Employee travel choices for business journeys have never been more numerous than they are today.
Consequently, the opportunities for employers to implement a diverse, multi-faceted, sustainable mobility plan and simultaneously display corporate social responsibility have never been greater.
Travel options range from the established, such as cars, whether organisation-provided, a hire car or privately owned; train; plane; taxi; bus; cycle or walk, to newer options such as car share or accessing a car club. Additionally, the option not to travel and instead utilise technology options such as video or tele-conferencing may be viable.
Historically, the car has always been the preferred form of travel for the majority of business meetings and appointments. But it is not always the optimum option.
Cost management, carbon footprint reduction, risk management, business efficiency and effectiveness, and time management are all issues that impact on business travel, and they must be explained to employees to help them make the right decision for each journey.
Employers should focus on the total cost of mobility rather than the more traditional fleet-based total cost of vehicle ownership.
We are starting to see the merger of fleet and business travel departments. As a result, that enables managers to have a complete picture of all journey and related expense costs, including hotel bills and meal claims, as well as expenditure relating to car parking, taxi fares, flights, and rail tickets.
Allied to that change is the advent of smartphone apps enabling employees to access a variety of travel services in real time.
Businesses must focus on gaining the maximum benefit of each £1 for miles travelled and they must encourage employees to do the same.
Historically, transport has been treated with a silo mentality and it is either public or private. However, with the emergence of mobility as a service, we are seeing the development of a single online platform option that organisations and their employees can use to find, book and pay for all travel and related costs. Mobility as a service will take the personal and business objectives, and deliver the best and most convenient mode of transport for each particular journey.
John Pryor is chairman at the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO)