Travel contract leakage is one of the most prolific problems faced by travel managers and has been since the dawn of online booking sites...
Day in and day out travel managers find themselves pulled between the wants of the individual travellers and the interests of the organisation as a whole, and the plethora of booking options available beyond just a few clicks only adds to the tension.
Limited choice of travel and accommodation options is a common reason cited by travellers as to why they book out of contract, as they feel that the choices offered through an organisation’s travel programme aren’t suitable – usually due to location or facilities offered (for example, lack of reliable WiFi…).
So, will offering travellers more choice suddenly give travel and procurement managers a quiet life? Or is it just asking for trouble? Let’s find out:
It’s often the case that ‘offering travellers more choice’ is heard as ‘offering travellers free reign’, which understandably causes great concern amongst those tasked with controlling the costs of an organisation. Why wouldn’t a traveller book a plush suite, complete with spa, golf course and Michelin star meal and a private town car if they aren’t footing the bill?
Not only would this more relaxed approach lead to steep hike in expenditure, as well as in the blood pressure of the finance department, it would completely compromise any duty of care efforts – allowing travellers to book travel options that aren’t visible to your organisation, making them difficult to locate in an emergency.
The truth is, offering travellers more choice doesn’t have to mean a complete obliteration of all cost-saving and duty of care initiatives. It simply means giving travellers access to rates available at a wider selection of hotels, for example – all the while controlled by your organisation’s travel policy and approval controls.
The process of providing your travellers with more choice whilst still retaining control over your travel strategy can be made much more effective, not to mention less worrisome, if you’re able to implement a booking tool that can integrate your specific travel policy within its search results – meaning that the temptation to book out of policy is greatly reduced.
It’s also worth sharing the bigger picture with travellers who repeatedly book out of contract, explaining how, even if they are booking in an effort to obtain a lower rate, selecting options that are not within policy greatly compromises your organisation’s ability to fulfill its duty of care obligations to them and could even place their personal safety at risk. For example, staying in a trendy loft apartment in the middle of Manhattan might make up for the long flight, but does the apartment offer the same safety and security as a less-exciting hotel?
In short, more choice leads to happier travellers – and happier travellers usually leads to less noise for travel managers!
From a strategic point of view, increasing the amount of approved booking options available to travellers is a vital first step in a long-term drive to reduce travel costs, as it will lead to fewer out of policy bookings, giving greater visibility and heightened understanding of total travel spend.