Traveler Satisfaction is the Buzz Phrase of Our Industry

A new survey by the Global Business Association in partnership with Dinova has found that only one in five companies have traveler satisfaction programs.

Another 29 percent are working on programs and 50 percent said they have no plans to create one, according to the new research released today.

The results were based on an online survey of 240 U.S. travel buyers between Feb. 6 and Feb. 16 of this year. Respondents were travel buyers or procurement/sourcing professionals based in the United States.

“Traveler satisfaction is the buzz phrase of our industry right now, but what are companies actually doing, or not doing?” said Alison Galik, president of Dinova, which helps corporations offered a preferred dining program.

The research also looks at how organizations are measuring satisfaction and what goes into travel satisfaction programs. It studies the elements that make up traveler satisfaction, per diem logistics, guideline strategies, the role of technology and more.

“In particular, the research aimed to understand the role of ancillaries in driving and measuring satisfaction,” the GBTA said.

Galik said that established companies with large, global programs are early adopters. Seventy-six percent of companies have more than 5,000 employees. Fifty-seven percent have a global reach. Sixty-two percent have high annual travel spend.

“Surprisingly, cost savings isn’t central to their motivation, focusing instead on duty of care and process efficiency as a way to realize financial benefit,” Galik said. “Whereas, those with no plans are squarely focused on duty of care and rely on policy enforcement to drive cost savings. We were also excited to see that companies are recognizing that ancillary categories like dining really do influence traveler satisfaction.”

Hannah Jaffee, GBTA research analyst, said that while implementing a traveler satisfaction program requires time and investment, “those who measure satisfaction see results—so buyers may want to consider doing so to drive results in employee satisfaction and retention, policy compliance and cost savings.”

“Business travel is often viewed as a career perk, but it can also be an exhausting experience,” Jaffee said. “While few organizations currently have traveler satisfaction programs in place, interest in traveler experience is not likely to go away.”

Some other key findings:

  • On average, organizations with traveler satisfaction programs tend to have more parameters in their policies. Seventy-nine percent have corporate card mandates compared with 58 percent of those without programs and without plans to implement one. Seventy-seven percent with programs have preferred air suppliers compared with 59 percent of those with no plans to implement. Organizations with programs also have more parameters than companies without plans to implement, including rates and per diem maximums for certain cities (60 percent versus 46 percent), restrictions on types of accommodations (74 percent versus 61 percent) and preferred hotel suppliers (72 percent versus 62 percent.)
  • Organizations with a traveler satisfaction program are also more flexible than organizations without plans to implement one in letting travelers expense dining purchases such as refreshments like coffee and snacks (69 percent versus 62 percent), room service (57 percent versus 53 percent), food delivery services (44 percent versus 36 percent), and alcoholic beverages (26 percent versus 15 percent).

The report, “Traveler Satisfaction Outlook: Are Companies Focused on What Matters?”, will be discussed at the GBTA Convention in Chicago on Aug. 6.