Skift Take

It's getting late very early for companies that fell way behind travel technology trends and now label road warriors who want to book their trips using modern tools as "misguided."

The business travel sector has been trying to rein in — or adjust to — the legions of road warriors who prefer to book their hotels and fights directly on leisure travel sites to get better deals, as well as points and miles, instead of using companies’ sometimes-stodgy corporate booking tools.

Concur Technologies estimates that perhaps 28% of business travel flight bookings and more than 50% of hotel bookings are taking place directly on supplier websites, and its TripLink solution will soon enable certain travelers in managed travel programs to go ahead and book their flights on

But American Express Global Business Travel is taking a different tack, hoping to entice clients’ employees to book through approved tools, spurred on by badges, games, and other incentives.

Now, American Express’ “gamification” partner, Badgeville, is labeling straying business travelers “misguided.” Badgeville created an infographic (see below) outlining its views on business travel trends, although American Express says it had nothing to do with the creation of the infographic and hadn’t seen it until after it was published.

By Badgeville’s estimates, “54% of travelers think they can find cheaper prices on travel websites than through their company, leading to internal issues with corporate travel contracts.”

So why are these road warriors misguided?

“In short, Badgeville says travels are misguided because they think they can find cheaper prices on travel websites than through company online booking tools or travel agents,” a Badgeville spokesperson states. “In the short term this might be true, but they are usually unaware of the long-term payoffs for corporate travel contracts with travel suppliers, or discounts companies get by booking through corporate deals.”

In the infographic, Badgeville provides further information beyond the pricing issue as to why business travelers find themselves almost compelled to just go online and book their travels through their favorite websites.

Badgeville notes that “47% of people think managed travel is not innovating at the pace of change in the travel industry.”

Managed travel’s slow adoption of technology is undisputed and is one of the reasons that American Express Business Travel just closed on a joint venture.

In a Skift interview, Bill Glenn, CEO of American Express Business Travel, argued that the travel management company should now be able to innovate faster because its technology infrastructure will not have to compete to the same extent with the credit card portion of the American Express business.

Andres Fabris, the CEO of Traxo, says Badgeville’s statement on road warriors not understanding the full implications of their rogue habits has some merit, but only up to a point.

“In some cases that may be true, but given how savvy most travelers are now, and the proliferation of deal sites and hyper-personalized offers from suppliers, it’s not an absolute,” Fabris says. “We’ve reached the tipping point, so now the question is how to get all that data available to corporate travel managers in a timely, actionable manner so they can proactively manage spend.”

Rather than calling business travelers “misguided” and having them collect badges as some corporations use a carrot and stick approach to getting their travelers to adhere to company travel policies, other companies such as Concur, SAP, Uniited, Avis Budget, and several global hotel chains are taking steps to accommodate road warriors who are straying from company-mandated travel channels.

Meanwhile, here’s the Badgeville infographic:


Amex-TravelInfographic Badgeville-2



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Tags: american express, concur, open booking

Photo credit: A business traveler at New York LaGuardia. Matthew Hurst / Flickr

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