Progressive Extended-Stay Programs

Progressive extended-stay programs recognize ROI is rooted in home-away-from-home comforts and family visits.

Business travel is no longer the perk it once was, especially for hard-core road warriors who leave behind loved ones, sometimes for many lonely weeks. Says Sherry Marshall, senior manager, travel and corporate card for pwc in Toronto, “It’s really hard to be a frequent traveller these days.” And it’s burdensome with airport security, navigating ground transportation and feeling “on-call” 24/7.

What can a corporate travel manager (CTM) do? According to Charles Melanson, Sanofi Pasteur’s manager of meeting, travel and fleet in Toronto, “CTMs are often the first to identify the need for an extended-stay program. Companies see a real ROI, from an employee-satisfaction perspective, after executing a well-planned and thoroughly executed extended-stay program.” 

How are companies easing the burden of business travel? Privileges of pwc’s Road Warriors program include business-class flights, value-added corporate cards and taxable allowances for holidays and extended stays. New this year is pwc’s Extended Travel Assistance plan, for employees away more than three months. The plan’s rationale is to give travellers a home-away-from-home experience with corporate housing, flight-pass options and optimizing car rental, airline and hotel offers.

Like pwc, Sanofi Pasteur’s travel policy aims for stress-free business travel. With a healthy work-life balance as its goal, the policy includes business-class flights, GPS rentals or local limousine transfers; plus medical, legal and risk-management services that ensure “employees are never more than a phone call away from qualified, reliable assistance,” explains Melanson. The policy also includes meeting-free weekends, minimizing the impact on personal and family time.

To further bolster family interconnection, pwc offers weekend repatriation visits and spousal/guest visits, regardless of location. Sanofi Pasteur is also family-friendly: regular repatriation and spousal/life partner/child(ren) visits are fully supported.

“Class A organizations now offer a much higher degree of support, and employees now expect and appreciate their employer’s attention to their duty of care responsibilities,” notes Melanson. At pwc, policies are often guidelines. “Companies want to do the right thing by their employees and can’t always be thinking dollars or numbers,” stresses Marshall. “I want to know what I can do to make a difference,” she says.

As corporate travel programs mature, Melanson believes “more and more organizations are broadening the scope of travel-related metrics as a way to quantify the program’s ROI and to better qualify the soft value the program delivers.”

Fret Not, Road Worrier
A 2009 survey by U.S.-based Wakefield Research found business travel can be harder on one’s partner than the traveller. Almost 74 per cent of business travellers said their mate has expressed concern over being left behind.

Dr. Kenneth Herman, a New Jersey-based, board-certified clinical psychologist and author of Secrets from the Sofa offers coping tips:  

  • Keep the communication lines open. Knowing you can reach your partner is comforting.
  • As a family meeting, strategize ways to maximize time while the significant other is away.
  • Plan ahead for help. Reach out to friends, neighbours and family.
  • Schedule a visit or a vacation with your partner while he or she is away. 

Bottom line? “The quality of the partners’ relationship is key,” says Herman. “Those who are caring, considerate, communicative, and think and act like they’re on the same team will effectively cope.”

 By Jennifer D. Foster

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