With Carrie Johnson, Travel Manager, Exact Sciences
A recent Fox World Travel survey of travel managers found that their primary concern in returning to travel is traveler safety and wellness. With business travel coming back in full force, the importance of communicating new travel procedures and health and safety recommendations couldn’t be higher. Preparing employees to travel is all about communication.
During a recent Travel Managers Talk, Carrie Johnson, travel manager with Exact Sciences, provided some thoughtful recommendations for creating effective communications as travel programs and travelers work to adopt new travel behaviors and company policies.
Focus on the Audience:
Before beginning any communication process, it’s important to consider your audience. “Always think about who you need to reach so you can tailor information to their specific needs,” says Johnson. Although you may need to create multiple pieces, personalizing the content instead of a one-size-fits-all blanket message will certainly increase the probability for audience understanding.
As a time-saver, Johnson recommends creating e-mail distribution lists to segment audiences when you need to distribute nuanced information. For example, “we use a distribution list for our credit card users so we can quickly send them needed information, while at the same time not bothering other travelers who don’t hold a credit card.”
Timing is Everything:
Quite often, the timing of the message can be more impactful than the message itself. Again, it’s important to think about your audience and when they need the information for it to be properly received. Exact Sciences leverages Fox’s Concur expertise to provide “just in time” communication to travelers in the booking process. “Fox does a fantastic job configuring Concur for our policy, so we’re able to use call outs within the booking tool for real-time communication and tips,” explains Johnson.
In addition to just-in-time targeted information to specific audiences, Johnson’s team creates an Exact Sciences’ travel and expense newsletter to provide a regular drumbeat of travel information, along with the company intranet to publish time-relevant articles and announcements. Both are additional ways to keep general staff aware of the travel program.
Explain the Why:
Especially with travel policy, explaining the reason behind the rules is important. Employees generally want to be compliant and providing the necessary background information to travelers can help in increasing compliance.
In her communications, Johnson uses a standard template that includes a 1-2 sentence explanation answering the following questions:
- Who does this impact?
- What is it all about?
- What action needs to be taken?
- Why are we making these changes?
“I think the most important of all of these is ‘why’,” says Johnson. “Explaining how following policy benefits the organization and the traveler themselves helps make the policy seem less like unneeded red-tape.”
These simple communication tips can help your travelers resume travel in this new travel landscape. “The travel manager’s job doesn’t stop at creating new policies and recommending different travel behavior,” says Johnson. “It’s our job to communicate in a way that truly supports our travelers.”
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