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blog: 'Make it personal' for business engagement success

Author: Rachel Tate

ITP started work on the Connected project in 2013, collaborating with Derby City Council’s in-house team to help shape the City’s travel behaviour change programme, develop the Connected brand, and define an ‘offer’ for businesses. 

Using a combination of relevant behaviour change theories, social marketing techniques and relationship marketing principles we constructed a locally relevant engagement campaign that we felt had the potential to maximise local business support for the project. 

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The Travel Advice Service

Prior to Connected there had been no previous business engagement activities in Derby, apart from a small number of travel plans developed through the planning process or by major employers.  This meant there was considerable potential to engage with businesses and create a real change in how they, and their employees, used sustainable transport for both business trips and the commute to work.

The business engagement stream of Connected was known as the ‘Travel Advice Service’, which ITP managed and implemented. We carried out the initial engagement with businesses, gained their support for the project, and supported them in writing and delivering their Workplace Travel Plans. We also acted as a signposting service - enabling businesses to access specific travel behaviour change initiatives delivered by a wider Connected team.

Adam Sendall, Sustainable Transport Team Leader at Derby City Council said:

Complex behaviour change programmes, such as Connected, require a synchronised approach between all delivery partners. The ‘Travel Advice Service’(TAS) acted as the central hub of activity across the programme; coordinating engagement, support and referrals under the Connected brand. ITP’s delivery of the TAS was professional, assured and innovative; helping to link all of the project work streams together'.

By March 2016 we had engaged 391 local businesses , reaching 33,000 staff in total, and helped 229 businesses to develop and implement travel action plans (195 of whom carried out staff travel surveys).

Connected Final Me Report Page 12
How did we do it?

We used our award winning ‘Engage+’ methodology!

This approach is built on the foundation of relationship marketing. It aims to develop and nurture relationships with each individual business to gain their long-term support for the project. We worked closely with each business to understand and overcome site-specific challenges and, importantly, we worked with each business to formulate travel initiatives and interventions that were relevant to their business.

… But our contact didn’t end there, we maintained our relationships with businesses over the four years of the programme to create a network of organisations who were proactively promoting sustainable travel, sharing best practice and, in return, gaining recognition for their efforts.

We found that building trust and gaining commitment from individual businesses, rather than simply targeting people with a series of interventions, was key to the success of Connected.

The impact...

Transport for Quality of Life carried out an independent monitoring and evaluation of Derby Connected. Their work revealed a 6% point average reduction in drive-alone commuting trips, with an estimated 5.4m fewer miles driven and 1.66m fewer tonnes of CO2e emitted per annum across a sample of 10 major employers as a result of our Travel Advice Service interventions.

Based on the success of the programme, Derby City Council has continued to fund an Officer's time to deliver sustainable travel programmes.  This has helped to mainstream smarter travel interventions in Derby, and across the City Council's portfolio of transport projects.

The Travel Advice Service's achievements have been nationally recognised by the CIHT (CIHT Costain Sustainable Transport Award and Overall Winner of the CIHT Awards 2017) and at the Transport Practitioners Meeting.

These awards particularly recognised the effectiveness of ITP's bespoke ‘Engage+’ methodology for smarter travel interventions, which can be replicated and scaled to different UK town and city contexts. 

Overall Award

If you’d like to read more about ITP's business engagement approach in Derby take a look at 'Make it Personal: Lessons learnt from successful business engagement' which won ‘Best Paper Demonstrating Sustainable Transport Solutions’ at the TPM in 2017. 


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