Building and Managing a Travel Program is an Exercise in Balance

Business travelers prefer to book hotels that are close to their work assignments and competitively priced, according to a new survey by the Global Business Travel Association in partnership with HRS.

Many corporate travel buyers recognize the importance of practical factors such as proximity and price. But it’s those elements that are key to the traveler experiences and preferences that are more often underestimated, such as proximity to restaurants and loyalty program benefits.

The survey of more than 600 travel buyers and 2,500 business travelers was conducted between March and May of this year.

The majority of respondents—92 percent of travelers and 99 percent of buyers—say that proximity to work is important in selecting a hotel. As for price, 85 percent of travelers and 94 percent of buyers said that was a vital factor.

Practicality is important to travelers, but personal preferences also play a role.

Proximity to restaurants and entertainment was important to 84 percent of travelers and 64 percent of buyers. Traveler reviews mattered to 80 percent of travelers and 67 percent of buyers. And loyalty program benefits were a factor for 70 percent of travelers and 64 percent of buyers. Discounted promotional rates were important to both travelers and buyers. Properties stayed in the past were also preferred.

There was a disconnect between travelers and buyers when it comes to their company’s corporate booking tool. Fifty percent of travelers say their online booking tool could offer more hotels with amenities. Only 19 percent of travel buyers said that was a need. Personalized options such as upgrades and add-ons in the booking process were important to 73 percent of travelers but only 62 percent of buyers.

Half of travelers and buyers on average want their company’s online booking tool to offer more hotels of a preferred price range, more hotels convenient to work and more hotel availability.

Expense reporting is a big topic among travelers and buyers. Eighty-five percent say they want an easier process for filing expense reports, getting expense approvals and getting speedy reimbursements.

“Building and managing a travel program is an exercise in balance,” said Hannah Jaffee, GBTA research analyst. “Though practicality is key for business travelers, they view business travel as an experience, and they want their hotel options to reflect that. If hotel adoption is a problem, travel buyers can take strategic steps to ensure factors around traveler preference and experience are accounted for in contract negotiations.”

The survey found that travelers like the option of having a centralized payment system. Most would not like to have to use a personal credit card. Only 30 percent of travelers typically pay for their hotel through a central or direct payment system. But 88 percent said they would book a property through central or direct payment with a hotel versus one that does not offer that.

“Once travelers use direct payment, they prefer it. And they love the simplification of expense reporting,” said Suzanne Neufang, senior vice president of Enterprise Solutions for HRS Americas.  “For buyers, it helps keep employees in the program and provides richer traveler data. And hoteliers gain from more volume. It’s a win-win-win.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *