Change management

Rolling out a new travel policy? Here’s how to minimise resistance.


Whether it involves IT, admin or travel, introducing a new system into your business requires staff to get on board and adjust their behaviour.

Often, the technical challenges of rolling out new technology or processes are nothing compared with the biggest obstacle of all - internal resistance.

This is especially the case with new travel policies because they directly affect a person’s individual experience - what they eat, where they sleep and whether they can access the member lounge.

Even when the rationale behind change makes sense for the company it's often irrelevant to the person who has to cop a reduced loyalty status or less comfort than they’re used to.

Do you know what change management is?

First things first, what is change management? US change-management consultant Prosci defines it as how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change for the good of an organisation.

Applying change management covers three key areas:

  • A process used by teams to manage system, process and organisational changes.
  • A leadership competency for enabling the change.
  • A strategic capability to increase change capacity and responsiveness.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance

For this transition to be a smooth one, it pays to be upfront with staff. This means  communicating why things are changing and illustrating the negative effects of non-compliance.

When it comes to a company travel program, this involves:

  • Designing and deploying the new policy
  • Implementing new technology
  • Introducing a new booking and approvals process.

Successful change management requires engagement and action from all stakeholders, as well as daily management to minimise non-compliance.

Turning 'BUT' into 'OK'

Reduce the pushback in three steps

1. Identify what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it

Engage a Travel Management Company (TMC) to design a policy that'll meet your objectives. Together you can identify your top-level goals which may be cutting spending, a faster booking system, easy cost reconciliation or better visibility  of your expenditure.  Work with your travel implementation team to  predict problems and create a strategy for roll-out.

2. Share the new policy with staff

Work with your travel  team to identify the best ways to let people know what’s happening and why. A common cause of traveller friction is simply not being told the reasoning behind policy changes. Easing this friction requires circulating the new policy, as well as training staff in new booking systems and procedures.

3. Stress the importance of compliance

Talk to your Travel Manager as the changes are being rolled out to gauge how you’re tracking against your objectives. They can analyse any policy leaks using reporting and metrics and create new tactics to combat non-compliance.

Other steps you can take include:

  • Engaging with your travellers to identify who will incur a loss in status or rewards as a result of the new policy.
  • Liaising with your Travel Manager to compensate staff who may lose benefits. They may be able to organise airline lounge passes or individual concessions for higher booking classes.
  • Addressing affected travellers directly, making it clear that you understand where they’re coming from while outlining the need for policy changes.
  • Emphasise the steps the company is taking to compensate those who are affected.

Communicate with your travellers about the rate of compliance, pointing out any weak spots they need to address as well as the serial policy breakers in your company.  Don't be afraid to name and shame.  You should also recruit key influencers in your organisation to lead by example with new booking practices.

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