More and more companies are trying to give local experiences to their employees as rewards and recognition, by focusing on creating engaging activities.
By Alankar Chandra
The landscape of corporate travel has evolved in last few years. Usually, when we talk about corporate business travel, we are reminded of plush business hotels, business class flight tickets and top global cities to travel for business. To a large extent that is still the definition of business travel in leading corporates today. But there is a fundamental shift in the mindset of corporate travellers. Corporate leisure travel is usually referred to group tours organised to reward top performers or sellers in an organisation. Sometimes, these are workshops for the top management. Earlier, it was a typical 3-4 days outing in Goa and the ultimate reward would mean spending few days at a beach resort in Maldives or Phuket.
Now, many corporates focus to make these exercises more meaningful for the participants rather than the traditional concept of partying. Recently, in my conversation to a large credit card company for leisure travel, I realised that their last R&R (rewards and recognition) trip for top performers was a Tiger safari to Ranthambore. Further, I was intrigued to know that their time was interspersed by discussions about wildlife conservation and poaching issues with local experts. They also met some local artisans and picked up a skill from them.
More and more companies are trying to give local experiences to their employees as a R&R, by focusing on creating engaging activities. To make their employees learn different cultures, social issues and come out as a well-rounded personality.
Gradually, the perspective of business traveller has progressed. Corporates, today want to indulge in authentic local experiences at the places they visit. Recently, I met a Chinese delegation for some business work. Upon an interaction, it was revealed that they visited the bylanes of old Delhi in a cycle rickshaw the day before and savoured the local street food in similar way local does. It was followed by a cultural dance performance organised for them in the evening where they also learnt few steps participated along merrily. While such local experiences are increasingly built in during business travels, however, the scope is often limited to a day outing or an evening outing due to the lack of time on business trips.
Another key shift that has emerged is the change in the outlook of CSR activities by leading corporates. Now, more and more corporates are engaging their employees actively on CSR rather than just meeting statutory compliances. This often means employees travel to far flung places to work with the local people and fulfil the cause their company has taken up.
To recall a recent instance, I was travelling to Satpura national park in Madhya Pradesh. While returning from a morning safari, we passed through a primary school in a local village. I saw one suited guy teaching the students under the trees and he did not seem like a local teacher. Curiously, I stopped to interact with him. What came out was that he was a Vice President with a leading bank who has taken up a week of CSR time to teach primary school students here and help the school with basic infrastructure.
This is a beautiful mind shift, where apart from just spending the money, the corporates are investing their employee’s time and travel cost to work for the society. This also signals that a lot of impending corporate travel built around CSR activities provide meaningful engagement to the employees. This enables them to experience a new walk of life altogether, which is completely disconnected from their mundane existence.
Note: The author is Founder and CEO of wildvoyager(dot)com. Views expressed are personal.