The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


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.


Podcast: 2019 Trends: Sustainability, Security and Simple Meetings

The Business of Travel is back. We are kicking off ‘season two’ of GBTA’s official podcast with today’s episode featuring three GBTA members sharing the top business travel trends to look out for in 2019 around sustainability, security and simple meetings.

 

 

Episode guests include:

Aurora Dawn Benton
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
GBTA Sustainability & Responsibility Committee Member

Erin L. Wilk
Global Security Travel Safety Manager & Interim Head of Internal Communications for Global Security, Facebook
GBTA Board Member

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien
President & CEO, Groupize
GBTA Meetings Committee Member

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


5 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

It’s no secret that when you’re away from home, fast food like McDonald’s and Dunkin often looks significantly more appealing than taking the time to find healthier options. Staying consistent with a meal plan and being active are steps to a healthy lifestyle that you shouldn’t have to compromise on while on business travel.

Now, there’s no harm in treating yourself every once in a while, to your favorite sugary Frappuccino or donuts, but its best done in moderation. Many restaurants – including fast food spots – make a point now of indicating healthier choices on their menu making your decisions easier even when you are in a rush as well. In a recent Twitter chat, we asked our followers to share their top tips for staying committed to diet and exercise on the road. Here are the top five:

 

1 - Pick a local restaurant and walk there instead of taking a cab.

2 - Look into trying ClassPass or similar subscription-based fitness memberships you can use in many different cities.

3 - Take an early morning walk around the city you're visiting.

4 - When selecting a hotel, determine whether they have a gym ahead of time.

5 - Finding healthy options at most restaurants is doable. Be mindful of where you go and what you order.

 

According to recent GBTA research, conducted in partnership with Dinova, 77 percent of business travelers consider healthy eating while traveling to be important.

Health-Conscious Travel

Want to learn more about what your travelers think about eating out while on the road for work? Get more info about the study findings here.


Podcast: Solving Real Enterprise Problems Through AI

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel previews GBTA webinar content airing a recent session called Solving Real Enterprise Problems Through AI. Ryan Floersch from AppZen digs deeper into how and why these cultural shifts are forming. He will look at how AI is empowering managers to take control of team spend at a field level, giving them the ability to correct bad behavior and  improve their teams’ expense habits over time while avoiding unwanted ‘big brother’ conversations between managers and employees that only damage relationships and morale.

 

 

GBTA offers frequent webinars on a whole spectrum of topics covering the business travel industry. These timely and relevant presentations on issues impacting our industry are also interactive, allowing you to submit questions throughout and receive immediate feedback from the presenters.

Check out our calendar of upcoming webinars to see what’s coming soon. For GBTA members, if you miss out and can’t attend a session you are interested in, you can also access all of our archived webinars on the GBTA Hub.

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


5 Tips to Eat Like a Local on Your Next Business Trip

In recent GBTA research, conducted in partnership with Dinova, digging into business travel dining trends, we delved into the psyche of the business diner. The typical business travel dining experience really depends on the trip. The study found that in total, 64 percent of business travelers take their money to upscale casual restaurants, followed by fast casual (52 percent), fast food (34 percent) and finally, fine dining (29 percent).

Many business travelers tend to spend their meals in the company of others. For lunch, 30 percent report eating with clients, with an additional 23 percent eating with coworkers, and the numbers jump to 40 percent and 26 percent, respectively, for dinner.

During a recent Twitter chat, many of our participants shared their desire to eat like a local while traveling and gave us their best tips for doing so. Here were the top five:
 

1 - Ask cab or car drivers about spots where they would take their families to eat – not where they tell other travelers to go.

2 - Search “best places to eat in ____” as a start. Use websites like Thrillist to find the best spots to eat. 

3 - Ask people in the hotel about the places they actually eat at. 

4 - If meeting with a client, ask them about the best local place.

5 - Ask friends in the area.


Learn more about the study findings here, and be sure to check out this recent guest blog post from Dinova on incorporating a dining program into your managed travel program.


Top 5 Dining Mobile Apps for Business Travelers

Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s world, and as Apple always says, “there’s an app for that”. As part of a recent research study looking into business travel dining trends that GBTA conducted in partnership with Dinova, we asked business travelers what dining apps they use when on the road for work trips. Here are the top 5…

Top 5 Business Travel Dining Apps

1 – Yelp

2- TripAdvisor

3- Grubhub

4 – OpenTable

5 – Uber Eats

 

The study also explored generational differences when it comes to technology use and eating out while traveling for work. Not surprisingly, Millennials especially embrace technology and are more willing to use the tools and technology made available to them through their travel programs, but technology has also become an essential part of how employees of all ages travel.
 

Learn more about the study findings here, and be sure to check out this recent guest blog post from Dinova on incorporating a dining program into your managed travel program.


Dining Programs are Hot: Here’s Why it Should Matter to You

By Heather Thompson, Public Relations Manager, Dinova

With the Global Business Travel Association’s annual convention just behind us, it’s no wonder everyone is talking about business travel. It’s a hot topic that gets even hotter when we talk about how much business travel actually costs. (Don’t worry, procurement managers, we’re all feeling the same swelter.)

There’s no doubt that managing a travel program is much easier – and ensures your employees receive the best experience possible – when you partner with the right vendors. So, you negotiate the most advantageous contracts with one major airline, one hotel group, one rental car provider, and all is dandy. When it comes to putting together a dining program, however, the sheer number of possible vendors and contracts becomes overwhelming, a herculean task that hardly seems worth the effort. Or is it?

More than $77B is spent annually on business dining in the United States, according to an AMEX and GBTA study released in 2017. That total alone makes it the third largest category of overall T&E spend and clearly identifies dining as a topic worth discussion. But with approximately 640,000 restaurants across the nation, what would a managed dining program even look like?

It should look a lot like any other preferred vendor initiative: one source offering your employees a range of options, enabling them to have a great travel experience while also complying with your travel policy. What else should be included? Discounts or rebates of some kind that gives companies an incentive to use only their services. What makes an outstanding preferred program is understanding the traveler and what they really want.

At Dinova, business dining is always on our mind. We’re always hungry for insights about what makes business diners tick, what’s going on in the restaurant world, and how we can nourish connections between these two passions. In partnership with GBTA, we conducted an in-depth survey of U.S. business travelers in Spring 2018, delving into trends in diners’ habits, technology use, and company expense policies, while also uncovering fascinating generational differences.

Key among our findings: 60 percent of respondents said their organizations do not have any dining program at all, but 74 percent would be motivated to participate in one if they earned rewards for themselves or for the company. Clearly, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to capture employee attention and engagement with a preferred dining program. If you could bring back some of that spend, wouldn’t you?

For more information about Dinova, visit our website at www.dinova.com/company.

About the Author: Heather Thompson, public relations manager at Dinova since 2016, honed her Media Relations skills at a range of organizations, from a boutique PR firm to a Fortune 500 powerhouse. She recently completed her master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington University, and, when not using her PR powers to change the world, can typically be found in a small suburb of Atlanta riding her horses. 

About Dinova:
Dinova provides companies with an innovative marketplace filled with restaurants and enterprise partners who understand the value of a business patron dining on official company business and know that the connections made over a meal drive understanding and shared perspectives that establish lifelong relationships. Dinova nourishes those connections to create value for restaurants, companies, and the business people we serve every day.


Podcast: Live from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018 Part 1

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel takes you back to last week’s GBTA Convention. Hear all of Monday’s Center Stage sessions. First, up you’ll hear from Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson in a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick as he shares his outlook on the business travel industry, the shakeup over group commissions and the company’s home-sharing strategy.

Next up is a panel featuring Successful Women Leading in Business Travel, moderated by GBTA’s Allied Member of the Year honoree and the SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Dorothy Dowling. The panel of top female business travel executives share their insights on the unique challenges they faced as women arriving in leadership positions within their companies.

Wrapping up today’s episode, you’ll hear our final Monday Center Stage session where TSA Administrator David Pekoske and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan took the stage together for the first-time in an interview with McCormick. The two highlighted technology’s potential to dramatically increase security and passenger facilitation.

 

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!

 


Is Bigger Better in the Travel Sector?

Being bigger can help companies learn, negotiate better, and innovate, according to the representatives of three big travel brands who participated in a panel discussion from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018. On the other hand, integrating people from different cultures challenges even the largest corporations.

With 4,200 locations worldwide, Best Western CEO David Kong said being bigger provides greater brand awareness and cost savings. With greater scale, companies such as Best Western are in a better position to negotiate with suppliers. “If you think about industry today, one of the biggest challenges that we have is the ever-rising distribution cost. And when you are bigger you have better leverage in negotiating more favorable commercial terms.”

This, in turn, allows Best Western and other similarly-sized companies to boost investments in marketing and new technology to meet consumers’ evolving expectations. “What used to be amazing is now ordinary, obsolete. That expectation keeps rising so we have to respond to that,” said Kong.

Enterprise COO Christine Taylor agreed, even though her grandfather (who founded Enterprise over 60 years ago) often said, “It's not about being the biggest, but it's about being the best.” But being large provides unique opportunities, according to Taylor, which are critical to innovation. Her company’s “diverse, global network…push[es] us to innovate every single day. And we’ve got to do that.”

With the resources needed to develop and apply new technologies, big companies can take more calculated risks and become more innovative. For example, Best Western has invested in artificial intelligence and augmented reality for training their customer service staff. Now, said Kong, the company is partnering with IBM Watson to help consumers plan vacations.

Taylor explained that Enterprise is also using technology to meet consumer needs—the company wants to provide a rental car to a consumer when and where it is needed instead of only by walking into the rental car office.

Size also helps companies use scale and technology to reduce costs, which in turn can be passed along to consumers, said the panelists.

Technology, the panelists said, can help today’s big businesses operate more efficiently and nimbly, allowing them to give consumers experiences anywhere in the world. “Scale has brought us the ability on the demand side to create options for consumers that literally would have been impossible for them to find a generation ago,” said Rob Greyber, CEO of Egencia, a business travel platform within the Expedia Group.

Greyber said that, most importantly, Expedia sees size as an opportunity to learn from the vast amounts of data they collect as consumers use their platform. The Expedia platform is “almost a central nervous system” that helps the company understand travelers’ needs. “Each element, each addition, each optimization to the platform helps our customer service consultants to be more effective, it helps our customers to be more effective,” he explained.

With 11 brands under the Best Western umbrella, its size gives consumers more choices, said Kong. “We bring more solutions to the table,” he explained. Being big enables companies to offer a more attractive loyalty program too. “It makes the loyalty program more powerful, because you're offering more earnings and redemption options.”

Being large creates disadvantages too.

Creating a global company brings tremendous competitive advantages, but if you grow through acquisition, you must assimilate and integrate cultures and systems.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” said Greyber, who said that you can set forth corporate principles “on posters, you can talk about them in the town halls,” but “all of that will be undone in an instant” if leaders don’t model these principles. “Culture is not something you say; it's something that you do every day--it's the set of expectations that people can have and can rely on about how we will work together to solve problems.”


How Do You Operationalize “Travel Happiness” in Harmony With Corporate Security & Expense Policies? A Panel of Travel Buyers Debate.

A travel buyer’s job is to ensure that corporate employees safely travel where they’re needed at a reasonable cost. But it’s much more than that. Importantly, these travel buyers are looking to balance corporate security and budgets with the individual traveler’s preferences and convenience.

A panel of experienced travel buyers told GBTA attendees from Center Stage that successful corporate travel buyers must work hand-in-hand with human resources to help increase employee retention and recruitment. In these days of low unemployment, they recognize their role in helping keep employees happy.

“How do we make travel an attractive part of getting people on board, keeping them there and having them do what they’re supposed to do?” said Stephen Gheerow, travel buyer with the Ford Foundation.

Isabelle Donovan senior manager of global travel at The Boeing Co. revealed that they are also working to improve the experience for their 80,000 travelers. She’d like to “deploy all the fun stuff with AI, machine learning, and chatbots” as well as increase self-service.

“We want to make the travelers really efficient on the road and self-serviced and…have the more expensive agent interaction kept for when something really blows up,” Donovan said.

New York Life Insurance Co. Corp. V.P., CSD Ray Greeve credited technology with helping to integrate various data streams to better forecast costs and identify waste and improper expense reporting. “You can see who’s renting a car and who is submitting taxi receipts at the same time,” he said.

Technology, while increasing traveler convenience and providing data for better cost controls, can be the source of headaches too.

The panelists agreed that the sheer volume of new technologies is a challenge. Each technology investment “must provide a value add,” Donovan explained.

Corporations must also ensure a new app or other technology is secure before they adopt it. These types of security reviews are sometimes “long and drawn out,” said Greeve.   

Keeping travelers—particularly technology-adept Millenials—happy while managing security risks and travel costs aren’t easy.  Often these priorities clash.

“Our next generation of our travelers…grew up with tablets, phones in their hands,” said Denise Truso, travel services manager with Abbott. “They want to use the apps they love in their personal lives for business, which proves problematic for travel managers” who are concerned about security and safety.

Gheerow agreed, explaining that Ford Foundation wants to give employees access to a Ford app store so they can use some of their favorite apps in a secure way.