After a introducing Six Trends in Business Travel that will impact your travel programs and discussing Why You Need a Dynamic Travel Policy, we’ll close this mini T&E series that is based upon a recently delivered and now archived webinar, Five Resolutions for More Effective T&E Management in 2011 (you can click the link to view the webinar sponsored by Concur– registration required) with one final recommendation/resolution.
Resolution: Investigate and Track Social Networking and Travel
The way that people communicate, interact, and exchange ideas has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Wait….. It just changed again. How people gather, receive, and process information has, is and will change too. Companies have followed suit and are using social media tools to drive business results and improve business relationships. Social networking for business travelers is an area in its nascent stages that will have broad implications on how business travel is managed and how business travelers travel.
Exactly what these implications are and how procurement and travel teams respond to them at this point, is unclear. It is too early to know for sure. As such, I’m not suggesting that every group needs to develop aggressive new policies or approaches this quarter – no, nothing so drastic. But, this is an area that is too big to ignore. Social media has invaded business and business travel. Here are two examples of why someone in your organization should be tracking
Example 1: A VP of Sales updates her status to show that she is in Rochester today and since it is Tuesday, we can assume that she is not on vacation. A former co-worker who left to work for a rival company sees this location update and knows instantly that there may be a new RFP opportunity at Kodak (Rochester HQ). The former co-worker, now rival, makes a few calls and gets her company invited in to see Kodak. Not a good social networking outcome for the VP.
Is this example possible? I believe it is, but, so is this scenario – A business development person at Xerox (Rochester) sees the same location update (that his colleague, the VP of sales is in Rochester) and calls her to set up a meeting. This meeting lays the groundwork for a new partnership. A good social networking outcome for the VP
Example 2: An enterprise’s meeting planning team is trying to pick a destination for its 2012 annual sales kickoff. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, large hotel and restaurant contingencies in Nashville and Dallas start offering large meeting packages on facebook and twitter….. but only this week Huge discounts are offered online, but not in the industry trades. How and where deals are found is changing. Who is tracking these trends for travel within the enterprise? [Sidebar: Who is tracking these trends for supply management?]
You may consider these poor or simplified examples. Fair enough, but don’t let that deter you from the main point – that social media/networking has the ability to have a huge impact on business travel. Travel and procurement teams should begin to develop an understanding of how things work with social media and business travel so they have the context to make decisions that balance risk and reward.