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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.


High Interest in Corporate Travel Loyalty Programs

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.

Hillton_77percent

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. Hilton_72percent

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.


Week In Review

We kick off this week’s news highlights with some positive news from a GBTA study released this week showing that most travel managers (72 percent) are satisfied with their salary. Average total compensation rose 6 percent year over year and the study also showed that travel managers enjoy significant benefits.

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Late last week Frequent Business Travel reported on United’s changes to their mileage program and their announcement of additional requirements for elite status. In related news, Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat blog shared how frequent fliers are hunting for loopholes in new mile award programs.

Delta confirmed this week that it will go with Airbus in a big 50-jet order according to USA Today, which also reported that Airbus will deliver its first A350 in mid-December. Also in aviation news this week, The Hill’s Keith Lang says the Federal Aviation Administration is touting its NextGen implementation in Texas.

JetBlue joined the majority of U.S. airlines this week when it announced it will start charging customers to check bags. Southwest remains the last big airline in the U.S. to hold out on this front says USA Today. Just how much do airlines make from ancillary fees like checked bags? Peter Greenberg’s blog breaks it down by airline.

On the hotel front, Hugo Martin of the LA Times reported that more hotels are going green and it’s not just to save water or money. He cites a GBTA study that says the percentage of companies with travel booking policies that either require or recommend that a hotel adopt "sustainability" measures has jumped to 19% in the U.S., up from 11% in 2011.

Amazon is also getting into the hotel game. Skift reports that Amazon.com is poised to launch its own travel service, featuring booking at independent hotels and resorts near major cities.

In other news, GBTA also announced several awards this week that were presented at last week’s GBTA Conference 2014 Berlin. Volvo, Scandic Hotels, Portman and Scania were presented with Project ICARUS bronze trophies as winners of the second European Sustainability Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mark Cuschieri, Executive Director, Global Travel Lead – UBS,  was awarded the 2014 Luoma Award.

That’s a wrap for this week. The Week in Review will take next Friday off, but will be back in two weeks keeping you up to date on all the latest in business travel.