On January 30, 2019 in Hospitality, Travel Policy, Travel Trends by Jessica Collison
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.