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Former travel management
consultant Scott Gillespie is preparing to launch a business that will attempt
to quantify "traveler friction" caused by more restrictive travel
policies so companies can understand productivity and employee retention consequences.
Gillespie told BTN he will work with a partner company in a joint venture to
"explore this and other analytically difficult" issues for the travel
industry. He expects to make an announcement in the coming weeks.
Exploring the cost of
travel in human resources terms seems to be emerging as a travel management
topic du jour. Carlson Wagonlit Travel last week unveiled an algorithm for
calculating traveller stress, based on determining the proportion of a trip
that is unproductive and therefore "stressful." Both CWT and
Gillespie believe HR-focused travel management will gain importance and that
corporations need to move beyond a narrow procurement-led view that measures
travel only in direct purchasing and process costs.
Another advocate of this
philosophy is data veteran Susan Hopley, a former colleague of Gillespie at TRX
and founder of The Data Exchange. "It doesn't surprise me at all" to
see two different players attempting to quantify traveler stress, Hopley said.
"Travel management is not about contracting travel services any more.
Analyzing your trip spend against variables like length of employment and
return on investment will become inevitable."
CWT Solutions Group
senior director for EMEA Vincent Lebunetel does not consider it a coincidence
that his company and Gillespie are focused a common theme. Companies are close
to optimizing the procurement aspects of their travel programs, Lebunetel said,
"and there is now a bigger traveler focus. Travel managers have a
schizophrenic role trying to optimize their purchasing category while at the
same time trying to manage their travelers' needs. I see a shift towards
looking after traveler satisfaction."
For Gillespie, an
increased HR focus relates to his well-documented views on Travel Management 2.0. Travelers and budgetholders "are better placed to judge total trip
cost," said Gillespie. "The intention is to arrive at an optimal
range of wear and tear that is acceptable from an HR and sales perspective.
It's a much more meaningful, engaged way to talk to the budgetholder about
Gillespie starts with
the principle that to understand the true total cost of a trip, the hidden cost
of traveler friction must be considered, in addition to the actual purchasing
costs. Broadly speaking, the idea is that a tighter policy reduces direct costs
but increases traveler friction in terms of productivity, staff retention and
willingness to travel. "Today, the curve of the traveler friction cost is
intuitive, based on water-cooler chatter, traveler push-back and feedback from
managers," said Gillespie. "Once you understand the curve, you can
start to do much more interesting analysis. I know we can quantify traveler
friction but we don't yet know how the scores will relate to retention or sales
data. Until we measure it, we won't know if we can manage it."
Gillespie said several
U.S.-based companies have agreed to contribute to a benchmarking exercise
intended to answer those questions.
Gillespie also said he plans to charge for the reports that his new venture will create and also will provide consulting services along with those reports.
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