature that automatically erases all data in the event of multiple failed password attempts (usually 10 or so).
  6. If available, enable anti-theft software (often through the cloud) that allows you to lock your device remotely if it is stolen. Enable and activate the “find my phone/device” function so if your phone or tablet is stolen, you can track it, disable it, and change all the passwords.
  7. Be mindful of movies, books, and other things you have loaded into your devices that could be considered pornographic and otherwise illegal in certain other countries. Also, some downloads considered legal in the U.S. may actually violate local intellectual property or digital asset rights in other countries, should your device be searched. Just err on the side of caution and store and remove anything that might be construed as such.
  8. Disable Wi-Fi auto-connect options from all devices before you leave, such that you have to manually connect when you think it is safe to do so. The best approach is to buy a subscription to services that only connect to secure Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the world. Rates are inexpensive and getting more so all the time. Just do a search on “unlimited wifi.” If you will need to transfer or access sensitive data abroad, consider getting a highly secure VPN connection on a daily or weekly rental basis. Just search “VPN rental.”
  9. Similarly, disable Bluetooth connectivity. If left on, cyber thieves can connect to your device in a number of different and easy ways. Once they are in, your cyber world is their oyster!
  10. Finally if you do not have an international subscriber identity module, better known as a SIM card or do not have a roaming package on your smartphone, your two-factor authorisation access will be limited. All the more reason to purchase a secure Wi-Fi data plan.

Now that you’ve arrived…

The tips and tricks in this list really won’t take long at all for travellers to put in place. Doing so is great insurance against many of the cyber threats that lurk when your plane touches down on foreign soil. But once that happens and your excitement builds as you head to the luggage carousel, your cybersecurity work is not done. Here are some steps to promote cyber-safety on the ground:

  1. Double check to be sure all of your apps are password protected with fresh, new passwords, ideally stored in your password management system so you don’t have to remember any of them. And don’t use the same PIN for hotel room safes that you use for your device password.
  2. At all cost, avoid using “public” digital devices, such as those at coffee houses, libraries, and bookstores. They are often notoriously riddled with malware lurking to steal your information. If you use them, you should presume that someone other than you would see any information you enter.
  3. Be very careful about connecting to any Wi-Fi network if you haven’t subscribed to a global service previously, per the tip above. These are prime milieus for cyberthieves. Say you are in a train station (bahnhof) in Germany. You scan your device for a wireless network and there are several. A legitimate one might be “bahnhofwifi”—but you don’t know that. A cyberthief has set up his own Wi-Fi trap and it shows up as “bahnhoffwifi,” with but one letter changed. Connect to that and your troubles are just starting.
  4. Don’t charge your devices using anything other than your own chargers plugged directly into the wall or into your adapter. It is easy for cyber thieves to install malware onto hotel and other public docking stations.
  5. Never connect any USB drive or other removable media that you don’t personally own. Again, they are easy to load with malicious software.
  6. This goes without saying, but NEVER let your devices leave your sight. If you cannot physically lock devices in your hotel room safe or other secure place, take them with you. There are no good hiding spots in your hotel room. And, of course, never check your devices with your luggage.
  7. Most social media sites are happy to automatically share your location as you post photos and messages. This also tells thieves back home that you are away, which is a great time to break in. So limit the information you post regarding your location at any point in time.

Bon voyage! And safe cyber-travels.

Darren Guccione is Co-founder and CEO of Keeper Security,  a password manager app and digital vault for consumers and enterprises with 9 million+ users. 

Forget the Bus, I’ll Travel To My Meeting By Drone!

What will business travel look like in 2017?  We’re not going to see people riding around in personal drones (yet) but it’s starting to look more like The Jetsons all the time.

Technology is having a big impact both on the way employees travel and how managers help them move around the world with ease. Sunny Manivannan and Ethan Laub of our travel and expense team, and Jack Miles, a long-time procurement executive and business advisor share their thoughts on what the year may bring.

1.    Travel and expense management goes mainstream

For firms with good governance and a cost management mindset, travel and credit card spend has always been a focus. Due to rising costs, and a new generation of technology for automating in this area, we will see laggards start to pay attention and begin to focus here as well. –Jack Miles

2.    Loosening of T&E policies

Companies with modern automated tools will relax their travel and expense policies, paradoxically because they now have so much granular T&E data. This might come as a surprise, but we see the T&E spend culture at customer organizations undergoing a once-in-a-generation shift. Given the rise of knowledge workers, the competition for talent and the focus on employee happiness in today’s leading organizations, companies are trying to find ways to give their employees more flexibility. With the data now available to administrators, companies can relax their policies in certain areas and give their employees more flexibility while still protecting the organization from fraud. -–Sunny Mannivanan

3.    Savvier negotiations as hotel costs rise

Travel costs–typically one of the top four expense categories in most firms–will rise as consolidation in the hotel industry continues. Given Marriot’s acquisition of Starwood and other hotelier consolidations, expect to see an increase in average room night cost. Companies with a focus on sourcing for this category will use their data to look beyond room night cost and add in ancillary costs such as food and beverage, parking, and conference and event spend if they have it to give them more leverage in negotiations. –Jack Miles

4.    Airbnb makes inroads with corporates

Airbnb will continue to grow share in business travel as its integrations with corporate travel agencies and booking tools starts to pay-off. Three major travel management companies (TMCs) signed partnerships with the homesharing platform last year, driven at least in part by corporates expressing interest. According to Lex Bayer Airbnb head of global payments and business travel, Airbnb’s average business trip booking is six days. Again, it’s about giving employees options, and a home may better suit travelers in town for a longer-term project than a hotel room.  –Ethan Laub

5.    Ground travel prices fall

Ground travel (Uber, taxis, limos) is one area where prices will decrease. Black car services will continue to lose share to Uber and Lyft, as the car sharing titans roll out more corporate-friendly controls and reporting. Gaining corporate clients has been harder for pink-mustachioed Lyft, according to sharing economy expert Arun Sundarajan, but it scored a major win when Apple announced them as a preferred partner last spring.

Besides increased competition, lower costs are also driving prices down. Newer, more fuel-efficient cars make up a bigger share of fleets, and fuel rates are currently low. There’s one thing that could cause rates to plummet, rather than just tick down: driverless cars. Fuel isn’t the biggest cost. Neither is the car–cars these days are made so well they can easily last for ten years or more. The biggest cost is the driver. Without drivers, rates for rides could fall by as much as 90 percent over the next two or three years, some analysts say. –Sunny Manivannan and Ethan Laub

6.    Expensing of a driverless ride

 Speaking of driverless cars, here’s a bold prediction: 2017 will mark the first time we see an expense line filed for an autonomous car ride. While Uber had to halt its test of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco last December, there are more than a dozen companies either publicly or secretly working on autonomous vehicles. It’s only a matter of time before this technology makes it to the business market. Our question is, what will this expense line look like? What will the amount be? Who will be the vendor of record?

Perhaps there’ll be a time in the not-too-distant future where transportation isn’t something employees even expense. It will simply be a public utility like electricity, where every company simply pays per employee-mile at the end of each month. –Sunny Manivannan 

7.    Virtual assistants everywhere

Since we’re getting all futuristic here, we’re going to go out on a limb and predict that in 2017, every employee will have an assistant, not just executives. These assistants will be virtual, not physical. With Apple’s Siri, the Google Assistant, and the Amazon Echo, consumers have been exposed to the grand idea of a digital around-the-house helper a la Rosie the Robot. And, many business travelers have already experienced a degree of this with mobile apps that do things such as automatically fill out your expense lines based on geolocation data.

This concept will really take off in 2017, with employees having access to really intelligent, self-learning assistants, no matter where they are. And, we will be able to call on these assistants with the touch of a button, a few taps on our keyboards, or simply our voices.

Sunny Manivannan is senior director of special projects at Coupa. Ethan Laub is director of product management. Jack Miles is principal consultant at Mainspring Advisors, a business strategy consulting firm. This article was originally published on the Coupa blog