BELLEVUE, Wash.—A recent study by Egencia, Expedia’s business travel arm, found that business travelers continue to book outside their travel program when it comes to hotel stays. While 60 percent of companies have a travel policy in place, more than half of the business travelers surveyed are still allowed to book travel using any method they choose, and a full 46 percent have done so for hotel bookings, according to the 4th edition Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey conducted by Northstar on behalf of Egencia. To rein in these rogue booking tendencies, the study suggests putting in place more relevant offers, incentives, and clearer policies.
The business travelers surveyed booked out-of-policy because either they could not find a hotel close enough to their destination (37 percent), or found a better price or hotel within their per diem (37 percent). With this in mind, providing relevance in a travel program means surfacing a selection of hotel choices at the top of traveler’s online search results that are tailored to their needs, such as the location of hotels and flexible booking options. Additionally, offering fair and competitive pricing eliminates the need to shop outside the company’s preferred booking channels.
According to the study, incentives for staying within policy vary by region, but globally, monetary rewards prove to be the most effective at encouraging travelers to book within their policy. Sixty-two percent of business travelers say that they would choose within policy if they receive a percentage of savings for booking below the cap and an additional 60 percent would comply if they received funds they could apply to other travel options. While it’s widely discussed that U.S. travelers prioritize loyalty points, the Egencia study found that loyalty points are the second most likely reason to book within policy, which is an indicator that travelers’ priorities could be changing. U.S. travelers are also, by far, the most easily persuaded to book in-policy, compared to their international counterparts.
When travelers book within policy, companies have more control over protecting the safety of their travelers and creating cost efficiencies in the long-term. With increased adoption of policies and booking tools, travel managers can immediately locate travelers in a weather-related, geopolitical, or a terrorism-related emergency. Access to immediate, accurate reports helps 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 calls for more time spent on collecting data streams from rogue bookings to consolidate into a comprehensive report—meaning more spending overall.