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Work/Life: It’s All About ROT (Return on Travel)

Room sharing on the road? Employees bunking together on business trips is just one of the more controversial notions being embraced by companies to cut travel costs. Companies are focusing on the cost of business travel like never before. Consequently, hotels, airlines, and other travel suppliers are experiencing travel stagnation. In fact, "ROT" has set in.

Room sharing on the road?

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Employees bunking together on business trips is just one of
the more controversial notions being embraced by companies to cut travel costs.

Companies are focusing on the cost of business travel like
never before. Consequently, hotels, airlines, and other travel suppliers are experiencing travel stagnation. In fact, “ROT” has set in.

ROT is the acronym I created for “return on
travel.” A take-off of the well-known business term, return on investment,
it is a calculation that requires a business traveler to be more productive.
The concept of “face time” is no longer sufficient to justify a trip.
Today, justifying a trip means road warriors have to prove that a meeting’s
goals cannot be achieved just as well via cheaper alternatives, like audio or
web conferencing.

There any number of strategies that an informed business
traveler can use to trim cost and improve productivity. Travelers can scale
back on their hotel costs if they focus less on “extras” and more on their key
business needs like Internet connectivity, a desk to work on, and a quiet place
to meet clients.

Road warriors can also package their trip so that it
achieves multiple purposes in one visit, rather than doing several trips. It is
becoming common for business travelers to delay a trip until they can line up
multiple meetings with a range of revenue and sales opportunities.

Still, a personal connection is best cemented by an
in-person meeting. At least that was the conventional wisdom when times were
good. Back then there was not as much emphasis placed on accountability,
oversight, and analysis when it came to business trips. But tough times toughen
the competition.

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Ironically, in a tough market companies that have a lightly
managed travel policy might be able to get better deals than heavily managed
programs. It now makes sense to check whether a promotional rate might be
better than a contract rate. Hotel rates have dipped, although not across the
board.

When a trip still cannot meet the minimum ROT requirements,
then videoconferencing is often the first alternative. In fact, many corporate
travel departments are now managing the videoconferencing function.

Certainly videoconferencing still offers the visual
component. But I feel companies are sacrificing the invaluable intangibles that
come with one-on-one meetings. When you meet face to face, decisions tend to be
made more quickly and personal bonding happens more naturally.

That raises the question of whether some companies are
being “penny-wise and pound-foolish” in trying to wring that last
cent from their travel dollar. Losing your personal top-tier travel status with
your airline loyalty program is an inevitable downside of corporate travel
cutbacks. But room sharing seems to take ROT a step too far.

Where do you weigh in on ROT?

Road
Warrior • Miami
www.us.amadeus.com