Sapient Travel Program Makes Business Travel Personal

By Jesse Sokolow on 11 March 2015
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A Sapient consultant checks into his hotel, family in tow. Once in the room, he finds his favorite bottle of wine as well as snacks for his two kids. He opens the card… it isn’t from the hotel but from the Sapient Client Experience Project, and smiles.

The smile is the goal of Michelle De Costa, Sapient’s director of global travel.

Indeed, Boston-based marketing and consulting company Sapient has done much to personalize business travel for its employees as well as for many of its clients.

De Costa’s first assignment was to globalize the company’s travel program. Until then, offices in individual countries were on their own and the company wasn’t negotiating travel in any unified manner. Once a global program was built, De Costa said she began to wonder, “how do we really make things more traveler centric?”

When compared to other consultancies, Sapient does things differently. For one thing, it always brings clients into its offices to pitch them. Another is its highly mobile workforce. As the company updated its office environment earlier in the decade to reflect the company more appropriately, De Costa foresaw an improved travel experience that would complement the other changes.

The Client Experience Program therefore serves Sapient prospects and customers, as well as Sapient employees. Clearly, the company wants a customer or prospect’s experience to be perfect from start to finish, and that doesn’t start and end with an office meeting.

For visiting clients, the in-office concierge will help with trains, directions, buying tickets, and other logistics that could include handing out umbrellas on rainy days, for example.

For employees, De Costa said she wanted to “infuse” something into the travel experience that would make it less daunting and also promote staff’s comfort and productivity when arriving in another office.

For visiting employees, guides to the area around the office, covering important items such as the location of ATMs, where to get coffee or lunch, how the Wi-Fi system works, can make a big difference in productivity.

“We have a lot of people who are road warriors, constantly in hotel rooms, and we wanted to recognize that,” she explains. “With several of our preferred hotel partners, we have been able to do certain things,” such as leaving a specific brand of beer or wine in the room with a note from the Sapient client experience team. Finding a small welcome gift and note makes a big difference, she explains.

The goal of the program “is to make the experience better than they would have somewhere else,” and by all measures, including employee retention, the program seems to be working quite well.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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