The narrative suggests that personal loyalty is always at odds with a managed travel program and when it comes down to it, a travelling executive will invariably go for the loyalty points and go off policy as a consequence.
However, there’s an increasing middle ground where both sides benefit. “A lot of executives now try to do both – they’ll look to book within guidelines, but then use their own money and points to manufacture a trip that fits policy but is also the best possible journey that they can get,” says Concur UK managing director Chris Baker. “When someone’s been a constant business traveller for a number of years, they do tend to have less patience when it comes to poor trips.”
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A lot of corporates are allowing travellers a degree of flexibility to retain and use their existing memberships, as long as they achieve the best rates within a mandated booking policy. This way the company and the individual both do well. As one travel manager puts it: “I am prepared to downgrade suppliers who market direct to employees but do not offer benefits as part of a corporate programme.”
Technology and smart apps are certainly making life much easier for executives to identify, select and track the company’s preferred travel suppliers. Personal and corporate loyalty can also be aligned, so long as the traveller is made aware of the preferred hotels and airlines in no uncertain terms.
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Read also “The cost of hotel loyalty schemes”