Obtaining Travel Policy Compliance for Hotel Booking

It’s one of the biggest compliance struggles travel managers (TMs) have: getting their business travelers to book their overnight stays through the company-approved tools. With direct booking through hotel apps and online travel agencies (OTA) gaining popularity, it’s been a hard battle for TMs to win. And, that’s a problem for several reasons.

First, hotel leakage can spell disaster for your duty of care objectives. How in the world are you supposed to pinpoint your travelers’ whereabouts if you haven’t the faintest idea where they are staying?

Second, when travelers book outside the program’s preferred suppliers, you will have less negotiating power with these vendors and ultimately miss out on cost-savings opportunities. Even if your travelers are staying at their properties, without all the data captured, it’ll be tough to prove.

Finally, when travelers book outside the company’s tool, it can be time-consuming for them to hunt down the room they want through the hotel’s website or OTA.

So why do so many travelers stray when it comes to the company’s hotel policy? Lack of awareness is one answer. (Here’s how you can address that issue.) But it also may be that you are not giving them what they want — which is what we’ll work on fixing today.

To help boost your hotel attachment rate, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has identified five types of business travelers, what it is they are seeking from their hotel booking experience and how, together, we can best fulfill their needs.

Type No. 1: The Points Player

What they’re after: The opportunity to earn as many hotel loyalty points as possible.

Their booking behavior: Directly through the websites/apps of their favorite hotels in order to rack up points.

How to steer them toward compliance: Let them have their loyalty points and use them, too. A misconception many business travelers have is that if they do not book directly with the hotel, they won’t receive the same rewards. That’s simply not the case. When they reserve through American Express GBT’s booking tool, they can and indeed will receive the same number of points per night at all Hilton™, Marriott™ and Hyatt™ properties. What’s more, because of GBT’s partnership with Hilton, Hilton Honors members can fast track their way to Gold status.

Type No. 2: The Super Saver

What they’re after: To do right by the company and find the cheapest deal.

Their booking behavior: Checking a number of different OTAs to find the best available rate.

How to steer them toward compliance: Break down the math. Your company’s negotiated discounts + American Express GBT’s exclusive deals + partner-provided rates = greater savings. In fact, nine times out of 10, GBT either meets or beats the rate offered by the three leading OTAs, according to analysis we have retrieved. Plus, with the automated hotel reshopping technology we offer, if a lower rate for the same room type is identified, it will rebook the room for the cheaper price automatically. Now, how many OTAs can say they do that?

Type No. 3: The Local Traveler

What they’re after: Accommodations where they can feel immersed in the city they’re visiting.

Their booking behavior: Doing the extra research to find a unique boutique or apartment rental that will give them a taste of the local culture.

How to steer them toward compliance: Lay out all their overnight options. With American Express GBT’s rich inventory, comprised of 500,000 hotels worldwide and more than 3 million rentals with home-like amenities, they definitely will find plenty of options that will let them live like the locals. And because we integrate all the reservation information into your travel reporting, you’ll easily be able to locate these travelers in case of an emergency.

Type No. 4: The Discerning Traveler

What they’re after: The best service and amenities so their stay is as productive and comfortable as can be.

Their booking behavior: They take (waste) their time doing an extensive search until they find a hotel that suits all their needs.

How to steer them toward compliance: Allow us to book their preferences. Because our counselors have access to your travelers’ profiles with their list of preferred amenities, they can help find exactly the kind of hotel experience your selective travelers are looking for. Or, these travelers can find exactly what they are seeking by doing a search themselves using our CONNECT PORTAL. Because our single-source online portal eliminates the need for multiple tools and profiles, they’ll be able to make their reservation seamlessly and then get back to more important work.

Type No. 5: The Always-on Traveler

What they’re after: The flexibility to manage their hotel reservations on the go, 24/7.

Their booking behavior: Books only online either via their laptop or smartphone.

How to steer them toward compliance: Supply them with the proper tools. In addition to using CONNECT PORTAL to book their hotel rooms, travelers can download the Amex GBT Mobile app to get travel advice and real-time support. With our mobile app, they’ll also have full access to their hotel itineraries and receive prompts to add a hotel booking to air-only itineraries — making your ultimate goal of hotel attachment that much easier!