WHEN POLICY COMPLIANCE = TREES PLANTED A T-Mobile US and Travel and Transport Case Study

Robert Jacobsen, Senior Manager - Travel, Expense, Card at T-Mobile US, was tasked with improving the travelers' adherence to policy. When travelers booked outside of policy, for example, by not using preferred vendors or taking the lowest logical fare, the telecommunications company lost out on savings.

At the time, T-Mobile US had committed to be carbon neutral by 2021. This, coupled with Robert’s personal enthusiasm to reduce carbon emissions and lead a more sustainable lifestyle, meant his objectives shifted from not only saving money, but to reducing T-Mobile’s global travel carbon footprint too.

“I was tasked with both improving compliance and reducing our carbon footprint. Gamification of the program through the use of Travel and Transport’s loyalty platform, allowed me to accomplish both at the same time,” explains Robert. “I understood that younger generations are motivated differently. Younger people definitely have more understanding of the climate problem; but we have travelers based all over the world of different ages, and I wanted to help them make better choices.”

When Travel and Transport put forward its gamification technology, which gives travelers points for following policy, Robert was interested in the concept but not the usual returns of gift cards and merchandise. He decided that redeemed points should go towards planting trees and wanted to partner with the Eden Reforestation Project, which plants trees in deforested areas of Haiti, Nepal, Madagascar, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Through clear communication and a little departmental competition, travelers were encouraged to acquire the most points through booking in policy, and convert them into planting a tree.

“We can’t expect people to change their behavior unless they see where they are today. Half the reason I built this was that travel programs normally use the ‘stick’ [i.e., punish for bad behavior] and not the carrot, so I used the carrot and the climate message to turn the program around,” says Robert.

Sustainable Results

Fast forward five years, and more than 1.3 million trees have been planted through T-Mobile US' program. The program has extended to its preferred TMC (Travel and Transport), air, hotel and car rental suppliers, which also plant trees per booking or room night.

In addition, the program is improving the lives of local villagers.

“Eden Reforestation Project employs local villagers to plant and cultivate the trees. Studies show that for every villager employed, it enables the ability to send six children to school. So, I hope this helps to break the cycle of poverty in these countries,” explains Robert. “It’s our responsibility to leave the world in a better place; we send people around the world so we should care about what happens in other people’s back yards, not just our own.”

“It feels great to know we’re making some kind of contribution, especially since climate change has been in the news more than ever now.” - Robert Jacobsen, T-Mobile US

Savings Results

  • Market share on preferred carriers improved by 11%.
  • Online adoption increased 8%.
  • Use of lowest logical airfare increased 6%.

Departmental competition continues today, through quarterly statements issued to travelers and travel consultants, and as part of a travel dashboard for T-Mobile US executives. Robert uses Travel and Transport Loyalty's dashboard, and our pre- and post-trip reporting to monitor traveler booking practices and policy compliance. Through our proprietary reporting platform, the team has visibility into lost savings opportunities by department as well.

This is just one of the ways travel buyers can improve travel policy compliance. Read more case studies to find out how Travel and Transport can work with you to create a travel program unique to your company goals and culture.


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