To Curb Rogue Biz Travel, Try These Easy Tips
by Fred Gebhart

This is the second of two parts.

Business travelers flaunt their employers’ travel policies more than you might guess – a practice that costs employers both time and money.

While there is no perfect remedy for out-of-policy travel, a few easy changes can help, according to Joe Bates, vice president of research for the GBTA Foundation. Bates offered up a few suggestions at the recent GBTA conference, where he presented the results of a GBTA Foundation study on the incidence of out-of-policy travel and the motivations behind it.  

According to the study, more than half of business travelers flaunted company policy on at least one major expense on their last trip. In addition to spending more on travel – an average $2,881 per year –out-of-policy business travelers spend twice as much time shopping and booking travel, Bates said.  (See Rogue Biz Travelers Are Driving Up Costs)

Checked the folio detail?
Because most out-of-policy travel and spend relates to hotel stays, this is where vigilance can really pay off. (Rogue travelers spend, on average, an extra $232 on hotel stays per trip, according to the study.)

“Lodging is a challenge if you aren’t getting full visibility on the folio detail,” Bates said. “If you aren’t looking at the detail, you ought to start. You will pick up a lot of this out-of-policy spending up front.”

The most important out-of-policy hotel spending areas are: room service (28%), in-room entertainment (19%), staying an extra night (16%), using a non-preferred brand (15%) and choosing a higher grade hotel (13%), according to the GBTA study.

Convenience counts
Most travelers use preferred booking channels, but out-of-policy travelers less so. Nearly all in-policy travelers (94%) say they use preferred hotel booking channels, but less than three-quarters (71%) of out-of-policy travelers use preferred channels.

The most often-cited reason for not using approved channels was inconvenience (36%), followed by the hotel being a last-minute decision (30%). Almost as many out-of-policy travelers (25%) said preferred hotel channels take too long.

“You need to provide your travelers with more convenient searching and booking tools,” Bates said. “Convenience and time savings are key points.”

Who’s out of policy?
It also would pay to keep an eye both on new recruits and passionate high-tech travelers.

Out-of-policy travelers are significantly more likely to be in one of those two groups. In-policy travelers, by contrast, are much more likely to be veterans and road warrior travelers.

Improve your apps
Out-of-policy travelers are also more likely to use mobile apps than their in-policy colleagues.

App use was higher across all categories, including airline and hotel apps, recommendation apps such as TripAdvisor, dining reservation apps such as OpenTable, a company’s own mobile booking app, car and taxi apps, mobile expense reporting apps and others.

“The message is clear,” said Bates. “Improve your own app. You know your out-of-policy travelers are using apps more than any other group of travelers, so the better, the faster, the more convenient your app is, the more they are going to use it.”

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