Companies that put in the work to understand the needs of business travellers can help strike the proper balance between individual and corporate travel needs — including whether a trip is truly necessary — according to Lesley O’Bryan, principal and vice president at travel research firm Advito.
In an interview with PYMNTS.com, O’Bryan said that cooperation between corporate travel managers and business travellers is critical to eliminating excessive business-travel spending. Data can help optimize business-travel spending, she said, but so can communicating with travellers to make planning and taking trips as painless and cost-effective as possible.
“The decision to even travel is often something that can be optimized,” she said. “Oftentimes we travel because we think we need to. But if you sit back and understand what the concept is, what you’re trying to get out of that meeting, you can often stay and accomplish the same result.”
Being more responsive to the needs of business travellers means more flexibility on the part of travel managers as well as buy-in from travel partners like hotels and airlines. “Travelers are people. They’re used to doing things in their personal lives, and they expect travel management companies and travel programs at their companies to reflect the easiness of how they book,” said O’Bryan. “They want to have sharing economy as options in this space. They want to be able to have pricing that is reflective of what they’re able to get in their personal lives.”
With hotel rates and airfares relatively flat, companies are increasingly looking at improving satisfaction among business travellers to keep costs down. “Travellers inevitably make buying decisions they believe are necessary to satisfy their own and their company’s expectations for their business trips,” O’Bryan said in a press statement. “By working at a program level, companies can eliminate a large number of small spending decisions that individual travellers would make — while maintaining high traveller satisfaction.”
For example, some airline corporate recognition programs have begun to include benefits that accrue to individual travellers, such as priority boarding, that previously incurred fees. As for hotels, “Some offer free drink coupons and gift cards redeemable for hotel amenities,” says Marwan Batrouni, Advito’s hotel category leader.
“Savvy travel managers should seek these additional benefits when negotiating deals with suppliers to drive more travellers to hotels that add the most value to their overall program,” Batrouni advises.