corporate travel management
You are all set to go off on your corporate team outing or team building outbound.
You have got your budget approval, which is the big thing.
You know where you want to go. But how you can go will determine WHETHER you can go…..sounds complicated?
What I mean is – You may want corporate travel management to the Andamans. But how will you go? And what would it cost? This is the key decider.
What does travel mean to us? It is the first leg of an exciting journey to a thrilling corporate team outing destination. On a routine work day, we dream of that moment when we pick up our packed bags and leave for that holiday.
The same is true of team building outings with your corporate family.
But for the organizer of the team outbound, who becomes in effect the head of the family in this case, corporate travel management could well be the biggest nightmare. He or she has to transport a large number of colleagues comfortably, safely and in the shortest possible time, to a chosen destination.
If only we had a magic lamp that we could rub to transport us super-fast shortest route to the destination of our choice. And at the lowest cost too.
Magic Lamp Travels – No Such Thing…?
Sadly, there is no Magic Lamp Travels (India) Private Ltd that we can conjure up and commission to transport us to wherever we want to go. We have to use the regular old transport systems of air travel, road travel and train travel.
Everyone would obviously always prefer air travel for long journeys and cabs for shorter road travel. As for trains, we know them, but don’t understand too well how they work for team travel. Or whether they work at all.
So how do you plan your corporate travel management? You would explore the following 3 options-
- Your travel agent
- Uncle Google
- Your own experiences of travel to those destinations or those of your team members
All 3 are definitely good. But what if you could find one point of contact (POC) that provides all 3 for you? Because, the above 3 provide 3 different perspectives of the same solution, and you are left wondering how to best integrate them.
Your travel agent provides you all the ways in which to get there. But devoid of the human experience element. He or she cannot really tell you how tiring or how enjoyable each of the methods they tell you about really are from the human experience angle.
Google gives you the closest hubs and some travel solutions, but they are incomplete, and you are directed to certain specific company websites that direct you only to the solutions they offer.
Individual team members travelling to destinations, and the methods they used, are never applicable to group travel. You assume that if air travel costs X for two people, then it must cost 2/3 ex for a group. Surprise, surprise! It actually costs almost 3/2 instead! As you increase the number of air tickets in a group, the cost per ticket rises, not falls, in domestic travel.
Team Travel – When some of our worst-case scenarios come true!
Travel, in my experience, has been one of my greatest learning areas in my own journey in the corporate team engagement space over the past decade.
Three years ago, we hired a coach from a well-known transport company in Delhi to take our client team to Simla.
Firstly, the team took over an hour of searching around Delhi to pick up their own favourite brands of fuel to ease their own long overnight journey.
The success of their endeavor translated, of course, into numerous pit stops all along the way. Add to that a cautious and cantankerous human being as bus driver. You can imagine the rest – the bus took 3 hours longer than anticipated to reach its destination. The team arrived irritated and tired to their outbound.
As soon as we realized this, we called our transporter partner and asked him to replace the bus and the driver for the return journey. The transporter, who speaks chaste, dehaati Punjabi, defended his driver and began accusing our client team of slowing him down. As we always only represent our clients – our attitude is that our clients are us – we got into a heated debate on this which ended, in true Dilli-style name-calling.
The outcome? The transport company called up their driver, and he simply drove the bus off overnight to Delhi!
Imagine the team’s plight had they directly engaged with the bus company! Since they had not, it was our head on the block! Our team woke up the next morning to the realization that they had to take participants for boat-based training to a nearby location….and there was no bus!
What happened next? We quickly organized cabs. The team was happy as they had a swifter, more comfortable rider the water body. We had to quickly hire another bus from Delhi, this time one with a GPRS system on board that enabled us to track its progress, the stops made and the time taken. And dispatch that bus to Shimla, to bring our team back the next day.
Who bore the cost of that? Us, of course! But from then on, we learnt to hire only buses that could be tracked remotely by us.
Not that tracking always empowers you to solve all challenges that come up en route, though. We had an experience recently in which GPRS screen shots turned out to give us the wrong impression of a situation!
On a recent corporate team outing to Pondicherry, on the night before we were to depart back to Bangalore, one of the buses suffered an unfortunate breakdown, and had to be replaced. The replacement bus started off from Chidambaram nearby, and kept sending us screenshots of its location, all of which indicated that it would reach our client destination well in time for our team’s scheduled departure to Bangalore.
However, as the morning wore on and the departure time came and went, the bus continued to remain an elusive half hour away! Traffic and narrow roads turned out to be the culprit. Finally, we had to hire local transport at short notice, get inter-State travel licenses and leave quickly, our client team engaged all the time in some additional resort activities and a sumptuous lunch.
One of our first early experiences of large group team travel together was when we took about 200 + team members of a particular team to Coorg.
So, how exactly can you make your travel agent think like you, and understand the specific needs of travel as a team bonding experience?
In other words – can you find a Magic Lamps Travels?
Your team-building partner could become your genie if you invest some time and thought into choosing the right one.