The ROI of “comfortable” business travel. Just ask Dan Quayle.

Tips on reducing stress and making air time more comfortable and productive for travelers.

So, here we are at the end of Q1 2010, and by all accounts, business travel is on the uptick. With improving budgets and two great ROI studies in your back pocket, you are rearing to go. But, can you boost that ROI even further by providing your employees with “comfortable” business travel? Ask any road warrior this question and I’m confident they’ll all say “yes.” Increased comfort and reduced stress leads to sharper, happier and more productive employees. This is something that your finance guy sitting comfortably back in HQ may not quite comprehend.
To outsiders, life on the road appears exciting and adventuresome. To those who live the lifestyle, it’s a different story. Long security lines, flight delay after flight delay, and Thrombophilia inducing cabin configurations (just ask Dan Quayle). That’s all before you even take off. Then, once you reach the final destination, it’s not uncommon to feel like you are on a bad episode of The Amazing Race, forced to navigate an unfamiliar city and long stretches disconnected from family and friends.
Plus, with increased government restrictions and limited airline capacity, the situation is only getting worse. I It’s your job to champion the cause for these hard working employees and get the green light to throw them a bone.
Paul Metselaar, CEO and Chairman of Ovation Travel Group, outlines two options (paraphrased below) in a recent Op-Ed piece for BTN entitled, “Keeping your eye on travel ROI,” This should help you make your case to the finance team back in HQ:
Cramp them in coach:
Economy class + a long flight cooped up next to a large sick man = an employee with a raging headache, a neck cramp, and the sniffles.
Result: The business meeting is a flop, the deal is lost, and the ROI of the trip is zero
Treat them to premium economy (or more):
Business class + a long comfortable flight with some room to work = an employee that is rested, well prepared and unstressed.
Result: The meeting is a success, the deal is closed, and the trip has a terrific ROI
Obviously these are two very simplified scenarios, but you get the point. And, it’s important to note, that the additional expense doesn’t have to be as expensive as a business class ticket. Here are some inexpensive perks that will make your travelers more comfortable and less stressed so they in turn are more productive:
• Mobile access and updates – being in the dark is perhaps the most stressful aspect of being a traveler. Access to itineraries, real-time flight updates and other information drastically improves the life of a traveler.
• Status and upgrades – if your travelers don’t have the status to qualify for an upgrade, your TMC might be able to help. Seating with extra legroom or a bigger hotel room makes a big difference.
• Lounge access – with the hourly rates the company pays your travelers, does it really make sense to have them wandering the airport looking for internet access, a power source or even a comfortable seat? The $300-600 annual investment for lounge access is a no brainer.
• Work with LCCs (low cost carriers) that offer more – it’s amazing how watching some “Jersey Shore” will speed up a cross-country flight, and the entertainment center doesn’t necessarily mean a more expensive fare.
• Mobile broadband subscription – why force your people to hop scotch from Starbucks to Starbucks to suck down too many mochas and free Internet access when they can be connected all the time?
• GPS with every rental car – a lost employee is an unproductive and stressed employee. Consider working with your car supplier to include a GPS device, or develop an internal loaner program.
These are just a few suggestions, but I pose the question to my fellow road warriors: what makes you more comfortable when traveling?

Story originally published in by Mike