We know there are a lot of misconceptions traveling employees (and even some travel managers) have about managed travel. So today let’s lay to rest some of the confusion once and for all by debunking four common myths.
Myth No. 1: They can find a better deal elsewhere
We know how savvy your employees are at sniffing out online bargains. But we also are confident that our seasoned procurement pros at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) have obtained some of the best rates around with all the time they have invested negotiating with suppliers across the world. And we have proof of it!
According to unbiased analysis conducted by RateGain Technologies between January and December 2018, we meet or beat the hotel rates published by three leading online travel agencies (OTA) 90 percent of the time on a global level. When a client includes the inventory that we have from Booking.com and Expedia, we can return the lowest available rate 96 percent of the time.
Regarding air travel, even if travelers do manage to find a cheaper flight on an OTA or on the supplier’s website, it likely will come with strings attached (e.g., a basic economy fare that doesn’t allow a carry-on larger than a handbag or itinerary changes to be made).
We understand how this misconception came about. First, American Express GBT provides all costs upfront, but oftentimes OTAs hide taxes and additional fees until the final stage of booking so it appears like they’re offering a better rate.
Second, travelers may not be comparing apples to apples. For instance, they may not be taking into account the additional perks that we can afford them through our Preferred Extras™ program, such as complimentary breakfast and in-room, high-speed Wi-Fi included in the rate at thousands upon thousands of hotel properties around the world.
Third, employees are not considering the time and money they are spending when they scour the web for deals rather than working on landing their own.
Finally, when you consider the total package that comes with booking with a travel management company (TMC), such as personalized, 24/7 customer service support and the additional duty of care protections, there really is no comparison.
Myth No. 2: A managed travel program doesn’t grant them many options
We emphatically disagree with this idea that a managed travel program limits travelers’ choices and options. In fact, we are witnessing an opposite trend, that as companies strive to do more to keep their employees happy, they are experimenting with various initiatives to open up options and provide travelers with more flexibility.
For instance, as we noted in a recent white paper, Ernst & Young has transformed its entire hotel accommodation program from the traditional RFP model to one that centers around dynamic pricing and city caps that place a ceiling on the rate travelers can pay in a destination. As long as the rate doesn’t go over the cap, employees can book at any property instead of only the ones pegged as preferred suppliers.
We at American Express GBT also work hard to present travelers with a wide array of options, whether it’s through the enormous amount of content we offer through our booking channels (our Booking.com program alone offers 2 million properties!) or by providing them with the tools to book travel however they like (i.e., their mobile device, desktop or by contacting a travel counselor via phone or chat).
Myth No. 3: They won’t get reward points when booking with a TMC
We are not sure how this misconception began circulating, but it is a particularly frustrating one since it encourages travelers who are fearful that their points won’t get transferred to their account to book outside the program and directly with suppliers. And when that happens, it erodes the company’s data reporting and duty of care capabilities.
So let’s make this point perfectly clear: As long as their company allows them to collect the points, travelers will receive the ones owed to them when booking through any American Express GBT channel. Because their loyalty number is tied to the reservation in the GDS, their points automatically should get entered into the account. The only time this would not be true is if a traveler selects a hotel rate that specifically does not include loyalty points.
But that’s not all. American Express GBT actually works with some partners to provide even more benefits to its loyal travelers. For instance, through the “fast track to Gold” program we have with Hilton, those traveling with us can earn Gold status in just four stays instead of 20!
Myth No. 4: With today’s technology, business trips aren’t necessary
Yes, video conferencing and collaboration tools have made it easier to conduct business with clients and colleagues who are thousands of miles away. However, no matter how good it gets, this technology simply cannot replace the value of face-to-face meetings, especially when it’s a business moment that matters.
We could go on and on why it’s an absolute necessity to show up in person for that all-important business meeting (as we did in this Atlas article), but one stat that encapsulates this concept well comes from a study featured in Harvard Business Review in which researchers found that face-to-face requests are 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than emails.
We probably didn’t need a full research report to reach this conclusion, though. Many of us already can relate to this on an experiential level when considering how many messages we ignore or trash on a daily basis (especially when the sender is not someone we have met in person before). But it’s an important reminder just how effective face-to-face interactions are, from the initial handshake hello to the last one that seals the deal.
So the next time a traveler or stakeholder questions if a trip is worth the cost, consider the high price the company might pay if it misses out on the business opportunity altogether.