New research shows that business travellers widely prefer convenient, personalised and competitively priced accommodation, but travel managers often undervalue the importance of experiential factors in travellers’ choices.

A survey of more than 600 travel buyers and 2,500 business travellers around the world by the GBTA and HRS found that while the vast majority of buyers and travellers agreed on the importance of some factors when choosing where to stay, there was a big divide on others.

Areas where the two groups agreed included proximity to their work engagement (92 per cent of travellers and 99 per cent of buyers) and price (85 per cent compared to 94 per cent). However, 84 per cent of travellers ranked proximity to restaurants and entertainment compared to only 68 per cent of buyers. Travel managers also ranked reviews of low importance (67 per cent) but 80 per cent of travellers found them key and it was a similar situation with loyalty programme benefits (70 per cent of travellers and only 64 per cent of buyers).

On top of that, travellers place a higher priority on personalisation than buyers when it comes to their company’s online booking tool (OBT). Half of travellers wanted their OBT to offer more hotels with amenities, where as only 19 per cent of buyers said this is a need. And 74 per cent of employees said they want personalised options around upgrades and add-ons in the booking process, versus only 62 per cent of travel buyers.

In addition, the survey highlighted the need for preferred accommodation suppliers to offer centralised payment options. Eighty-five per cent of travellers said the ease of completing expense reports and the expense approval process, as well as speed of reimbursement are important.

The research indicates travellers prefer the option to pay centrally; while only three in ten said they typically pay for their hotel through a central or direct payment, but 88 per cent agreed that if their employer offered such payments they would book that property over one that does not accept these methods.

Suzanne Neufang, senior vice president of enterprise solutions for HRS Americas, commented: “That 88 per cent figure represents a true lighthouse metric for travel programmes seeking expedient avenues to higher adoption of preferred hotel suppliers and booking channels. Once travellers use direct payment, they prefer it. And they love the simplification of expense reporting. For buyers, it helps keep employees in the programme and provides richer Level 3 data for procurement purposes. And hoteliers gain from more volume. It’s a win-win-win.”

GBTA research analyst Hannah Jaffee added: “Building and managing a travel programme is an exercise in balance. Though practicality is key for business travellers, they view business travel as an experience, and they want their hotel options to reflect that. If hotel adoption is a problem, travel buyers can take strategic steps to ensure factors around traveller preference and experience are accounted for in contract negotiations.”

Download an infographic of the research here

corporate.hrs.com; gbta.org

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