NYC Mobility & Corporate Travel Insights 

By Robin Spindel

After Labor Day, the mobility and corporate travel professionals in New York City get back to business, which means attending networking and educational events. I had the privilege of representing Synergy at three of these inciteful events, each providing unique perspectives on the ever-evolving landscape of business travel, global mobility and workforce management.  

From discussions on sustainability to innovative payment solutions and the pressing issues surrounding wellness, engagement, and the Gen Z workforce, these gatherings offered valuable insights on the minds of everyone in our industry. I am excited to share some of the highlights and key takeaways I gathered. 

Sustainability has been high on everyone’s minds, so the first event I’d like to share is the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM) Chapter Meeting held on September 21st.  

Looking to the Future of Global Mobility: Navigating the Path to a Sustainable Future 

The panel featured three prominent speakers who shared their expertise in sustainability and global mobility: Karen Cygal, Founder of Global IQ (and former CEO of Worldwide ERC); Melissa Myer, who leads Total Rewards Global Mobility at Mastercard; and Irina Spector, MBA, Founder of Common Practice SA. 

A Woman living Comfortably in her new furnished apartment.

Key Takeaways from the Sustainability Discussion 

  1. Three Pillars of Sustainability: Melissa Myer highlighted the three pillars that drive Mastercard's sustainability initiatives: People, Prosperity, and Planet. The company aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, with 100% renewable energy powering all its offices. They are also engaging with suppliers to set carbon emission goals and providing internal scorecards as part of an educational approach. 
  1. Sustainability Standards: Irina Spector mentioned the importance of initiatives like Ecovadis, which provide sustainability ratings (Bronze, Silver, Gold) to companies. She stressed the significance of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, while emphasizing the need to reduce reliance on non-renewable sources such as nuclear and fossil fuels. 
  1. Ecovadis Survey: The Ecovadis survey was a hot topic, with participants emphasizing the value of policy creation, results analysis, and action steps. It was likened to a game of show and tell, where completing the survey becomes easier as sustainability programs mature. 
  1. Tying Compensation to Sustainability Goals: Many companies, including large corporations, are now tying compensation for C-level executives to meeting sustainability goals. The intention is for these goals to filter down to all levels of the organization, emphasizing the importance of sustainability throughout. 
  1. SMART Global Assignments: Karen Cygal highlighted the need for SMART global assignments. This involves analyzing data to make informed decisions, such as using public transportation in cities with efficient systems and providing data to employees to encourage sustainable choices. 
  1. Corporate Housing vs. Hotels: The panel also discussed the environmental benefits of corporate housing over traditional hotels for business travelers. Corporate housing is considered a more sustainable option. 
  1. Transportation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The panel emphasized the significant role transportation plays in greenhouse gas emissions. It was noted that ships are the most sustainable form of transportation, while air travel is among the least sustainable. 
  1. LEED-Certified Buildings: For sustainable housing, using LEED-certified buildings was recommended. These buildings adhere to environmental standards and promote energy efficiency. 

The Other Side of Travel: Payment and Expense Solutions 

Moving on to the next event, the New York Business Travel Association (NYBTA) Meeting on September 26, focused on payment and expense solutions in travel. I was expecting the content from this event to be dry, but the presenters were able to give real life examples and showcase some exciting trends which held my attention. 

A woman looking at her expense reciepts.

Key Takeaways from Payment and Expense Solutions Panel 

  1. Pain Points in Expense Management: The panel discussed pain points in expense management, including the reconciliation of cards not individually assigned and the convergence of different types of spend on cards. 
  1. Automation and Ease of Submission: A central theme was making it easy for employees to submit expenses and automating the process as much as possible. The use of technology to eliminate the need for expense reports was highlighted. 
  1. AI and Expense Scanning: Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to scan receipts and streamline the expense reporting process, making it more efficient and less prone to errors. 
  1. Pre-approvals and Reminders: Pre-approvals were stressed as crucial to avoiding expense rejections. Email reminders and visual dashboards were recommended to ensure compliance with expense policies. 
  1. Tokenized Virtual Travel Cards: A significant trend discussed was the use of tokenized virtual travel cards. These cards can lock in policies, are suitable for infrequent travelers, and allow for expense reconciliation at the point of issuing the card, eliminating out-of-pocket expenses for employees. 
  1. Quarterly Meetings and Employee Recognition: Quarterly meetings with executive assistants to roll out policies and highlighting policy details in expense tools were suggested. Employee recognition, such as Workday's "The Wall," where employees can post "thank you" notes, was mentioned as a positive practice. 
  1. Virtual Cards for Everyone: The future of expense management seems to be moving toward virtual cards for all employees, reducing the reliance on physical cards. This shift is expected to streamline processes and reduce the time spent on expense reporting. 

Relocation Hot Topic Roundtables: Wellness & Wellbeing, Keeping Remote and Hybrid Workers Engaged, and Gen Z 

The final event I attended over the course of the two weeks was organized by the New York Council of Relocation Professionals (NYCORP). The virtual event on September 12th focused on three crucial topics: wellness and wellbeing, engaging remote and hybrid workers, and addressing the unique needs of Gen Z. 

A woman working remotly at her home.

Key Takeaways from the Roundtable Discussions 

  1. Wellness in the Workplace: Led by Susan Ginsberg, participants discussed the challenges of incorporating wellness into company culture. This includes learning to say "no" to unreasonable requests and shifting the company ethos to prioritize employee wellbeing. 
  1. Generation Z in the Workforce: Gen Z, the youngest generation in the workforce, seeks meaningful work that aligns with their personal values. Flexibility in terms of work hours, location, and role is crucial for attracting and retaining this talent. 
  1. Engaging Remote and Hybrid Workers: Engaging remote and hybrid workers depends on the culture of the company. Suggestions included increasing the frequency of meetings, utilizing technology solutions like Zoom, and offering ways for employees to connect, such as book clubs and newsletters. 
  1. Managing Hybrid and Remote Work: With hybrid and remote work becoming the norm, companies are grappling with how to manage this shift effectively. Communication, technology, and employee recognition were highlighted as key factors in successfully managing remote and hybrid teams. 

Some Final Thoughts 

I always gain so much when I take the time out to attend these valuable meetings, not only to network with industry peers, but also to get a pulse on the hottest topics affecting our business directly and that of our clients. I want to thank the local NY FEM, NYBTA and NYCORP organizations, speakers and volunteers for creating such engaging content.  

These events highlight that sustainability, automation, and employee engagement are central themes in the evolving landscape of work and business travel. As organizations navigate these challenges, they are presented with opportunities to create more sustainable, efficient and inclusive workplaces.  

Related Articles