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Travel programmes at odds with traveller behaviour

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 CWTÒ. While travellers may book out-of-policy for preferred properties or amenities, there is also 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. Ongoing communication to keep travellers informed on policy can go a long way toward achieving programme goals.”

“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.”

Reducing programme costs, increasing policy compliance and traveller satisfaction top the list of goals travel buyers have for their travel programmes in 2019. Travel buyers typically negotiate with a variety of suppliers to provide their travellers with the best possible rates. 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, according to the research. Only 7% of European buyers say they allow luxury properties in their hotel programmes compared to 16% in the US, yet on average only 8% of UK travellers and 7% of French travellers book luxury properties versus 30 per cent of US-based travellers. The trend of US travellers booking luxury out of policy may be related to higher dissatisfaction with rate allowance.

Travellers want to use amenities that are not always included in their travel policy, leaving room for increased satisfaction. Over three-quarters of business travellers 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.