5 ways to combat airline direct marketing

Airlines are sidestepping corporate programs to woo business travellers—how to curb the trend.

Airlines have been slow to develop apps and other technology to market directly to their corporate clients’ travellers. But that is changing fast.

Expect a barrage of direct promotions, similar to those already launched by major hotel chains, in the coming months, warns business travel consultancy Advito in its 2017 Industry Forecast. Delta Air Lines already has eased into this strategy through its mobile app and loyalty program. Travel managers should pay attention, Advito advises.

When airlines go direct to business travellers, it can pose a serious challenge to their corporate clients—the companies that actually buy those travellers’ tickets. Advito offers five ways for travel buyers to combat the negative effects airline direct marketing can have on their programs:

  1. Monitor airlines’ direct marketing efforts closely. Know whether your employees are being targeted with promotions that could lure them out of compliance with corporate travel policy.
  2. Negotiate against the trend. Ask preferred carriers to offer your travellers the same or better benefits through your managed program that they offer travelers directly. Lobby for these types of perks: elite status matches, free checked bags and early boarding.
  3. Give travellers good tools. Promote corporate apps like BCD Travel’s TripSource among your travellers. They’ll get more options than if they use individual supplier apps, and they’ll stay within policy.
  4. Stick to your policy position. Think carefully before allowing travellers to book with carriers directly. Doing so could compromise your ability to negotiate preferential terms; drive up your air costs; and reduce your ability to comply with duty of care standards for employees on the go.
  5. Talk to your travellers. Influence travellers to stay with the managed program by incentivizing compliance and using ongoing traveller engagement communications to explain why booking within the program is better for them—and the company.

Get more analysis and insights by downloading Advito’s 2017 Industry Forecast. Want to discover how to use the insights to improve your travel program? Talk to your BCD Travel account manager or email Advito at [email protected]

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