Cost reduction, duty of care and decarbonisation require a more hands-on approach, whether the journey is at the end of a senior manager’s long flight or simply part of an engineer’s day-to-day work.
It’s pushing employee mobility up the corporate agenda and empowering travel buyers and managers to create fit-for-purpose solutions.
“We’re moving to an age of frictionless mobility,”
“Employees expect trips to be smooth, simple and convenient. HR teams are telling us that it’s even now part of the employment decision. If you can’t offer better business travel, you may not attract or retain the best talent.”
“We don’t just talk about rental rates and vehicle types with customers – we talk about employee behaviours and welfare,” he continues. “These short trips are proliferating and businesses don’t know how to harness them.”
McNeill outlines that providing employees with the best travel options requires a new approach to business mobility, where delivering a positive experience is as important as controlling costs and emissions:
1. Understand how changing workforce habits impact mobility needs
Yesterday’s commuter is today’s business traveller. Hybrid and remote working means that for many who now work primarily from home, a drive to the office for an internal meeting is now a business trip that needs to be managed.
“We’re hearing that hybrid workers want to pack more into their in-office days, which may mean more local work trips,” says McNeill.
“It’s often about ‘purposeful travel’ – business travellers want to extract more value and ROI from each trip, rolling two or three into one. Work-from-home days are also not just from home. Younger workers often work from different locations as many flat-share and otherwise spend all day in one room. It’s a complex web of mobility requirements.”
McNeill emphasises the importance of mobility solutions that embrace the many shorter work journeys that employees are making as a counterpoint to the big business trips.
This means making sure that transport options are close to where people live as well as where they work – often more than just two locations. During the summer, it may even be a holiday location.
He adds: “We’ve invested in building Europe’s largest branch network – more than 1,400 locations in 40+ countries, plus more than 10,000 branches in some 90 countries and territories globally – because businesses need vehicles everywhere.”
Enterprise’s growing automated car club network in the UK, alongside daily rental branches, is adding hundreds of vehicles sited at rail stations, airports, neighbourhoods and even smaller rural communities, just down the road from wherever they’re needed.
The business also prioritises contracted corporate customers ahead of leisure and holiday rentals in light of well-publicised vehicle availability challenges.
McNeill observes: “A flexible travel strategy means it’s essential to have a reliable supply of the right vehicles. Making sure business travellers come first is essential, plus the variety of options as one size doesn’t fit all.”
2. Collaboration provides tailored solutions.
McNeill says customers want more than just cars: “You have to know how, when and where your employees travel. But you also need to know why they travel, to identify what current behaviours exist and how to change them if necessary.”
To better serve the complexity of day-to-day business travel, Enterprise/National has a large team of dedicated, strategic mobility consultants to plan detailed ground transport requirements.
“Data analysis is key,” confirms McNeill. “Where do you need vehicles, and are there rental branches close at hand? What are the journey patterns that mean your employees are defaulting to the ‘grey fleet’, and how can you move them to better, more managed solutions?
“Streamlining can increase choice and service. Replacing pool cars with dedicated on-site car club vehicles can help to remove the need for grey fleet journeys. Because those dedicated vehicles are managed more closely, businesses can improve utilisation and reduce the number of cars they have on the road.
“Rental can match the length of requirement – by the day, week, month or even year. It can start and stop exactly to fit the need.”
3. Managed mobility enables decarbonisation
Businesses wanting to stay ahead of upcoming legislative changes ending the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles are using rental to try out electric vehicles and access a wider range of transport options.
McNeill believes that frictionless mobility goes hand-in-hand with decarbonisation: “Hiring cars is only one part of a broader transport ecosystem. As businesses learn more about employee travel patterns, they’ll be able to offer multi-modal solutions that combine cars with public transport and shared or active travel.”
The key is flexibility: “Businesses with a car club fleet can swap into electric vehicles where there are charging options and the journeys are suitable. We’re seeing customers pilot one EV in one location and then extend it to all their offices once they see it working.
“Customers often see overall business mileage and the number of trips drop because we’ve created more efficient travel programmes. That helps them meet corporate decarbonisation goals.”
4. Frictionless mobility helps employees work better
The word ‘convenient’ keeps coming up when talking about ground transportation. People used to apps and ordering anything online expect the same level of smooth functionality when they rent cars.
Even loyalty programmes are tied into employee experience, notes McNeill: “Our Emerald Club and Priority Service are about giving business travellers a seamless transition from plane to car. The process is fully automated to bypass the rental counter. Enterprise Plus is similar and offers a faster rental process for members at the branch.”
Technology is central to aligning a great experience with corporate controls, he adds: “Business travel matters. Organisations don’t want barriers in the way of a worker visiting customers, but they do want more control. Technology can do both.
“Booking platforms like Enterprise Travel Direct can help employees locate the perfect car for a trip, while remaining 100% compliant with the travel policy and encouraging fewer trips and fewer miles in more fuel-efficient vehicles. That’s the win-win.”