It’s imperative to evaluate the impact your travel program has on the company’s bottom line. But also essential information to analyze is the impact the travel program is having on your business travelers. So today we’re looking at some ways to figure out what’s on their minds.

But before getting started, it’s important to define the goals you’re hoping to achieve with the information you gather. Is it to drive traveler satisfaction in order to boost compliance? Is it to evaluate how safe your travelers feel on the road? Or is it to improve the travel program brand to attract strong job candidates and retain top-performing road warriors? We suggest having a clear vision of this first and then let that serve as your guide in the information you collect.

Social collaboration tools

Before the ubiquity of smartphones, it was difficult to connect with travelers on the road. Now with so many collaboration tools accessible via mobile devices, busy travelers simply can connect whenever they have some time to kill during their wait at the airport or cab ride.

Such tools organically can help foster communication among colleagues, particularly among your millennial workforce who grew up using such tech. And by scanning their feeds and messages, you can get a pulse on what issues they may be encountering.

For a platform they’re familiar with, check out Workplace by Facebook. Because of the more social nature of the site, it’s likely to inspire more authentic interactions and give you a true sense of travelers’ sentiments.

With Slack, you can set up discussions based on topics, whether it’s by theme (such as travel policy, alerts or tips) or by destination (where colleagues can share travel reviews and advice).

Via Microsoft’s Yammer, you can curate up to four threads by selecting the conversations you think are the most relevant. Or you can choose to have Yammer algorithmically pick and choose trending conversations to engage travelers on an ongoing basis.

Post-trip surveys

While you may not think you have the time to conduct surveys, the process has become so much faster thanks to modern-day tools, including some tied to the ones mentioned above. For instance, consider checking out Simple Poll or Polly, apps integrated with Slack, to create a simple multiple-choice poll in seconds. For a survey that invites more details to be given, check out SurveyMonkey and Surveybot in Workplace by Facebook or employ the Survey feature in Microsoft’s SharePoint.

When crafting the questions for your survey, begin by identifying what kind of data you wish to collect and then be sure that every single question is designed to extract that information. Having your objective front and center will help you to create more targeted questions and prevent unreliable results.

To avoid confusion, we also recommend keeping questions concise and the language precise. Each survey should stick to a single topic and each question should aim to obtain just one piece of information.

You also might consider one or two optional open-ended questions or a free comments section for employees who wish to provide more detail. Or to keep it short and sweet, make your entire survey a single open-ended question.

One word of caution: be sensitive to how the questions may be interpreted by employees of various backgrounds, especially if you have an international program and travelers are from different countries.

Machine learning

Machine learning (ML) is being used for all sorts of applications within the corporate travel industry and can help companies understand travelers’ behavior and spending patterns.

Our own advanced data analytics program, Premier Insights™ from American Express Global Business Travel, can help you gain more insights into your traveler behavior, whether at the individual, business unit or regional level. In addition to how much your travelers are spending and behaviors that may lead to extra costs, you can calculate how happy or not they are with the program by their compliance rate.

To further assess traveler satisfaction, you might check in with your HR department to see if they use any apps that measure employee sentiments. Software programs like Glint or Culture Amp, which offer automated and customized surveys, employ ML algorithms that categorize common feedback phrases to identify larger trends at the company and deliver actionable insights based on what employees appreciate and criticize.

Of course, all the insights you gather on your travelers aren’t worth much if you do not act upon them. So whether you use the feedback to refine the travel policy, deliver new solutions that will enhance the traveler experience or bolster your travel risk management program, be sure to put the information you’ve acquired to good use!