Applying manufacturing-style quality control to corporate travel has helped Allegion reduce errors that add friction to employees’ business trips. The result: Better travel experiences and happier travelers.
After rolling out the strategy in the United States in January 2018, booking errors linked to travelers’ misunderstanding of policy dropped 50%. The complaint rate per issued airline ticket is now below 1%.
Allegion—in partnership with its travel management company BCD Travel—has designed a proven, repeatable quality control process for corporate travel that will launch in other regions this year. It also has created a new travel program performance improvement model for the industry.
From idea to innovation
Here’s how it happened. In late 2017, Allegion travel leader Dan Schwartz and Yvon Davis, BCD program manager for Allegion, began looking for ways to reduce booking errors to increase traveler satisfaction. They engaged Mike Bellis, the Allegion expert who oversees global quality control for the Dublin-based manufacturer’s innovative safety and security solutions, such as mechanical and connected door locks, exit devices and closers.
“I’m used to evaluating product dimensions or surface finishes—something very quantitative,” Bellis said. “But I could immediately see the possibilities of applying quality control techniques to travel, especially because I’m a frequent traveler.”
The Allegion-BCD team dug into program data, crunching numbers to see where recurring problems were happening—and why. They divided mistakes into causational categories: errors caused by people (travelers or agents), by flawed processes or by poor communications.
They layered on some statistical probabilities (i.e., bad weather is a problem you can’t fully solve). Then they came up with specific quality control steps to reduce errors and improve traveler experiences, aligning solutions with Allegion’s flexible culture for travelers.
Traveler education and engagement solved most problems. Employee newsletters, internal social media, in-person travel fairs and reminder messages sent via BCD’s TripSource® traveler platform helped get the word out about policy compliance and program benefits. Travelers were encouraged to share feedback. Agents were trained to be advisers.
“Every error we identified led to simple corrective actions,” Bellis said. “We changed the booking process or asked agents to better explain to travelers why certain actions were out of policy. We added new things for agents to do and for travelers to know.”
Turning travelers into better corporate program consumers
Schwartz went on a “visibility campaign,” requesting time on the agenda when large groups of employees met. He talked about how the travel program works, detailed the steps the team was taking to improve the traveler experience and solicited feedback. He put his name and contact information on every travel program message.
Although he’s more visible these days, he gets fewer calls from disgruntled travelers. “They know more about what’s expected of them and what to expect. That makes them better consumers of our travel program and more satisfied travelers,” Schwartz said.
The team has seen the pace of progress increase every quarter. “Once you understand a problem and have a system for addressing it, you can make quicker changes,” Bellis said. “We’ve seen improvements increase at a steady pace.”
Schwartz said, “Our success shows the power of partnership between a travel buyer and a travel management company—what can happen when you don’t back away from problems. This was a true team effort.”
Get the Allegion team’s tips for incorporating quality control into corporate travel management. Learn how other clients, like AstraZeneca and the U.S. Forest Service, benefit from partnerships with BCD Travel. Ask how the TMC can help you improve program performance.