Biz Travellers Want To Follow Policy – But They Have To Know What It Is
Open Jaw By: Bruce Parkinson
Four out of five business travellers say their company’s travel policy has the greatest impact on their decision-making when booking travel for work. At 79%, it ranks ahead of convenience (71%) and cost (70%.
The data comes from a new report by the GBTA Foundation in partnership with HRS. Flexible change (58%) and cancellation (56%) policies are two other important factors cited. As well, 52% ranked automated expense reporting and 50% membership in a loyalty or rewards program as playing significant roles.
The report, Travel Policy Communication: Understanding Disconnects and Increasing Compliance, also reveals that email is both the most frequent (49%) and most desired (56%) way company travel policy is communicated to travellers.
The GBTA reports says a one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer, however, as it is important to understand company demographics and culture.
“Unexpectedly, a majority of Millennials (18-34) prefer to learn about company polices at an in-person meeting (51%.) This is likely because they are newer to the workforce and business travel and prefer a more detailed briefing with the opportunity to ask questions. Those in Generation X (35-54) and Baby Boomers (55+) likely already more familiar with company travel policy prefer electronic methods like email (52% and 69%, respectively) and company intranet postings (47% and 53%, respectively),” the report states.
“The study results show that travellers want to do the right thing,” said Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS. “Communicating the travel policy through the right channels at the right time and listening to your travellers’ feedback is key. The results also highlight that convenience and ease of use are crucial in keeping corporate travellers compliant to the travel program.”
Kate Vasiloff, GBTA Foundation director of research, says that while the travel professional’s account may be more reliable in determining how travel policy is communicated, what matters is the traveller perception and recollection since their actions can have duty of care and cost implications for the company.
“It is not a lack of desire or willingness to follow company guidelines that drives out-of-policy booking, it is a lack of understanding caused by a breakdown in communication between the travel professionals and the traveller.”
In comparing results to a previous GBTA Foundation study examining the ways travel professionals communicate their travel policy and the success of these efforts, this report found significant differences between the perceptions and recollections of the business travellers and the travel professionals:
According to travel professionals, one-half (54%) hold in-person meetings to communicate travel policy, but travellers have a different impression (20%).
There are huge gaps between how often travel professionals think their travellers use approved booking channels to make arrangements for flights (90%) and rental cars (81%) and what business travellers are actually doing (63% and 57% respectively).
The importance of closing the gap becomes increasingly clear when addressing travel to high-risk locations. One of six business travellers say they do not receive additional information before going to high-risk areas – a clear risk factor considering the corporate’s duty of care.
While available technology exists to alert business travellers to out of policy booking, one in five (20%) say they never receive these types of alerts.
The report says that an important responsibility for travel professionals involves negotiating services and amenities most valued and relevant to their travellers into air, hotel and ground contracts in the most cost-effective way possible.
“These add-ons mean very little however, if the traveller is unaware of such included benefits,” the report states.
The study showed major gaps exist between amenities valued by travellers and what they actually use; traveller use of amenities and how often it is built into contracts; and the frequency with which travellers are reimbursed for an amenity or ancillary expense that was already included in pre-negotiated deals.