How to build surveys business travelers will actually take

Asking business travelers what they think is an effective way to get the insights you need to build a strong travel program or improve policies already in place. One of the simplest ways to capture traveler voices? A survey.

Building traveler surveys that you can use to solve specific problems requires planning. Here’s a guide to help.

Determine the survey goals.

For example: as you consider resuming or expanding your travel program, your goal might be to understand your travelers’ attitudes towards new ways of working and traveling for business. Keep the goal in mind when planning your questions. (We’ll talk more about questions below.)

Define stakeholder and survey review process.

Involve the appropriate stakeholders in the survey where needed – from building the questions to reviewing the data insights pulled from it. You might find you need to partner with colleagues in technology, data analysis, travel risk management, meetings, or payment and expense management.

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple and specific.

Keep the survey length and questions as short as possible. BCD Travel Senior Manager for Research & Intelligence Natalia Tretyakevich suggests creating surveys that take no longer than eight minutes to complete. Use clear language that’s easily understood by all participants. The questions should offer a range or scale of response options.

Select a user-friendly survey tool.

We won’t presume to make specific recommendations for you. Your company may already contract with a survey platform or you may choose from any of the suitable options available in the marketplace. Check reviews and make sure the tool is intuitive; meets your needs for the types of questions you wish to ask; and has built-in analytics capabilities.

Plan survey frequency and timing.

Survey your travelers as often as you need to but don’t overwhelm them. Your survey frequency should very depend on your goals. If the travelers are engaged and highly motivated (e.g., by incentives) they may be keen to participate monthly. Monitor responses and adjust survey plans accordingly.

Distribute the survey when it makes the most sense, e.g., prior to travel policy rollouts or changes; following the rollouts to gauge effectiveness; or ahead of major events or holidays where the targeted audience is likely to miss the survey communication.

Decide how long your survey should remain open. Best practice for BCD Travel’s internal research team is generally a two-week survey window. Send reminders three days to one week after the survey opens. If the response is underwhelming, it’s okay to prompt the targeted audience with a reminder email. Tip: A catchy subject line with a call to action is always a good idea.

Test it.

Ask a few people to take a survey “practice test,” looking for content or formatting mistakes, unclear questions or responses, and overall ease of use.

Report back.

Grow confidence in your travel program by sharing survey results and demonstrating how they’ll be put to practical use within your organization.

Think long term.

To help get an optimal number of responses each time you survey, focus on building a traveler panel diverse in geography, language, gender, age and tenure. The better your survey participants represent the actual company business travelers, the more relevant your insights.

A note of caution: this global representation won’t happen after a single survey. It will improve over time, especially if you can demonstrate how your survey insights directly influence travel program policies.

Make it worthwhile. Incentives – recognition badges, gifts, discounts, or sweepstakes – can help draw participants to the survey. Make sure your invitations and incentives are targeted to the traveler profiles you want to participate. Otherwise, you might attract less helpful attention and responses from people merely seeking a fun prize.


How-to guides

Get more done with our How-to series for people who work and manage travel.

Questions? Email: [email protected]

New on