How to reconcile the well-being of the employee during a professional trip and cost optimization? How does mobility impact organizations, both in terms of services and tools, as well as for the operational and business lines?
– Jérôme Alla, Pre-sales manager and Travel Management expert at Dimo Software
– Amandine Roset, Category Manager, Arkema and General Delegate of AFTM Auvergne Rhône-Alpes
– Gilles Bobichon, Mobility management expert for 20 years and co-founder of DIMO Software
– Ziad Minkara, Managing Director and expert in business hotels at CDS Group
– Daniel-Hakim Hammadi, Sociologist and Director of Pedagogy at Cocoom
– Julien Chambert, Founder of the CBT consulting firm
The mobility market is very fragmented. What tools can be used to access it?
The most well-known service is the rental of vehicles for short, medium, or long periods, which covers different jobs in terms of fleet management. Transportation (train, plane, car, VTC, cab…) is an important component of mobility, to which are attached various elements such as mileage allowances, catering costs, etc. The notion of means of payment inherent to each service should also be taken into consideration. Finally, the safety of the traveller must not be forgotten. The management of expenses and transport is also integrated into the function of Mobility Manager, which constitutes a notable evolution of the profession: in organizations, transport and expense accounts are still often managed by two different positions (generally secretarial and financial). In short, mobility is much more than simply moving from one point to another, with a wide selection of transport depending on distance, time, costs…
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But what about security?
Amandine Roset explains: “The development of scooters in urban environments has created a new cost category for the travel manager. This implies taking into account the safety of the traveller/collaborator because helmets are not (yet) mandatory, and we can never predict the reactions of motorists, knowing that the collaborator sometimes travels with a PC. We could add the motorcycle cab or the electric scooters. Everything that concerns the collaborative economy is a complex subject. Moreover, the travel manager is presented with a fait accompli once the service has been used. It is impossible to anticipate, nor to foresee everything in the Mobility policy, at the risk of incessant revisions involving high levels of validation, especially in large structures. How can we frame our mobility guidelines without being exhaustive?
Bleisure” (“Business” and “Leisure”), the combination of leisure before, during, or after a business trip, is not yet well managed in organizations. After all, employees are also users who enjoy the flexibility offered by the applications on his smartphone. Ideally, employees should be made aware of a framework through education, support, and information. Leisure – when expressed through the extension of an accommodation or the change of a mode of transport – cannot be taken in charge in the expense accounts, nor by insurances, even if related regulations are still rather vague.
Collaborative economy: companies are adapting very slowly
Ziad Minkara believes that Airbnb has strongly impacted companies: “25% of Airbnb expenses are generated by business travellers. Professional offers have appeared at Booking Home.com or Magicstay, raising the question of location, insurance, service, and payment method, in addition to security. In this type of accommodation, the host often requires full prepayment, which poses a financial problem for the company. One cannot criticize the employee who tries to reduce costs by using a less expensive hosting solution. Beyond the financial aspect, security and responsibility are also taken into account, as the company is legally responsible for its travellers“.
Amandine Roset emphasizes that in the event of a dispute, while an amicable settlement is often found, the company must nevertheless prove that it has done everything possible to ensure that the travel process runs smoothly, that the traveller has been warned of possible risks, and made aware of good practices. She recognizes that “The company will, of course, take responsibility for the safety of the traveller, even to the end of the world with a bleisure component, because personal insurance does not have the same means as corporate insurance and a company’s brand image would suffer considerably in the event of a legal case. If bleisure can contribute to well-being, and therefore to productivity, why not take it into account? But the proportion of employees who travel alone is not that high”.
“Business travel is a cost, but can’t it be considered an investment? Shouldn’t the agreements negotiated with operators allow employees to benefit personally, in the form of a service that the company provides to its travellers, without this information being exploitable in the form of data, by taking it out of reporting for example?”
Mobility management tools?
The travel agency is no longer the sole provider on the corporate side. There are many online booking sites in a highly fluctuating market. However, service providers will still have to offer the appropriate tools to make their services accessible. The sector is therefore rather siloed, with hyperspecialists focused solely on accommodation, reservations, or transport… It is impossible to propose an offer capable of managing all the elements of the trip and the agency can only cover a certain number of needs. For the company, the question arises of how to aggregate the elements. According to Julien Chambert: “A good operator works in open booking and sets up partnerships to propose an offer allowing the aggregation of information and services”.
The posture of the company vs. the employees
What about corporate culture? The attitude towards mobility can vary from one subsidiary to another. It is important to know the practices of employees within the various entities as well as cultural differences. Sometimes these differences in practices are not tied to the country, but the business: for example, a head office with a lot of high-level assistants vs. a subsidiary specializing in R&D located in the same city may have completely different practices. The identification of the target becomes important, as well as the time of the reservation and the media (PC, telephone…).
Given that leisure tools are more numerous and flexible than professional tools and are also well known to employee-consumers, solutions provided by the companies are often perceived as downgrades compared to the tools employees personally use, because companies lack critical internal resources (time, finances, human resources…). The lack of employee support can prove challenging to the Travel Manager, especially when he is also in charge of purchasing and dealing with several thousand potential users. Clear rules and quality support are essential for the implementation of a new travel tool.
Amandine Roset explains: “Corporate tools are designed as a funnel. The manager needs to have his data consolidation to be able to manage his portfolio and budget, which is at odds with the traveller’s need for flexibility. This is where the confusion comes from, more than the multiplicity of booking channels.” There is a real need to explain the choice internally, even if travellers-employees can understand that the business tool is not for leisure and the responsibilities entailed are not the same either.
The “digital transition injunction” is sometimes not well received in the company
Staying up to date is difficult. However, as it involves a shift in customs and habits, it requires managerial support. Daniel-Hakim Hammadi notes: “Information is now shared everywhere and transparency – whether desired or not – exists at all levels. Consequently, employees can develop a certain mistrust if they are confronted with opacity about tools or processes. It is also the uses, postures, and practices that need to be made sense of in terms of mobility and information flow: what are the benefits for the organization, the team, and the employees? What do employees gain in terms of comfort?
The final customer (the employee-traveller) is oftentimes not taken into account in the organization’s travel strategy when tools are provided for him. Instead, costs are often the main consideration. To take advantage of the latest innovations and review internal tools to bring increasingly more flexibility to employees and their experience outside the office in terms of ergonomics, ease of access and flexibility, is not a given: 70% of changes implemented in companies fail because of human resistance (expressed as denial, anger, resistance followed by acceptance). We must therefore not be satisfied with a purely managerial approach, but also actively involve the internal users.
A “melting pot” of issues surrounding mobility
Suppliers, security, payment, and services are all elements revolving around travel and expenses management. Managers must therefore broaden the scope of mobility. Communication is key to give coherence and consistency to the mobility policy. It is also indispensable when collecting, processing, and analyzing data on user behaviour in order to work and act within the framework of efficient change management.
The level of maturity on the subject of mobility management is unequal among organizations: travel purchasers only deal with a small percentage of mobility in their portfolio and have little time on the subject. Short communication is therefore essential, ideally with the support of partners, suppliers, and peers.
Without awareness, employees will not be able to drive change, in which case how can the new
Mobility is a highly technical business
“Calls for tender are too often written by non-specialists – not from purchasing or travel, but sometimes from HR or accounting, especially in small organizations – who too often want a small tool that can do everything on its own, including data analysis,” says Amandine Roset. She adds: “It is important to get out of the office and network to benchmark. This will save companies a lot of time as well as expand their managers’ skillset… if they first manage to convince managers on this necessity”. Professional associations such as the AFTM (French Travel Management Association) have their part to play in a fragmented environment where each editor has his own set of standards, which causes complex issues of interoperability, training, adoption rate, investment…
Our solution is dedicated to the moblity management. In addition to the expense reports management you can plan, book and track your business trips. It is also possible to manage your car fleet.