The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Kate Vasiloff
Kate Vasiloff
Kate Vasiloff's Blog

Travel Manager Concern for Ground Transportation Options

Today, we release the third, and final, in a series of infograhpics on the latest ground transportation statistics. Today's infographic looks at concern among travel managers when it comes to various ground transportation options.

View the previous ground transportation infographics here:

Ground Transportation Quick Facts

App-Based, Ride-Hailing Usage in Corporate Travel

 

 


App-Based, Ride-Hailing Usage in Corporate Travel

In a follow-up to yesterday's infographic on ground transportation quick facts, today's infographic showcases app-based, ride-hailing usage in corporate travel.

Stay tuned to the GBTA blog for more on the latest ground transportation stats.


Ground Transportation Quick Facts

A recent survey of North American travel managers revealed the following quick facts when it comes to ground transportation:

Stay tuned to the GBTA blog for more on the latest ground transportation stats.

 


Are Corporate Travel Programs Getting the Hotel Rates They Negotiate?

The GBTA Foundation, the education arm of the Global Business Travel Association, in partnership with HRS Global Hotel Solutions, conducted a global survey to assess if and how travel managers audit their hotel rates as well as reasons why some travel programs choose not to do so.

Globally, 86 percent of travel managers audit their negotiated hotel contract information, including rates, amenities and other negotiated features, once it is loaded into the system to verify its accuracy. However only a minority checks on their rates frequently, with six percent auditing monthly and three percent on a weekly basis. Among those who do not perform hotel rate audits, 42 percent say it is because they have no internal resources to do so and 16 percent say they have no budget to outsource the task. Additionally, 35 percent rely on their Travel Management Company (TMC) to check the rate, 32 percent trust the hotel to do this for them and 18 percent believe performing such audits does not have a significant impact on the rate, so it’s not part of their priorities.

Given that one out of six audits (17 percent) reveals a discrepancy between what was negotiated in the contract and what appears in the system, most often involving the rate, this could be a missed revenue-saving opportunity for travel programs who do not perform rate audits. In fact, those who say they don’t have the budget to outsource the task are probably at a greater risk than most for overpaying mis-loaded rates and could potentially recoup the money spent on outsourcing this by catching all the errors.

When rate discrepancies are found, companies are paying an average of 14 percent more than negotiated. Companies in the LATAM saw the largest discrepancies at 18 percent, while United States and APAC companies pay 14 percent more than negotiated and EMEA companies pay 11 percent.


Click here to view infographics highlighting statistics by region: APACEMEALATAMNordics and North America


In looking at the companies who do perform this audit, 52 percent use internal resources and check the rates manually, 38 percent outsource it to their TMC, 15 percent outsource to their hotel solution provider and 11 percent outsource it to another third-party consultant. Furthermore, 16 percent rely on reports from their hotels and 36 percent rely on travelers to report back to them when the rate is not correct. Considering the potential cost savings of verifying these rates, relying on travelers or hotels to report errant rates may not be the most effective way to manage this.

“The research results show that a closer look at the rates is necessary,” explains HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “Travel managers work hard to negotiate cost-effective hotel rates and desired amenities for their travelers as an important component to a successful corporate travel program, but this all becomes undone when a significant share comes with errors and their travelers don’t get what was negotiated.”

By not performing regular audits and depending on unreliable sources of data, companies are paying far more in hotel costs than they should due to errors in rate loading. Conducting audits to ensure accuracy can help strengthen a travel program.

Methodology & More Information
Download the whitepaper: Hotel Rate Audits –Don’t Leave Money on the Table. This global study, conducted by the GBTA Foundation, was fielded in three phases during January 24-April 3, 2017, yielding a total of 418 responses (United States – 41 percent, EMEA – 28 percent, LATAM – 16 percent, and APAC – 15 percent).

GBTA will also host a webinar sponsored by HRS Global Hotel Solutions on Wednesday, June 14 at 10am ET. Registration is open now: Hotel Rate Auditing: Don’t Leave Money on the Table!


The Road to Successful Partnerships Between Hoteliers and Travel Buyers

The success of most companies relies on the relationships built around it, whether that is with customers, suppliers or other partners. Successful partnerships are not built overnight, however, and can often take years to develop, requiring great effort by all parties. When it comes to establishing solid partnerships between hoteliers and corporate travel professionals, there is no formula or silver bullet that guarantees success. There are a few key elements though that both sides agree help lay the foundation for productive, mutually-beneficial relationships.

A new GBTA Foundation study, conducted in partnership with AccorHotels, reveals that most agree successful partnerships are earned through trust, active communication and understanding each other’s goals. The research looked to identify the tenets and best practices to establish and grow a mutually-beneficial working relationship between travel professionals and hoteliers, as well as determine common roadblocks and barriers to success.

“Building successful partnerships is critical for success in many businesses,” said Christine Kerr, Vice President of Global Sales, Corporate Division, AccorHotels. “We especially understand the value strategic partnerships bring in a constantly evolving hotel market, and this research shows trust, communication and a mutual understanding of goals are paramount when it comes to building strong, lasting partnerships.”

Almost all interviewees stressed the importance of trust in a partnership, which is built over time through responsiveness, honest communication, delivering on promises and full transparency when it comes to pricing and the ability to meet expectations. Being upfront and willing to share information is a basic element of trust for both sides.

Frequent engagement is important. Communicating once a year at an annual review or during the RFP process is not enough to build or sustain a meaningful partnership. Regularly scheduled check-ins help both parties better understand how the partnership is progressing and identify if adjustments need to be made.

Additionally, travel professionals and hoteliers need to spend time learning about the other in order to determine if the partnership has the potential for success. Discussing key priorities and goals early in the game will help gain alignment, so both sides are working toward a common goal and fully understand their value proposition.

Solid and successful partnerships between travel professionals and hoteliers often suffer a breakdown during the RFP process when any of the components of trust, communication and understanding are compromised. The RFP process has many pain points resulting in a frustrating process for both hoteliers and travel professionals, alike. Both sides see it as a time consuming process where unrealistic goals or expectations can get in the way of deals. The current RFP lifecycle also creates an environment of one-year partnerships, which makes it difficult to foster loyalty. There is interest from both parties to move to multi-year deals, reducing the number of RFP seasons and giving each side more time to demonstrate commitment to the partnership.

Outside of the RFP process, direct booking is another major pain point hoteliers and travel professionals face when working together. Travel professionals say direct booking undercuts their travel program and feel unsupported by hoteliers encouraging this practice. Another major concern for travel professionals when travelers book direct is losing visibility into their travel details and data. Hoteliers could make an effort to collect and provide data from direct bookings for their partners helping them meet their duty of care requirements and record all travel bookings.

So what best practices do all successful partnerships have in place? The two sides determine shared goals early, practice transparency and communicate continuously. Travel professionals and hoteliers taking the time to invest in these relationships report great returns on streamlining and improving their respective programs.

Methodology: This qualitative study is based on 12 one-on-one, in-depth, phone interviews, six with travel professionals and six with hoteliers conducted between March 1 and May 16, 2016. To participate, travel professionals had to be involved with selecting, negotiating and booking hotels for their companies and hoteliers must manage relationships with corporate clients at the regional or global level.

Read the Full Report: The study, Hoteliers and Travel Professionals: The Road to Successful Partnerships, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.

Learn More: A webinar featuring industry experts will discuss what elements comprise a good partnership between hoteliers and travel professionals. Listeners will learn the hallmark features of successful, long-lasting hotel/buyer partnerships and how your own can be improved. Take a deeper dive into this research today, December 13 at 2pm ET. Complimentary registration is still available.


Technology's Role in Event Planning

A new GBTA Foundation study revealed the most valued and most desired features when it comes to site sourcing technology. Conducted in partnership with Lanyon, the study is being released today during a Lanyon Live breakout session. Meeting and event planning starts long before anyone sets foot onsite, of course, and many factors can greatly contribute to or detract from the success of an event.

A majority of planners (57 percent) use events or meeting management technology or software when planning events and nearly all who do (96 percent) find value in using technology to manage their meetings and events. Additionally, almost six in ten (58 percent) of those who do not currently use it see the potential for technology to improve their processes and programs.

“Technology has made it easier than ever to be a smart shopper,” said Anthony Miller, Chief Marketing Officer, Lanyon. “That’s because we now have access to loads of up-to-date information on nearly everything we buy — from curtains to used cars. Why should shopping for an event venue be any different? If we can provide planners with more, high-quality information, then they’ll be able to choose the venue that best meets their needs — in less time and with fewer hiccups.”

Deciding Where to Host an Event
Location (27 percent) and cost (26 percent) are the top factors for choosing a property to host a meeting or event. How does technology play a role in selecting a location? Currently only two in five planners (43 percent) have access to technology that automatically populates city specs including everything from proximity of the venue to other hotels, restaurants and airports along with hotel rates to food and beverage pricing or even a city’s crime rates. Half of the planners who use this type of technology find it very valuable to make more informed decisions as would 45 percent of those who don’t have access to it. Some planners even said this feature would top their wish list if they created their own meeting and event planning product.

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Another valuable tool when selecting a city and event site would be a Yelp-style site for meeting planners. This formalized approach to consulting industry experts would only work with a few important caveats however, planners say. The site would need to be limited to experienced planners, populated with up-to-date information and shielded from supplier’s eyes to be seen as a credible and useful resource.

RFPs
Once the city is chosen, RFPs are often sent to a number of venues to collect additional information before making a decision. Four in five (81 percent) planners currently use technology that allows them to send a single RFP to multiple properties and allows properties to respond directly to the RFP within the platform for easy comparisons – both highly valued features. Seven in ten (70 percent) planners use technology to compare property details side by side and nearly all (88 percent) find this feature very valuable.

Planners would also like the ability to track each venue’s pricing from the initial bid to final negotiated price, which becomes very helpful when companies place an emphasis on budget tracking and cost savings.

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Site Visits, Lead-Up Prep & The Event Debrief
Planners find site visits to be an invaluable aspect of the planning and success of meetings and events, however, many still take a low-tech approach to them. Seven in ten (70 percent) say they use pen and paper to record information gathered on site visits. While many planners prefer their pen and paper method, others are showing interest in moving to electronically recording the information gathered on site visits including the ability to record notes or upload photos electronically.

The planning and communication does not stop after choosing the venue. Two-thirds of planners use (63 percent) and value (67 percent) meeting and event planning technology that allows for two-way communication with vendors. Making this portal mobile friendly would be a great improvement for many planners. Additionally, seven in ten planners use meetings and event technology to help them load and track budget info along the way, and while only one-third (33 percent) currently have technology that allows planners to survey their venue and vendors post-event, many express interest in having this option as a part of their meeting and event management technology.

What’s Next?
Education is key as many planners express frustration with not knowing where to go to learn about products in the marketplace that could address their specific needs. With a plethora of technology already available though, it is imperative that planners look to industry trade publications to learn about the latest features, attend industry events to see new technology in action and talk to their peers to learn about the most current offerings.

Methodology: This study used both a qualitative and quantitative approach. The qualitative side is based off of nine one-on-one in-depth interviews conducted with individuals with significant event-planning responsibilities. These took place in both April and August of 2016. The quantitative side consisted of a survey completed by 94 North American individuals with mid- (25-500 attendee) to large-scale (500+ attendee) event-planning responsibilities who were at least “somewhat involved” in planning or overseeing of meetings and events at their company and “involved” or “very involved” in the site sourcing process. This survey was fielded between May 18 and June 2, 2016.

Read the Full Report: The study, Site Sourcing Technology: Valued and Desired Features, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org. View a free preview of the research now.

Learn More: A webinar featuring industry experts from Lanyon and the GBTA Foundation will discuss trends and technologies when it comes to venue sourcing. Take a deeper dive into this research on November 10 at 2pm ET. Complimentary registration is available now.


When Event Planning Meets Marketing

One-half (49 percent) of event planners report the marketing departments at their respective companies are always or often involved in the planning and execution of events, and an overwhelming majority find value in this type of partnership. Today, the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with Cvent, released new research that explores the prevalence and types of collaboration between event planners and marketing departments.

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Many organizations across all industries host large-scale events or meetings requiring hours of planning and coordination. While these responsibilities can fall on the shoulders of full-time event planners within a company, more often than not, an employee who wears many hats, such as a travel manager, may take this on.

“Events are critical to business’ bottom line, so marketing and event planning functions must be in sync to ensure that events deliver on the marketing department’s goals,” said Stacey Fontenot, Vice President of Platform Marketing, Cvent. “Business-to-business marketers rely heavily on events, so event planners can create significant business value by collaborating with their marketing peers, elevating the importance of the event planning team within an organization.”

More than half (53 percent) of event planners feel setting objectives to support overall business goals is the most important factor to consider when planning a meeting or event. This happens to be an area event planners excel at and are well-equipped to handle. The design and content of a meeting or event, often less familiar for event planners, can be equally vital to its overall success. This is where collaboration across departments comes into play and can help companies enhance the success of their meetings and events.

When you look at the opportunities for collaboration, currently the highest level of collaboration (59 percent) is around email communication. During the planning stages of the event, marketing teams and event planners frequently work together to determine the event’s theme (49 percent), logo (49 percent) and color scheme (37 percent). A majority continue to work together on-site with signage (54 percent), but collaboration drops off when it comes to post-event communications (41 percent) and the event debrief (33 percent), showing opportunities to continue collaboration to determine event success.

Like any cross-company collaboration, getting to a good working relationship often comes with challenges along the way including lack of communication, control issues, budget constraints and timeline delays. While there is no single roadmap to successful collaboration between marketing and event planning teams, establishing clear lines of communication, demonstrating an openness to fresh ideas and accounting for time and money spent is a good place to start. By having constant alignment across SMM (Strategic Meetings Management) programs, marketing and communications teams, companies can deliver consistent messaging and maintain the integrity of their brand across all platforms.

Methodology: This study is based on 10 one-on-one, in-depth, phone interviews with individuals with large-scale event-planning responsibilities who reside and work in North America. In addition, a supplemental online survey of 157 travel buyers in North America who have some level of involvement in planning or overseeing meetings or events for their organization was fielded in February.

Read the Full Report: The study, Cross-Departmental Collaboration: When Event Planning Meets Marketing, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.

Learn More: A webinar featuring industry experts from Cvent and the GBTA Foundation will discuss how often marketing and events teams collaborate to plan and execute events, the value of collaboration and best practices. Take a deeper dive into this research on October 6 at 2pm ET. Complimentary registration is available now.


Average Compensation for U.S. Travel Buyers Gets Moderate Year-Over-Year Bump

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a moderate 1.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2016 reaching $114,000, according to an annual study released today by the GBTA Foundation. Despite only a modest increase, almost three-quarters (73 percent) of travel buyers are satisfied with their compensation, while only 8 percent are dissatisfied – in line with the past two years and a dramatic decrease in those dissatisfied since 2013.

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The 2016 Compensation and Benefits study reveals GTP Certification holders earn $125,000, 9.6 percent more than their peers without it. The GTP Certification is designed to raise industry standards, enhance work performance and recognize individuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline. In addition to a higher salary, buyers with their GTP are more likely to have at least one decade of industry experience, work at the manager level or higher and work for companies with travel spend of at least $10 million.

Income also varies on a variety of factors. Buyers with a bachelor’s degree earn roughly $20,000 more than those without one, and those holding a master’s or other advanced degree earn an additional $20,000. In the West and Northeast, average income is considerably higher than in the Midwest and South and income also increases with company travel spend, ranging from $88,000 at low spend companies to $147,000 at high spend companies.

The largest disparity, however, comes from the buyer’s position level. Directors earn an average of $161,000, 61 percent more than managers ($100,000), while managers earn roughly one-third more than experienced/entry level buyers ($74,000).

Benefits
Compensation deals purely with the financial side of things – salaries and bonuses. When it comes to total compensation though, both tangible and intangible benefits may be difficult to quantify, but that certainly doesn’t diminish their value to an employee.

So, what types of benefits do travel buyers typically receive? Companies almost universally offer travel buyers medical, vision and dental insurance, yet rarely cover the entire cost. Large majorities also offer life and disability insurance, with one-fourth to two-fifths covering the entire cost. Defined contribution plans (92 percent), such as a 401k, are much more common than defined benefits plans promising a fixed payout (33 percent).

Beyond insurance and retirement benefits, large majorities of companies offer healthcare (82 percent) and flexible spending accounts (77 percent). Seven in ten companies offer flexible work schedules (71 percent), about two-thirds offer the option to work from home (63 percent) and just over half offer gym discounts or reimbursements (55 percent). Only a small share offer childcare discounts (20 percent).

Transportation benefits are offered less frequently than other types of benefits. While a large majority offer mileage reimbursement (75 percent), only one-third (31 percent) offer public transportation discounts and even fewer (26 percent) offer parking discounts or reimbursement. On the flipside, companies often subsidize education and professional development for buyers with large majorities offering conference attendance reimbursement (80 percent), tuition reimbursement (79 percent), professional association dues reimbursement (73 percent) and continuing education opportunities (69 percent).

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If a salary increase or bonus were not possible, what perk or benefit did travel buyers say they would value most from a company?

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What sets apart the “very satisfied” buyers from the others? On average, these “very satisfied” buyers earn 31 percent more than other buyers and are more likely to receive some benefits including conference attendance reimbursement, continuing education opportunities, grants of company stock and childcare discounts or reimbursement. They are also much more likely to work for organizations that cover the entire cost of various benefits.

This study is designed to allow individuals to easily compare their compensation level and benefits with their peers. While no two individuals will view a compensation package in exactly the same way, the study reveals benefits appealing to many very satisfied buyers providing a helpful guideline for companies as well when designing their benefit programs.

Methodology
The study is based on an online survey of 303 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time, and was fielded from June 7-16, 2016.

More Information
The study, 2016 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 the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.


How the Sharing Economy is Changing Travel Policies

There is no doubt that the sharing economy – particularly the rise in ride sharing and home sharing services – are changing the face of travel. The recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express, finds that beyond consumer travel, many business travelers and corporate travel policies are addressing the emerging sharing economy options. Forty-four percent of business travelers say their companies’ travel policies allow for ride-sharing services and 28 percent can now use home-sharing services.

The research also finds that more than one in five don’t know if their employer’s travel policies allow ride-sharing or home-sharing services (22 percent and 23 percent, respectively). Despite this confusion, 61 percent of travelers who are required to follow a travel policy or guidelines are satisfied with the ease of understanding their company’s travel policies. A similar number of respondents are satisfied with the flexibility in planning trips (60 percent) and changing their itinerary as needed (58 percent) under their companies’ travel policy.

Internationally, some companies are more open to embracing sharing-economy services than others. Seventy-nine percent of business travelers in Mexico and 61 percent in the United States are able to use ride-sharing services compared with 44 percent of respondents overall, while 42 percent of Hong Kong-based business travelers are free to use home-sharing services compared to 28 percent of respondents overall.

There is no question that the sharing economy will continue to alter how business travel is conducted. With the sharing economy rapidly changing the travel landscape, there are a number of considerations that individual business travelers as well as corporate travel departments need to account for when approving use of sharing-economy options. Personal liability, security or broader duty of care concerns top the list. Business travelers and travel buyers must be aware of these changes, their benefits and drawbacks, and consider all scenarios when updating, incorporating, sharing and following a corporate travel policy.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar tomorrow, September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.


To Sit Back and Relax or Sit Back and Work During a Flight?

Once upon a time, people would dress up before getting on an airplane. On board, flight attendants would serve complimentary meals with real silverware. Playing cards would be handed out to passengers to help pass the time. While much has changed since then – gone are the meals, the silverware, and the dress clothes – relaxing, be it with a deck of cards or otherwise, is still the preferred activity for business travelers on board an airplane.

Of course, now the cards are most likely a phone or tablet version of solitaire, but more than one-half of all business travelers (51 percent) still prefer to use their flight time to unwind and relax – be it reading, watching a movie or doing something other than work. All those years of captains telling passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight have been embraced by and large by business travelers, according to the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express.

The number who prefer not to work in-flight is even higher for business travelers in Japan and Australia where 61 and 60 percent, respectively, prefer leisure activities. Baby Boomers are the most likely age group to prefer relaxing on an airplane, with 57 percent saying that is how they prefer to spend their flight time.

What about the 49 percent of business travelers who prefer to work during flights? For them, there is room for improvement. When it comes to working onboard, lack of in-seat power outlets is the biggest hindrance to inflight productivity. Seventy-two percent say too few outlets contribute at least some to their inability to get work done, followed by 68 percent who say seat size, 67 percent citing tray table size, and 65 percent claiming lack of adequate USB outlets hinder their ability to get work done in-flight.

Overall, business travelers’ satisfaction with air travel increased from 2015 to 2016, from 64 percent satisfied to 69 percent. This high satisfaction with air travel is even more impressive given that the element of business travel with the least satisfaction is getting through airport security.

Despite the seismic changes in the airline industry in recent years, business travelers still seem to enjoy their air travel experiences – and many are using the time in the air to unwind and relax.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar on September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.