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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Monica Sanchez
Monica Sanchez
Monica Sanchez's Blog

Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience – Part 2

Last week on the blog, I wrote about how managed travel programs and organizations as a whole can work to improve the business travel experience for their travelers. While common sense says this is an important thing to do, our stats also back it up. Check out this earlier post on why the business travel experience is so important. Hint: It has to do with employee retention, recruitment and results.

In a recently released study, the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, identified the information travelers want to avoid stress on the road as well as what technological amenities will enhance the traveler experience.

Communication plays an important role in the overall traveler experience. When asked what travel information is most useful for reducing stress, safety, transportation and information about the destination topped the list for many. There was a bit of variation by region though:

APAC

Europe

LATAM

 

North America

Understanding how to best deliver and make these types of information available to travelers is key. Travel managers discussed different channels used to communicate with their travelers. Most make travel information available on the company intranet, others hold quarterly webinars or send newsletters/emails, while others don’t communicates on a proactive basis, but instead wait for travelers to contact them with questions. Technology also makes an important contribution to business traveler satisfaction.

Technology enables the travel process to be a more efficient one. From the ability to book through an online booking tool, to staying connected with the office via email, to enhancing the travel experience with a mobile app and submitting electronic expense reports instead of paper ones – technology has become fundamental to the work travel managers do.

Business travelers around the world indicated a variety of different technological amenities. Mobile payment and mobile expense reporting along with itinerary management apps and safety tracking apps were near the top of the list for most business travelers. This one also varied from region to region:

APAC

Europe

LATAM

North America

It comes as no surprise that business travelers identify so many tech areas that can enhance their travel experience. We now live in a mobile age where travelers expect to access information on the go as well as be able to perform tasks they couldn’t do through a mobile device years ago. Implementing the right technology will support and enhance the activities travelers have to do to prepare for and conduct their travel.

How can travel mangers know if their travelers are satisfied with their business travel experience? Measure it! Measure more than just satisfaction with suppliers. You should also ask about their overall travel experience as well. Identifying opportunities and addressing challenges can only strengthen the travel program in the long run and help business travelers achieve their business goals.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being. Register today: Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish) The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET

 

MONICA SANCHEZ

Monica Sanchez joined the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in 2013 as a Research Project Director. She is responsible for managing and developing Foundation partner research studies in the United States and Globally. Prior to working for GBTA, Monica worked at Experian Marketing Solutions developing consumer behavior models. Monica has more than 10 years of market research experience. Her main areas of expertise are questionnaire design and predictive modeling. She is interested in cross-cultural questionnaire design and its impact on data results. She holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Monica’s favorite season is the Fall when she likes to go hiking and camping with her family.


TMCs Support Companies in Improving Traveller Experience

The GBTA Foundation recently released a study in partnership with Sabre Corporation on creating a frictionless travel experience. The study explored traveller friction around the globe from the business traveller perspective as well as through the lens of managed travel and human resource professionals.

Depending on an organization’s culture and resources, a travel program tends to first focus on controlling cost and developing policies and procedures. It then moves to implementation of technology and finally, traveller well-being. Of course, it does not always happen in this order, nor are traveller well-being initiatives only seen in mature travel programs, but controlling costs unfortunately many times outweighs looking out for the well-being of employees who are constantly on the road.

Globally, business travellers reported on the top pain points they face while travelling, how much the quality of their business travel matters when it comes to job satisfaction and getting results, and the amenities and technology that they look for to improve their travel experience as well. Learn more about the survey results here.

In addition to the results of our global survey, I had the opportunity to conduct in-depth interviews with travel buyers and travel management company (TMC) and human resource personnel. Three of the TMC interviewees agreed to let me share parts of our conversation to better understand how TMCs work to support the business travel experience. Answers below are paraphrased based on phone interviews.

How can a TMC Support Traveller Well-Being and Improve the Traveller Experience for Clients?

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: One thing we track and provide to our clients is traveller mileage and who is travelling the most, so we can flag those travellers as individuals who might have issues. While we have not had many requests for it, we worked with one specific client on a traveller-centric dashboard that is all about travellers and the traveller experience – how many miles they are flying, how many hotel night stays, where they typically go to, etc. We also conduct satisfaction surveys that are simple to complete and address the travel experience. Our motto is business travel your way, so our value proposition in the marketplace is providing customized solutions to our customers.

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: As a TMC, I believe we have two customers: the head of procurement and the final traveller. While the contract may not be with the traveller, they are still a direct customer. Each time a traveller goes abroad it can create stress and anxiety, so we need to be very reliable and the traveller has to know that whatever happens, we will have a solution. We can deliver a high-level of support before, during and after travel 24 hours a day. We conduct a satisfaction survey after every trip for every traveller.

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: We strongly believe it is our role to help our clients achieve the best possible travel experience while on business trips. We have created dedicated teams available 24-7 to monitor all flights to anticipate negative experiences and to report on hotel quality. We have an app to handle the whole trip experience from booking to expenses. Through new technologies, travellers are constantly monitored to ensure maximum support and protection in the case of exceptional events where travellers will be informed and updated through an alert service. Travellers are also provided with information on necessary hotel features such as WiFi, laundry, fitness center and points of interest.

Do TMCs Get Involved in Developing Travel Policy for their Clients?

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: We make a concerted effort to explain to our customers how to build a very efficient and effective travel policy. Our advice is to keep it simple as we often see very complex travel policies that no one but travel agents can understand, so travellers end up lost.

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: We constantly meet with our clients to analyze their business travel program and the results they are seeing, so that we can suggest alternatives and improvements to their travel policy, spending behaviors, supplier agreements and more. We strive to support our clients in finding the best balance between the cost of services and quality of services in full compliance with their organization’s business strategy.

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: We definitely give advice, and that advice is primarily about incremental value. How much value, incrementally, are you getting for the complexity of the procedure or policy you are looking to put in place? We counsel them to think about what are they getting out of the travel policy and what is the objective of their travel program? A lot of people think policy is about cost control, but in today’s climate, we are seeing policy is less about cost control and more about risk control.

Talk About the Future

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: All of our new IT solutions including our apps, online booking tool and expense management tools are inspired by ongoing feedback from our clients, so we can be ready to meet all of their future needs. A lot has changed in recent years and probably the most important is that there is an alignment in the customer experience and the traveller experience. Travellers are asking for new, more flexible solutions, so our clients are asking us to provide that. We often see new ideas, features and services coming from the consumer side, so we are part of an advisory board for an Italian incubator to monitor new ideas and digital transformations coming down the line.

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: One area we are seeing a greater focus on as part of traveller well-being is health and safety, which typically centers around trying to manage risk on a trip. When we first created this type of program for a client three to four years ago, we thought it would be a one-off, but now between 30-40 percent of our new customers have a risk component they want us to assist with. On the booking front, I see the industry moving away from traditional booking paths into chat. We will also see more powerful apps and rather than companies creating new apps, there will be increased functionality and use of the mobile web. You will be able to do the same thing in different channels and have more of an equivalency between the different channels. Finally, with data privacy laws, I think you will see rather than personalize solutions because you have that individual’s data, there is going to be a lot more done by deriving information.

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: Now, more than ever, our customers don’t want just travel tools – they want end-to-end tools. We no longer speak just about travel, we talk about travel and expense.

Get to Know Our Experts

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel Antoine joined Hillgate Travel in early 2014 and is responsible for infrastructure as well as internal and client facing application development. More than just delivering on requirements from around the business, he is a proactive owner and driver of digitisation. He is often asked to present at events as well as contribute opinion pieces to industry press. Antoine has 25+ years of global experience with Logica, Dell and Oracle world-wide in such diverse industries as space, energy, utilities, telecoms, manufacturing and Business Travel. His roles have spanned technology, sales, marketing and operations. As such, he brings more than just technology thought leadership to his current role. He brings a knowledge of what it takes to win and keep business globally. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics (BSc, MSc) and the University of Reading (MBA) and is fluent in four European languages (English, French, German and Spanish).

 

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert For the past ten years, Eric has been CEO of VoyagExpert, one of France’s leading independent travel agencies and a member of the GlobalStar network. VoyagExpert has three centers dedicated to business travel in France.    

 

  Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa Enrico is the CEO for Uvet Global Business Travel Spa, the Italian leader in business travel management. He has led the company since 2001 when he was appointed CEO of the newly founded company between Uvet Spa and American Express. Born in Milan, Enrico began his career after receiving a master’s degree in Statistics and an undergraduate degree in political science with a concentration in statistics. He also served on the Board of Directors of the following companies: First Italia Srl, ITN Spa, Itn Srl, Travel Company Srl, Uvet network Spa, Made in Uvet Srl, Jakala Spa, Uevents Srl, Ufleet Srl, Flygpoolen, Avexia-Uvet France Spa.

 

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: Want to Learn More? The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveller well-being.

Register today: Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish) The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET

 

ABOUT MONICA SANCHEZ

Monica Sanchez joined the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in 2013 as a Research Project Director. She is responsible for managing and developing Foundation partner research studies in the United States and Globally. Prior to working for GBTA, Monica worked at Experian Marketing Solutions developing consumer behavior models. Monica has more than 10 years of market research experience. Her main areas of expertise are questionnaire design and predictive modeling. She is interested in cross-cultural questionnaire design and its impact on data results. She holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Monica’s favorite season is the Fall when she likes to go hiking and camping with her family.


Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience – Part 1

The GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, set out to explore the topic of traveler friction around the world. The recently released study looked at traveler friction from both the business traveler perspective and also from the perspective of the managed travel and human resource professional. The objective was to identify the main challenges business travelers face during their travel experience while learning what managed travel programs and organizations as a whole can do to make this experience a better one.

The study asked business travelers what perks or amenities impacted their business travel experience. By and large, convenient and comfortable hotels, non-stop flights, booking flexibility and paid time off for long trips most frequently topped the list – although there was some variation from country to country in the Asia Pacific region.

 

It makes sense that hotel convenience and comfort rises to the top as business travelers have to trade the comfort of their homes with a new setting every time they travel. It is where they rest after a long business day away from home or continue to do work once meetings are over. Working to make sure the hotel meets the travelers’ expectations and needs will go a long way in ensuring a positive experience.

We also wanted to learn what optional purchases travelers are making to improve their experience, regardless of whether they are reimbursed by the company or not. Answers varied slightly from region to region, but Wi-Fi or hotel high-speed internet were common purchases as were seat upgrades and international mobile calls and texts.

Travelers are most likely to mention these kinds of optional purchases can improve their productivity while on the road. Of those who purchased upgrades, we asked which ones their companies paid for.

By analyzing how often travelers pay for these amenities and services out-of-pocket and how much it costs the company, travel managers can identify opportunities on top of cost savings to include these during negotiations with suppliers, as they can bring added value to the travel program. Traveler managers should also be sure to provide guidance to their travelers on what amenities are already included or can be reimbursed.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being.

Register today:

Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET
Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET
Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish)
The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET


Compensation for Travel Buyers Up 5.5 Percent Year-Over-Year

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase in 2017, reaching an average of $107,000, according to new findings released today. Median salaries are also up, increasing 7.5 percent to $98,000.

The GBTA Foundation’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study delves into salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. travel buyers and reveals differences in compensation based on a variety of factors including experience, region, position, company travel spend, and gender.

COMPENSATION DISPARITIES

The largest gap in compensation can be attributed to position level. Directors and executives earn an average of $146,000, which is 40 percent more than managers’ average compensation of $105,000. Similarly, managers earn 33 percent more than entry-level/experienced buyers ($79,000).

Income also varies based on region. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) and West/Pacific ($115,000) than in the South ($99,000) and Midwest ($97,000).

Surprisingly, there is no major difference in compensation between those who have an associate’s degree or less and those who have a bachelor’s degree. This contrasts with last year’s study, which revealed a difference in compensation between the two education levels.

The study also revealed GTP® Certification holders earn an average of $112,000, which is nearly six percent higher than their counterparts who lack it. The Global Travel Professional® (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.

SATISFACTION

Although nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation, satisfaction levels have remained flat since 2014. In line with the past three years, only 11 percent are dissatisfied with their compensation.

BENEFITS

In addition to bonuses and salaries, buyers are offered a variety of benefits intended to improve the quality of their overall health and well-being. Virtually all companies provide health insurance (98 percent), dental insurance (96 percent), vision insurance (92 percent), life insurance (91 percent), and a defined contribution plan (e.g. 401k) (91 percent), though few are fully funded.

Tax-advantaged health accounts are widespread, and a majority of buyers indicate their company offers health savings accounts (82 percent) and flexible spending accounts (80 percent).

Three out of five (62 percent) companies allow buyers to work from home and even more (73 percent) are granted flexible work schedules. Additionally, more than one-half (55 percent) offer gym memberships or discounts.

During special circumstances, most buyers are permitted to take additional leave. Companies frequently provide bereavement (93 percent) and maternity leave (83 percent), and one-half (51 percent) provide paternity leave. Although this is consistent with last year’s findings, the portion of companies that offer paternity leave is higher today than in 2014 (32 percent) and 2015 (38 percent).

METHODOLOGY

The study is based on an online survey of 272 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time. The survey fielded from June 21-30, 2017.

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 2016. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2016 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2016 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.

MORE INFORMATION The study, 2017 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.


Tough Travels: Business Travelers Tell Us Their Top Pain Points on the Road

Through the lifecycle of a trip, the business traveler will encounter different challenges that can impact their travel experience. Last week, the GBTA Foundation released a new study, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, identifying the most challenging aspects of business travel.

While there are many similarities among business travelers around the globe, there are also a few differences. The following is an overview of each of the regions we surveyed and how they measure up when it comes to different facets of the business traveler experience.

Not surprisingly, most of the most commonly mentioned challenges have one big thing in common – they are all time consuming. Whether it is time spent in transit, a layover or taking time to change a reservation during the trip, these all keep road warriors from focusing on the business part of business travel.

Additionally, many of the issues relate to activities that happen during the trip, which is not surprising as it is the longest part of the trip cycle. Travel programs can address many of the problems that occur before or after the trip by clarifying or streamlining policies, or by adopting better technologies.

Ultimately, those who travel want to save time when possible, be productive and have a pleasant experience, all while accomplishing their business goals. To understand what makes the travel experience a better one, it is important for us to understand what challenges business travelers most commonly face. Stay tuned for an upcoming post that looks at what organizations are doing to make this experience a better one for their travelers. Also, take a look back at why a better business travel experience matters so much.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being.

Register today:

Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET
Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET
Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish)
The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET


Business Travel’s Influence on Employee Retention, Recruitment and Results

Earlier this week, the GBTA Foundation released a new study, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, focused on creating a frictionless travel experience. The study surveyed business travelers across the globe and revealed the dramatic impact business travel has on employee retention, recruitment and results. Three R’s that are important to every company’s bottom line.

Retention
Satisfaction when traveling for work is highly correlated with how satisfied an employee is with their job in general. In North America, three-quarters (79 percent) of business travelers say their business travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction at least somewhat. This is especially true among Millennials (88 percent). In Europe that number sits at 83 percent for all business travelers and 88 percent for Millennials. In the Asia Pacific region, a large majority of business travelers say their business travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction at least somewhat across all Asia Pacific markets, ranging from 81 to 96 percent. In Latin America, the connection is even stronger with 71 percent of business travelers saying their business travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction to a great extent.

Recruitment
Business travel not only influences how employees feel about their current company, it can also influence whether they take a job in the first place. Nearly three in five (59 percent) North American respondents and two-thirds (66 percent) of Latin American respondents indicate a company’s travel policy is an important factor when considering a potential new employer. The number is a bit lower in Europe with half saying a company’s travel program is an important factor when considering a potential new employer and in Asia Pacific it varies widely from country to country ranging from 31 percent in Japan to 86 percent in India.

Results
An overwhelming majority (95 percent) of business travelers in Latin America say the quality of their business travel experience impacts their business results at least somewhat. The numbers are pretty similar no matter where you go in the world. In North America it is 84 percent, in Europe it is 83 percent and the vast majority of Asia Pacific travelers say the quality of their business travel experience impacts their business results at least somewhat as well, ranging from 81 to 96 percent depending on the country.

What does this all mean for the travel manager? Traveler well-being initiatives and other policies and processes that not only have cost in mind, but the traveler’s well-being, will go a long way to help employee retention. Keep an organization’s culture and business goals in mind while setting policies that help the traveler achieve their business goals when traveling. Policies should both support the organization’s overall goals and also enable employees to be the most productive and efficient they can be while traveling for work.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being.

Register today:
Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET
Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET
Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish)
The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET


4 Ways to Optimize Your Employees' Bleisure Travel Experience

In 2016, there were 522 million business trips taken in the United States. So what should you do when one of your employees decides to extend one of these into a bleisure trip?  If they have decided to take a long weekend to enjoy the sights after their meeting is over, it is now up to you to communicate your company’s policy on bleisure travel to them.

As seen in previous posts on the profile of a bleisure traveler and the factors in bleisure travel hotel choice, bleisure travelers are a diverse group of people who continue their stay after a business trip. Thirty-six percent of U.S-based business travelers have done this at least once, so it is important to be prepared when one of your company’s employees decides to take a bleisure trip.

According to GBTA’s study in partnership with Hilton, there are a variety of ways in which companies can improve their employee’s travel experience while aligning bleisure travel with their own goals. Here are four ways you can make the most out of a bleisure trip, both improving the traveler experience and ensuring bleisure travel remains aligned with company goals:

  1. Establish rules for expenses incurred by non-employees

There’s a good chance your employee will bring someone with them, as around 44 percent of business travelers take someone along on the leisure portion of their trip. They may spend more on their flight or hotels in order to make their guests more comfortable, and your company will need to set a precedent for dealing with these potential costs. If you don’t already have rules about this in place, it may be a good idea to add them to your travel policy.

  1. Help insure the safety of employees’ family members

Although your employee has access to the company’s security protection, their family probably does not. Make sure your employees are aware of what is covered by the company and advise them to consider purchasing insurance for their family.

  1. Make travelers aware of the resources available to them on the leisure portion of the trip

Your company may offer protection and other resources to an employee when they are on a business trip, but those same resources might not apply while they are on the leisure portion of the trip. Educate your employees on what is offered to them and in what situations it is available. This prevents unpleasant surprises from occurring while they are on vacation.

  1. Develop a policy regarding preferred suppliers & channels

Encourage your employees to book stays at your company-preferred hotels by informing them of the benefits and loyalty programs they offer ahead of time. Travelers may be able to receive the corporate rate during the leisure portion of their trip, while driving cost savings and ensuring policy compliance.

The best plan is being prepared ahead of time, as around 12 percent of travelers ran into an issue where they needed assistance from their company while away. Ultimately, informing your employees of your company’s policies for leisure travel is the best way to ensure a smooth trip.


Involving TMCs in the Hotel RFP Process

Employees preparing for a business trip don’t simply select whatever flight or hotel they feel desire and hop on for the ride. There is careful planning done behind-the-scenes by professionals whose role is to ensure the safe and efficient travel of individuals within a company.

Travel managers develop strategic plans and policies for all forms of corporate travel and handle the process of negotiating supplier contracts, communicating travel policy, securing travel arrangements, ensuring employee safety on the road, managing policy compliance and much more. Many travel managers also work with Travel Management Companies (TMCs), and often do this when going through the Hotel Request For Proposal (RFP) process.

GBTA, in partnership with Best Western, recently released, “Hotel RFPs-The Decision Making Process”, a study that explores the Hotel RFP process from the perspective of the travel manager. It also looks at the relationship travel managers have with TMCs while discussing best practices for working together during the hotel RFP season. The study features tips for finding the right balance when using a TMC and determining the best way to utilize these companies while still being involved as a travel manager.

75 percent of travel managers who work with TMCs have a higher level of satisfaction with the hotel RFP process as a whole. And in order to walk away satisfied, it’s important to know what you hope to get out of this exchange. Are you planning for national or international travel? What have been some trouble spots for your planning in the past? What TMC is best suited for a company of your size?

A key factor in travel manager satisfaction is the extent with which they use the TMC. Companies who use them “somewhat” are significantly happier than those who use them “a lot” or “a little”.

 

This could indicate that relying heavily on TMCs in this process causes travel managers to give up too much control, resulting in expectations not being met. Take a look at GBTA’s Hotel RFP template and see what modules you would most benefit from and which ones you may not need to go through every year.

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the hotel RFP process. Figuring out the level of involvement that is most appropriate for your company is key to getting the most out of a TMC.

For more information, take a look at the “Hotel-RFP” study – available free for GBTA members.


3 Key Factors in Bleisure Travel Hotel Choice

*For a better understanding of what a bleisure traveler is, take a look at our first post in this series, “Sit Back, Relax, and Stay Awhile: A Quick Guide to Bleisure Travelers”.

After someone has decided to extend their work trip into a bleisure trip, they have one more question to answer: will they stay at the same place for both the business and leisure portions of their trip, or choose a new hotel?

The GBTA Foundation’s recent study in partnership with Hilton, “Extending Business Travel into Leisure Time”, breaks down the components that go into a traveler’s bleisure lodging plans.

Do travelers consider the same factors in choosing bleisure lodging as they do in business-only trips? Let’s take a closer look at the decision-making process these travelers go through:

Decision Factor #1-Price
It is no surprise that the price of the accommodations affect whether or not travelers change locations. 48 percent of people who stay at the same hotel for both business and leisure cite price as one of the reasons why. This may result with savings for the company, if travelers utilize an affordable hotel for both bookings.

Price even has the potential to strongly impact the initial decision to extend a trip to begin with. According to the study, 93 percent of bleisure travelers are likely to extend their trip if they will receive a discounted weekend rate at the hotel and 88 percent say a discount will sway their decision to pick one hotel over another.

Decision Factor #2-Loyalty/Rewards Program
Another key factor is the potential to earn or use points from a hotel loyalty program they are a member of. Ultimately, this can influence travelers either way depending on whether or not the hotel booked for the trip participates in their loyalty program. One-third of those surveyed cited this as a reason to stay at a hotel, while one-fourth indicated that loyalty programs are a reason why they switched to a different hotel.

This opens up a great opportunity for companies to market their preferred hotels to their employees, as most chains offer loyalty programs and may simply not be promoting them. Encouraging employees to sign up for these programs on the front-end may increase the likelihood that they book a stay with the company’s preferred properties.

Decision Factor #3-Amenities

Some travelers may also want to change (or hold on to) their room type, food options, or other amenities such as a pool or great view. The most popular benefits that influence travelers’ decisions are rooms, at 72 percent, and food options, at 71 percent.

So how can companies make the most of this process? An overwhelming majority of business travelers (82 percent) stay at the same place for both the business and leisure travel portions of their stay. Travel programs can take steps to motivate  employees to stay at company-preferred hotels during bleisure travel by informing their employees of their preferred chains, encouraging them to enroll in loyalty programs for those preferred chains and, if possible, helping them receive an extended corporate rate.

At the end of the day, it is important for companies to weigh the costs and benefits of allowing or encouraging employees to book bleisure trips with specific vendors or through specific channels and decide what works best for their travel program.

Stay tuned to the GBTA Blog for more from GBTA Foundation’s Bleisure study in partnership with Hilton.


Improving the Hotel RFP Process

The GBTA Foundation released a new study in partnership with Best Western Hotels & Resorts today that explored the Hotel RFP process from the eyes of a travel manager. A large majority (81 percent) of the travel managers interviewed are very involved with the Hotel RFP process, while 56 percent say they rely somewhat or a lot on a TMC to conduct the RFP process.

Each year, most travel programs work closely with their hotel suppliers to negotiate rates and amenities, so they can find the best partners in this space. Typically, 12 percent of the properties are dropped and 13 percent are newly signed as preferred providers. Three-quarters of companies issue the same RFP around the globe, while 21 percent have customized RFPs for different regions. Overall the process lasts an average of 3.2 months.

In general, most travel managers are satisfied with the RFP process (66 percent), and those who rely somewhat on a TMC for this task have notably higher levels of satisfaction (75 percent). The 33 percent of overall travel managers dissatisfied with the RFP process note several factors driving their dissatisfaction including how long it takes, no tangible benefits from going through the process every year and lack of resources to dedicate to the process.

Companies with larger travel spending also have higher levels of satisfaction with the RFP process possibly because they are able to solve some of the complaints mentioned and have greater resources. More organizations with higher travel spend of $30 million or more (67 percent) claim to rely on a TMC somewhat or a lot compared to those with travel spend of less than $30 million (50 percent).

In 2012, the GBTA Foundation and the GBTA Hotel Committee worked to develop a Hotel RFP template to try to standardize the process. Two-thirds (66 percent) of those surveyed are aware of the template, while two in five (40 percent) say their companies currently use it. Organizations with travel spend of $30 million or more are more likely than those with lower travel spend to not only know about the GBTA Hotel RFP (80 percent vs 60 percent) but also more likely to use it (59 percent and 26 percent respectively).

When looking at specific modules like the Groups/Meetings module and the Corporate Social Responsibility module, a majority of survey respondents indicated they use those modules for informational purposes only, rather than as part of the decision making process.

The top three reasons travel managers use the GBTA Hotel RFP template are the ability to add user-defined questions, the fact there is no cost associated with its use and the ability to choose which modules to use. Most travel managers use the Blackout/Fair Dates (85 percent) and the Safety and Security (82 percent) modules.

“The results of this study confirm the value that TMCs bring to the RFP process, as this is one of their core areas of expertise. By relying on a TMC to assist with the RFP process, travel managers are able to focus on other areas of responsibility, and ultimately deliver more value to their travelers and suppliers alike,” said Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Best Western Hotels & Resorts. “This study is valuable as it truly allows us to better understand the Hotel RFP process from the perspective of travel managers, which will ultimately help brands such as Best Western implement changes to improve the process.”

How can travel managers and suppliers make the Hotel RFP process a more efficient one? Use TMCs for time-consuming activities related to the RFP process while staying involved in the decision-making process. Understand there is not a one-size fits all approach and while yearly reviews may work for some programs, others may be successful with every-other-year reviews.

Travel programs should analyze their decision making process to understand the key elements relevant to them, organize them in tiered levels of importance and identify the top elements as essential to making decisions. The bottom-tier elements may not necessarily need to be collected every year. With this method, travel managers can save time and resources and suppliers will know which data is truly needed to develop strong partnerships with travel programs.  

More Information: The report, Hotel RFPs – The Decision Making Process, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.

Methodology: This GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 161 travel managers who are Direct members of GBTA in the United States and Canada. It was conducted in February of 2017.