When it comes to hotels, business travelers are rebels and rule-breakers, according to Egencia, Expedia's business travel arm. Yesterday, it published the results of a new study showing that "rogue booking" -- the practice of business travelers booking outside of their travel program -- is a persistent problem for corporate travel programs, especially with regard to hotel stays.
Specifically, the fourth annual "Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey" found that while 60 percent of companies have a travel policy in place, more than of business travelers are still allowed to book travel using any method they choose, and nearly half (46 percent) have done so for hotel bookings.
Business travelers' reasons for going "rogue"? Most said they book out-of-policy because either they could not find a hotel close enough to their destination (37 percent) or because they found a better price or hotel within their per diem (37 percent). Based on this knowledge, Egencia said corporate travel managers should focus on surfacing at the top of travelers' online search results hotel choices that are more relevant to them -- including hotels that are better located, have flexible booking options, and offer fair and competitive pricing.
"When it comes to hotels, we know that it's not about searching, it's about finding," said Andrew Dyer, vice president of global supply-lodging at Egencia. "Travelers want an intuitive, cross-device experience with clear descriptions of what is included in the price. With this, they can feel confident that they are booking the right accommodations, which will in turn increase policy compliance."
In addition to presenting travelers with more and better hotel choices, companies can increase compliance with corporate travel programs by offering incentives, Egencia's survey found. Case in point: Sixty-two percent of business travelers said they would choose within policy if they received a percentage of savings for booking below the cap, and an additional 60 percent said they would comply if they received funds that they could apply to other travel options.
Although it takes effort, compliance with corporate travel programs can yield significant benefits, according to Egencia.
"When travelers book within policy, companies can protect the safety of their travelers and create cost efficiencies in the long-term," it concluded. "With increased adoption of policies and booking tools, travel managers can immediately locate travelers in an emergency, whether it is weather-related, geopolitical, and/or a terrorism event. Access to immediate, accurate reports help keep travelers safe wherever they are in the world. The concept of going rogue creates extra work for safety officers who must locate individual straying travelers in an emergency, and it calls for more time spent on collecting data streams from rogue bookings to consolidate into a comprehensive report, which leads to more spending overall."
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