A recent study* by Egencia®, the business travel arm of the Expedia group, found that despite the wide use of travel policies worldwide, “rogue booking”, the practice of business travelers booking outside of their travel program, is still an issue for corporate travel programs, especially 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. To rein in these rogue booking tendencies, the study suggests that relevancy, incentivization and clear policies can pave the way.
Business travelers book 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 their online search results that are tailored to the needs of the business travelers. This can include location of hotels, as well as flexible booking options. Additionally, offering fair and competitive pricing eliminates the need to shop outside the company’s preferred booking channels.
“When it comes to hotels, we know that it’s not about searching, it’s about finding. That’s why we find ways to serve up the right choice for business travelers within the first few search results. And it works – 75 percent of Egencia travelers book one of the top seven hotel results and over half book from the top three,” said Andrew Dyer, VP 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.”
According to the study, incentives for staying within policy vary by region, but globally, monetary rewards prove to be the most likely incentive to encourage 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 business travelers would book within policy, which is an indicator that their priorities could be changing. U.S. travelers are also by far the most easily persuaded to book in-policy, compared to their international counterparts.
According to Egencia, when travelers book within policy, companies can protect the safety of their travelers and create cost efficiencies in the long-term. 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, it said.. 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 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.