Business travelers go where they are told, but often they don’t travel how they are told. They plan their own travel, according to their preferences, using the booking sites and apps of their choice. In the corporate travel world, this behavior is known as going rogue.
Rogue travelers are not rare. In fact, more than half of the travelers have not followed the rules sometimes. These non-compliant bookings cost companies thousands of dollars every year, so why are travelers putting their own interests above the demands of their company?
People love to travel for business, but do not want to be restricted or stressed by the rules laid out by company policy. Consulting firm GfK conducted a survey among business travelers in different markets to shed some light on how travelers behave in relation to their companies’ travel policies and the reasons why travelers go rogue.
Understanding travelers’ behavior can help travel managers and companies tackle non-compliant bookings in a more effective manner.
Lack of clarity
Policies are an important piece of a company’s travel management program. Two out of three companies worldwide have one. But having one policy, and having employees who are aware and understand such policy are two different things. Shockingly, the GfK study reveals 26% of UK travelers aren’t aware their company has a travel policy, whilst 47% question whether the policy is clear. With the exception of the US, roughly half of the travelers agree with the statement “My company does not have a clear policy when it comes to business travel and expense reporting.”
Travel managers can drive compliance by encouraging a better understanding of policy. This way, they could seek opportunities for training and coaching, as well as simplifying their travel policies.
Location is a priority
Travelers go rogue for a variety of reasons. Location, however, often comes up as a top reason to book outside policy. In particular, across all the surveyed countries, travelers report they go rogue in order to stay closer to their meeting or event location. Additionally, travelers in the US and France say they book out of policy to stay in a safer location.
Travel managers can help their travelers find a place in the right location, whilst booking within policy, by promoting corporate booking tools such as Hotelzon. With Hotelzon, travel managers and bookers can guide their staff to the right hotels with custom search results that prioritize hotels near your corporate locations or client’s office.
Easier to use apps
These days there are so many tools, apps and services available everyone thinks they are an expert at booking travel. This makes it difficult for travelers to adhere to the preferred company tools. If the app or system that their company requires them to utilize is cumbersome, travelers will just book elsewhere.
For example, 75% of travelers in Singapore say they use an app to book their work trips, but only 45% say it is easy to use. In other countries, like France, Germany and the UK about a quarter to one-third of travelers say their online systems or apps are not easy to use. To avoid non-compliant bookings, travel managers should push easy to use apps and find opportunities to educate users on how to make the most out of such services
Carrot and stick approach
On some occasions, travelers might not be aware how in-policy bookings benefit companies. It is crucial travelers understand that booking through corporate tools has other benefits besides savings or location tracking.
Again, training, coaching and adequate communication with those who book can help drive compliant bookings. The more travelers understand their company travel policy and the benefits that are in it for them, the more they will comply.
Some companies might go a step beyond and decide to reward travelers who do the right thing, and punish those who don’t. The study shows travelers responded favorably to receiving bonus vacation days or paid time off if they stay compliant. But there is no correlation between policy enforcement style and following policy all of the time does not differ too much between strict enforcement and relaxed enforcement. Sometimes, too much stick can even be detrimental.
Tips for travel managers
- Make policy as clear as possible and communicate.
- Promote better understanding of policy.
- Promote easy to use booking tools.
- Prioritize hotels in the right locations.
- Organize training and coaching.