The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Jessica Collison
Jessica Collison
Jessica Collison's Blog

The Role of Hotel Loyalty Programmes in Business Travel

GBTA recently partnered with AccorHotels to conduct a study investigating the role of loyalty in managed travel programmes in Europe with the goal of understanding how loyalty programmes currently fit within company travel policy and what opportunities may exist in the future.

The majority of European business travellers (74 percent) report that their company uses preferred providers, and 63 percent say these providers must be used when available. Pricing and convenience play the biggest role for business travellers when they do book outside of preferred providers, while loyalty status poses less of a threat.

Regardless of the reasons, booking outside of preferred providers can cause issues for travel buyers. Nearly all European buyers surveyed perceive that hotels are encouraging travelers to book directly by offering additional benefits, greater amenities or dedicated rates. A large majority see this as a growing trend that will have a negative impact on their role as a travel manager.

How Loyalty Currently Fits into Travel Programmes

Loyalty programme membership is popular among business travellers and a majority of those with loyalty memberships say loyalty benefits are important when deciding to book a hotel for a business trip. Two-thirds (65 percent) of travel buyers say employees can use individual rewards accounts on a business trip, however, 18 percent of those do not allow travellers to use accrued points earned through business travel for personal use. Travellers are split on how they prefer to redeem accrued points whether it is for future business travel, future personal travel or on a combination of both.

While motivation for travel buyers to promote loyalty programmes is currently low, many say they would be interested in supporting these programmes if they increased travel policy compliance or increased traveller satisfaction.

Another area travel buyers should consider when it comes to loyalty programmes is what amenities they provide. Travellers value certain amenities that buyers don’t currently include in their contract negotiations with hotels in their travel programme. For instance, the top benefit of loyalty membership for business travellers is the ability to earn upgrades, however, only 20 percent of travel buyers say room upgrades are included in their contract negotiations. Similarly, business travellers prioritize earning free nights through loyalty programmes while few organisations offer the ability to earn complimentary nights after a certain number of bookings.

Corporate Hotel Loyalty

Most organisations are not enrolled in a corporate hotel loyalty programme, however there is interest from both buyers and business travellers. Buyers expressed an interest in doing so for lodging, and to a lesser extent for meetings and events. Business travellers expressed interest if it guaranteed better rates, earned rewards for both the company and the individual, and if the programme were better suited for their business travel needs.

Key Takeaways

For travel buyers, incorporating hotel loyalty into preferred supplier negotiations can provide opportunities to be an active driver in how their travellers use hotel loyalty, which is something most travellers want out of their travel programme. Enrolling in a corporate hotel loyalty account provides a potential option for motivating travellers to book with preferred suppliers while maintaining loyalty benefits and cost savings.

For suppliers, interest among those who offer corporate hotel loyalty accounts is high for lodging, while opportunity exists in promoting the benefits of corporate accounts for meetings and events.

The perception around loyalty and business travel is that it lures travellers away from booking within policy. However, this study reveals that opportunities exist for both buyers and suppliers in incorporating loyalty into travel policies. More discussion on loyalty and company policy during the RFP and contract negotiation process could be mutually beneficial, potentially increasing traveller compliance, satisfaction and loyalty usage.

Methodology

An online survey was conducted of 156 travel buyers in Europe and was fielded between September 4-13, 2018. Additionally, an online survey of 500 European business travellers using an online panel was fielded between September 4-10, 2018. Respondents qualified if they were employed full-time or part-time and if they travelled for business more than once in the past year. The results in this post are based on the 337 who reported being part of a managed travel programme. For this study, managed business travellers are defined as travellers who are required to follow an organisation’s published and enforced travel policies or travellers who are encouraged to follow general guidelines.

More Information

Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. A summary of findings for the report, Hotel Loyalty in Europe: How Incorporating Loyalty with Policy Can Boost Traveller Compliance and Satisfaction, is available exclusively to GBTA members here.

 

About AccorHotels
AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,600 hotels, resorts and residences across 100 different countries. With an unrivaled portfolio of internationally renowned hotel brands encompassing the entire range from luxury to economy, from upscale to lifestyle and midscale brands, AccorHotels has been providing savoir-faire and expertise for more than 50 years.

In addition to its core hospitality business, AccorHotels has successfully expanded its range of services, becoming the world leader in luxury private residence rental with more than 10,000 stunning properties around the world. The Group is also active in the fields of concierge servicesco-workingdiningevents management and digital solutions.

Relying on its global team of more than 250,000 dedicated staff, AccorHotels is committed to fulfilling its primary mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome.  Guests have access to one of the world’s most attractive hotel loyalty programs - Le Club AccorHotels. AccorHotels plays an active role in its local communities and is committed to promoting sustainable development and solidarity through PLANET 21 Acting Here, a comprehensive program that brings together employees, guests and partners to drive sustainable growth.

From 2008, the AccorHotels Solidarity Endowment Fund has acted as a natural extension of the Group’s activities and values, helping to combat the social and financial exclusion experienced by the most disadvantaged members of society. Accor SA is publicly listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC Market (Ticker: ACRFY) in the United States. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit accorhotels.group or accorhotels.com. Or join and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Average Compensation for Travel Buyers Remains Stable in 2018

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers remained stable between 2017 and 2018 at $108,000, according to new findings released today. GBTA’s annual Compensation and Benefits study reveals salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. buyers and identifies disparities in compensation based on a variety of demographic traits like gender, education, region and position.

Although average compensation remained stable, the vast majority of travel buyers (85 percent) report higher total compensation in 2018. In line with the past four years, over three-quarters (76 percent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation levels.

COMPENSATION DISPARITIES

When it comes to gender differences, male travel buyers earn an average of 13 percent more than their female counterparts. The largest gap in compensation, however, can be attributed to position. Directors and executives earn an average of $174,000, which is 24 percent more than a manager’s average income. The jump in compensation from entry-level/experienced buyers to managers is even more noticeable, with managers earning nearly 50 percent more than their less experienced counterparts.

Not surprisingly, regional differences in income also exist. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) than in the West/Pacific, South and Midwest. Educational attainment also plays a part. Buyers with a bachelor’s degree earn approximately $12,000 more, on average, than buyers with an associate’s degree.

BENEFITS

Companies offer travel buyers a variety of benefits intended to improve their health, well-being and overall quality of life. Virtually all organizations provide health, dental and vision insurance, and over four-fifths cover a portion of the cost. Life insurance is also largely offered, with 30 percent of organizations fully subsidizing the cost.

On the retirement front, the vast majority (90 percent) of companies offer defined contribution plans (e.g. 401k), while 34 percent offer defined benefits plans that guarantee a fixed payout. Given that defined benefit plans have become relatively rare, the percentage of employers offering this benefit is actually quite high.

With the lines between personal and work lives blurring, companies are taking steps to improve the work-life balance of their employees. Two-thirds of travel buyers can leverage a flexible work schedule (66 percent), and 57 percent have the option to work from home.

In certain scenarios, buyers are permitted to take additional paid leave. The vast majority of buyers are offered bereavement (90 percent) and maternity leave (84 percent), and over three-fifths are offered paternity leave (63 percent). Compared to previous years, the prevalence of paternity leave has increased substantially.

If a salary increase or bonus were not possible, travel buyers would value vacation or PTO-related benefits, remote work opportunities and health insurance-related benefits the most.

GTP CERTIFICATION

Travel buyers with a GTP Certification earn $115,000, which is 8 percent more than their peers who don’t hold the certification. The Global Travel Professional (GTP) Certification is designed to facilitate professional growth and development, enhance work performance and recognize invidiuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline.

METHODOLOGY

The study is based on an online survey of 305 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full-time. It was fielded from July 24 to August 3, 2018.

This study shows the annual change in compensation among the same sample of survey respondents. In other words, respondents were asked about their compensation both in 2017 and 2018. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2017 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.

MORE INFORMATION

The full report, 2018 Compensation and Benefits: A Survey of Buyers in the Business Travel Industry, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through GBTA by emailing pyachnes@gbta.org.


Mobile Payments among Travel Buyers and Suppliers Still in Early Adoption Phase

Most travel buyers and suppliers are familiar with both mobile wallet and contactless payment solutions, however, 49 percent of travel buyers are still unclear on the benefits, according to research released today by GBTA, in partnership with U.S. Bank. The results signal more work needs to be done to grow adoption of these payment methods in the business travel community.

The research shows opportunity as many organizations within the business travel industry are receptive to new technology adoption, but as with any emerging product, there will be some hurdles before it is fully embraced.

The study reveals chip cards are widely offered by issuers (82 percent) and organizations (87 percent). Mobile payments are still relatively new to both parties. Only 18 percent of organizations currently offer mobile wallets as a payment type to their employees, while even fewer (11 percent) offer contactless cards as an option. Mobile wallets, such as ApplePay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, enable users to make payments by holding a mobile device at a terminal. Contactless cards are physical cards with features allowing them to be tapped at a terminal, replacing the need for swiping or inserting cards at point of sale systems.

Challenges and Opportunities

For organizations that have already adopted mobile payments, the challenges they encounter are cardholder education (47 percent), incorporating organizational travel and expense policies (33 percent), and complications with the card setup process (27 percent).

Those who have adopted mobile and contactless technology found benefits including increased employee satisfaction, a reduction in lost or stolen cards and better adherence to travel policy. 

The Future of Mobile Payments

It will be important to watch consumer trends and adoption of mobile wallets for personal purchases, as use of fast, easy and convenient consumer-grade technology and innovations tends to eventually spill over to growing demand for the same experience on the business side.

“GBTA’s research results confirm what we have long believed, which is there is great potential for added convenience and security by using mobile payments. In fact, the impact of these features is why U.S. Bank was the first financial institution to offer a mobile payment solution for Visa and Mastercard corporate card transactions,” said Jennifer Swenson, vice president of Corporate Payment Systems at U.S. Bank. “These benefits, combined with growing consumer use of mobile payments, are positive indicators for greater mobile payment adoption among business travelers in the future.”

More Information

Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. An Executive Summary for Business Traveler Payment Solutions: Perceptions, Pain Points, and Payoffs for Adoption is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here.

Methodology

GBTA conducted an online survey of 311 travel buyers and suppliers based in North America. Fielding took place from February 21 to March 2, 2018.