Skift Take

If companies really want travelers to comply with policy, they should start with making sure their communication is effective.

Most business travelers want to follow their employers’ rules while on the road. If only they knew what those rules were.

A new study from the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association and hotel service provider HRS shows that business travelers rank their company’s travel policy as the top impact on decision-making when they book a work trip. That won out over other factors including convenience, cost, flexibility, and loyalty programs.

But workers and those who manage travel programs aren’t always on the same page, researchers found. They compared the new study — which quizzed 492 business travelers from North America and Europe — with data from a previous survey of travel professionals.

Side-by-side, the numbers show different perceptions of reality. Just about half of travel pros said they communicate travel policies by holding in-person meetings, but only 20 percent of travelers agreed.  And while 90 percent of travel managers said their workers were using approved booking channels for flights, only 63 percent of employees said they were using the method their company wanted. The rental car split was similar: 81 percent of travel managers thought road warriors were using the approved tools, but just 57 percent to travelers said that was the case.

According to the report, 96 percent of those surveyed said they were knowledgeable about travel policies, and as proof almost all of those said they knew the company company line on ride sharing. Twelve percent of the travelers said their employer did not allow ride sharing options. But in a 2015 survey, 24 percent of travel managers said their company did not allow ride sharing.

“While it is possible ride share adoption increased in the past 12 months, it is unlikely to have changed so dramatically over this short period of time, thus illustrating differences in business traveler perception and reality,” the report states.

Somewhat more troubling was that 17 percent of business travelers said they got no additional information on topics like insurance or assistance services before heading to high-risk areas. The report notes that more travel managers may be communicating that information, but their efforts are useless if travelers don’t hear, understand, or remember.

“While the travel professional’s account may be more reliable in determining how travel policy is communicated, what matters is the traveller perception and recollection since their actions can have duty of care and cost implications for the company,” Kate Vasiloff, GBTA Foundation director of research, said in a statement. “It is not a lack of desire or willingness to follow company guidelines that drives out-of-policy booking, it is a lack of understanding caused by a breakdown in communication between the travel professionals and the traveler.”


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Tags: business travel, corporate travel, gbta

Photo credit: A new report from the Global Business Travel Association shows there are disconnects between what travelers know and what their companies think they know. Here, travelers are shown at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Mel1st / Flickr

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