Employee Experience

How to Make Your Travel Bookings Inclusive and Accessible: A Guide for Finance and HR Leaders

Guest Blogger |

Guest article written by Rebecca Brown, Founder at ThinkWow


As business leaders, hopefully by now you recognise that when it comes to the success of your business, employee satisfaction is key. But how are you building Diversity, Equity and inclusion into your employee’s experience – particularly when it comes to business travel?

Whilst it’s undoubtedly true that most large businesses have invested significantly into DE&I over recent years, often investment comes in the form of setting up inclusion networks, or refining hiring practices to ensure a more visible diversity in the workplace.

To have a truly accessible employee experience, it’s crucial for employers to think about the detail of their employee experience too, for example how their travel booking policies affect diversity, equity, and inclusion. From recognizing fundamental differences in the way different groups experience travel to providing empathy-driven tools for ensuring selected flights are accessible, companies that strive to be more equitable need to ensure they extend this ethos into their business travel booking practices as well.

In this article we’ll discuss the inclusivity challenges many employees face, how you can more actively support everyone in your organisation to feel safe during business trips and give you some practical steps you can take today to become a more inclusive employer.

Did you know that a recent study of business travellers produced by SAP Concur identified that over half of global business travellers have had to change their accommodations in the past 12 months because they felt unsafe, and more than a quarter (28%) have had to change more than once.   

In fact, SAP Concur’s Global Business Travellers Report shows that 74% of business travellers have experienced negative situations on a business trip, like unwanted attention, unfair treatment, or discrimination.

On top of this, the study found that nearly two-thirds of global business travelers feel they haven’t had equal opportunity to travel for business compared to their coworkers, and they attribute this primarily to their age, accent, or gender. 

Reading those statistics was eye opening to me, as someone who has usually felt safe during travel. It reminded me just how blinkered we can become based on our own narrow experiences. Even if you feel your travel policies are inclusive, there’s a genuine chance that your employees might not feel the same. Maybe you’re already working to create inclusive policies and consult regularly with employees from across your entire organisation, but if not, then perhaps it’s time you asked your teams how they feel about travelling for work.

Here are some top tips on how you can identify whether you’re operating inclusively now, and what you can do to help bridge any inclusion gaps you identify.


Top tips for more inclusive and accessible business travel

Get up to speed with regulations and best practice - Understand what it means to have inclusive and accessible travel policies. Inclusive travel policies mean providing both access and accommodation options for individuals of varying abilities and backgrounds. This can include providing wheelchair accessible transportation or accommodation, booking flights at times that consider individuals with religious observances, choosing hotels in close proximity to public transportation or events, and offering travel reimbursement options that consider different cultural practices. Additionally, accessible policies mean ensuring individuals can interact with your travel booking process without barriers or overly complicated procedures. Providing visual or audio overviews for individuals with blindness or hosting a platform that is compatible with assistive technology is an excellent means of ensuring accessibility for all.

If you’re not sure where to get started on your digital accessibility, you’ll find multiple online resources are available to guide you through both legal requirements in your area, as well as best practice. Set aside regular time to ensure you keep up to date with changes to travel options and how they might be able to better serve a more diverse range of your employees. DE &I is a constantly evolving and improving area of all business and travel businesses are no different. Just because something isn’t possible today, doesn’t mean that it might not be possible in six months’ time.

Identify issues and act to fix them - Analyse any current deficiencies in your policies and booking processes. Ensure you consider your policies from multiple perspectives and utilise any networks in your business to understand limitations and blockers for various personas, as well as to discuss potential solutions they feel might help. This way you’re more likely to spot issues and be able to rectify them in a way that creates meaningful change for your employees.

Also, observe if any marginalised groups in your company have been overlooked in travel booking and accommodation. Unless you deliberately address any potential inequality through your policies, you might find you are unintentionally causing some employees to feel less catered for, and possibly even deliberately excluded from business travel. Don’t leave this important element of your employee experience to chance.

Actions speak louder than words – make sure that once you’ve identified gaps in your travel booking processes that you do something about those gaps.  Implement changes in your booking process to address any limitations you discover.

Collaboration is key - If you have them, include your inclusion and compliance teams as well as representation from any networks set up to help improve equality and inclusion in your organisation. It’s also crucial when creating accessibility features, that you involve members of the team who implement technology and software right from the start of the project to improve digital accessibility. Bringing in relevant stakeholders from the earliest stages of research and planning for your travel policy review means that everyone understands any problems equally and will be equally invested in solving the issues together. What can often happen is that relevant stakeholders are brought in much too late, told what needs to change and the chance to gain their enthusiastic buy-in to a project is completely missed.

Set clear targets that help you measure progress - Review and track progress of any implemented changes as you go. Be prepared to act in an agile way and experiment with different solutions if you don’t start to see the kind of progress you’d hoped for.  Determine how your revised policies have impacted your company's performance as well as any feedback from employees and clients. Obtain input from employees with disabilities, from a variety of cultures, and other diverse backgrounds to ensure the changes have improved the travel booking process for all, and not just for the majority. Continuously monitor progress and adjust policies as needed. Policies are always susceptible to change, so it is important to be proactive in monitoring feedback, identifying flaws, and adjusting accordingly to ensure the travel process is accessible and inclusive.

Celebrate any success – I’m not talking about rolling out banners and playing a fanfare when you get DE&I to a better place within your organisation, Afterall we should all be aiming to be inclusive as a bare minimum – but that doesn’t mean you can’t share improvements across the business, thank the hard work of the teams involved, and let everyone know what a huge priority diversity, equity and inclusion are to the business.



As time moves on, more and more businesses and organisations are becoming aware of the need for DE&I to be at the forefront of their actions; this doesn't stop with the everyday office experience or hiring processes. We should aim to ensure all our employees feel safe on business trips and feel equally able to travel compared to their colleagues. Making targeted changes that address current inequalities or barriers to business travel helps your entire workforce see that inclusion is more than just a buzzword for you. You are committed to genuine change.

Employee travel bookings are an excellent place to start with providing all your team members with an inclusive experience that considers cultural, physical, and emotional needs. It's time that businesses act and move beyond symbolic statements of inclusivity with meaningful steps like taking travel booking policies into account to foster a truly diverse workplace.

Let’s be clear, everyone deserves the chance to enjoy their work-related journeys without feeling threatened or anxious. Review your travel and travel booking processes and policies today - and ask yourself, are we really doing all we can when it comes to DE&I?

Employee Experience
Business travel enables your company to sit across the table from key clients it helps you build relationships and foster partnerships with prospective customers it is in fact the...
Keep reading
Employee Experience
Having a plan for your first days on the job can set you on a more solid path to success in your new finance leader role Writing down your plan and every major step involved can help...
Keep reading
Employee Experience
Employees around the world are taking a hard look at work Since the COVID pandemic upended our lives at home and in the office people are asking themselves what their jobs mean to them...
Keep reading