by Elise Coker, Senior Director of Global Marketing
As a travel manager, one of your main concerns is making the numbers add up on your hotel program – constantly looking for ways to tweak program options so you can save money. In the past, those savings sometimes came at the expense of traveler satisfaction. The more you controlled spend, the less happy your travelers were. But now, you no longer have to choose one or the other. You can make your hotel program work better and have satisfied travelers, too.
Travel Program Savings: Why It’s Time for a New Method
For travel managers, there used to be some tried and true methods of achieving savings in a travel program. One of these was sourcing deals to lock in rates for hotel accommodation and air travel. But sourcing has always suffered from one big flaw: negotiated rates are based on historic data and may be out of date by the time the contract starts, months or years after you started negotiating.
That has a knock-on effect on traveler satisfaction. If they can’t book the deals that are supposed to be available, they won’t trust the program. It’s one of the reasons why so many travelers look outside of the program when booking business travel. That’s why it’s time for a different approach to running your hotel program – and that approach is driven by data.
How to Achieve Data-Driven Savings
Whether you’re talking, hotel rooms, air travel, car hire, or amenities, there’s plenty of data available on the travel industry that can be used to achieve more savings. One option is to move away from large sourcing events like the annual RFP to a more dynamic approach, using program performance data to monitor and adjust on a monthly basis, leading to the best options for your travel program. This dynamic performance management (DPM) means instead of looking backwards, you’re looking forward and can make changes in your program based on data.
You can also invest in analytics, helping you to identify other sources of savings by looking at expenses, total trip cost, traveler sentiment, sales figures and more, so that you’re not only optimizing your program for sales, but also considering how travel can impact other stakeholder groups within the organization.
Traveler Engagement – the Missing Link
Even when you find new ways to save, your program won’t succeed unless you get buy-in from travelers. Advito’s data shows that the way to do that is with traveler engagement strategies. These keep travelers informed so they make the right choices.
You can use techniques like:
- Merchandising, leveraging the same tactics used by leading online retailers directly inside the online booking tool. You can use this strategy to highlight benefits for travelers, potential savings for the program, policy changes and more
- Internal communications campaigns, via newsletters, infographics, video messaging and more
- Sharing information about the travel program and policy via internal channels – like the company intranet
Our data shows that when travelers get the right information, they’re more likely to make the right decisions, and to be happy about those decisions. In fact, LinkedIn used these techniques to improve traveler satisfaction by 20 points.
Managing a hotel program in today’s rapidly changing corporate travel ecosystem is a challenge but using innovative strategies like DPM and Traveler Engagement can make a big difference to both savings and traveler satisfaction.