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Measuring success: it’s a matter of perspective

August 16, 2023


By Richard Johnson
Global Head of Solutions Group, CWT

At GBTA's recent convention in Dallas, I was pleased to be asked to moderate a panel discussion on key performance indicators in travel. I was delighted to have such esteemed individuals join me on the panel. Bruce Yoxsimer, CEO of BTP Automation, provided feedback from a CEO perspective as well as a thorough understanding of travel data. He discussed how rich and actionable data, combined with automation, can transform the corporate travel spend category. Ivan Herrera, Senior Accountant at ONEOK, also took part in the conversation, bringing his experience managing the travel, credit card, and expense report programs for a workforce of around 3,000 employees. His personal philosophy and input to ONEOK staff on providing great customer service was inspiring.

To evaluate the success of a travel program we must consider everything from traveler experience to organizational priorities, which are shifting in an age of responsible business. Traveler and organization success is interconnected and drives enterprise-level outcomes. 

For example, as a traveler what are the three outcomes that would best define a successful trip for you:

  • Was your travel easy to book?
  • Did you experience delays?
  • Were you away from my home/family for too long?
  • Did you feel safe and comfortable while traveling?
  • Did you achieve your business purpose?

Asking your travelers these questions will help you define what success looks like from a traveler perspective.

Success implies different things to different people, and it means different things to different organizational tiers. What is important to you and me as individual travelers is not the same as what is important to a travel manager, who is not the same as a functional leader, who is not the same as an executive. So identifying how we assess success for those individuals and groups, how they differ and how they are similar, is key.

It may appear overwhelming, but my recommendation is to keep it simple and define practical ways to measure success for your audiences. You do not need anything ground breaking; just consider what is actionable. For example, to measure traveler satisfaction you may want to look at:

  • Creating a post trip 1 minute traveler survey
  • Implementing an easy to reach traveler helpdesk
  • Looking at the online/offline ratio where high offline ratio will indicate difficulties with the online process, etc.

Last but not least, identify the aspects that are significant to all of your multiple audiences; these will be the areas to focus on if you want to reach as many people as possible.

So as Brené Brown said “Disappointment is unmet expectations…” – so concentrate on your audience expectations. In the travel industry we currently talk a lot about sustainability, employee well-being and diversity, equity and inclusion. However, cost savings, program and policy compliance, and travel ROI remain important for some audiences - so don't miss out, build your strategy properly, and implement the KPIs that matter to your travelers, business leaders, and you as a travel manager.

For more information, contact CWT Solutions Group.


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