Out-of-policy booking is a significant challenge in the business travel sector. Managers want employees to use approved tools and partners. But their business travelers frequently ignore those demands, choosing to purchase whatever is most convenient, cheap, or easy to use. Could hotel loyalty programs offer a solution to the impasse?
We’re publishing a new trend report in partnership with IHG Hotels & Resorts: Leveraging Hotel Loyalty to Design Successful Business Travel Programs. The report explores the results of a survey that investigates the role of loyalty programs in business traveler policy compliance and booking decisions.
Out-of-policy bookings are one of the most complicated, and vexing, challenges for corporate travel managers. The problem has special significance on the business travel hotel selection process, where a recent study by the GBTA found that close to 40 percent of business travelers book their accommodations out of policy.
For corporate travel managers, out-of-policy bookings make it harder to track company travel spending and keep employees safe, while simultaneously limiting their negotiating power with hotels. Yet many business travelers persist in such behavior, often due to its convenience and perceived cost savings. Simply put, it often seems easier and cheaper to book using consumer friendly travel tools like an online travel agency or metasearch website than it is to use a company travel platform.
Is there a way to satisfy the often conflicting desires of these two groups? Increasingly the answer is yes, thanks to the growing potential of hotel loyalty programs to boost business traveler compliance. It may be no surprise to hear that loyalty programs are already popular with business travelers, who consider them an attractive bonus perk for their work travels. But based on a growing body of research, integrating these loyalty programs more deeply into corporate travel policies can help boost employee compliance and influence booking decisions.
How much does hotel loyalty influence the booking habits of today’s business traveler? Are corporate travel managers currently negotiating loyalty benefits as part of their preferred hotel agreements? And what hotel loyalty program features (real or imagined), might have the biggest impact on compliance? It is with these questions in mind that Skift and IHG are releasing “Leveraging Hotel Loyalty to Design Successful Business Travel Programs,” a new research report investigating the current and future role of loyalty rewards in business travel.
The report analyzes the results of a primary research study of more than 1,000 business travelers and corporate travel managers, attempting to identify the traveler booking habits and company strategies with the biggest potential impact on corporate travel compliance in the years ahead. Further insights are provided by interviews with industry executives, helping complement the report data.
Business traveler compliance remains a challenging problem. But now, with the help of reimagined hotel loyalty initiatives, and smarter employee-first policies, a solution for corporate travel decision makers appears to be on the horizon.
In this report:
- A summary of the out-of-policy booking challenges facing corporate travel managers
- An investigation of the role loyalty programs can play on business travelers’ hotel booking decisions
- Results from a primary research study of hotel loyalty preferences among business travelers and corporate travel managers
- Recommendations for how to redesign corporate travel policies in the future to better integrate loyalty incentives