Nearly 70 per cent of travel buyers say that enforcing policy is one of the most challenging aspects of their job, but new research also identified a large gap in traveller knowledge of policy when it comes to booking hotels.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) surveyed 265 travel buyers across the US and Europe in partnership with Roomit by CWT. A separate poll of 750 business travellers found a disconnect between the two groups.
Jessica Collison, GBTA director of research, said: “Travel programme goals can be difficult to reach when travel buyers and business travellers are not on the same page. The research identifies where disconnects exist between hotel policy and traveller behaviour and provides buyers with areas they can focus on to drive increased cost savings without necessarily compromising on traveller satisfaction. Ongoing communication to keep travellers informed on policy can go a long way toward achieving programme goals.”
Travel buyers identified reducing programme costs, increasing policy compliance and traveller satisfaction as their top goals for 2019. They said they typically negotiate with a variety of suppliers to provide their travellers with the best rates.
While 78 per cent of travellers said they are satisfied with their hotel rate allowances, 66 per cent also admitted they would like a higher rate to stay at preferred properties that may be better suited to their needs.
Furthermore, travellers said they want to use amenities that are not always included in their travel policy; more than three-quarters would prefer to book bundled rates including multiple amenities such as premium wifi, gym passes and food delivery services, even if the price is slightly higher. Some even believe this is more cost-effective, though that might not always be the case. However, only 11 per cent of programmes always allow booking bundled rates.
Loyalty also proved to be a sticking point, with nearly 71 per cent of travellers believing they should be able to earn loyalty points in exchange for giving up their personal time to travel. More than half (51 per cent) said they would even risk being reprimanded for booking out of policy if it meant they could book at a hotel where they could earn loyalty points.
This is especially true in the US, where 25 per cent of travellers said the ability to earn points was a factor in deciding where to book. Fifty-two per cent went so far as to say they would never consider booking a hotel where they couldn’t earn points; this compares to 37 per cent in France and 31 per cent in the UK.
David Falter, president of Roomit by CWT, commented: “Business travellers want to find the right room in the right place with the right amenities – and stay within the rules set by their hotel programme. At the end of the day, both the travel manager and traveller ultimately have similar goals to save money. Travel buyers can do so by offering more choice and increasing compliance.”
Roomit by CWT will present highlights from the study during a session titled “The complete guide to improving 2019 hotel programmes” at the GBTA Conference 2019 Berlin in Partnership with VDR on 28 November at 5pm local time. To register to attend, click here.