Nearly 70% of travel buyers say that enforcing policy compliance is among the most challenging aspects of their job, according to new research out today from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with RoomIt by CWT.
Not only are travellers booking out-of-policy for preferred properties or amenities, but there appears to be a large gap in traveller knowledge of company policy.
“Travel programme goals can be difficult to reach when travel buyers and business travellers are not on the same page,” said Jessica Collison, GBTA director of research.
“The research identifies where disconnects exist between hotel policy and traveller behaviour and provide buyers with areas they can focus on to drive increased cost-savings without necessarily compromising on traveller satisfaction.”
“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,” said David Falter, President of RoomIt by CWT. “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 travellers more choice and increasing compliance.”
According to the new research, while the vast majority (78%) of business travellers say they are satisfied with their rate allowances for booking hotels, two-thirds (66%) also say they would like a higher rate allowance to stay at preferred properties that may better meet their needs.
In fact, US business travellers are more likely to book luxury properties, potentially out of policy, the research reveals.
Only 7% of European buyers say they allow luxury properties in their hotel programmes compared to 16% in the United States, yet on average only 8% of UK travellers and 7% of French travellers book luxury properties versus 30% of US-based travellers. The trend of US travellers booking luxury out of policy may be related to higher dissatisfaction with rate allowance.
Over three-quarters of business travellers say they would prefer to book bundled rates including multiple amenities, even if the rate is slightly higher, however, very few (11%) travel programmes always allow booking bundled rates. Travellers often book bundled rates with the belief that doing so ultimately contributes to cost-savings goals, although that may not necessarily be the case.
When travellers were asked which amenities they would purchase on business travel if they had no limits within their company policy, they cited several, including premium WiFi, gym passes and food delivery services.
The inability to earn loyalty points could drive traveller dissatisfaction. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of travellers believe that if they give up their time to travel, they should have the ability to earn loyalty points and over half (51%) would risk being reprimanded for booking out-of-policy if it meant they could book a hotel where they could earn loyalty points.
Loyalty plays a significantly bigger role in the United States as 25% of US business travellers say the ability to earn loyalty points is a factor in choosing where to book, and over half (52%) say they would never consider booking a hotel where they could not earn loyalty points. This compares to 37% in France and 31% in the UK.
The research results have come from an online survey of 265 travel buyers in the United States (131) and Europe (134). Additionally, a survey was conducted of 750 business travellers in the US (247), UK (254), and France (249) using an online panel.
Experts from GBTA’s research team and RoomIt by CWT will present study highlights and insights during an education session on November 28 at 5 PM CET at the upcoming GBTA Conference 2018 Berlin in Partnership with VDR: The Complete Guide to Improving 2019 Hotel Programmes. A webinar featuring the results and what the study means for travel programmes will also take place on January 17, 2019, at 9 AM ET.
RoomIt by CWT is the hotel distribution division of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.