Travel policies: they can make so much sense to the travel management and compliance departments, but for many employees they can appear to be a maze of onerous rules and regulations. As they are forced to jump through hoops they don’t understand, many business travelers think, “Why do we do it this way?” Let’s shed a little light on the subject, and discuss some of the questions your travelers likely have about the method behind the madness of your corporate travel policy.
Q: I want to book Delta, but our travel policy says United is preferred. Why is that?
A: We get it—you’re loyal to Delta and want to retain your SkyMiles Gold status. However, the company has entered into a soft dollar program with United, or has negotiated better rates that may help in the long run – even more than the $100 that may be saved on a single ticket. By booking with United, we improve our leverage for negotiating rates next year as well as earn points that can be used to buy more tickets. Give it a chance - you might benefit from our preferred relationship with United.
If you miss your flight or it gets cancelled, we want to be able to rebook you quickly to get you back on the way to your destination.
Q: If a certain airline is preferred, why isn’t it a low-cost carrier if you’re so concerned about spending money?
A: Sure, staying within budget is part of it, but it’s not everything. Many low-cost carriers charge extra for everything - even carry-on bags. Suddenly that cheap ticket isn’t so cheap. Low-cost carriers often don’t have the wide network of routes that other airlines do. If you miss your flight or it gets cancelled, we want to be able to rebook you quickly to get you back on the way to your destination.
Q: OK, but what about hotels? A Hilton and a Hyatt and a Marriott are all roughly the same, right?
A: Yes, and no. There is no shortage of great hotel options in any price range. The answer to “Why do I have to stay at this property?” is that we’ve negotiated excellent rates for a guaranteed volume of business throughout the year. We need everyone to concentrate their business with a single supplier to keep our discount and maybe even increase it for next year.
Another reason to book with a single hotel brand is safety. We want our traveling staff to feel secure in their lodgings, and non-chain hotels can’t always satisfy that requirement. We have an obligation to ensure that travelers have a certain level of hotel security on every trip, both for themselves as well as any company property (or intellectual property) they might leave in their room when they go out to dinner.
The more we book with a single car rental company, the greater our opportunity to use our discounts and work toward an even bigger percentage for next year.
Q: Why must I use the same car rental company on every trip?
A: Again, the reason is that we’re putting all our eggs into one basket. The more we book with a single car rental company, the greater our opportunity to use our discounts and work toward an even bigger percentage for next year. And, we may have negotiated with this vendor to shave off some of the ancillary fees that they tack on at the end of every rental. Chances are, if you join their loyalty program, you’ll see some personal benefits that might add to YOUR bottom line.
Q: Why do I have to book my trip in the company booking portal?
A: The main reasons we need everyone to book through the system are to keep our volume discounts and have visibility into travel trends and spending. Another reason is that we’re working to protect you behind the scenes. Our Duty of Care obligation requires that we help any traveler who finds herself in a sticky situation while on the road – whether you’re stuck in the middle of a destructive weather event or find yourself near a rare terrorist attack. If you’ve booked your trip or meeting using our corporate booking portal, we can easily find you and work on getting you home as soon as possible.
The main reasons we need everyone to book through the system are to keep our volume discounts and have visibility into travel trends and spending.
Q: It’s faster to book my own trips. Why should I use the corporate travel partner?
A: It might seem quick and easy to DIY for your business trips, but the reason behind the partnership is to keep you focused on your real job and leave the travel booking to the pros. We hired our travel agency to provide 24/7/365 customer service to you, as well as sophisticated back-office reporting, including accounting and financial analysis to validate the ROI of our contract. However, if you are noticing real issues with the level or quality of support that our travel management company provides, make sure the travel administrator knows. It might be time to review the agreement.