Contrary to how things were done in the past, there’s no rule that employees can’t be on a work trip and have fun, too. In fact, there’s a term for this today: bleisure.
Mixing business with pleasure isn’t taboo any longer. Research shows that when your staff is happy, they perform better and have increased loyalty to your company.
But when you’re sending workers on a business trip, their satisfaction parallels how much effort you put into organizing each main process. From transportation to lodging and essentials, it’s up to you to pave the way smoothly.
Follow these three tips to ensure your travelers have an experience they’ll remember in all the best ways.
1. Get Their Input
Some aspects of the trip aren’t flexible. For example, you can’t choose the destination if there’s a convention they’re attending. You may not have much say in the accommodations if the event is linked to a particular hotel venue and the rates are competitively priced.
But some factors are variable, and those are where employee input can be valuable.
Transportation, such as flight times, doesn’t have to be set in stone. Some travelers prefer the earliest flights, which are also cheaper, while others would rather see their family off to school and work first and take a later plane.
Connections, layover times, early arrivals, and more variables are part of scheduling air travel, and these are all individual preferences. Allowing each traveler the choice of booking their flights and getting reimbursed up to a set amount increases their satisfaction from the start.
2. Keep COVID Rules in Mind
Domestic travel is relatively calm at the moment. Still, some states continue to follow quarantine and testing rules, while others are more laidback.
Part of your job involves keeping an eye on the ever-changing rules and requirements for COVID and other health safety tips. As the variants evolve, COVID cases spike and monkeypox-type contagions are in the headlines, your travelers might not feel safe.
Plan each part of the trip so that your workers’ safety and hygiene are the priority. This might mean delaying a planned trip, even if it costs the company money, or adjusting the destination if it’s out of the country to an unsafe destination.
3. Have a Flexible Itinerary
You’re going to get asked multiple times what’s on the agenda for the trip, so why not plan the itinerary and send it out with the rest of the details? This is helpful to your staff “planners” who like to know what their schedule is down to the minute.
Include where everyone needs to meet for the work-related events, addresses of the destinations, how they can get there if they’re not on-site, and other pertinent info.
Then, clearly add “free time” where it’s appropriate, and give some ideas of local entertainment and sightseeing opportunities. This part of the itinerary is the ideal section to discuss per diems and what they cover.
The lodging and transportation part is usually simple enough, but the M&IE (meals and incidentals) is often vague since it’s up to the company to set the rates.
Clarifying Meals and Incidentals
How much you let your employees spend on M&IE can mean the difference between a relaxing and enjoyable meal and fun and a cheap dinner on the run. Research the average meal cost at a middle-to-upper-class restaurant near the hotel, and set your rates accordingly.
At a minimum, you do need to abide by the GSA government rates. Another option is to reimburse meal expenses up to a particular set amount rather than using per diems.
Whatever your processes are, including them here in the itinerary, where everyone will be sure to see them, is a smart idea. It gives your staff the info they need to plan for meals and incidentals ahead, knowing what their budget is from you.
If there’s something nearby that you think everyone would enjoy, as a bonus, you could include that in the trip expenses. There might be a Broadway show playing that is relevant to your industry.
Offer to reimburse anyone who gets a general admission ticket to the show. You’ll help ensure they can do something fun without worrying about the cost while also boosting employee satisfaction.
Business plus leisure, when mixed correctly, is the formula for employee productivity and satisfaction. Before you send your travelers on their next work-related trip, follow these tips to increase their satisfaction and your return on your investment.