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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 services, co-working, dining, events 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.
Are Business Travel Programs Barring Basic Economy?
According to new research, business travel programs are not on board with basic economy fares. These fares were introduced by many airlines last year and are typically cheaper than standard airfare, but come with restrictions. The report, put out by GBTA in partnership with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), revealed that 63 percent of travel programs never allow basic economy, and even more (79 percent) configure their booking tool to hide basic economy fares when travelers are not authorized. Delve into additional research findings.
GBTA Announces Formation of WINiT Strategic Advisory Board
In early October, GBTA announced the formation of the WINiT Strategic Advisory Board, which will provide strategic guidance and direction for the future of WINiT as a GBTA Board of Directors initiative. GBTA announced its acquisition of WINiT in August at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. More details on this acquisition and initiative can be found here.
Mobile Payments among Travel Buyers and Suppliers Still in Early Adoption Phase
New research by GBTA, in partnership with U.S. Bank, reveals that mobile payments among travel buyers and suppliers are still in the early adoption phase. While most travel buyers and suppliers are familiar with mobile wallet and contactless payment solutions, 49 percent of travel buyers are still unclear on the benefits. Learn more about this new research.
GBTA & ITM Announce Long-Term Joint Venture
During GBTA Convention 2018, GBTA and The Institute of Travel Management (ITM), the leading managed business travel association in the UK and Ireland, announced the creation of a new London-based event for the managed travel and meetings sector. The new joint venture will kick off with an event, focused on Strategic Meetings Management, that will take place in London on 31 January 2019. Find out more about this partnership.
83 Percent of Female Business Travelers Report Safety Concern or Incident in Past Year
A recent study, conducted in partnership with AIG Travel, revealed that more than 8 in 10, or 83 percent, of women have experienced one or more safety-related concerns or incidents while traveling for business in the past year. The report delves into various precautions that female business travelers take due to safety concerns, highlights gaps in managed travel programs, and more. Read on for more statistics on female business traveler safety.
Business Travelers Say Loyalty Matters in Hotel Booking
According to new research by GBTA, in partnership with Omni Hotels & Resorts, 82 percent of business travelers say loyalty programs matter when making a decision to book a hotel. Additionally, a vast majority (84 percent) of business travelers feel having a personalized guest experience is important. Learn more about trends in hotel personalization and loyalty programs.
October 30: GBTA Canada Market Call – Canadian Cannabis Legalization and Its Business Travel Implications
November 6: Benchmark Your Air Travel Policy – Findings from GBTA ARC Research
November 14: New GBTA Research – Simple Meetings by the Numbers – A Huge Process and Savings Opportunity
November 26-27: Advanced Principles of Business Travel Management™
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One of the perks of being a frequent business traveller is gaining points and status through the loyalty programs of preferred ground, air and hotel providers. Indeed, being able to get an upgrade and/or earn additional extras that business travellers value makes being on the road for business that much more pleasant.
But how valuable are these loyalty programs? A new GBTA Foundation study sponsored by Enterprise, Rental Car Rewards: A Look at Ground Transportation Loyalty Programs in the United Kingdom and Germany, explores the habits and trends that are affecting the loyalty programs of ground transportation companies in two of Europe’s biggest business travel markets.
Business travellers in the UK and Germany infrequently use rental cars – only about one experience per quarter – yet business travellers in both countries say they are satisfied for the most part with their rental car experiences, with more than 60 percent in both countries expressing satisfaction.
Preferred contracts with ground transportation companies are common in both Germany – 88 percent – and the United Kingdom – 76 percent. However, a majority of business travellers in both countries do not feel the existence of a membership club or loyalty program is important. Travel buyers in the United Kingdom, though, value these types of programs much more than those in Germany do with 42 percent claiming these programs are very or somewhat important compared to 14 percent.
Even though travel buyers in the United Kingdom feel loyalty rewards programs are more important than those in Germany, such programs are much more common in German contracts.
Paradoxically, although travellers in the UK and Germany do not frequently rent cars or see the value in ground loyalty rewards programs, 68 percent of German business travellers and 77 percent of British business travellers say that having access to expedited rentals is important. Similarly, UK and German based companies value expedited rentals at just about the same rates as the individual travellers.
What this latest study found is that while car rental loyalty programs themselves are not seen as valuable, the benefits that they provide – namely expedited rentals – are highly valued by both businesses and business travellers in the United Kingdom and Germany.
By GBTA Foundation
A recent study from the GBTA Foundation found high interest in both corporate hotel loyalty programs and adding incentives to individual programs to encourage booking through authorized channels.
The study, Making Hotel Loyalty Programs Work for You and Your Travel Program, sponsored by Hilton Worldwide, surveyed more than 200 U.S. Corporate Travel Managers and revealed a large majority (77 percent) of Travel Managers are “somewhat interested” or “very interested” in a corporate loyalty program that rewards companies through various discounts and perks.
In addition, 72 percent are “somewhat interested” or “very interested” in allowing travelers to belong to individual loyalty programs to accrue points more quickly if they book through a channel agreed upon by both the Travel Manager and the hotel.
Some corporate hotel loyalty programs do exist, but they are not common. As they become more common though, these programs have the potential to fill a gap for smaller companies who might not have preferred agreements or cover geographic areas where existing agreements aren’t in place allowing Travel Managers more control over such programs.
Another major finding of the study revealed a majority of corporate Travel Managers agree loyalty programs play a role in their travel programs. Two-thirds (66 percent) agree hotel loyalty programs play at least a “slightly important” role in their negotiations with hotels, and one in five admit they play a “very important” or “extremely important” role.
Additionally, the study revealed that hotel loyalty programs are an important consideration for many Travel Managers when choosing preferred hotels. The primary role that loyalty programs play for Travel Managers is encouraging corporate travel policy compliance and driving greater volume to preferred hotels. In fact, one-third of Travel Managers say they actively inform travelers about hotel loyalty programs.
Most loyalty programs reward individual travelers for staying at hotel chains, but these programs can also align with the goals of corporate travel programs to promote compliance, improve traveler satisfaction and extract value from hotel stays. While the primary goal of loyalty programs is to incentivize travelers to be brand loyal, continued partnerships with Travel Managers can also prevail.