Creating the Alford Experience: Travel Management

Creating the Alford Experience: Travel Management

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An old proverb states, “There is nothing certain, but the uncertain.” Being in an industry like event technology requires a lot of travel, often followed by uncertainty. As many have experienced, air travel can be a toss-up on whether or not you’ll encounter delays or cancellations. Most businesses see travel as a necessary but costly expense and tend to prioritize budget above all else.

At Alford, we take pride and place great emphasis on ensuring we have the right team for each event and every client, meaning efficient and effective travel management is also a top priority. While we aim to keep travel costs low, our primary focus is to make travel less stressful so that our technicians can concentrate on the event and put all their energy into executing a successful show.

To discuss our custom travel processes, we’ve spoken to Nora Fanelli, Alford’s Production and Travel Manager.

Nora Fanelli has been an integral part of the Support team for 3 years. She first worked as the Travel Coordinator and was then promoted to her current role as Production and Travel Manager, creating more opportunity to expand her skill set. Nora earned her Bachelor of Art’s degree in Sociology, received a Certificate in Criminology, and has a background in Accounting. Her varied aptitudes have served her well as she’s evolved through her duties and special projects. One of the most crucial parts of Nora’s role has been to get to know our technicians’ personalities, family life, and travel preferences. In order to maintain our Burgundy culture, one that acts and feels like family, we seek to treat our employees as such.

Alford’s methods for booking travel accommodations are about more than maintaining our bottom line, they’re about creating an environment where people are happy and excited to go to work. When Nora began her role, she quickly realized that there was more to it than simply booking travel accommodations. “At first you just think that they need to get from point A to point B, but everyone has a preference that they are comfortable with,” said Nora, “I joke all the time that I’m a professional question asker, because I do it all day long.” After booking any travel, Nora watches for changes in arrival and departure dates in our database compared to our travel schedule. Asking questions and making sure all areas of the travel process are in sync is a huge factor in keeping that stress-free experience we work to create for our technicians.

According to Statista, global business travel spending totaled $1.3 trillion in 2016, with a predicted upward trend of $1.6 trillion by 2020. While many companies focus mainly on time and money, Alford tries hard to look past that to see the human experience. We understand that a life of travel on the road can be a taxing one. Nora could tell you countless stories of how she’s worked to prioritize the needs of our crew members.

Occasionally, a technician may fall ill on show site. In this instance, it’s necessary for their own personal health, as well as their fellow crew members, to be replaced with a healthy and capable technician. Other times, there may be a family emergency, and we want to make every effort to accommodate their needs during that time.  We truly value and respect that there are circumstances where you need to be with your family back home. Alford views these accommodations as an opportunity to illustrate our dedication to our peoples’ well-being, families, and overall morale.

“At first you just think that they need to get from point A to point B, but everyone has a preference that they are comfortable with.”

One of the biggest ways we try to ease the travel process for our crew is by allowing them to choose their preferred airline. This may seem like a trivial gesture, but for employees who travel upwards of 200 days a year, a little goes a long way. Nora noted, “You would be amazed at how happy you can make them just by accommodating a simple request.” Being given the opportunity to upgrade a seat or boarding group, and having the ability to gain status all create a positive travel experience.

From a business standpoint, it’s also been to our benefit that crew members have preferred status. This is especially helpful when flights are canceled or oversold. Members with status are given preferential treatment and able to stay on their flight or more easily get on an earlier replacement flight. With the often-tight schedules and the deadline-driven reality of events, this is especially valuable. All of these little things add up over time, and we want that time to be one of excitement and fulfillment to be able to travel all over the country while doing a job they love.

Traveling more for business is a growing ideal, especially among millennials, who will make up over half the workforce by 2020. By accommodating our people in ways that create a sense of ease during the travel process, and add the benefit of having a travel manager in-house, we hear of a more positive experience from our technicians. An engaged and productive team will remain loyal to creating the Alford experience, and ultimately be the ones to capture our client’s vision.

Alford Media