HRS vice-president Jason Long unveiled research showing a perception gap between travellers and buyers across a range of key policy issues.

The survey, by GBTA and HRS, polled 500 business travellers from Europe and North America, and compared the results with a previous survey of travel buyers.

It found 54 per cent of managers say they have face-to-face meetings to communicate travel policy, while only 20 per cent of the travellers themselves agreed. “What we’re seeing here is that communication is breaking down,” said Long, talking to delegates at the GBTA conference in Frankfurt.

While 90 per cent of managers believe employees use approved booking channels for flights, 63 per cent of travellers say they do. And 81 per cent of managers say rental cars are booked through the approved channel, while only 57 per cent of travellers say the same.

Another difference is perception of policy – 62 per cent of managers say they have a mandated policy, but only 50 per cent of travellers believe this to be the case.

Long added: “One in five travellers say they are never informed if they book out of policy. If you don’t advise your traveller when they’re going out of policy, how on earth can they shape their behaviour to comply in the future?” And, Long said one in four travellers polled said they have no mechanism for giving feedback about their trip. “For the travel manager, if you’re not getting an accurate picture of what’s going on, for example hotel facilities, how can you negotiate deals with suppliers that add value for your travellers?”

HRS director Carole Poillerat pointed out that the survey showed travel policy is the biggest factor in travellers’ booking decisions, with 79 per cent citing it. “It is reassuring to see this,” she said. “But on the other hand, they are not always doing the right thing.”

UBS travel buyer Mark Cuschieri added: “You have got to make booking easy, convenience is critical.” He said policies should be simple and clear, easy-to-understand terms: for example, the meaning of industry phrases such as ‘lowest logical fare’ may not be clear to all travellers.

The study also revealed lack of awareness about what services and facilities, such as free hotel wifi, are included in corporate deals. The panel agreed that travellers’ lack of perception or understanding about their companies’ travel policy had significant implications for budgets and duty of care.

GBTA 2016: back to basics in a crisis

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