As corporate travel managers try to improve program performance, especially for mature programs, they’re realizing a strategic truth: Making significant gains in savings and trip productivity is impossible without the support of a company’s travelers.
In its just-released Industry Forecast Update, business travel consultancy Advito examines what’s driving this trend and offers advice to travel managers seeking to improve their programs by engaging on-the-road employees.
“Travelers inevitably make buying decisions they believe are necessary to satisfy their own and their company’s expectations for their business trips,” said Lesley O’Bryan, principal and vice president of Advito, a unit of BCD Travel. She described the steps travel managers must take to influence employee behavior to drive savings and program improvements.
First, work at the program level to identify the most valuable and least painful traveler behavior changes. Second, implement targeted digital marketing campaigns to convince travelers to change that behavior. These steps can lead to small spending changes that “when added up exceed the value of more traditional program-level measures, like travel policy changes, that actually may negatively impact traveler satisfaction,” O’Bryan said.
In addition to a deep dive on traveler engagement, the Industry Forecast Update offers Advito’s analysis of the latest pricing trends for air and hotels:
- Global air traffic grew at 7% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2017, and fares could slowly rise in the second half of the year.
- In an effort to improve passenger loyalty, airlines are beginning to introduce corporate recognition programs that apply to all of a company’s traveling employees. Benefits can include higher priority when boarding, protection from offloading on over-booked flights and priority rebooking following disruption.
Olivier Benoit, lead consultant of Advito’s air category, said this aligns with a shift toward personlization. “As travel technology companies enable merchandising platforms and travel management companies employ analytics, awareness of the benefits for travelers in corporate recognition programs and delivery of personalized offers becomes easier,” he explained.
- The global hotel outlook remains unchanged since Advito’s original 2017 Industry Forecast, released last September.
Marwan Batrouni, Advito’s hotel category leader, said airlines’ value-added traveler benefits are outpacing what hoteliers are offering in their fragmented market. But it’s an emerging trend. “Some hotels offer free drink coupons and gift cards redeemable for hotel amenities,” he said. “Others offer customer appreciation days and experiences like a local craft beer tasting. Savvy travel managers should seek these additional benefits when negotiating deals with suppliers to drive more travelers to hotels that add the most value to their overall program.”
Travel and procurement managers use the Industry Forecast’s projected prices to benchmark success against key performance indicators and prepare for supplier negotiations and budgeting.
Watch a video overview of traveler engagement strategies and download a playbook for building a social community of travelers at advito.com.