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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.


Week in Review

Adding to a growing list of industry breaches, Delta revealed a data breach that may have exposed credit card information for hundreds of thousands of customers. According to The Verge, an online support company that powers the airline’s chat platform suffered a malware attack last fall, but failed to inform Delta until mid-March 2018.

According to Phocuswright, Google’s internal incubator lab is developing a corporate travel product that will create instant travel budgets and incentivize employees.

Chicago’s city council has approved a plan to invest $8.5 billion in O’Hare International Airport, Business Traveller notes. In addition to receiving upgrades in security screening, baggage handling and check-in technology, the airport's Terminal 2 will be demolished and replaced with a new international terminal.

Following in Qantas’ footsteps, Air New Zealand is introducing its own ultra-long-haul flight. Starting in November, the non-stop 16-hour flight will fly from Chicago O’Hare to Auckland, USA TODAY reports.

On the latest episode of The Business of Travel, we discuss cost savings strategies in managed travel programs from the basics on up. Two industry veterans share their experiences, perspectives and best practices when it comes to saving your travel program money.

A three-week air traffic control upgrade could delay London flights in the coming weeks, Buying Business Travel notes.

In acquisition news, Skift reports Red Lion Hotels is buying Knights Inn from Wyndham for $27 million.

The same source states AccorHotels plans to buy a 50 percent stake in Mantis Group, a South African hotel chain. The deal would add 28 properties to the group’s portfolio.

Continuing on this trend, Conference & Incentive Travel shares Business Travel Direct has completed its acquisition of Uniglobe Preferred Travel.

In 2017, over 40 million people were exploited in some form of human trafficking, an industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits worldwide. Traveler awareness has the potential to create a meaningful impact to end child prostitution and trafficking, and here’s how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

According to The Register, the U.S. State Department wants all visa applicants to provide information about the social media accounts they’ve used in the past five years. The plan is yet to be approved.

Radisson Hotel Group is getting a makeover with a new, refreshed brand in the U.S., Travel Weekly reports. The project may result in the removal of 10 to 15 percent of non-compliant hotels.

French rail workers staged a mass strike from Monday evening to Wednesday morning, Skift notes. The strike halted 85 percent of the country’s high-speed trains and three-quarters of regional trains.


Week in Review

If you thought winter’s worst was over – oh boy, are you in for some fun! Much of Europe was plagued by extreme weather conditions ranging from heavy snows and freezing winds, CNN reports. Not surprisingly, the so-dubbed “Beast from the East” disrupted travel in Scotland, Ireland, England and most of mainland Europe.

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. is experiencing its own weather problems, and as of Friday afternoon, USA TODAY notes airlines have already cancelled over 2,500 flights.

According to 4Hoteliers, a no-single use plastic hotel launches in Thailand in May. The hotel claims to be one of Asia’s first hotels to prohibit the use of plastics.

AccorHotels CEO Sebastian Bazin suspects mobile payments and interactive technologies like Google Home and Amazon Echo could threaten the hospitality sector, Hotelmarketing’com notes.

IATA aims to have one billion passengers fly on sustainable aviation fuel flights by 2025, TravelDailyNews International reports.

According to Skift, American Airlines and Qantas have filed an application through the U.S. Department of Transportation to form a joint business.

The same source reports Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City have received the green light to display ads in their vehicles.

In airport improvement news, Buying Business Travel reports Dubai International Airport will be upgrading its southern runway, resulting in a 45-day closure in 2019.  

Chicago O’Hare International Airport may also be seeing some major improvements in the $8.5 billion USD range. The Chicago Tribune claims Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s airlines are currently negotiating a deal to expand the airport as part of an eight-year plan.

Continuing on with this airport theme, Business Traveler writes Denver International Airport is officially a smoke-free facility, joining more than 600 airports across the country.

4Hoteliers reports Qatar Airways acquired the 174-room Sheraton Melbourne Hotel in a A$135 million deal (~$104.6 million USD).

According to Bloomberg, airlines are backing a startup that could fix the overbooking problems we’ve been witnessing recently.

Business Traveller notes Singapore’s Changi Airport is increasing departure fees for passengers in order to fund improvements to the airport.

House lawmakers blasted the Transportation Security Administration over its PreCheck strategies this week, USA TODAY reports.

In other TSA news, the organization is aiming to improve the transgender screening process, USA TODAY writes.


Home-sharing for Business Travel – A Shifting Landscape

Thanks to the internet as an intermediary, the sharing economy has connected millions of individuals looking for alternatives to traditional services. The home-sharing marketplace, in particular, has evolved at such a rapid pace that some travel managers have yet to assess the benefits and risks of allowing such properties in their travel policy.

Industry leaders recently joined us for a webinar entitled Home-sharing for Business Travel – A Shifting Landscape to share their perspectives on this hot topic, as well as discuss highlights from a recent study in partnership with AccorHotels.

GBTA Foundation’s Kate Vasiloff kicked things off by highlighting a major communication issue between travel managers and their travelers. One out of every six (17 percent) travel managers allow home-sharing in their policy, while 37 percent of business travelers are under the same impression. This disconnect means travelers are staying at properties not covered by their policy, presenting serious duty of care and compliance implications

Participants had the unique opportunity to hear from representatives from two organizations with a difference of opinion and policy when it comes to home-sharing.

When Salesforce’s business travelers expressed a desire to stay in home-sharing properties, Ryan Pierce and his team began to evaluate them as a viable option. He mentioned the importance of education around duty of care, understanding traveler tracking, recognizing the amenities business travelers want and, of course, consulting the safety, security, risk and legal teams to develop a vetting process. Overall, he noted that it has been an evolutionary process over the last four years.

On the other hand, Rita Visser walked through why the properties aren’t officially covered within Oracle’s travel policy. Her organization takes an as-needed approach and has a process in place for situations (e.g. departmental budget restrictions) in which a traveler may need to stay in these properties. In the case of unapproved usage, the company reaches out to the traveler to understand the driving factors behind their decision and determine how to modify the current program to meet traveler needs in the future.

Kate further delved into the study, sharing travel managers’ primary concerns with home-sharing properties.

When it comes to any kind of travel, constant conversation between all involved parties is crucial, but especially so for an evolving marketplace like home-sharing. Travel managers and security offices must welcome feedback and work together with business travelers to ensure their needs are being met.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.